Tuesday, October 04, 2022

At Last: Fotos Three Years In the Taking

Colibrí In A Sausage Tree
Michael Sedano

Before the nation got devastated by the GOPlague, I enjoyed going to literary readings. My goal had been to take the perfect photograph of a writer reading to an audience. I've been pursuing the perfect public speaker foto for a long, long time.

Back in Grad School at USC, my fotos of public speakers illustrated a public speaking textbook and helped pay expenses when our daughter was born in 1974. Since those days, I've taken hundreds of fotos of Los Angeles artists reading in front of audiences. Some are quite good, almost fulfilling the goal of a perfect poised public speaker foto.

Then the GOPlague locked us down. No more going into public gatherings, the GOPlague was killing more of us than WWII killed. Voices raise in protest, "you can't compare our war dead to the number of people the GOP killed with its plague, it's disrespectful to our warriors." Doing nothing to prevent more deaths than WWII is the ultimate disrespect.

Locked out of public places, I sought the refuge of open spaces. Southern California contains one of the most gorgeous open spaces, the gardens of The Huntington Library.

Southern California has lots of wondrous botanical gardens, featuring hundreds of species. There's only one Sausage Tree in Southern California, and the first time I saw it, Kigelia africana is its full name, I saw the dangling flowers and said "hummingbird tree!"

There were no hummingbirds that first visit to this specimen. I return to the tree, year after year. For three years, Colibrí torment me with flash visits to flowers of the Sausage Tree, but I couldn't capture the lightning-fast visits.

When a hummingbird finds a tasty treat, it will float into the area, pick a flower, then hover, sip, back out, hover, drink deep draughts, flitter away. Fifteen minutes later, the bird returns to hover sip drink hover, and allow many good fotos. 

Not so Kigelia flowers. A bird drops out of the canopy, identifies a flower on the wing, dips and flees. The bird gives little opportunity to frame and focus. Hence, patience rules. A photographer stands in one place to become part of the environment. Fifteen minutes pass until the bird returns, often to the same or a near-by flower. Readiness is all.

The unusal flower attracts not just hummingbirds but plethoras of sight-seers who share my enjoyment at the beautiful maroon delight. I enjoy conversations with the visitors, keeping one eye on the flower in event a bird whizzes in for a sip while the tourist and I platicar.

And damned if that's not what happened in my most triumphant visit to Kigelia africana, Sausage Tree. It truly is a hummingbird tree!

Select, float

Dip and sip

Flit away fast

Patience rewards the person who waits for a bird to find another flower

The bird rewards the patient photographer.

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