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Resident’s eye for birding makes him a natural photographer

About 15 years ago, Westerly residents Max and Kay Miller were introduced to “birding” by their friends, the McDavitts, also residents at Wichita Presbyterian Manor. What started out as watching and tracking birds, however, developed into a true passion for photography and works of art.

“The McDavitts are very accomplished birders and got us interested in it. We went with them a lot of the time. We started with binoculars and spotting scopes. Then it got fun with an eyepiece on the spotting scope, and I got intrigued with photos we were getting but they weren’t very good. So, I got a telephoto lens and have been playing with it ever since,” said Max.

Currently, Max uses his Nikon camera and telephoto lens from 150-200 mm to get the telephoto effect.

“The fun thing is to find a bird, identify what it is and see how many you can get. It’s more fun when you’re really not sure what it is. There was a bird at the zoo, recently, and I wasn’t sure what it was. I came back and put the pictures up on the computer screen so we could magnify them and look. We discovered it was a female oriole,” said Max.

Max and Kay, who have been married for 60 years, like to go birding at Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira Wildlife Refuge. Both are on the migratory path and certain times of the year they can spot many birds that aren’t typically seen here.

“One time, Kay and I got to Quivira, and on that occasion, we saw 70 different whooping cranes – that’s about a tenth of the total population there are.”

Max has been shooting birds with his camera for around 10 years. While he’ll “practically shoot anything,” he doesn’t typically photograph people. “I mostly shoot wildlife, flowers, birds and things you would see wandering through a park.”

For inspiration – and better health – Max walks to the Sedgwick County Zoo almost daily with his camera. He enjoys shooting photos when he, Kay and the McDavitts go on vacation, too. For Max, photography is a true art form.

“There are several different things I enjoy about photography. In one case, you’re simply capturing something you see, a record of something you’re looking at. The other dimension is that I can take a picture, and I enjoy sitting down at the computer and working with Lightroom and Photoshop to make an image of it that is better than I got in the camera. I think of it as taking it with the camera and making it with the computer. There’s only a few photos worth doing that with.”

Max recently shared his photos at a program on campus. We hope he’ll continue sharing his talent and love for birding with us!

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