Stuck up a tree.
It’s will not be easy photographing the marsh foxes, badgers or muntjac deer at the moment. Why? I can’t see them in the tall grasses, that’s why! I’ll not be put off, though! As the grasses die back and the leaves fall from the trees and bushes, the animals will become visible again. This is fine and in the natural scheme of things, but I would like to record what these animal’s do in their daily lives now, before the greens turn to browns with the arrival of winter. My 7D camera and 150 – 500 mm Sigma lens are the most useful tools I have to aid me in my quest.
I see things differently through a camera viewfinder. The animals interacting with their natural environment is both interesting and exciting throughout the seasons. I try to digitally freeze a slice of their existence. If I am fortunate, I catch them doing the normal things that enable them survive the marsh on a day-to-day basis, free from the knowledge that I am spying on them. Sometimes I capture their image at the moment they see me, but perhaps not recognising what I am; an alert, focused stare that seems to ask the eternal question: Should I go or should I stay? The marsh animals are my local link to nature, and photography is the tool that helps me focus on detail and also a wider picture. Through the view finder I see an image, through my eyes I see a vista.
Without a camera, I am too easily distracted and likely to end the day without seeing much wildlife at all. I think an area of my brain lies dormant until switched-on by the sensations of a camera sitting comfortably in my hands. In fact, I might have two camera initiated normally dormant brain functions: one activated by a macro lens and another by my 150 – 500 mm Sigma lens. My interpretation of the marsh differs depending on which lens I am looking through, both figuratively and literally.
The macro lens can access an often hidden world, obviously I hear you say, whilst the Sigma is more suited to a larger more open and potentially active world that everyone can see with their naked eyes. It can be easier to make a visual impact with a macro image. However, the process of macro photography can be limiting to an obsessive person. It can take over your life. As the summer blooms and insects begin to fade, I have put my macro lens away until next spring. I am now using only my 150 – 500 mm Sigma lens for wildlife. Photography at a distance is the way it will roll around here for a while.
Readers won’t have escaped the fact that I am using my keyboard more than my camera. This is because, like the butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, I am struggling to escape the confinement of my macro photography. Shooting macro images makes for an easy life if you avoid the really difficult stuff, which I do tend to do. My brand of macro photography involves creeping around the marsh and Hoo Wood at speeds substantially slower than a leisurely walking pace, gently and quietly invading the privacy of the insect world. If gruesome fast flying insects are not one’s cup of tea, then there is the entirely engrossing and immensely colourful world of plants and blooms to experiment with. There is no denying that the process of capturing and later inspecting your images of small insects and colourful blooms can be an enjoyable and enriching way of occupying one’s time. I thoroughly recommend it to melting away the stresses of modern-day living, and a way of getting back to one’s roots, as it were – ha ha!
The badgers, foxes and muntjacs are on the marsh now. I need a plan that will win me their images before winter sets in. Any plan I devise will involve hiding in the bushes for long periods. Earlier in the year, when photographing the fox cubs, I spent in excess of twenty uncomfortable hours sitting up in a tree. I got the images I wanted, though! I can do it! I just hate the brain numbing boredom of waiting for something to happen. I’m not the only person to feel this way; it’s the downside of wildlife photography. I’m a very active person after all, and I find being still difficult. Sounding like a moaning Minnie is not something I relish, it’s not an attractive trait, but perhaps having a good old moan is the first step toward getting a problem sorted. Normally, I would be forced into moaning to myself, because I don’t know anyone else who would be remotely interested.
I guess hiding in a bush isn’t as awkward as hiding up a tree. However, I can’t help feeling that achieving my goal will involve spending time in a tree again; it can give good cover and a decent field of view. Whatever is necessary to get the job done is my motto. I have a short oak plank I call a tree seat; it is either suspended from a branch, like a swing, or wedged in a forked trunk. Either way, will likely be uncomfortable. . . .