Wednesday, April 16, 2008

So what does this picture have to do with wine?

Purple Sandpipers. Click to enlarge.(c)2008 SmellsLikeGrape.
About five years after I had my first taste of wine, I bought my first camera. It was a Minolta XE-7. I still have it. It actually still works. I had an after school job so I could afford film, well, a little film. I used to shoot ASA 64 slide film.

Later as I got interested in bird watching, I got interested in bigger lenses. I bought a used 500mm lens from my sister-in-law’s boss and some macro gear. I built a black-and-white dark room in the corner of the garage. It was a satisfying hobby.

As I got older, I could afford higher quality lenses and I became an avid bird watcher. Wildlife photography was my favorite pastime and (God help me) I specialized in wild birds. Let me tell you, photographing our twitchy little feathery friends is not an easy task. You've got to get in close and work with what light conditions are presented and you need the patience of Job.

Along came kids and other interests. Ten years went by and I wasn’t shooting much, certainly not going out into the woods. Then along came the digital age. Taster B bought me a camera for a present, one of those new fangled digital point-and-shoots. I’d take the occasional snapshot, family photos and pictures of trips and whatnot. I’d go out and see a bird or something and pull out the camera and push the button…and wait until the bloody thing focused, evaluated, focused some more and finally, click. Ah shoot, not what I expected. Shutter lag. If only I had a “big boy” camera.

(c)2007 SmellsLikeGrape

Along comes SmellsLikeGrape and the need for still life photos. What? You can take your time? You can control your light? If you need to move something a smidge, you can? The bottle won’t turn around just as you press the shutter release? This is cool! Still life photography rocks!

Well, Taster B finally got sick of my whining about shutter comm lag and threatened to serve me papers if I didn’t get “tooled up” as we engineers say. I did, and dropped the money for a great camera and a nice piece of glass.

There is something that calls to me from the past…my old passion…wildlife photography. And the cool thing about this digital age…I can shoot all I want and it doesn’t cost me a nickel. No labs, no filling the land fill with bad shots…it’s great.

Purple Sandpipers. Click to enlarge.(c)2008 SmellsLikeGrape.

What is all of this doing on a wine blog? Well, sometimes I like to relax after work and sort photos with a glass of wine. Last night I was sorting with the last of the Amorone. Tonight, it’s the Sauvignon Blanc. I’m just relaxing, sorting photos and having a glass of wine after dinner.

I took some pictures of these birds Monday. These are Purple Sandpipers. They are winter birds here in Gloucester. Yah, I know. They don’t look purple. They do have a purple sheen to the feathers around the back of the head and shoulders. You’ve heard the expression “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”? That comes from the days when birders used shot guns in stead of binoculars. You can see the purple sheen if you’re up close and holding it in your hand. (Maybe it was dried blood on the feathers.) It’s difficult to see in the field. (You want a real laugh? Look up Red-bellied Woodpecker. I guess Red-headed Woodpecker was already taken.)


Kristen Westlake said...

I loved your article! I am a nature and wildlife photographer by profession (primarily wild birds) and after a day of being in the field making images, I love to cozy up with a glass of wine to cull images. Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite in the summer time - it's so refreshing! I especially love the ones with grapefruit tones! YUM!
So anyway, I enjoyed your sentiments and how things in life got you away from photography but how you got back into your old passion. I chuckled at your annoyance with bird photography and the point and shoot digitals.. lag time is horrid.
I use primarily a 600 mm lens for my work. I really like your shot of the Purple Sandpipers. Nicely lit, tack sharp eye and the composition is a dreamy scenic. Very relaxing.
I would love to share some of my work with you. Please feel free to view some of my nature photography.
Again, wonderful blog post. I enjoyed reading it. You write really well - I felt as if I was conversing with you when I read this!
Sincerely, Kristen Westlake -

Taster A said...


I’m very pleased that you stopped by. I’ve been poking around the materials on your sites, checked out your videos on and had a look at just a few of your slide shows. I’m very please to have a mention for someone of your professional stature.

Not too many people get wildlife photography. Professionals have to be dedicated and really believe in what they are doing and generally do it for a higher purpose. Thanks for doing what you do. Thanks for making my day.

Best regards,
Taster A