Captured in flight

ONE PHOTOGRAPHER FROM VIETNAM’S NORTH HAS GAINED A REPUTATION FOR HIS BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS OF THE COUNTRY’S BIRDLIFE.

By THAI A on August 07,2017 10:29 AM

Captured in flight

LE HOANG

Bird photography can be quite hard work as photographers must spend a great deal of time trying to snap great shots of rare birds and also document their lives to provide the wider public with invaluable images of nature.

While some tourists are interested in birdwatching, bird photography is of great interest to a number of photographers. Vietnamese photographers view Doan Hong as the pioneer bird photographer in the country, who with great commitment and persistence took fantastic shots of sarus cranes in the wetlands of the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap. Increasing numbers of photographers have recently taken interest in taking photos of birds. One young photographer in northern Vietnam with impressive photos of rare birds is Le Viet Tuan Hoang, better known as Le Hoang.

Le Hoang is only 30 years old but has been following and photographing rare birds for more than five years, visiting all of the country’s pristine wetlands. Financial difficulties make such long-distance trips problematic, but his great passion has given him endless horizons and he has spent long periods waiting in bushes or following migrating birds and has read extensively to gain knowledge about different species of birds.

The right stuff

Unlike fashion or interior design photography, outdoor bird photography, apart from excellent equipment, also requires a broad knowledge of birds, including their habits and mating seasons. Another prerequisite for taking great shots is an ability to walk through forests while being absolutely silent and patient.

Bird photographers must acquire the right pieces of equipment, at no small cost, and must be able to snaps shots quickly that meet seven criteria: standard content, right lighting, beautiful lighting effects, great backgrounds, fully depicting the birds, sharpness, and capturing their perching locations.

Photographers must cope with situations quickly to take impressive photos at the right moment because birds fly, turn and twist or move around all the time.

Another requirement of the job is that a beautiful photo must capture the light in the eyes of the bird. Looking at Le Hoang’s photos, people can clearly see the playfulness or thoughtfulness and the characteristics of each species of bird in its eyes.

Captured in flight

Such photos can provide tourists, cultural researchers, and photography lovers with a greater knowledge of the biodiversity of the different regions in Vietnam, bringing together people from different backgrounds and contributing to the protection of forests, wetlands, and grasslands throughout Vietnam.

Le Hoang’s five years of hard work have resulted in a large collection of photos of more than 300 bird species, with photos of 200 taken in the northern region. His work makes clear that Vietnam is home to countless rare and beautiful birds; no fewer than elsewhere in the world.

The brilliance of birds-of-paradise, the inaction of the kingfisher on a branch of a tree, the flexible movements of the black-faced spoonbill - a rare bird listed in Vietnam’s Red Book - together express Vietnam’s wide biodiversity and are a valuable possession of the country’s culture.

Love of nature

When pursuing their passion, bird photographers naturally develop a great affection for nature. This is why Le Hoang and other bird photographers object to other photographers moving the birds’ nests and gluing them to a chosen location.

The fledglings cry out for help while their parents try to fly down to save their offspring or even just feed them. Such ruthless acts are all too common, as it makes it easier to take impressive photos that may perhaps win national or international awards.

Not many people know this and nor do many editors of newspapers and magazines know the details behind such shots, which are ironically called ‘Motherly Love’ or ‘Beauty of Nature’. For Le Hoang, though, it’s no less than a crime against nature. ‘I object to photographers interfering in the lives of the birds, especially during the nesting season,’ he said. ‘When they are disturbed or their nests are moved, some birds abandon their nests and their offspring. When tree branches and leaves, which they use for protection, are cut down, their natural enemies, such as snakes and foxes, can find and attack them. When the fledglings are brought out of their nests so photographers can take photos, they may fall out from the tree, be attacked by ants, or die due to the temperature, as many photographers reposition them under sunlight.’ Such deeds, he added, have also resulted in many similar photographs being taken: same light, same setting, and same message conveyed. He objects not only to protect the birds but also to retain the true value of nature photography.

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