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An eye for photography

A red-shouldered hawk resting on its perch.

My introduction to photography occurred during my early days in ophthalmology. In the late 1970s, my first duty assignment included taking fundus photos. I realized that I needed to educate myself, so I found “Ophthalmic Photography,” which was part of a line of books published by the International Ophthalmology Clinics. It was an excellent book as it had everything I needed to know about taking photos in the clinic, and it inspired me to seek more imaging duties in an ophthalmology practice.

Over the years, I received a lot more hands-on experience with ophthalmic photography. I have performed imaging with a slit lamp, gonio photography, and fluorescein angiography, and I joined the Ophthalmic Photographer Society as well.

During this time, I had in the back of my mind that I might try photography outside of work. After dabbling in outdoor photography over the next few decades, I took an online class on photography about two years ago and bought a new camera to help me get a closer look at mother nature’s creatures.

A ruby-throated hummingbird, one of thousands migrating south for the winter that flew through Rockport, TX, in September.
IMAGES COURTESY SERGINA M. FLAHERTY, COMT, OSC

This picture of a cardinal (right) was selected as one of the designs for the 2020 National Wildlife Federation’s Trees for Wildlife card line.

Getting out in nature

Finding subjects to photograph proved fairly easy. I live on a bird migration path and see many species fly north from South America in the spring then migrate back down south in the fall. I also regularly see animals in my front yard, such as white-tailed deer, possum, raccoons, and gray foxes.

In September 2019, I spent more than 12 hours photographing ruby-throated hummingbirds in Rockport, Texas. During that time of year, thousands of hummingbirds stop and refuel before taking off on their arduous, nonstop journey across the Gulf of Mexico to Central and South America. These brave little hummers fly nonstop, up to 500 miles, to reach the Yucatan Peninsula. I took more than 2,500 images that day, though I feel only 50 were excellent and only 10 of those I would call truly exceptional. There is a lot of luck that comes with capturing an animal at just the right moment, in addition to knowing the right camera settings and lenses to use.

To me wildlife photography is fascinating — I can never be certain what I will find when I set out on a shoot. OP