It has been said that every picture tells a story. I essentially agree with that but an undeniable truth is, that there is a story “behind” every picture. We all have them. Some are exciting and some are the simple memories we each have of the time spent making the picture.
This particular Badlands, South Dakota (Click Badlands) image was made many years ago with my old Pentax 6×7 medium format film camera. It was actually about 30 degrees with winds at 20 mph, and gusting to 50 mph when this was made. With 50 ISO film it took my sturdiest tripod and my heaviest camera to hold steady for pictures.
That particular day was one of driving until I found a scene, dismounting my steed (car), and composing and shooting roadside pictures. More landscape images are made that way than most photographers would admit. On a previous trip to Colorado, I hiked with camera gear through the Holy Cross Wilderness for over 10 hours. I love that day and will never forget it, but after all of that hiking my best pictures were made no more than 100 feet from my car. Sometimes when we’re looking for a wilderness experience with great pictures, it pays to remember that roads are often put where they are for a reason, and pull offs are always put where they are for a reason. Those wilderness hikes however, provide food for the soul regardless of whether or not good images result.
Okay, this is not an award-winning Hummingbird picture. It’s not a frozen in mid-air flight shot, nor is it an artfully posed picture. I suppose art could have developed here if I was close enough that a future crop might have given us a photo with edge to edge bird.
I always make a variety of pictures when I have a great subject. You never know when you make them, just what they might mean a few years later. In this case (to me) it means an incredible morning spent with hummers, moths, Bluebirds and Periodical 17 Year Cicadas. My kind of morning.
It’s okay if some of the pictures we make are liked because of the subject, instead of what we did as photographers. Photography does not have to always be about us. These moth pictures were made on the side of the same building that those Hummingbird feeders were attached to. The pictures were made to show the splendor and beauty of the critters we call moths. Simple as that.
On the corner of the same building that held the hummingbird feeders and moths, I found this Eastern Kingbird. Most people, including most photographers would more than likely stop at this building, pay admission (it is a state park), drive in and forget the building even existed. For me, it held a warehouse full of fascinating subjects and a wealth of memories.
I think all wildlife photographers love shorebirds. At least those photographers with patience. Shorebirds are skittish and will fly at both real and imagined dangers. They always take the whole flock with them, even if only one little bird spooks. If you are patient enough, they will return and eventually accept you as just another part of the world they live in. Especially if they are finding food.
I photographed this Ruddy Turnstone (first two pictures), and this Dunlin both on a narrow stretch of Lake Michigan beach. It is so narrow here, that when you sit on the beach with tripod and camera, the birds will come within touching distance. In fact, the Turnstone you see below, walked on and over my outstretched leg on several occasions. Now that’s a photo opportunity.
I spent a couple of great winters with migratory Rough-legged Hawks. Those times mean as much to me as my winters with Snowy and Short-eared owls.
I’ve shown a cropped version of this image before. I actually like this natural “as shot” picture better. This was my first day with this species of hawk. I watched the bird dive for a pheasant who was trying desperately to burrow under the snow to hide/escape the hawk. If memory serves me, this particular pheasant made it, as the hawk gave up, only to have the pheasant fly away when he wasn‘t looking.
Several weeks a year for over three years of my life were spent with these hawks (and other species). I wouldn’t trade Tiger pictures from India, or landscapes from the Andes for those days.
I have had hundreds of memorable sunrises in my life, some with friends, and some just me and the new day.
I got up well before sunrise to drive the 40 minutes to my chosen destination. When I headed out to the car, I was at first disappointed. It was cloudy and raining and that might mean no sunrise. Experience has however taught me that many of the best sunrises occur just at the edge of the storm. I drove fast so the edge wouldn’t bypass me. I got to my destination and threw myself out of the car and began assembling the equipment I might need. Just as I set up, a clear spot developed near the horizon and walla, there it was. The rising sun shooting its rays onto dark storm clouds is always a wonderful moment.
Every picture does tell a story, but the making of every picture also has a story.
God Bless, Wayne