A birder photobombs a portrait of a lake

Hey, it’s me! Your favorite lady who likes to pretend she has any sort of authority on subjects including love, birding, and fashion advice.

Birding Magee Marsh at the Biggest Week in American Birding, May 2014. Image by Lynn Whitney.

You mean nobody’s ever told you that ladies dig fanny packs, zip-off shorts, oversized t-shirts, and rubber shoes? Good thing I’m here.

I’ve been gone awhile, but I’m happy to be back. One of the reasons I returned to this blog is because I’ve got a couple of new projects in the works, and I’m excited to share them here in the not-so-distant future. You can read a few more elusive hints on my The Birder and The Blog pages. But for now, we’ll just get right back to business.

I wanted to share this photo with you. Not because I’m just bursting to unveil my high fashion to the world, or because I’m particularly proud of my scrawny chicken legs. It’s because it’s a wonderful photo, taken by a wonderful photographer named Lynn Whitney.

It was May 15th, 2015. I was out and about at the annual Biggest Week in American Birding festival, and I was just returning from a walk along the Estuary Trail at Magee Marsh. I remember that it was overcast, a bit breezy. The beach was being enjoyed by birders and non-birders (or birders disguised as non-birders) alike. I was deep in thought, but my eye was caught by a woman taking photographs with some sort of cartoonishly oversized old-timey camera out of the 1920’s.

As I approached, eyeballing ye olde camera with mild curiosity, I didn’t realize that the photographer was eyeballing me in return. In particular, I later learned, she was drawn by my two bird tattoos – a Northern cardinal just above my left knee, and a cedar waxwing on my left ankle. The woman asked whether she could photograph me and my ornithological adornments, and I obliged.

Unlike an iPhone, a vintage 8×10 camera requires a certain amount of attention to get from “I would like to photograph this thing” to “now I have a photograph of this thing,” and so the photographer introduced herself as Lynn Whitney and we got to talking.

It turns out that I wasn’t the first beach-walker she had captured in her lens. In fact, she was working on an entire photo series to share the images and stories of Lake Erie and the people who love her. (That’s me, anthropomorphizing a lake as a female, by the way, not Lynn. What can I say? I’m a sea captain at heart.) I was moved by the way she was moved by the incredible variety of people who could be found engaging with Lake Erie in any number of different ways. After the agonizing amount of time I was instructed to look thataway and hold still while the camera did its thing, as we prepared to part ways, she said to me:

“I just love what happens to people here. Makes me feel like the world is okay for a minute.”

Lynn’s currently working on a website to showcase this project; I’ll link to it here when it’s up and running. Until then, you can read more about her and her photography here or here. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you back here soon.