The Great Journey in Photography

The Lowly Gull

ring billed gull

300mm f6.0 200iso 1/1600sec

I almost passed on processing this image the other day. I thought to myself that “well it is just a gull”. I think that was a mistake, one that I have made too many times in the past. The image is really pretty good, I mean it is nice and sharp, the light was damn near perfect and the subject is doing some thing interesting in that it is transporting something via it’s mouth. But still I thought it is still just a gull and I would be better served if it was a more interesting subject. Then I had to ask myself the question “why do I not like gulls”?

I suppose the first thing that comes to mind is the common belief that sea gulls are dirty animals living off the trash of humans or that they are so common that anyone can get a good photograph of  one.
As it turns out, a quick search showed me that there are 27 different gulls throughout North America. That is quite a large number of birds to identify and document if someone were so inclined. I also did a little mental check of how many times I see gulls in comparison to other birds. Of course I am always searching for some other species of bird, but I must say that I don’t see them all that often. There is usually one or two around at any given time but it is not like they are everywhere.
Yeah, gulls are scavengers for the most part but is that really their fault? They are fully capable of hunting on their own and I suspect did mostly that before man went out throwing their trash around for them to gobble up.
The image above is a Ring Billed Gull. It is common to see here on the West Coast during the winter months. They do scavenge and steal food from other birds but can also hunt for fish and rodents. It is not any easier to photograph than any other bird and I have yet to learn why it is carrying that seed or pod.
I think that Sea Gulls are probably the most photographed and painted birds in our history and I believe  there may be good reason for that. I am going to make an effort to do right by the Gull. I am going to learn about all 27 types and I am going to make every effort to photograph them in pleasing and interesting ways. I hope I never pass them up for no reason again.

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