Many nature photographers are specialists. The macro shooter invests in multiple macro lenses, remote flash triggers, and all sorts of reflectors and diffusers. The bird shooters look like they should be taking pictures in a football stadium, while others dress in camouflage and look like they are going on a hunting expedition. These bird specialists carry 500mm, 600mm, or even 800mm lenses. Some shooters are so into birds that they carry multiple super-telephotos into the field just to capture that elusive warbler, vireo, or tananger. In contrast to the bird photographer, the landscape wonk has a bag full of tilt-shift (TS) lenses and a 20+ megapixel camera, yet others are shooting large format film bodies. The best landscape photographers are the most devoted and patient people I have ever met. The landscaper will scout an area the evening before a shoot, get up at 4:00 a.m., and set up the shot for only a few exposures. They’ll get the one moment they wanted and be done for the day.
That’s a snapshot of the specialist, and none of them are me.
I’m a nature generalist. I’m a biologist. I’m an ecologist. I’m into patterns, shifting light, animal behavior, and nearly any landscape. I don’t want to be tied to a schedule or specific location. I want to walk. I want to shoot a fern one minute and a monkey the next. I’m pensive with my composition, patient with my subject, but I’m always looking for the next picture. As a result, I’m not a great photographer, shit, I’m not even sure that I’m a good photographer. However, I do have a vision, and I do have a plan. I want people to see the things they don’t see. I want to freeze time while offering insight into the future. I want to hold my subjects so that my audience will pause. I don’t just want the shot, I want the shot that makes you stop and think.
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