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Selection of December 2019: Flirting with the falls by Florence Dabenoc-Devaux

Tutoyer les chutes / Flirting with the falls by Florence Dabenoc-Devaux

This photo was taken during a 3 weeks family trip to Argentina. The Iguazu falls which mark in a majestic and thunderous way this border between Brazil and Argentina, are for me the most beautiful and the most impressive in the World. We spent two days there to fully immerse ourselves, the first day on the Argentinian side (from where they flow) and the second day on the Brazilian side. 
The first morning, we could observe the king swifts (Cypseloides senex). They are small endemic and emblematic birds of the falls. They were first in small numbers, scattered here and there. These birds have their nest on the walls of the cliffs, often behind the more or less dense curtains of water, which they pass through with brio and disconcerting ease, which allows them to shelter from predators, as well as their offspring. 
At one point we saw that they were starting to regroup and fly together. The contrast between their small precise and tapered silhouette, the elegance of their harmonious gregarious flight and the titanic bubbling of the falls that they are the only ones who can come and groom to, makes this spectacle fantastic and bewitching. I spent at least 10 minutes observing them, without touching any of the two boxes that hung heavily from each of my shoulders. I was fascinated. I admired this spectacle of nature.  

So, it was only after ten minutes that I got out of this pleasant state of admiring hypnosis, telling myself that it was still a shame not to take photos! I was however skeptical because I was aware that this superb scene, once "dispossessed" of the harmonious and chiseled movements of the birds, the gargantuan broth of the falls and the sound and spray that accompanied it, would probably lose much of its force and of its intensity. I framed so as to have a part of the top of the fall (curtain), the narrowing causing huge eddies and "small" trickles of water on the right (where birds nest). I triggered less than ten times with this framing. I tried to widen the field, but I liked it less. Then I continued to admire the show. 

It is therefore with the almost certainty of being disappointed that once back home, I went to look at the photos of the swifts (they were nevertheless one of the first that I went to look for among the hundreds taken during these 3 weeks, so hope was not totally absent ;-). My first reaction when I discovered the raw was ... frustration and disappointment. I only came back several weeks later because one of them still caught my attention, the composition and the position of the birds pleased me. It only made me want to start working on its black and white conversion, my favorite field. And it is little by little, by refining the contrasts, the textures, the clarity, the correction of the veil and the blacks, in small doses but wisely I hope, that I started to relive the scene and to be impressed again by these little birds, so fragile and agile, who come, in a broom as graceful as cheeky, to flirt with these grand cataracts with phenomenal power. 
I think that black and white helped to get to the point (as often) and bring out the striking, poetic and majestic sides of this scene. I am conscious of being lucky to have been able to be the admiring spectator, surrounded by my children, and happy that my first reaction was not to admire it through the eyecup of my camera but well with my eyes and all my senses awake. And it is perhaps that, I like to believe it in any case, which guided me in my image processing and which made pass there as many emotions, according to what people say, when they see this photo, and I am delighted.


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