2021—Dumb Luck

The main challenge at the Sharp-tailed Grouse lek on Friday morning was making sure that the ever present prairie grasses didn’t obscure the faces of the Grouse in our photographs as they faced each other down and performed their ritual mating dances. Because of the bumpy terrain and the unevenness of grasses and plants, it was almost impossible to get a clear path to photograph them because we were at eye level with the birds. Even using the largest aperture which theoretically makes something in the foreground almost disappear so the subject appears sharp behind it didn’t always work because the grouse seemed to dip their heads low behind a dense mass of dried grass at the critical moment. The one time the opportunity for a clear path to photograph without obstruction presented itself was when the birds jumped up and flew a few feet to challenge another rival. Ah, but this presented yet another challenge——knowing when the bird was going to take off. That proved to be virtually impossible and any success on my part was the result of dumb luck and a reflex spasm that resulted in pressing the shutter release at the exact moment with the focus on the bird.