Michael John Balog | The First Blue Jay in the Wind River Canyon

The First Blue Jay in the Wind River Canyon

October 28, 2017

     Had a freak accident last week that made it impossible for me to write my Wind River Canyon Blog; I tried to jam three of my four fingers through the back of my left hand!  My hand blew-up like a pumpkin.  It wasn't very pretty.  Hand is doing better now, thank you.

     A quick blizzard came blasting through the Wind River Canyon last Thursday morning, it was quick and cold with hurricane force winds to accompany the snow.  It really didn't leave all that much snow, but as these kinds of storms always do, it drove migrating wildlife down into the relative safety of the canyon.  

     The Wind River Canyon in central Wyoming runs north-south.  Birds often use the canyon as a "rest-stop" on their migration, so we sometimes see birds that probably shouldn't even be here at all!  Also, some species are expanding their territories.  This is usually because they are thriving and flourishing, or loss of their historical habitat forces them to "adopt" newer lands to breed and feed.  Sometimes we can't even figure out what a bird is doing here at all, or how they got here. 

     As the storm made a fast, cold and windy exit late Thursday morning, I noticed a flash of blue out of the corner-of-my-eye.  We don't have birds that are royal-blue in the Wind River Canyon this time of the year.  Now, here is a reason to get my butt off the sofa!  What was that?

     I didn't have to wait long at all for the answer.  It was a bird that has never been seen in the Wind River Canyon before!  I couldn't believe my luck....I haven't seen a Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) since my childhood growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio!  Everything I read, and all of the literature and maps showed that Blue Jays shouldn't be this far west.  I did find professorial information that stated that Blue Jays are moving westward....guess they are, or at least these two tried.  They are still here Saturday afternoon as I write this week's Wind River Canyon Blog. First Blue Jay in the Wind River Canyon.Blue Jay in Wind River CanyonThe first Blue Jay ever photographed in the Wind River Canyon in Wyoming.      I spent all day yesterday photographing these spectacular Blue Jays from one of my favorite hides.  After ending up with over 100 good image files and three long and cold sessions, I was going to have my hands full in post-production.  Just like photographing a human model, I had so many dozens of poses....how do I choose just one?

    *This is a question all photographers face at one time or another----which is the best image, and how do I pick just one?  The structure of the image itself eliminates many of the pictures; is the pose right?  Do other elements in your photo add or subtract from your subject?  Can I chop them out?  Rule-of-thirds?  Can I cut or splice the image into what my mind would like to envision?  Is there a catch-light in the eyes of my model?  This is a most important artistic element and lends life to your subject.  Is the lighting right?  Is the color right, or can I fix it in post?  Is the face and eyes sharper than sharp?  Nobody likes a blurry anything.  Does your model look alive?  Does the picture stop and make you look?  Will others like my picture?  Will others like my picture.......

     After the first million times, these decisions about your photographs don't get any easier; the questions just get a little easier to ask.  Did I make the right artistic choices?  Will you?  I find that never being satisfied helps, but this too seems a little nuts at times.  Wildlife photography started being an "art-project" a long time ago for me; it's also a huge learning experience that I really enjoy.  This has all brought me much closer to my understanding and acceptance of the way Mother Nature really works; it's not a mystery....it's a beautiful thing.


     All content in the Wind River Canyon Blog, including the story and images, are protected under international copyright laws and was created by Michael John Balog, resident of the Wind River Canyon.

     For many more photographs of beautiful birds and wildlife imaged in the Wind River Canyon ecosystem, visit www.HogbatsPhotography.com.

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