It was a dreary, drizzly winter morning. I had been sitting in my portable photo blind since dawn (several hours of boredom) waiting for the sky to lighten and birds to come in to the perch I had set up near a feeder. I was tipping back on my little hunter’s stool (not made for tipping) and must have started to doze. Over I went, taking the blind with me, not to mention my tripod, the attached camera, and heavy lens. Instinctively, I grabbed the lens as I was going down. I fell on and bruised my other hand. As I righted the blind and tripod, I hoped no one other than the birds and nearby cows had seen me go over.
Nature photography can be difficult. Sometimes I have had to carry heavy camera equipment and other essentials (blind, stool, water, etc.) over rough terrain. I have been bitten by chiggers, fire ants, ticks, biting flies, and mosquitos. I’ve endured heat, cold, and lightening. I have encountered cactus spines, cow patties, poison ivy, and snakes (once a sunbathing Cottonmouth water moccasin blocked my path).
But, the rewards are great. The most obvious reward is getting some nice photos. I can show them to people proudly and say “Look what I did!” I can also show them to people and say “Look what I saw!” Maybe show them something they have not seen before and maybe in the showing and telling I can help others in their appreciation of the web of life.
There is also gratification in the process of taking the picture. The focusing on that one subject. My whole being becomes concentrated on seeing and recording a single, small part of the world. All else fades away.
Sometimes I have sat in my photo blind for hours, being quiet and still so I wouldn’t frighten away potential subjects. I needed to stay alert and aware. After hours of this sitting, I may or may not get the shot I wanted. I was rewarded with just learning the art of being patient and still.
There is the reward in just being outdoors communing with nature. Listening to the quiet. Listening to the bird song, the insect buzz, the coyote howls.
And the reward of the unexpected:
I had not planned on getting this Jack Rabbit portrait. I had been passing through an area to take photographs of something else. He ran into some bushes as I walked by. When I came back through that area later he allowed me to approach him and take lots of pictures. It always feels magical when this sort of thing happens.
The rewards I have gotten from my photography have been a sustaining force in my life. I am full of gratitude for this. When I have finished taking pictures of a subject I always say a quiet “Thank you.”
*Photos by Betty McCreary- Bobwhite Quail and Jack Rabbit photos taken in Goliad co., Texas
*Author’s note: My days of lugging heavy lenses over rough terrain are pretty much over. I shoot mostly flowers and insects in my own backyard with a small, lightweight digital camera.
10 thoughts on “Grateful For Nature Photography”
Oh, Betty – this really stirs my wishes – for a younger/stronger body, and for tripod, fancy camera, and portable blind! (And right before time to send Santa my wish list!) Love your story and these 2 photos. I’ve abandoned any notion of getting truly good images from any distance. My Nikon will zoom further than my iPhone, but even the Nikon is a “toy” compared to what many lug around. We were recently at Choke Canyon State Park watching a man with a lens about 18 inches long take photos with no apparent effort. I cannot steady my little Nikon w/o a tripod or other support! This man swirled his lens toward soaring birds and showed us a couple of impressive images.
Yes, part of me wishes I could do this now, but not happening. I have an old 600mm lens that I don’t even know if I can life it on to a tripod now!
Your photographs are exquisite. What a wonderful keepsake. I don’t have your talent, and certainly not the equipment, but I concur with your description of photo taking – it transports us out of ourselves.
Thank you V.J.! It took me years of shooting and going back to school to study photography to get good. Most pursuits I give up on, but nature photography gave me such pleasure that I stuck with it.
Betty, loved your post because I feel like the public forgets what goes into beautiful media! I forget there’s a photographer behind every shot. Thank you for sharing the photos and your experiences in capturing them.
Thank you for your kind words!
Betty , great blog . Thank you
Thank you for the kind words!