Loon(ey) Tunes – August 2012

Shot of the Month – August 2012

Common Loon, Vermont - USA (8979)As a photographer, my focus tends to be on the visual (pun unintentional).

I love photos, slides, Polaroids, pictures, snaps,  whatever you want to call them.  I will happily page through anyone’s photo album.  Family vacation?  Wedding?  Shots of the kids?  Driver’s License?  Dental x-ray?  Whatever, bring it on.

I am fascinated by what people take pictures of.  And I love seeing how the world gets reconfigured on “film” (you kids out there can look that reference up).

Sometimes it looks just like what you would expect, but so many times an image is a gateway to a whole new world hidden to the human eye.  And I have always been fascinated by animals and nature so images from that realm are a natural draw for me (yet another unexpected pun, hmmn).

But this month the focus is not so much on the visual, but rather the aural.  Yes, we have a photo, in this case a decent shot of a common loon that I found in a pond in Vermont.  Visually loons are striking when adorned in their intricate formal black and white mating dress.  In the right light their red eyes are piercing.  Their heads are black, but the feathers here are irridecent and can take on shades of emerald green when the light hits just right.  Beautiful.  Add the black and white striped neck, and the black and white checked wings, and that delicate white pearl necklace — the visual feast is almost overwhelming.

Their looks are stunning, but my friends, shhhh, come closer for the real story.  It is the Sound.  Ahhh, but the Sound.  How can I begin to convey the call of the loon to the uninitiated?

Eeerie.  Hair-raising.  Haunting.  Spell-binding.  Primordial.

There is n-o-t-h-i-n-g like it in this world.  Imagine gliding in a kayak (this is how I first experienced the Sound).  The water is perfectly, and I mean perfectly, still.  The air is cool and crisp.  The sun has not yet fought its way over the horizon but the darkness has starting giving way.  Shrouds of fog dance across the surface of the water like inverted cones of cotton candy.  The stillness is PROFOUND.  It is hard to image a more peaceful moment in life.  And, then, then, there is this Sound.  A call, a wail that sends you back eons in time.

No words will capture this.  Turn the lights off in your room.  Turn the sound up on your computer.  Louder.  Headphones?  Put ’em on.  Click on the video below and close your eyes and gliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide….

(alas, there is a narrative on this video that is trying to be helpful, ignore it…listen for the Sound…)


Until next month….m