When I used to travel around North America and I would tell new acquaintances that I was from Wisconsin. I was always shocked how few Americans even knew where Wisconsin was. Sadly we have become known for serial killers, Milwaukee murders, and politics that are that of spoiled children.
What people from other places thought about Wisconsin’s outdoors was farms and forests. Indeed, we are proudly a farming state and we have many beautiful forests. What I would tell new acquaintances who were interested in the nature of Wisconsin was, think water. Wisconsin has over 15,000 lakes. That is about 5,000 more than our neighbor (Minnesota) who calls itself The Land of 10,000 Lakes. Nice of them to admit their inferiority. We have many, many marsh/wetlands. Horicon Marsh is the largest fresh water Cattail marsh in the world. The entire eastern border of this very tall state is made up of one Great Lake, called Michigan. Our entire northern border is made up of another Great Lake called Superior. Most of our western border is rimmed by North America’s largest river called the Mississippi. Wisconsin is literally “wired” with rivers, creeks, tributaries as well as ponds that are too small to be lakes..
So for you nature photographers who want to come to Wisconsin, think water. Water birds, water mammals, herps, and beautiful water filled land/waterscapes are everywhere.
I love watching pro photographers trying to sell their workshops on Facebook. It is not easy to do, even for the biggest names. Here’s a little secret. When a workshop approaches and there is a last-minute (2 to 4 weeks) cancellation they are trying to fill, and it seems that it is always happening to the same photographers, it is because they never sold it in the first place, and don’t want you to know. Not a big deal, we have all done that, and even the biggest and the best can find it hard to separate “want a be” photographers from their money. That cash could buy the next camera they had their eye on.
Recently I have been looking at a lot of pictures, both my own and those of others, on two separate computer screens. One laptop that is seven years old but has an excellent screen. The a second current laptop with an upper echelon HD screen. Almost every image looks different, sometimes dramatically on each screen. A pretty blue sky may be a deep purple sky on another. You might think calibration is the answer, but sharpness and artifacts can be different too. No noise on one screen, lots on another. Removing sky noise works perfectly on one screen, but leaves pock marks on another. It is amazing and scary to think that some pictures that we share on the internet can look so very different on someone else’s screen. We do not necessarily share what we think we share.
I have always loved nature oriented TV shows whether they be legitimate documentaries or geared towards the education/entertainment of children. One I grew up with was Marlin Perkin’s Wild Kingdom. There is literally a nature show on TV every minute of every day now. Both on and off of PBS. Every single program, is supposedly showing what they are doing to further the plight of something else in nature. When they tell you they made this film of some crabs in South America, because we want to save the polar ice caps, and a type of Coniferous tree in Poland, what they should say is, we are showing you this because it was so cool to come down here and do this, and we needed to sound like we are saving the world. Of course in many cases, they earn their living doing this. It is very important to them that you believe, they are on a mission to save the planet. Of course you can also help the plight of the crab by eating farm grown seaweed, buying only green socks and driving a hybrid, or some other ridiculous combination of activities.
I am not against making films or still images to further the plight of some animal that needs help. Don’t however, let them “guilt you” into things that make no sense. Unfortunately when it comes to the natural world, there are many predators waiting to take advantage of you. Those predators sometimes carry cameras.
One of my favorite subjects in the world is grass. I am speaking of photographic subjects of course, and not the type of grass that’s smoked. At least as far as I know. Among grasses, I love Foxtail Barley grass the most. In particular, in late summer when it turns the color of rust. Add the sweet light of sunrise, and a few drops of morning dew……well you get the picture. Four of them in fact. Abstractions no less.
The political season is upon us once again. That’s assuming that it ever leaves. In many ways, politics in America really works just like many other important institutions.
Have you ever been to a real criminal trial or seen one on television? When someone is charged with first degree intentional homicide, the crust of the battle between the defense and prosecution is often, did the defendant know the difference between right and wrong. The prosecutor will call an “expert” witness. Likely a psychiatrist. The defense will also call their expert. They of course are paid for the honest unbiased opinion (LOL) following an examination of the accused. As if it were a miracle from heaven the District Attorney’s witness will testify that the accused has some emotional issues dating back to his youth, but he knows perfectly well the difference from right and wrong. The lawyer for the defense will testify that while his client is of dubious moral quality, the killing was due to a severe case of psychosis. There is no way he could distinguish right from wrong. As amazing as it seems, the prosecutorial witness found for the prosecutor, with an admittance of some minor emotional issues. The defense witness found for the defense although he admitted he has some moral issues, which of course helps make his diagnosis, believable. At least to the incredibly gullible, which seems to include most juries.
When you read about products such as food additives, or maybe yard herbicides, you can generally find scientific evidence both for the safety, and for the danger of those products. The watchdog group that is in the business (that’s right there have paid employees) of detecting health issues, has hired scientists which will come to the conclusion, after much exhaustive research, that both products can cause cancer and will likely cause (77% of all cases) your eyes to turn inside out and your ears to move after five or six uses. Amazingly, the manufacturers will fund a survey that has found that you can actually eat both additives raw without any health concerns. You can live off them if you choose. Mmmm, once again the paid fact finders have surprisingly found in favor of their own clients. I am sensing a trend.
During this political campaign season you will find incumbent Governors and state legislators all over America that will cite surveys that prove their state is on the upswing, and doing great. On the other hand, and there’s always another hand, the challengers will find just as many surveys that say that your state ranks 75 out of 50 states in employment and overall economy. Both will be right. It’s all in how you look at the numbers. Sometimes politicians are foolish enough to quote partisan studies, but mostly they don’t have to. There is an economic study for every viewpoint, and the parties and candidates just have to choose the one that makes their point.
The moral is, don’t take political ads from anyone, seriously. I would tell you to just turn the channel but I am sure there will be an add for a law firm telling you that you can make ten million dollars for that terrible sprained ankle you suffered when you tripped over your own feet on the front lawn of that fortune 500 company…………and they will have the experts to prove it.
Knowing The Secret
Much of the world spends their life searching for that one thing that fills them up. They jump from subject to subject and wonder how this person or that person found the thing that makes them happy and complete.
While I am may not be wildly successful, there have been more things than I can recall, that have been special to me. I am going to tell you something now I have never admitted on these pages. Since I was a child I have had people probe me, wondering how I can be so passionate and fulfilled by say, taking a car ride with my parents on a Sunday afternoon. I loved (and still do) watching the farms go by. I wondered about the lives of the farmers. I got goose bumps when we drove into yet another little town. Maybe with an old-fashioned square. I had pals who against the wishes of their parents (for safety), would hike down to the shores of Lake Michigan just to see what they were missing. I mean I could spend five hours exploring down there on a summer’s morning, with or without a pal. How lucky is Wayne to always find something that was special to him!
Want to know a secret. I have never, not once in my life, searched for anything to fill me up. Neither have most people who seem passionate about things. I have just lived my life and allowed myself to be filled up with whatever came my way. I have no expectations that some thing, is going to change my life. As a kid, the only thing we ever did as a family that I couldn’t wait to do again, was visiting. You know, family would come over and we would visit. That’s the one thing I didn’t like. A baseball game, an auto race, museums, a trip to Chicago. The next time those things came up as something to do, I was always so excited.
I was not excited about my wife’s love of horses. I mean, it’s expensive, and those horses are big and scary looking. We bought our first horses only because it was a dream of my wife. Within the first week, horses were a new love for me. I miss that part of my life still. I had no passion for horses I just let it “have its way” with me. After all, as a kid I had a passion for cowboy movies.
When I lived in Colorado, if it were not for the need to generate income, I might have camped in the mountains and spent every day hiking, for the entirety of each summer. When I was in the city, I would look at the mountains dreaming of the next opportunity to do just that. I never planned for that to happen. I wasn’t looking for that special something that would “fill me up”.
Sometimes as an adult, my love of things I have experienced, was not a good thing. I led a bar/night club life at one time. I was just as passionate about that. That life led me to places I never should have been. Sometimes you have to say no to something. That’s a good problem to have. I quickly found I did not need it. A ride on my horse, or a night at the races filled me up more than any saloon ever could. When you allow yourself to feel passionate about things, you actually wind up rejecting some bad things, instead of always searching for that one thing that never seems to come.
When you look at someone who is successful, and is clearly satisfied, impassioned and fulfilled, with their sport, or occupation, or small business, don’t be envious of their luck, because if their lives had turned in a different direction, they would be just as passionate about that.
My passions, those things that I just seem to keep finding, that so many friends have questioned me about over the years, don’t mean that I am never sad or angry. If I waited for that to happen, I would never find a passion. They fill me up because I let them, not because I am searching for something to provide that for me. I never expect them to make me, or my life perfect.
I have never once, looked at another human being, as the one who could make me happy. I take people as they come and am eternally grateful to so many who have spent time in my life, but I have never envisioned it to be their job to fill me up. You will wait a long time, and be perpetually disappointed when you place that pressure on the shoulders of others. People might fill you up, and you may become passionate about them, but only if you take them as they come.
Sometimes these days, I am sad. I never envisioned a life such as the one I now lead. It’s hard to find a passion sitting here at home. Of course I do what I always do, I just let things come to me. I know that there will never be that one thing that fills me up. I share some old pictures on the internet. I am filled up. I flip the channels on the TV and find an old western that I may have watched when I was six. I am filled up. Every once in a while I get in the car, and drive off into the country. I may even make a picture or two. I am filled up. I write this blog and remember all the great friends that nature photography has given me in my life. I am filled up.
I have never made things happen, or searched for that one thing. I just realize that there is joy in so many things, you just need to see it.
As a kid, and sometimes as an adult, I have bored, nauseated, and sometimes angered the people around me by my never-ending chatter about things that I was passionate about. While I feel sorry for those people, for me (or for you), that is not a bad problem to have.
I am as un-special as a person can be. Not a special fiber in me. So average that I am a the poster child for average. If I can do it so can you.
We are the sum total of all of the things we have done in life.
Have a great day and stay on the bright side, Wayne