By James King
This is the moment an angry sandhill crane gives a Florida photographer a mean stare as he sneaks up on the bird for the perfect snap.
The video was shared on Instagram by Russell Maverick McBurnie, 28 – known as ‘Russell Mav Photography’ online – who comes from Tampa in the US state of Florida, for his 37,000 followers.
The virtually motionless waterfowl fixes the nature snapper with a steely gaze as he moves in for a close-up.
Russell, who was born and raised in Massachusetts until he was 21 years old, said he developed an interest in photography after his girlfriend bought him his first camera.
Russell told Zenger: “I have always spent a lot of my time enjoying the outdoors by travelling and hiking.
“I’ve been to many other states in the US and other countries abroad with my girlfriend, Morgan.
“During these trips, I would always try to capture some of the scenes we saw with my cellphone, so about three years ago Morgan gifted me my first camera after noticing how hard I would try to get the best photos I could with my phone.
“Since having my camera, I spend almost all my free time practicing techniques, researching equipment, going out to shoot, etc. As an animal lover ever since I can remember, it was natural that the focus of my photography became birds and other wildlife.
“What I love the most about photography is attempting to capture something with so many layers to it, such as a bird in the wild, in a way that’s condensed into a single photo or clip that you can show someone else.
“No matter how well you think you captured a moment, you can always capture it even better, which excites me to keep going out day after day. There is always more to see and more to capture.”
Russell added: “While my focus is photography, I also capture videos for social media as it tends to be more grasping for viewers.
“For both photos and videos, editing my captures can be difficult to manage as it is almost as time consuming as actually going out to obtain the captures.
“Learning the different software and being able to execute what you envision for a capture does not always go as smoothly as I hope. Often, I must decide between going out to shoot or staying in to process my photos.
“Also, I edit my original captures in many different ways, which can be difficult to manage because I always want to maintain as much as possible from the actual sighting while making it as visually pleasing as possible.
“For photos, I limit the edits to lighting and clarity enhancements to accentuate the details and the focus of the photo more. For videos, I typically do not edit the lighting, colors, etc, but instead only edit duration, speed, and audio to make it more appealing to casual viewers online who might not care as much about a single photo.
“I focus on two things any time I go out to shoot photos. My first focus that will determine my target for a day is the subject. Typically, when I go out to photograph, I already have a specific bird or animal in mind as my target.
“The other focus that determines what I will capture in a specific day is a good location with an ideal setup for framing. If I know of a good spot for capturing beautiful photos where I know birds or animals will be, then I will go there and capture whatever comes out.
“A good example of this would be going to a mudflat at the beach during sunset. I might not have a specific bird I hope to capture, but I know if birds come out, then I will have a beautiful setup for some captures.
“There are times that I will just go out hiking in a new spot or a trail with no targets in mind just to observe the setups as well as which animals seem common there for future trips.
“I try to maintain a natural look to all my captures for both photos and videos while accentuating the best features of any one photo or video. I stay away from using special effects, filters, or any preset edits for social media.
“Instead, I make relatively minor edits to lighting, clarity, framing via crop, etc. to photos and edit duration and speed of video clips to better display certain moments of footage.
“For photos, I use Adobe Lightroom and very occasionally I will use Adobe Photoshop when more intense edits are required. For videos, I use Adobe Premiere as well as other mobile applications such as InShot.”
He added: “However, photography is not my full-time job. I work on a software development team during the day, assisting with process review and coding requirements. Maybe one day this will be my full-time job.
“I think that there is always so much going on in everyone’s life throughout the world that it is often difficult to care about nature or consider what needs to be done to protect nature. However, wildlife, and nature in general, needs people to care of it as much as ever.
“These birds and animals live extremely difficult lives, and you can see them fighting on the edge of survival every day when you are out photographing, and that is without obstruction from people.
“There are a lot of small things people can do that help nature without devoting much of their time or energy. For instance, always dispose of trash properly, and if you own property then let native plants, trees, and shrubs thrive without bringing in exotic or invasive plants just to make your property look better.”
Russell told Zenger: “The sandhill crane in the video is one of a small group of six that frequents the wetlands behind my house. I see this crane and the others almost every day.
“Sandhill cranes in general reside throughout North America, but Florida is unique for sandhill cranes because many do not migrate and reside here all year.”
He added: “Outside of Florida, sandhill cranes migrate through North America and can be found in different regions depending on whether they are breeding, staging, stopping over somewhere, or wintering.”
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