Laura Bentley and the Spirit of Nature
Laura Bentley was born in Nova Scotia, Canada, and then moved across the country to Alberta. She now has four children, aged 9 to 15 years. Laura’s interest in photography began shortly after she was diagnosed with severe chronic pain disorder (fibromyalgia) and severe migraine disorder.
We asked Laura about how her disability led to her new passion.
Perky-Pet®: How did you first get involved in bird photography?
LAURA BENTLEY: One Christmas my husband gifted me a camera which sat there for a couple of years. It was that piece of equipment, my passion for outdoors and my will not to be defeated that has enabled me to redefine what genuinely has been a healing tool.
It was just a matter of learning the camera and making a connection with the subject prior to snapping. My yard has apple/berry trees, a few feeders, bird houses, suet and water, very simple. I felt it very important to make birds feel at home and comfortable in their environment first. It has made capturing them effortless.
PP: Where are some of your favorite spots for taking pictures of birds?
LB: I’m fortunate to live close to a provincial park — Fish Creek Park — within the city of Calgary, Alberta, and have an established yard with mature trees. I had always dreamed of capturing some of the amazing things we’d seen over the years camping and fishing in remote areas, as well as in my own yard.
PP: What’s your favorite bird to photograph?
LB: The city of Calgary hosts countless Osprey couples who I have become very fond of, and I’m anxiously awaiting their return. Osprey watching has been an amazing experience.
The sight watching these powerful birds sit over a creek, dive down and catch a fish and return to the nest with a stellar meal for the family has been an incredible experience. Ultimately, my favorite bird to photograph is one who is as interested in my presence as I am with it.
PP: That implies that you’ve had some interesting interactions with birds. Care to share some?
LB: The most interesting example would be coming face to face with a Great Horned Owl while walking in remote areas of the Alberta boreal crest.
When this happens, I begin to speak to the bird as if it was a long lost friend and continue to make a spiritual connection. I feel these birds are presented to me visually but I believe this is a spiritual meeting of the minds on a deeper level. If one allows themselves to be open to making both connections, there is always a powerful underlying message behind each encounter.
I’m not sure if my small size helps, but my friends and family maintain I have a gift when it comes to wildlife.
PP: The picture on your site of the flicker is quite unique. What makes this image special to you? Where was it taken and what is it eating?
LB: That red-shafted flicker is one I see mainly was captured during my favourite time of year — fall.
I have removed a few window screens in my home as we have big mature trees which are a couple feet outside.
Flickers, robins, finches and Bohemian Waxwings all enjoy these berries once frozen. That photo also shows it’s tongue if you look closely. By the way, we made small owl boxes & have a flicker couple in one!
PP: Any interesting observations from your years out in the field?
LB: It kind of makes me a bit sad that few people take notice of birds these days. I was sitting close to Osprey nest last year along a bike path and some guy squealed on his breaks, stopped and said, ‘What the heck is that thing?
Inside I was laughing, but instead took a few minutes of my time to educate him on the majestic Osprey.
PP: Your Blue Jay photograph has a great Christmasy feel to it. Are you selling it for use on cards and other gift items?
LB: That was the result of an early September snowstorm and no power for 10 hours. I had nothing to do but take pics of all the birds in the snow.
You can chose from a few designs to create cards of your own on my site. There is also quite a wide variety of other gifts items available such as stickers, mugs, mouse pads and many more. I am thinking I will easily sell some images of the snow owl I captured about a month ago too.
PP: Any tips for people just picking up bird photography?
LB: My advice would be to enjoy it, be patient and let them know you appreciate their presence.