Beautiful Starlings / by Chris Maynard

 Starling Poster

Starling Poster

I am fascinated with starlings in part because the only kind where I live was introduced, an immigrant. Since they are considered a pest by many, I tend to notice their beauty, especially the feathers. It is the nature of my perspective as an artist. Ours in North America aren’t the only starlings. As a matter of fact, over 100 species of them grace this world with their different voices, social behavior, and their feathers. I had the opportunity this week to photograph 20 species worth of their feathers. They range from 5 to 45 millimeters each in length and average about 25 millimeters which is about an inch long. The metallic feathers only reflect light from a single angle. In the final image, these feathers are at that angle, at their shiniest. Looking at them from any other direction, they look mostly grayish.  The image shows the feathers at their peak--like an outdoor magazine that only shows the biggest fish caught or a fashion advertisement showing an unattainably beautiful face.  But unlike the beautiful faces, the feathers here aren’t enhanced in photoshop.

Each feather was positioned and lit just right, photographed and then combined in what ended up in a file big enough to print a 10 foot image in fine detail.