Local writer/photographer publishes collection on region's birds – Logan Daily News

“Birds of the Hills, Vol. 2”
“Birds of the Hills, Vol. 2”
LOGAN — In 2016 Bud Simpson, now a weekly columnist for The Logan Daily News, published a volume of his wild bird photographs called “Nature’s Way: Birds of the Hills Vol. 1.” At that time he had already brought out a photo collection devoted to the Great Blue Heron, and another on the Mute Swans of Lake Logan.
Now six years later Simpson has given us “Birds of the Hills Vol. 2.” And while the photos in the first collection were striking and colorful, the shots in the new book are even better.
Shot mostly at or around Lake Logan, the book features more of Simpson’s remarkable pictures, enhanced with insightful and entertaining captions, which bespeak a long familiarity with the winged creatures whose images he spends countless hours stalking.

Capturing these images, he confirms, is not a job for an impatient person.
“With the great blue heron especially, they preen, and they go on for ever and ever, and sometimes it takes an hour just to get a series of shots to get one shot in there that you might want to use,” he explained. “So sometimes it takes hours with different types of birds, especially the herons and egrets and things like that, the wading birds.”
That patience pays off in the form of some stunning, crystal clear pictures of a split second in time, as a young bald eagle plunges talons down into the water, just before grabbing its prey; a Great Egret snaps up a crayfish in its long pincer beak; or a Purple Martin hovers airborne above the three hungry youngsters she’s trying to feed.
Along with a great capacity for waiting, Simpson also clearly benefits from the intuitive knowledge he’s gained from long and careful watching of the region’s birds.
“I’ve read books on birds before, but most of the stuff I’ve learned by observation,” he said. “Like, I’ll know when a heron might be flying away, because of the way he looks. He’ll take a certain pose, and he’ll have a thousand-yard stare. And then you can be pretty sure 50% of the time that he’s on his way someplace else, or wants to be. So you learn their habits and what they do. If I want to get a picture of a duck flapping his wings in the water, the mallard, especially, will telegraph that.”
It doesn’t hurt that Simpson, who recently wrote some columns about working on a high-resolution camera lens for the U.S. space program, clearly has some serious technical chops as a shutterbug. When he talks about one of his favorite photos in the new book, showing a family of Mute Swans floating placidly on Lake Logan, he explains the nuts and bolts of getting the shot.
Some of the birds were in bright sunlight, others in shadow. “That was the first time I tried to do something deliberately,” he recalled. “I wanted these swans to stand out. They were in the shadows mostly… So what I did was, I took a meter reading off the brightest, whitest spot on one of the swans, and I shot, meaning that everything else is underexposed. And luckily with digital photography you can check right away – more exposure, less exposure? And in seconds or a minute or so you can adjust the exposure to get what you’re looking for. That (picture) is just about 95% untouched.”
Simpson’s interest in nature photography started when he lived in Maine, and came with him when he moved to southeastern Ohio in 1994. He takes more than a merely visual interest in his photographic subjects; he isn’t shy, for example, in criticizing state wildlife officials for what he considers a deeply misguided attempt to “re-introduce” the Trumpeter Swan in Ohio to displace the Mute Swan.
“Once you get to know a certain species and the way they behave, they almost become a part of your psyche, so to speak,” he explained.
“Birds of the Hills, Vol. 2” is printed by The Educational Publisher, Inc., Biblio Publishing, and is available through amazon.com.
Email at jphillips@logandaily.com

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