Extract of poetry in the sky by Christian Spencer. Copyright © 2022. Available from teNeues Publishing.
The true majesty of a bird can only be fully seen when captured in flight. In general, this presents technical and artistic challenges for the photographer. Whether it’s the hummingbird flying at 50 kilometers per hour and 60 wingbeats per second or a wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax) gliding over the salt lakes of inland Australia – when captured correctly, they convey a serene and poetic image like no other animal.
Photographs of large flocks, for example of Australian parrots, can look like impressionistic paintings full of depth and movement. Hummingbirds frozen in flight accompanied by dew-covered flowers sometimes look like 3D sculptures. The scaly-throated hermit (Phaethornis eurynome), sitting on a branch, can sometimes look dull and inconspicuous, but when captured hovering and feeding on delicate flowers, its full splendor can truly be seen. The blue and yellow macaw (Ara ararauna) from Brazil is one of the most beautiful birds in the world. Measuring over a meter in length, it glides and flies through the usually dry and harsh landscapes in a dance of technicolor poetry.
Many birds seem to be swimming in an invisible liquid or performing a highly synchronized ballet that has been planned and written through the echoes of time.