Fighter Pilots


There were some pigeons on the cupola that I thought would have made a cool picture. Camera in hand I crept my way closer until I was almost close enough, and away they went off the cupola onto the nearest silo about 100 yards away.  After scaring them off the silo and onto another outbuilding even further away, I decided that instead of running around in circles endlessly I’d have better luck just hanging around the barn and hoping they’d return.

I’m pretty used to birds fucking with me, that is, letting me get ‘almost’ close enough for a shot, then flying only slightly further away and repeating the process endlessly. I once “chased” an owl for a good half hour, one fence post at a time. Within a few feet of ‘crisp photo range’ I’d get before he’d fly 10 feet down to the next pole. Creep my way forward making up the 10 feet gap before almost in range, then off to the next pole. It’s almost maddening.

So there I am crouched by some bushes hoping the pigeons come back, watching and listening to my surroundings in a patient serene state that comes with the territory of wildlife photography, when these crazy little barn swallows start really grabbing my attention. I have spent HOURS at a time before trying to capture a good crisp shot of a swallow in flight, to no avail. Usually when watching them I’m in a more open area and although have first hand experience at observing their speed, had never had a chance to see their agility and precision as I did this time.

There were small holes in the barn that were only slightly larger than the birds themselves, but these little guys could go cruising through at full speed without even blinking an eye. What’s more is they could come from over-top the barn, then do a turning barrel roll or loop and still exactly hit the center of the small hole.

After watching them for long enough it started being reminiscent of Will Smith piloting his fighter jet through the canyons of Nevada while being chased by an extraterrestrial space craft, and before I knew it what to most people would look like a few little birds flying around, to me looked like a bunch of fighter pilots with the help of CGI animation having an intergalactic battle.

As I said above I’ve wasted hours trying to capture a Swallow in flight, so didn’t even try this time. Instead just enjoyed watching them fly around in and out of the barn, only raising my lens when they momentarily took a break.


Lance Edwards-Hampton


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