All photogs who have been in the business of toting a camera for many years can recall our most memorable images and, for the most part, minute details regarding each. In 1978 I was aspiring to be a magazine shooter and busied myself with exposing images of anything interesting that might cross my path. On an early spring day I noticed a pair of roadrunners using the same general route in their travels, each one appearing frequently enough to arouse my suspicion that a nest might be nearby.
Being interested in wildlife behavior I began carefully observing the birds and finally discovered that they had a nest in a mesquite tree near our barn and only a short distance from our home. I realized that a good opportunity for some unusual photos was at hand so began to methodically work the two birds until they became accustomed to my presence, even allowing me to walk with them as they hunted lizards and grasshoppers around the pasture.
In those days color images of great quality were exposed on the time honored Kodachrome transparencies, a film destined to become a household name after the release of Paul Simon’s song of the same name in the early 1970’s.
Every photographer carried a few rolls of Kodachrome 25 or 64 in his or her pocket and marveled at the rich colors rendered therein. On one particular day I ventured out to the roadrunners nest with one roll of film and observed the male bird approaching the nest with a beautiful collared lizard. With only a frame or two left on my last roll of “chrome” and the evening light casting its finest color at the end of the day I was frantic to get a least one image that might put me in the pages of a magazine and perhaps launch my career as a real “shooter”.
Intercepting the bird as he made his way back to the nest I dropped to the ground, lying flat on my belly, and quickly focused the lens as the bird hesitated for a moment. With time for only one shot before he scampered away in the brush I had an apprehensive wait of an entire week before finding out if my exposure was correct and if I had achieved the critical focus needed to make the photo a winner. As I opened the little yellow box, one of thousands that I opened in the years to come, I was elated to see the exact image peering back at me that I had seen a week before! What an experience to remember!
Canon F1 and a Canon 200mm F2.8 lens. Kodachrome 64 at 125th of a second at F2.8. Was published in National Wildlife magazine about one year later.