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“Western Meadowlark”

Western Meadowlark

This painting was completed in oils on masonite board and measures 9 X 12 inches.

While following in my vehicle behind some friends near Trail City South Dakota, I spotted this Meadowlark singing from a nice looking fence post. I slowed the vehicle to a stop to try and take a quick photo ...as they almost always fly away before I'm able. To my surprise he didn't fly. Instead he started to sing. I excitedly started taking photos with my 500mm lens. By this time my friends realized that I was no longer behind them. I answered my phone and informed them that I was going to stay back and take some more photos. After taking about 300 photos with my big lens from my truck, I got out and set up my tripod and took even more! Again, he didn't seem too bothered by me! He just really liked singing from that fence post! I got closer and closer and still he didn't fly. It's like he didn't care I was there. As it would happen, my camera battery died so I had to go back to the truck to get a fresh one. While I was there, I decided to try to get some pictures with my short 18-55mm lens ...since it gives a completely different look. Telephoto lenses blur the background substantially where as short lenses have a large depth of field. Besides, I just wondered how close I could really get. I approached slowly and finally was standing about 5 feet from the post. I could no longer see the bird as he had flown down into the grass. However it wasn't long till I caught movement on the ground. It was the meadowlark! He walked up to about 3 feet of me and started singing! It was amazing how loud he sounded hearing him that close. I didn't move a muscle. I stood there for about 15 minutes with my camera up to my eye waiting for him to fly up to the fence post again. Then he did! ...and yes he started singing! I immediately began talking photos. After snapping off about 25 to 30 photos, I heard a vehicle coming. I slowly turned and saw that it was my friends coming back for me. I imagined how the situation must have looked to them (seeing me standing about 5 feet from this singing meadowlark). They weren't aware of what it had taken for me to get so close to him, they were only seeing the end results. I think they thought I just walked right up to him and started taking pictures. ...and while he was the tamest meadowlark I've ever had the pleasure of being around, it certainly wasn't that simple.

My friends were eager to see the photos I managed to get. Thanks to digital technology, I was able to pull them up on the TV at the cabin that evening. They were quite taken with them ...especially Ron. He asked me about the chances of getting me to do a painting of it. He just thought the entire experience was so neat because he got to see the entire process. Anyways we discussed some details and It was probably the quickest commission I ever received.

Photography the Meadowlark