Morton decided on a plan. He was pretty sure it was flawless.
He’d retired to Florida the previous year. He hated to admit it, but his old life of screeching deadlines, frozen traffic jams, and nail-biting performance reviews, well, he was starting to miss it. He’d heard somebody once called photography “a friendly imitation of work,” so he took it up as a hobby and bought a little camera (a Canon Powershot G7 Mark II, if you must know). Soon he joined the Tampa Bay photo club, and in a few months was entering monthly competitions.
He enjoyed the group, but dreamed of winning a ribbon to show his northern friends. He’d taken a perfectly in-focus picture of a Roseate Spoonbill dredging its beak at pond’s edge. But so had seventeen other contestants, all with fancier cameras. And that Sandhill Crane pecking at his lanai screen – that should’ve earned him an honorable mention. But shutterbug Herb L’Amour came up with two of them! Mating! Morton was very proud of his last attempt, a shot of a redoubtable Brown Pelican attacking his nephew. Until he got disqualified because it showed “the hand of man,” some arcane rule barring human influence from nature photographs.
He fell into a slight depression for a whole day. To shake himself out of it, he decided to submit a truly unique bird photograph. But of what? And where?
One evening David Attenborough hosted a show about nocturnal birds. Nobody at the photo club had ever captured one of those. So be it then! He’d wow them with a winning shot of a night raptor. A Great Horned Owl, hapless rodent in its talons. A row of tiny Screech Owls, disturbed at being disturbed. A Barn Owl with heart-shaped face, lunging to strike.
He found an isolated nature path (safely landscaped) and waited for dusk.