You know how you luck out every once in a while with the perfect picture? Maybe you're taking a photograph of your kids or grandchildren, when something about the lighting, their smiles and open eyes are in sync. The picture looks great.
If you've ever thought, "That's a one in a million shot," you're almost right. The perfect picture (above, and next page) took one photographer six years of trudging out to the woods, and standing in water, and snapping up to 600 pictures at a time for about 100 days a year, to get the perfect shot.
Alan McFadyen took 720,000 pictures of kingfishers before he snapped the perfect one. In this case, perfect means the precise millisecond before the bird causes a great, big splash as it dives in to catch a fish.
He was aiming to get a photograph that captured the kingfisher's beautiful coloring before it crashed into the water. Kingfishers fly into the water at about 25 mph.
To improve his odds of getting that shot, McFadyen built a bank by the lake out of clay. It was a place where the birds were safe from flooding, which is common in the area.
McFadyen started taking the pictures as a way to remember his grandfather. Forty years ago, his grandfather took him on trips to a lake to watch the kingfishers. That fond memory spurred him on, although his grandfather died in 1994.
He told reporters, "As a small boy of about six, I remember my grandfather taking me to see the kingfisher nest. I just remember being completely blown away by how magnificent the birds are."
You'll be blown away, too. See some of McFadyen's not-perfect shots on the next page.
Alan McFadyen took 720,000 photographs of kingfishers over a 4,200-hour stretch that lasted six years, before he got the perfect shot. These are some of his rejects.