I believe there was an old military song called “over here, over there”.
I was recently remembering back to the many “wars” on the Wisconsin Birding (wisbirdn) Network between those who have strict standards on how to conduct oneself in the field while in the presence of wild birds or other photographers, and those who think the harm to baiting birds is overrated by a lot of complainers. It shows how almost any aspect of society is broken and divided.
I began my own wars on that email network by defending some photogs who baited a Snowy Owl in order to get pictures of it killing a mouse. If any of you have any remembrances at all of that occurrence you might say, it was just the opposite. You were against the baiters. Not initially. There were only a few photographers who participated in this first action, but many birders were up in arms. I defended it because it was just one occurrence, and no harm was done. The critics were (in my opinion) over reacting. I did however, add one caveat. My fear was that photographic greed, bad manners, and just plain selfishness would take over and the baiters would claim supreme rights over the location, the rights of the birders, and the owl. Sure enough within two days the baiters were lined up with their pet store mice, baiting the owl from dawn to dusk every day. They cared not about birders or photographers who were concerned with observing/photographing real behavior, and they cared least of all about the owl. After all, it is a small price to screw over a few birders, and possibly to kill an owl, if they could get some great shots. The baiters obviously disagreed with those sentiments and did so to the extreme.
Those photographers and birders (both sides) and their actions with Snowy Owls, are a microcosm of modern life.
Our world is divided because while we “pretend” (sometimes) to care about this and that, society has never actually been more about self. We compete in charitable runs to help a group (makes us feel good), or we wear a ribbon for causes that we have never checked out (too much trouble), and we say life is all about caring for the other guy. No matter who we have to trample to do it. We vote for what we will get out of it, not what’s right, or best for the future of our country.
There is no in between in the current world. We are either way over here, or way over there, and we are all correct no matter where we are. When we get the bulk of our weekly information from places called progressive.org, or mr.conservative.org we are not searching for the unbiased truth, but rather only seeking to have our already formed opinions, reaffirmed.
Getting back to the owls. A couple of years after the owl incident, there was another well publicized owl at another location. I drove up in the darkness in an effort to get some images in early light of the Snowy, in case there were baiters on their way. I got my pictures and then the crowd started. A very polite and friendly man asked if it was okay if he put a mouse (from his pocket) or two down so we could all get the kill shot. I said it’s really not my thing but I was out voted. After letting the mouse get good and cold so it would move slowly, he placed it in a spot where a great shot was possible. Sure enough, the owl made a dive but almost clipped the power line. I (who did not make a picture), noted this and was told not to worry. The same thing happened yesterday and he actually did clip the wire and he seems okay. “We’d move the baiting location but this is a better shot“. A quarter of a mile up the road were some birder/photographers (scopes) who believed it was wrong to get any closer than they were to the owl. A quarter of a mile. They’d chosen sides, and common sense ( something in between) be damned.
Modern society seems to dictate that we act like a caring people. You are made to feel less than human if you simply lead an honest and good life……or if you don’t publicize the good things that you do. In the end we find our tribe (party, group, etc.), and join them way over here…..or …..way over there. Our priorities are belonging to that group, and believing what they tell us. Our tribe’s better than yours.
We live in a world that has in fact “gone tribal”, and there is no room for common sense. We simply won’t stand for it.
If it seems as though I don’t have an answer to the above dilemma you are wrong. The answer is common sense and an open mind, combined with the end of tribal thinking. We may be too deep down the empty well to save ourselves, but we can always go down fighting.
My number one goal for this blog, whether I am writing about photography or any subject, is to provide for you a vehicle for thought. You don’t have to agree with my opinions for my goal to be met. I am certainly not saying read what I write because my thoughts/opinions are any more valuable than yours or anybody else’s. In fact, I myself go to other avenues that are both on and off the internet, to find provocative thinkers to ignite the fire inside of me. I never copy the thoughts of others, I simply want those brain tissues stimulated into action..
Now let’s look at some awesome pictures from six great photographers.
Getting personal. There is nothing like a great wildlife shot of an inspiring animal like a Snowy Owl (not baited?). Especially one with penetrating eye contact. The great wildlife photographer David Hemmings is responsible for this image.
I am a lover of pure photography. Minimal editing. Just the same I always admire great images and the artistic intent behind the actions of edited pictures.
This Justin Battles landscape is incredible. I can feel the electricity running down my back. Combining those lightning strikes and sunrise colors with a landscape that retains detail makes this shot a class AAA winner.
Of all those photographers who use editing applications or in camera surrealism, Deborah Sandidge is my favorite. Her use of multiple exposures to combine a static landscape with moving clouds is world-class. I truly don’t know what extras are included in this image but I do know it works for me.
Composition and the use (direction) of light makes ordinary images special and such is the case with this picture by Peter K. Burian.
Using pure light and pure darkness to accentuate a powerful subject like this building in India, is time-honored and very powerful. Photography great Lewis Kemper created this one.
Mike Moats continues to be one of the best liked and most viewed image makers you will find. His photography is perfect and tight, with very specific compositions. Then he might go all soft and dreamy with his next picture. Despite the different techniques he uses, his style carries across lines beautiful. This crisp, tight image is beautiful in its simplicity.
Thank you for stopping by and we will talk again soon, Wayne