My lovely bride and I visited Yosemite National Park in August 2017. The schedule was driven by a night photography workshop in which I participated. We decided to spend a week there and had a wonderful time. In one of the gift shops, we found a poster with ‘Orland’s Penultimate Compendium of Photographic Truths’. It hangs in a frame in my Study, just to the left of the Digital Darkroom (aka my computer desk). The Compendium is a list of mostly humorous statements:
“The best scenic turnouts are clearly designated by highway signs reading NO STOPPING ANYTIME.”
“Falling cameras are attracted to rocks.”
“At critical moments your camera will alert you to amazing photographic scenes by flashing the words WARNING: LOW BATTERY”
In the tiniest of fonts near the bottom of the poster is this statement: “The First Rule of Photography: BE THERE!”
Those two words have so much meaning. They describe a concept so simple, yet so true. BE THERE! One cannot make an image of the Grand Canyon, or Old Faithful, or a steam locomotive, or an Eagle flying along a river without being there. For the travel photographer and tourist, landscape scenes are done by simply being there (even though one must be there when the light is best for truly great pictures, but that’s a whole different post).
For the wildlife photographer, life is a bit different. Sadly, critters have their own schedule and their own view of the world. I’ve said it many times, critters don’t take direction! They won’t tip their head or turn their bodies when one asks them to. They arrive and depart on their schedule, with little to no regard for the person standing there with a camera. How rude! And ask them to sign a model release. Forget it!
A couple days ago, I was out looking for Eagles in an area that I know they hunt. The roads go up mountain passes and have closures during the winter for obvious reasons. I had just driven along a stretch of river and reached the closed gates. Preparing to turn around, I saw this Eagle fly up from the direction I had just driven. He landed in a tree and gave me a look that seemed to say, “Well, you didn’t stop for pictures before so here I am now!” I obliged and got some fantastic images, and I gave thanks to that Eagle and the Photo Gods for sending him to me.
I’m not always fortunate to find exactly what I’m looking for, so I take pictures of the wildlife I find and frequently of the gorgeous scenery I’m passing through. This post is about the wildlife I’ve been finding while out looking for Eagles this season.
A couple weeks ago, my scheduled spotter canceled at the last minute so my lovely bride came with me. We were driving to the Eagle area when she suddenly says, “There’s a Bear!” Sure enough, this handsome critter was about 20 yards off the road and allowed me to grab a few shots.
Sometimes, the predator is a bit smaller. Like this character.
I was hiking the road behind the closed gates when I saw this Coyote near the river. I tracked him through the brush, across the road, and up the hill.
Sometimes the subject is small, like this little Junco who was hopping the snowy road while I was hiking. He was not concerned about me until I knelt down to get a better angle, then he took flight. Darn it!
Occasionally, I get a real treat. I had seen their tracks in many places along the road, but I came over a small rise and these three ladies were in the road. They quickly went up the hill, but stopped to let me get several images. This one is my favorite.
If I hadn’t been there – even though I was there for a different purpose – I wouldn’t have gotten these images! These two words have become my new photographic mantra – BE THERE! But watch for rocks under your feet and keep your batteries charged! I love what I do, and hope that you do, too.
Enjoy – PHOTOROGR