International Crane Foundation, Baraboo, WI
The International Crane Foundation has played a vital role in restoring the once nearly extinct population of whooping cranes in the US, and of other species around the world. They keep a small educational exhibit of these cranes at their Wisconsin headquarters, including this whooping crane I saw standing among reeds in a wetland landscape during an early February sunset. My fast telephoto lens was able to isolate a sharp, manually focused image of the profile of the crane from the soft, unfocused shadows and highlights of the reeds behind and in front of him - producing a visual effect like a painting done with soft red and yellow brushstrokes around the sharp white crane. I liked the effect so much that I moved to one side and squatted down behind a clump of bushes a few inches in front of my lens, which not only added more (and darker) "brushstrokes" to the picture, but also produced the fade to black at the edges, where bushes were shaded from the sun's rays falling on the reeds and the bird.
Nikon F4s, 300mm f/2.8 lens, tripod