Early last year, I was being extremely productive one day (lie i.e. I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed), and I came across a photo posted by a friend of mine of a peacock. Every photographer has at least a mental list of photos that they truly want to capture one day, and one of mine was a male peacock in full splendor, displaying his plumage. I knew that my friend lived near me, so I asked about the photo and was given exciting news. She works on a farm that is owned by her Aunt, that is home to close to 30 peacocks... and it is less than ten minutes from my house. Even better, she invites me over to see them and grants me access as often as I want. Now, I am excited! I know that she will read this because she is awesome like that, so I want to formally and publicly thank her for being so awesome (you know who you are).
It was an early spring day when I finally ventured over to the farm, and I had called my friend first, just to make sure that it was okay that I dropped by. She welcomed me and told me that once I pull onto the driveway that I needed to park my car and take shots of the road because I would like what I saw. She was right, I pulled in and was greeted with a wooden fence lined road, boasting gloriously white blooming Bradford Pear trees along both sides. Wow, just Wow~
What an awesome country setting, the beauty of spring with the rustic feel of an old wooden fence lining a dirt road. Yes, I am proud to be from Western North Carolina. I posted this photo to my Red Rock Photography Facebook page and had a high school friend comment right away that he had to have it. He went right to my website and ordered a print, this was a great find!
I crept along the dirt road winding my way to the farm and was greeted with more beautiful Bradfords in bloom and my friend working away.
As I parked and began walking, around I started noticing peafowl (collective name for male and female peacocks) everywhere. There were several peacocks and a few peahens scattered about just doing their thing. Some were on rooftops, some were on fences, others were just walking around in the yards.
Here are a few shots of them:
These two peahens were just chilling on the roof of a house.
The colors were so vibrant, I am frequently asked if I "enhanced" their colors in Photoshop. I can honestly say that this color was all natural, they are incredibly beautiful animals. I kept moving around finding shots that I liked and was trying to take photos of one big male that had the longest tail. He just was not happy with me at all, every step I took, he wanted nothing to do with me and kept being elusive. Here he is sitting on a trailer outside of the shed.
He hopped down off of this trailer and was trying to hide from me. He went to the right side and I followed, when he saw me, he went around to the other side. It was like an old game of cat and mouse, I felt like I was chasing a child around a table that did not want to take a bath. We went back and forth for three or four times, then he went down the dirt road and hid behind a row of bushes in front of a barn. Okay Mr. Peacock, I will leave you alone. I turned to find another to shoot since he was obviously upset that I was trying to take his photo. Then I heard a flutter of wings and turned around to find this~~
He flew up on the stinking roof~~ Oh my~~ I was loving this shot. I composed and fired off a few and then he scurried to the top and I fired off a few more. He then went over to the other side to get out of sight for a while, but I had my shot. Such a beautiful scene.
There have been several customers at Markets and Craft Fairs who questioned that he was really there, "you put him up there in Photoshop, didn't you?" No, I am not that good, he was really there and I was very happy.
I got a few more decent shots on my first trip but nothing as perfect as Peacock on a Tin Roof, however, I did not see one male preening around with an open tail plume. But here are a few of the other shots from that day.
I always found it humorous that when I showed this last shot to my friend, that so graciously invited me out the farm, all she could say is "Man, I need to fix that fence." A farmer's work is never done, is it M?
So after spending a little more than an hour, I decided to call it a day but knew that I could come back to capture more images of these stunning animals.
I went home and went through the images and was so excited to see how they turned out. Sometimes shoots do not go as well as you think when you are shooting them but I was extremely happy with my results this time. But I still did not have my key shot, the open plume.
I mentioned that photographers have dream shots, either written down or mentally, that they want to capture one day. Here are a few of mine:
1. I want to photograph at least one waterfall on every continent (I guess they are all frozen in Antarctica so that leaves me needing 5 more)
2. Sunset in Africa, with an Acacia Tree framed with hopefully some wildlife around it.
3. Male Cardinal sitting in a snow covered bush (tried to capture that today with all of the snow in WNC this week)
4. "Shadow of the Bear" from Whiteside Mountain. Trying this one hopefully Saturday, stay posted.
5. Cheetahs on the African Plains
6. Uluru, Ayer's Rock the Red Rock in Australia
7. Half Dome in Yosemite
8. The Grand Tetons
9. The Grand Canyon
10. Bigfoot, a mermaid or the Loch Ness Monster. I can dream right?
So now back to reality, and my quest to capture that elusive peacock photo. A few weeks later I contacted my friend again and told her that I was planning on stopping by again to take more shots. This time I wandered around the property more and saw some pretty cool things. There is an old home on the land that is empty and several of the peacocks were calling from that direction so I went to see them.
They were all over this house, almost like they were claiming it as the "House of the Peacocks." I can hear the band the Animals making a song out of this like "House of the Rising Sun." "There is a house in Fariview, they call the Peacock House." Ok, maybe not, but, I walked around and got several nice shots of them and some of the peahens, and one of the peacocks in front of the covered bridge.
But then... it happened (imagine the character "Belt" from the Croods) Da Da Daaaaaa. I was up near my car and my old elusive, ever so shy peacock friend that jumped on the tin roof decided to treat me with his majesty. I turned around and there he was tail up open and glorious!
He kept it up for maybe ten or fifteen seconds and then closed it back down, but I had it, the shot I was after, the proverbial "money shot." Even though he only left it up for a short time, I kept clicking away, 4 frames per second, and I named this next one Peacock Flow.
I love the motion that was captured here, you can almost hear his tail fluttering around as he closes it down. Images that illicit a feeling or a sensation are the most impactful photos, I think I captured that here. He played around a few more minutes, and opened his tail up a few more times but never facing me again.
But that is okay, I got what I came for. I now present three shots at each of my markets and shows that I do, Peacock on a Tin Roof, Peacock showing off, and Peacock Flow. They sell almost each week. I am also now offering them on Fine Art America, click this link to see them as well as some others work too.
I am also working on a series of seasonal shots of the road leading to the farm, I have two nice spring shots and a nice fall shot as well. I went yesterday to try for a snow shot, but they did not have as much as I did at my house. If anyone has a 4WD vehicle and wants to come get me on Thursday I think I will get that shot, considering we are expecting up to a foot of snow in some places here.
I will keep going back looking for great images of these beautiful birds, and if you want to display some of my work in your home or office they are all available in the peacock gallery and the top three are on http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/stacy-redmon.html