You Calling Me A Birdbrain?
Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON
I took this shot about five weeks ago, just after I had taken delivery of my new 300mm Sigma lens. I was in the city and the sun was just starting to come up when I decided to walk towards Princes Bridge to test the reach of the lens. I had the camera around my neck and I had just taken some shots looking right across the river, when I turned my attention to the footpath in front of me.
About fifty metres in front of me and slightly to my left were three gulls sitting on a railing and looking towards the Arts Centre. Gulls are fairly savvy birds, I’ve noticed. They allow you to get fairly close to them, probably because they reckon there’s a fair chance you’ll toss some bread crumbs their way. But point something at them and, I tell ya, they get fairly skittish.
So I slowed down a bit and pointed the long lens at them, hoping they would take fright and fly away. The one on the left was keeping me in his field of vision, the one in the middle didn’t really give a toss (nice tennis reference, that!) and the one furthest away couldn’t have cared less. So I drew a bead on the middle one and fired off just one quick frame.
Only when I got home that night did I look closely at the photo and realise that the reflection of a riverside light on the dark surface of the Yarra River has produced a yellow shimmery patch that looks for all the world like a speeding tennis ball above the birds. Once I realised that, I couldn’t resist giving this post the title Roger Featherer.
Like all good tennis writers (when I first started covering Wimbledon, they were still using white Slazenger balls, not yellow) I guess I’m always looking for a good return of swerve.
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