Saturday, August 21, 2010

Musings of a Wildlife Photographer

American Pika - Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

August 21, 2010 – This past Sunday, Lori and were in Rocky Mountain National Park, photographing pika at Rock Cut along Trail Ridge Road. We were on the hillside, sitting on the rocks a few feet below the retaining wall. People came and went. Some would call down to us and ask ‘what are you photographing;’ while others, those with cameras, took their pictures and departed.

Lori commented to me, “Do you think any of them know we’ve been sitting here four hours?”

This got me to thinking . . . most wildlife photographers simply don’t spend enough time getting to know their subject; and, more importantly, not allowing their subject the opportunity to become acquainted with them.

Case in point: We had been sitting among the rocks several hours with very little activity among the pika. A couple of times, we would witness one in the distance as it scurried about, collecting grasses and leaves to store in its winter larder, but that was about it, save for the occasional call from an individual checking on the whereabouts of its neighbor.

Suddenly, as if the Great Pika Protector had sounded the all-clear signal, there were pika everywhere. One actually came up to Lori, climbed atop her shoe, sniffed a couple of times and then scurried about between the both of us as we stood there, mouths agape and stunned. We had been accepted. We had become “one” with our subject.

It was then that we were able to get the photographs we so desired.


SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

This is the reason some people get better pictures than others. Becoming one with your subject is so important. I am willing to bet most of those who saw you, did not see the Pika.

Weldon Lee said...

You are absolutely correct. Occasionally, I would point to a pika and the inquiring individual was totally surprised when they saw it.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

I was wondering about the picture you use as you header Wledon, was it taken in Etosha? Looks familiar to me somehow.

I think our love of wildlife shows in situations like this. People are always asking me how I saw something but it is not difficult to find if you actually look. Maybe it is a case of not seeing the trees for the wood? :)

Weldon Lee said...

Joan, the header image for my blog was taken in Botswana's Nxai Pan National Park. It was actually a series of six images that I stitched together in Photoshop.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks for the info Weldon. Yip, been there too and it is a wonderful place. At one time I used to go up there and Kalagadi 3-4 times a year but the last time was about 6 years ago now. SO much has changed in Botswana over the years.

I wish I had a proper program to do stitching. The one I have drives me crazy as I cannot seem to get it aligned properly because the pictures are too small and it wont enlarge it. :) Maybe I need new software? :)

Chris Johnston said...

I volunteered at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans for 8 years and I learned a startling fact while I was there, the average zoo visitor spends less than 3 minutes at each exhibit. I would often see people walk up to the snow leopard exhibit, glance around, and if he wasn't weaving back at them announcing his presence they would wander off to the next exhibit.
Our short attention span society doesn't realize that viewing wildlife means doing it their terms and not yours. I love the days I when I can spend a few hours just sitting in spot and watch as the animals slowly get used to my presence and come out of hiding.