Mountain View Voice

News - November 4, 2011

Shooting birds, with a camera

Local photographer featured in Rengstorff House exhibit

by Daniel DeBolt

The photo exhibit "Birds at Shoreline: Aflight!" is wrapping up on Nov. 20, leaving two more weeks for people to see photos of nearly 40 bird species at Shoreline Park, including those taken by Mountain View resident Luis Villablanca.

The 44-year-old software engineer at Synopsis caught a striking picture of a Barrow's Goldeneye in the Shoreline Park sailing lake.

"It is locally rare," Villablanca said of the black and white duck. "You can find a few sometimes in the East Bay. They never come down in this area. This duck has wintered the last couple of years in the lake."

Villablanca said he first started photographing birds in 2006 at Shoreline Park. It's conveniently located near his office so he could visit in the morning before work. He has since traveled to Texas and Alaska to photograph birds.

He fondly recalled shooting a Red Throated Loon during a trip to Alaska in June. His photos drew praise on his Flicker photostream. Nevertheless, he says his favorite bird is "usually the last one I shot."

"Getting a good image of species you haven't seen before is good. I enjoy trying to find a good angle and good background, while respecting their environment," he said.

If Villablanca could shoot other wildlife he said he would, but "birds are more approachable, more accessible," he said. "Running into a mammal," like the moose and arctic ground squirrel he shot in Alaska, "it's hard and very rare" in comparison.

Villablanca said the Shoreline sailing lake is his favorite place to shoot photos, as well as Adobe Creek. The salt ponds, where duck hunters go in the winter, don't provide the best camera angles because the levees are too high, he said.

Over 240 bird photographs submitted by local photographers will be on display at Shoreline Park's Rengstorff House, the city's oldest home, alongside docent-led tours of the house from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays until Nov. 20. For more information, call (650) 903-6392 or go to the Rengstorff House website at r-house.org.

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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