This is the beginning of (what I plan to be) a series of images based on the old saying of “a picture is worth a thousand words“. Generally, the saying means that photo can say a lot – but in this series, I will write about single image and what it says to me. I’m usually quite concise in my writing, so it will be interesting to see if I can manage 1000 words!



A bird nest is something constructed in nature that serves a purpose. The bird(s) put a lot of effort into creating a home for their eggs and then protect it and use it until its intended purpose is complete. We admire these items and look at the differences that each species makes, and then we incorporate the word into our vocabulary to mean a number of things.

Our nests are our homes. We protect them and hope that they will serve our purposes. We usually don’t build our nests, but instead work long hours to pay for one. We raise our children in them and make a home. At some point, parents are left with an empty nest like the one in this image.

We look at our nests as something that is only for family. It’s our den, our refuge, our own space in the world. It may not be much – but we call it home.

For me, this image symbolizes all that we incorporate into our nests. It’s unique, it’s protected and it’s all just hanging on by a limb. It also characterizes how we tend to isolate ourselves and put up barriers that ward off others and keep our lives veiled.

I like the combination of the natural and industrial as it mirrors the world around us. Our species started in mud homes (and prairie pioneers kept that tradition alive more recently). We’ve added layers of technology to our homes and do everything we can to protect them. We insure them against losses, we add alarms, we install fire and smoke detectors, and we have smart homes that create just the right environment for our nests.

The Shot

I’ve had this image in my head for several months. It started with the basic idea of a barbed wire fence around a bird nest. We have a fair number of nests fall out of trees and into our yard, and they are usually in good shape. I had this particular one sitting around for a while, and then I thought about adding to it.

Thankfully, I have an artist friend who could take my idea and make it a reality – thanks Cindy! She put this together one night, and then it sat for a few months while I figured out how to shoot it. I had shot a nest before and had added a mummified bird to it, and considered adding birds to this one as well, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked the simplicity and symbolism of the nest with a fence. I knew I wanted it to look dramatic with some top lighting, and ran some ideas around in my head.

I eventually had the image concept firmly in my mind, and just needed the time to shoot it. Finally I shot it tonight, and after two sessions of light painting, I got the look I was after. I combined two images in Photoshop to have the nest, branches and background all looking as I wanted.

I also muted the colours to make the shot as sublime as I could. This monotone looks helps blend the natural and industrial to create a more blended outcome. The branches are mostly grey, and the nest was a straw colour, so there wasn’t a lot of muting needed, but toning down the colours adds to the drama of the lighting.

Looking at the image another way, the branches seems to form a hand, which is holding the nest – presenting it, almost. This adds another dimension to the idea of how we showcase our homes and want them to look ‘right’ for our friends and neighbours – but we’re still ready to yell “Hey – get off of my lawn”. Look, but don’t touch.


The more I shoot, the more I want my images to say something. I have a lot of “nice sunset” photos, but I want to start creating images that might mean something or a few things to different people. I feel that starting with this first “Nest” image, I’ll be inspired to create more pictures that are worth (nearly) a thousand words.

Thanks for reading, and if you have any comments about this image, please leave them below. – Art

Prints of this image are available for order here

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