Gliding gracefully through the air, the birds in Mark Harvey’s majestic series, In Flight, look almost heavenly. Pictured against brooding skies, the balletic creatures, at once fragile and mighty, appear to have danced their way into view. They are oblivious to our gaze, free spirits whose path is completely their own. For a moment, they are suspended in mid-air, frozen forever by the photographer’s camera.
Mark encountered the birds close to his home in the Norfolk Broads in spring 2020. He photographed them using a scaled down version of a lighting set-up he normally uses to photograph horses, making use of mini flashes to make the colours and textures of the birds’ wings and bodies ‘pop’.
Deliberately isolating the birds from their surroundings, his intention was to capture moments not usually seen and for the viewer to feel as though they can reach out and touch them. Indeed, there is an intimacy to these candid bird portraits that is enhanced by the careful use of directional lighting. To be able to show such incredible shapes in razor sharp detail was a key objective, the ultimate aim being to show these Common British birds – among them, goldfinches, blue tits, great tits and starlings – in a new light. It is almost as though they have been elevated to a higher plane.
We encounter birds every day, but rarely do we stop and really study them. They are so tiny and look so insignificant we don’t realise how glorious they are. Only when they’re put in the spotlight do they come to life in the most brilliant, breathtaking way.