A sentimental journey driven by childhood memories turned into a six-year marathon for Alan McFadyen, who pursued the perfect photograph of a diving kingfisher in honor of his late grandfather.
The 46-year-old Scotsman dedicated over 4,200 hours and captured 720,000 images before finally snapping the perfect moment.
Memories of observing kingfishers with his grandfather Robert Murray at a picturesque lake near Kirkcudbright, Scotland, were etched deeply into McFadyen’s mind.
Forty years later, these memories inspired him to focus his photography endeavors on this special bird, transforming a childhood pastime into a passionate pursuit.
Each year, tidal water would flood the kingfisher’s nest. To overcome this, McFadyen crafted a sustainable habitat for the birds by carving a hole in the bank and filling it with clay.
Throughout his pursuit, McFadyen, a father of three, made numerous visits, spending about 100 days annually at the lakeside spot, patiently waiting to capture the kingfishers’ signature dive.
It took over 720,000 photos and countless hours of dedication to immortalize the bird’s flawless dive without a hint of a splash.
From his home in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland, McFadyen reflected on his remarkable accomplishment: “Capturing such a shot takes a considerable amount of patience and a healthy dose of luck.
The kingfishers dive at bullet speed, making capturing a good photo a significant challenge. I often snapped hundreds of photos in one session. While most of them didn’t meet my expectations, they represented steps toward my goal.”
Unfortunately, McFadyen’s grandfather Robert passed away in 1994, never witnessing his grandson’s success photographing the bird they both cherished.
McFadyen expressed his heartfelt wish that his grandfather could have seen his work, adding that his grandfather’s influence was paramount in his life, and his approval would have meant the world.
In the future, McFadyen plans to continue his journey with the kingfishers, saying he finds solace and joy at this special lakeside spot.
His ultimate dream is for his eight-year-old son Leighton, who recently spotted his first kingfisher, to continue his legacy.
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