"My best pheasant portrait yet" (c) Wolf Kettler

Best pheasant portrait yet

"My best pheasant portrait yet" (c) Wolf Kettler

Yesterday in my garden, I had cut the grass and was playing with my camera. As I was focussing on a freshly installed pot plant, I noticed a shadow in the corner of my eye. Not expecting any movement so close, I nearly jumped out of my skin but all was good. The visitor was “my” pheasant, the very friendly one, the one, who allows me to hand-feed him.

When you have a pheasant at arm’s length and a camera in your hands, the only thing you do is press the shutter release button. You do not take the time to consider aperture and shutter speed. The lens I was using was not one for zooming into faraway objects. I needed him close if I was to get a decent shot. With no bird food at hand for a casual bribe, my wit was the only tool.

“Hello pheasant”, I fluted, “come here then”. A few days earlier, the pheasant had still been unsure of the camera and I was surprised that he actually did come closer. I took some photos, we chatted for a while, exchanged the day’s news and agreed that we would meet again tomorrow, same place, same time.

The resulting photograph is my best pheasant portrait yet. Click on the photograph to see it larger.

For the photographically minded, it was taken with a 50 mm lens on a full-frame (35 mm equivalent) sensor camera. The photograph is not cropped. Now you know how close the pheasant was.

All you wildlife photographers, Chris Peckham’s of this world, with your super long lenses, let me tell you that you got it all wrong. Me, I wait for the wildlife to pose for the camera voluntarily.

“I wonder if he is someone’s pet”, I said to my wife, the best of all wives, a little later, as I was relaxing with a glass of Pastis. Of course I know that people do not keep pheasants as pets and if they did, they would not let them run free. But this one, he is so friendly and trusting. Makes you wonder. My theory is that he is one of last year’s newborns, who has been familiar with me in the garden from a very early age.

“Yes”, my wife smiled, “I do think he is someone’s pet. Yours.”


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I am a professional artist photographer. I create handmade portrait photography, intimate portraiture and inspirational stock photography.

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