Photos capture the world of the winged

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Robert Friedman

This photo of two puffins is part of the exhibit.
Photo by Jerry Weinstein

The mother has just flown in on beautiful blue-violet wings to feed her open-beaked fledgling, who actually looks perturbed, perhaps at a long waiting time for the meal.

The avian scene of the lilac-breasted rollers, caught last year by Columbia photographer Jerry Weinstein with his Nikon D800 at the Maasari Mara Game Reserve in Kenya, is one of his 10 images of exotic and local birds now on exhibit at the Robinson Nature Center.

The birds have winged in, via Weinstein’s  photographic eye, from among such varied places as the southern coast of Iceland (Atlantic puffins), Serengeti National Park in Tanzania (the pin-tailed whydah), El Calafate, Argentina (the southern lapwing and the rufous-tailed hawk) and from the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore (a snowy owl).

An avian avocation

“My wife, Etarae, and I like to travel,” the 73-year-old Weinstein said. “Photography is an important component of our travels.”

“I’ve always been entranced by birds,” said the photographer. “They are nature’s paint brush. They offer a huge variety of colors, patterns, shapes and sizes.

When I see a bird I want to follow it, seeing where it’s going, how it’s doing its bird thing without being interrupted by mankind.”

  Capturing birds in flight by camera can be daunting, said Weinstein. “You have to know your subject, be aware of the light, the composition, make sure the wings are not blocking their bodies. You have to try to capture in sharp detail the fineness of their feathers. I don’t know how many photos of them
I have thrown away.”  

The retired Pentagon economist has been concentrating his photography on nature, in Howard County and around the world. For over five decades, Weinstein has been pointing one Nikon or another at birds, in flight and at rest, as well as lions and tigers looking back at him, monkeys cavorting, giraffes entwining necks, and other mostly zoo animals, as well as the insides and outside of flowers and natural landscapes.

Photographer Jerry Weinstein focuses his lens on the natural world, capturing birds, flowers and zoo animals. An exhibit of his bird photographs is on display at the Robinson Nature Center through June.
Photo courtesy of Jerry Weinstein

Sharing nature to help preserve it 

He acknowledged that he has not focused much on the human species in the more than five decades he has been taking, developing, printing and framing his pictures. He has tried to capture the noble and the playful of two- and four-legged creatures. 

“There is enough ugliness in the world,” he said. “I prefer to go for the beauty side of nature.”

He added: “I’ve always believed in the design of nature, how even down to the minutest detail, nature has done its beautiful things.”

One of his principal goals, he said, is to show what is worth preserving in a world that now threatens animals and nature through shrinking habitats and climate change, which are upsetting migration patterns and territorial homes.

“It is my fervent hope that when people are more aware of the great beauty that surrounds us, they will be more likely to preserve it for themselves, for others and for future generations,” he said.

Weinstein began taking his photos as a youngster visiting the Botanical Gardens Zoo at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. He kept snapping through the years, while visiting different countries, and then in Columbia, where he moved in 1973. He also played a role in developing early Columbia’s fledging community by helping start its first synagogue.

Weinstein’s bird photos will be on exhibit through June 28. For bird fanciers, the complete lineup of images also includes a bluebird photographed in Columbia, a great blue heron from Chincoteague, Va., a saddle-billed stork from Kenya, and a white ibis, caught on camera at Ft. Myers Beach, Fla.  

The Howard County Recreation and Parks’ Robinson Nature Center, which hosts art exhibits accenting the beauty of the natural world, is located at 6692 Cedar Lane, near Route 32. It is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Admission to the trails and building is $5.

For more information, call (410) 313-0400  or see