Poetic Justice

Poetic justice is a phrase usually meant to describe the “come-uppins” that people receive when they do bad things. Sort of a karma thing, although I do not believe in karma. You carelessly banged your car door into that of another at the shopping center, and didn‘t leave a note. The next day while you were at the grocery store, an errant shopping cart rammed into the side of your car. That’s described as poetic justice. I have also heard it used the other way. You do a good deed today, and through poetic justice you will have your reward tomorrow.

Taken separately, one description of poetic is sensitive or insightful, while justice (a favorite word of mine) can mean valid or validity. It is also a word used to describe the discovery (without prejudice) of the truth, which subsequently delivers either rewards (freedom) or punishment to the perpetrator of a questionable action. Justice.

Of course this is a photography blog.

Photography is often described as poetic or as being poetry. Finding justice in a nature photo is difficult, as nature itself operates without conscience. Rewards for what we perceive as positive actions, or punishment for negative actions, would make no sense in a world with no conscience or code of ethics.

If your pet dog or cat kills a small animal, they do not feel sorry for that animal. You may shame them and make them feel they need to bow to your anger, and that may appear to be sorrow, but your sweet pet cares not about the death of the animal. There is no justice (or need for it) when you operate out of the instincts you were designed to. We of course should operate out of a higher calling.


I’ve said many times that one of the reasons I became a nature photographer, was my never-ending curiosity. I love to explore, and when I find a subject, I want to know why it lives where it lives, or why it does what it does. I am also curious when it comes to why people do what they do.  When it comes to people, it’s best to remember that curiosity and nosey ness are not the same thing.


Today’s pictures have little to do with poetry or justice. A few however, were born of curiosity.

This picture has everything to do with curiosity. Not mine, the Badger’s. As we drove along a high dirt mountain road there was a flash of something along the side. I went back and out of her den came this Badger. We shot and she disappeared back into her home. I restarted the car and out she came once again. For about fifteen minutes every time she would go back inside, I would start the car and curiosity would bring her out.


Sunrise images do (to me) carry a certain poetic quality. Add a misty morning and the mood itself becomes poetic. I can thank nature herself for any such qualities that exist in this picture as I am only the translator.

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Social butterflies? We have all heard the term “social butterfly” to describe those people who flutter from one social interaction to another. These Swallowtail Butterflies prove that even a butterfly can be a social butterfly.

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One in a million. That is to say this is merely one in the million ways to look at the Badlands of South Dakota.

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Bachelor Party. I miss those great opportunities that Horicon Marsh NWR has brought me over the years. Most of the (few) opportunities I have ever had with Northern Pintail ducks have come right along Highway 49. Caught these two males acting like best friends.



So many seem to want to be professional photographers today. I think it sounds easy (and fun) to most who are looking in that direction. After all, you just have to snap pictures. I think nature is the most common subject people pursue. I mean, it’s pretty easy to find a subject. There are subjects in my own backyard. Besides, snapping pictures of birds and butterflies and sunsets…come on now! Pretty easy stuff. I wonder why nobody ever dreams of making pictures of sunrises?

I have worked for other people, and worked for myself, and I’d rather work for myself, despite the fact that I am the worse boss I ever had. I was a selfish and unforgiving boss.

The reason why people want to be photographers is partially because it sounds easy, but mostly because it represents freedom. It is in the nature of the human animal, as social as we may be, to strive for, to search for, and even to fight for freedom. Wisdom would be to remember that when we willingly give our freedoms away.


Showing so many older pictures as I do, often leads to misconceptions by some who view those images. When I show an image of a place that was made in 2007, or 1996, or 1985, there is always a likelihood that something has changed in the scene since I made that picture.

Recently I received a comment on one of my images on a social media site. The image was a landscape and the comment was complimentary. It ended with the author applauding me for not altering the subject the way so many do today. A little while later the comment was edited to add by using Photoshop. A little while later it was edited again to take out the direct reference to that specific type of software editing. I truly felt that the compliment was sarcastic because she mentioned in her comment, that she just camped there. I publicly thanked her for her comment, something I do with every comment if possible, and then wrote her a personal message. I explained that I made the image several years ago, and told her exactly what editing I did. It wasn’t much but I did take out a small white spot near the bottom of a lake. I mentioned that I felt it was actually a boat or a small building. It was not recognizable only irritating. I removed it and added a small amount of contrast. She was embarrassed and assured me that she was not being sarcastic when she said that she was happy I did not alter the image. I take her at her word but really for the first time I began to wonder just how many of the scenes I have shown you, are actually different today. Certainly some of the old buildings including abandoned ranch houses, could have been altered drastically. You can only do what you do when you can do it, share the results and hope for the best.

Have a great day and God Bless,                                                                                                Wayne





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