Award winning Aussie photographer Alex Cearns photographs over 1,300 different creatures each year but it’s birds that remain close to her heart; she sees them as quirky, colourful, beautiful and full of personality.
Her latest series of photographs, titled BIRDFACE, focuses on rescued birds. Many have been rehabilitated by dedicated owners, which means many of the birds in this series would not have survived without the compassion shown to them by a wildlife rescue volunteer.
“I always aim to capture shots of their sweet faces filling most of my frame, as these really convey their character and show their sentient nature -- the cheeky glints in their eyes and the range of colours and details in their plumage are best seen up close," Cearns said.
"Birds are stunningly beautiful and their colours are so striking. They vary so much in size, shape and colour as well. Birds are definitely never dull."
"Birds are very smart. They can learn tricks and mimic sounds and behaviours. They all have their own little senses of humour and get such joy out of simple things like their favourite fruit, a select toy, or playing a special game with their beloved human. I compiled BIRDFACE with my favourite bird images to show that they each have a personality of their own.”
The birds that were able to be released back into the wild were given their freedom when they were seen as being strong enough. Others who weren’t able to be released, live their lives as education birds at wildlife rescue centres, or move into specific release areas or aviaries.
The eagle and the kookaburra are the only non-rescue birds and both are used to educate the public about bird behaviour and care. Cearns told The Huffington Post Australia this encourages people to think about birds and to see them as sentient creatures.
“Birds are relatively easy to photograph when still, though I think capturing birds in flight is one of the hardest things to master in photography. Some wild birds will follow a certain flight pattern, like white-tailed tropic birds hovering on thermal current or blue wrens flitting around your backyard. If you watch birds for long enough, and study some of their behaviours, you will be better prepared to capture great portrait photos of them.
"BIRDFACE is dedicated to those around the world who selflessly put their tiny rescue birds’ needs before their own. If, like birds, they had wings, they would surely be angels."
For budding photographers, Cearns said it’s a good idea to practise photographing birds.
“The best thing to do is find easily accessible (and agreeable) birds. Head down to the beach where seagulls are prolific, or to a local wetland, home to waders, ducks and perhaps swans. Sit and watch for a while to pick up on the birds’ behaviours and to allow them to get used to you. Always move slowly and carefully and never disturb nests or babies,” Cearns said.
“Pelicans are stunning birds and pelicans in flight are great to capture in a photograph as they have a large body mass, making focussing on them easier than smaller birds. Take as many photos as you need to capture that perfect shot.”
Technical information: All images were captured using a Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VS USD lens at ISO 100, 1/200th second, f13, and Elinchrom studio lighting and were taken by Alex Cearns of Houndstooth Studio.