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“I was completely taken aback when I saw my shot as the winner—a bird shot. Never in a million years did I think a picture of birds would win this contest–but I was secretly hoping! “- Dennis Davenport – Winner of the Printique Your Best Shot of 2011 Contest.
Serious hobbyist, Dennis Davenport beat 2200 plus entries and four rounds of judging by professionals and peers to become the first winner of Adoramapix’s Your Best Shot Contest. His work was chosen because of his technical skills in the heat of the moment. Obviously, this photo wasn’t staged or planned. I was able to talk to Dennis a little more about his hobby, his life and most importantly.. what led up to this amazing shot.
I asked Dennis to give us some insight into his beginnings as a photographer. He replied, ” I’m a serious hobbyist who enjoys trying to improve with every shot — although not always successful! I’ve owned an SLR camera since the early 1970’s so I’ve dabbled in photography most of my life. I became serious about bird photography in late 2006. I got my first DSLR in 2005–a Canon XT.”
Dennis owns and operates Dennis Davenport Photography out of Oregon. He is a retired accountant (retired in early 2007) and has been shooting wildlife ever since (with a camera!). He says he really enjoys the hobby and is lucky to have three different national wildlife refuges within 40 minutes of his home. Ridgefield NWR in southwest Washington state is considered his home base where he visits most often.
So I asked Dennis to give us more background about his picture titled “The Dance”. He answered, ” This coming together of the two birds happened very quickly and unexpectedly. A second before the shot was taken, the younger bird, on the left, was actually perched at the top of a snag. (The snag is out of the image to the left). I was shooting the perched bird through brush and tree branches about 100 feet away, so my visibility was just the perched bird. Suddenly the perched bird got agitated and faced toward the left side of my viewfinder, which I had my eye up to at this point. Once I noticed the agitation from the perched bird, I started shooting frames not knowing the other (mature) eagle was flying in from the left. Through the viewfinder I’m seeing this other bird arrive and I did my best to keep the lens on the action as the two come off the perch to the right. All this happened within 2 seconds and the birds were out of my view obscured by more tree branches. The bottom of this photo is the true bottom of the frame. The top of the photo is cropped by me in editing to give the shot a little better balance and composition. I wanted to include the wingtips at the top of the shot but it put the birds’ head too low in the photo. I was too close to the action to get both birds fully in the shot with their wings extended. I am fortunate to have gotten what I did. ”
I asked if he wouldn’t mind sharing that first shot. Here it is.
Dennis said, ” The perched shot and the flight shot were taken 2 seconds apart. Exif data on this shot is 1/2500 sec, f5.6, ISO400, Canon 400mm f5.6L prime lens, Canon 7D. I was approximately 100 feet from the birds; the birds were about 80 feet in the air. Shot was taken at 9:33 am Feb. 1, 2011, with the sun at my back and from inside my truck with a bean bag for stability. The perch the younger eagle was originally on is one of my favorites to shoot and a refuge favorite for many raptors, especially eagles. While some think that eagles are fighting when they observe this behavior, it’s my understanding that the birds are actually performing an elaborate courting ritual in the air. I usually see this behavior at much higher altitudes than the encounter I witnessed.”
Congratulations again Dennis and thank you for your amazing work and your amazing spirit. We’ll see you again in 2012. By the way, Dennis chose the Canon 7d. If you would like to see more of Dennis’ work you can click HERE.