Paul Nelson is usually preoccupied with commercial shooting projects for the likes of big brands such as Target, BestBuy or Fedex, certainly names not to scoff at. For the photographer, this was a full time endeavor that left hardly much for anything else. As the work volume began to slow down though, Nelson found himself able to pursue other projects that were often left neglected or forgotten in the backburner. This ultimately led him to one of his lifelong passions, one which brought him to pick up a camera in the first place—birds.
Shot in collaboration with Springbook Nature Center, Nelson set out to shoot a series of photos of various bird species in flight birds as they are released back into the wild. The project which was shot entirely in a studio environment is called Aviary.
Aviary combines both the advertising style of shooting, using crisp white backgrounds that are so popular these days for minimalist backdrops, along with the fickle and impulsive nature of birds as they decide to take flight. It is a difficult and tricky balance between absolute control of parameters in the studio, along with the winged creature’s hopeful cooperation.
Nelson’s choice to work with Springbook Nature Center would afford him the access to a wide variety of bird species, a rare opportunity for any bird aficionado. Springbook as a matter of procedure upon capturing these birds collects data about them. When that is done, they fasten bands to their feet for monitoring and tracking. As they were released, Nelson was allowed a singular chance to take pictures of them using a specially designed IR photo booth he built specifically for this project.
Since these birds are taking flight to freedom once again, Nelson only gets one chance which hopefully is the money shot. If the photo is not ideal, there is no second chance. Obviously, his luck was on a roll when they did the project, based on the stunning, detailed images he came up with. The shots are almost painting-like in detail with unrivaled clarity. Immersion in the Aviary project has made Nelson an even more informed person on birds, and it has spurred on his interest in the subject. In time, he hopes to expand Aviary by including more birds doing other activities.
Visit his website to see the lucid quality Nelson achieved for the Aviary project.