I love birds and even have a pet bird at home. Naturally, I looked through many photos of birds to find an image to discuss on my blog. The image I chose is that of a kakapo, a rare bird endemic to New Zealand. This was the first image that caught my eye and after looking through many other images, I returned to this one.
The author of the photo, Barry Harcourt, worked as a chief photographer of The Southland Times, a daily regional newspaper in New Zealand, till his retirement in 2010. He did quite a bit of sports photography. He is referred to by his colleagues as a larger-than-life figure, genius behind the camera, and was nicknamed the Hurricane.
The photo was taken on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island in 2005. Codfish island is a predator-free bird sanctuary. That is where most of the critically endangered kakapos make their home. I found the image on Kakapo Recovery – The Official Site on Facebook. The photo shows a kakapo in its natural habitat foraging on a plant. The kakapo looks alert and is looking directly at the camera, so I feel a connection with the bird. The kakapo also looks calm and peaceful. One can see that its feathers are wet as is the moss on the log where it is perched.
The composition of the photo follows the rule of thirds since the eye of the bird is at the intersection of lines used in the rule. One also notices that kakapo’s right foot is close to one of the points determined by the rule of thirds. Kakapos are flightless birds but have very strong legs, so having the bird’s leg in focus is a great feature of this photo. It looks like the photo was taken at night time, hence the black background. This is not surprising since kakapos are nocturnal. There is maybe just a bit too much of dark space that we perhaps can categorize as “empty”, or “negative” space. Some positive space on the right-hand side of the photo would probably add to the balance of composition. Yet the dark space contrasts the grey, green, and white colors of the kakapo’s feathers as well as the green and brown colors of the moss and the log. Therefore, with respect to color, I would consider the photo quite balanced. As far as foreground framing, we see the moss-covered log in the left-lower part of the photo.
Overall, I like the photo quite a bit. I believe that the author of the photo wanted to show a kakapo in its natural setting and behaving naturally. I believe that the photo is very informative in that respect. I think that the photo also shows how vulnerable this kakapo is, and thus helps the kakapo recovery site’s goal of recovering the population of these unusual birds. I also suspect that it is a very difficult task to get a photo of this rare bird in the wild at night time.