I am diverting my posts from my normal subjects to a matter that is very important to me and perhaps more important than photography.
This is an issue that I am conflicted about. I am a passionate dog and animal lover and I despise animal cruelty. It makes my stomach turn. Michael Vick committed heinous crimes against helpless animals. However, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced for what he did. He served a sentence that was determined to be suitable to the crimes he committed as determined by our laws. If I do not feel that his punishment was severe enough then that is a mater that I need to take up with our judicial system and our lawmakers. I could never forgive a person for committing acts of animal cruelty to my dogs, nor do I think I could find it in my heart to forgive Michael Vick for his actions. Perhaps I am a lesser person for that.
I do believe that people deserve second chances and should be able to go on with their lives after they serve their sentence. However, it is difficult to come to grips with the idea of a person who committed Vicks crimes being able to make millions of dollars for a second time in his life. I sincerely hope that Michael Vick can turn things around and I want to say make things right, but I don’t think one can ever make things right for the crimes he committed. I just hope he is able to live a life from here on out that will be deserving of the second chance that is being afforded him.
As someone who has studied psychology I have an even graver concern with the crimes that Vick committed. Acts of torturing or killing animals are behaviors that sociopaths or those developing into sociopaths commit. Sociopaths are people who feel no remorse for their actions and will do whatever they need to do to get what they want. If it means playing along and saying all the right things to appear sorry in order to get back into the NFL then a sociopath would do that, but not be sincere in any way. I am not saying that Michael Vick is a sociopath, but he has displayed behaviors associated with that mental status. It would be a big concern for me and would be something that I would want to have looked into if I was an NFL team before taking him on.
I wish Michael Vick luck and I hope he is successful in redeeming himself, but not just in the eyes of NFL fans.
This past Saturday I decided to get up early and head down to the Chemung River in hopes of photographing some bald eagles. When I arrived the fog was thick and it was impossible to see far into the distance. This would create an added challenge. Usually the eagles can be spotted off in the distance and I can prepare as they close in on my direction and be ready for them. I saw on eagle perch in a tree a short distance up river from me. In a tree that will be cut down shortly. I began to aproach the eagle but it took flight long before I got close. Later as I turned my attention elswhere another bald eagle emerged from the fog right in front of me as if appearing from nowhere. I was able to get some shots as at flew by paying me no mind. I am not sure how I feel about the photos as they did not come out idealy clear due to the fog but they also did not produce anyvisible evidence of fog.
In wildlife photography there are two traits that are very beneficial to ones success. A wildlife photographer often benefits from having patience. It is often necessary to sit and wait for long periods of time for your subject to happen upon your location or you may have to wait for a bird you inadvertently startled to get used to your presence and come back. It i also important to persevere. One may have to endure some rough weather and uncomfortable conditions to get the desired shot but if you want the shot that is what needs to be done.
Recently I was lucky enough to benefit from both of those traits in my own photography. I Will admit that I am not the most patient man by a long shot. Perseverance is a little bit more up my alley, but I am also working on that as well.
This past weekend I headed down to the river looking to photograph some birds of prey. I was fortunate enough to spot an osprey flying my way. It took refuge in one of the nearby trees. I knew it approximate location but there were several trees clustered together and I was not sure exactly which tree the osprey was in. I looked at them from every angle and location and still no sign of it. I was about to give up thinking that maybe it did not land there and it flew off without me seeing it. Then I heard a screech and it took flight again. This time only moving down the row of trees and perching again in another tree. This time I was not as sure as to where it was, but I knew it was in one of these trees. I moved along slowly and quietly trying not to disturb the bird as much as possible. From a distance I finally saw it and just as I raised my camera to take a shot it was off again. This time it flew off down the river.
I decided to hang out at the river and see if it would come back or if anything else would happen by. With my luck it started to rain. Lucky for me I was near all those trees. I took shelter below the trees and continued to look for photographic opportunities. Eventually I saw the osprey come back up river. I tracked it with my camera as it flew over the river, waiting for the shot. Some branches blocked my shot just as I depressed the shutter and my camera refocused on the branches I recovered and found the osprey just in time to see it plunge into the water. But I had missed the shot. The osprey missed its shot as well. It took off with no fish for lunch. It continued farther up river, but I could see it off in the distance the entire time. I stayed in the shelter of the trees moving around a little trying to stay out of the rain as much as possible. Checking on the osprey from time to time just hoping for one more shot.
Then the osprey began flying back in my direction. It was flying directly over the trees this time instead of over the water. I think it was planning to land in the trees again. However, it did not anticipate my presence. As it swooped down into a clearing between the trees to take up a perch in the next tree it saw me. It immediately veered off course and flew away. This time I got the shots as the osprey flew directly over my head. But it took a lot of hard work and dedication. I got a little wet and was a little bored at times, but my patience and perseverance paid off. Hopefully this situation will reinforce those traits in me.
Yesterday was quite a frustrating photographic venture. When you set out to take photographs you are bound to miss a great shot every now and then. Yesterday it felt like I missed every great photo op. I went to the lake and walked around this little path that passed between the lake and a pond. It was pretty overgrown which made it difficult to see anything much around me until I was right up on it. So I knew I was going to have to react fast to anything I saw. Even knowing this and being prepared did not help me. I stumbled upon a pair of bittern along the lake shore and scared them off without getting a single shot. Twice a belted kingfisher landed on a tree branch not more than ten feet away directly in front of me and in perfect position but saw me and took off before I could get a shot. A green heron was wondering around the pond area but kept taking flight before I even saw it. There were numerous small birds flitting around of which I missed many shots. So it was quite a frustrating day. I would love to be able to chalk it up to equipment failure or miss fire, which I think it may have been on a few occasions, but for the most part it was likely operator error. I simply was not on top of my game. I was not quiet enough, patient enough, or fast enough to get the shots I was presented with. It is a learning experience every time I go out into the field. I did get some nice shots but also missed some possibly remarkable ones. So in circumstances where I fail more than I succeed I try to at least bring away a bit of learning and new knowledge. And even though I missed the photos I still was privileged to be able to go out and see these amazing animals up close and witness their behavior.
Sorry that there has been such a long delay since my last post. Many things that came up that kept me away. One of whcih was a very good thing. I completed and submitted my first article and photography for publication in a magazine. My work will be published in a regional NY magazine, Life in the Finger Lakes. THis is a magazine that I have enjoyed reading freequently so if you have the opportunity to pick one up please do. Not just so that you can see my work but so you can see all of the other great articles and photography that appear in this magazine. I have been out taking many more photographs lately and I think I have a lot more great images to share and hopefully find publications for them as well. I am hoping to work with Life in the Finger Lakes magazine more in the future. This is the second item I have worked with them on. I also had an articlepublished in their e-newsleter and on their website.
I frequently visit the same locations over and over again. I also frequently visit these same sites at the same time of the day repeatedly. Taking this into account it is amazing that I also am able to see a wide variety of wildlife at these sites even though I am always at the same place at the same time. When I go to these repeated locations I often find that some of the same animals are always there. I visit a stream near were I work every workday on my lunch which is at almost the same time every day. There are always mallard ducks and grackles congregating in different areas around the stream. I frequently take time to photograph some of these specimens. Even though they are always around they may be displaying different behaviors each time I am there. Every so often I am treated to a photographic treat. I will be walking along the stream and I will see something that I do not usualy see or have ever seen here. Today down at the stream was one such day. I was fortunate enough to be walking by as a female hooded merganser was swimming up the stream with her chicks. I had only seen hooded mergansers once or twice in my life so I was quite surprised to see them in this location right in the middle of town. The chicks were already pretty good sized and some of them were diving under the water and catching food. It was a nice surprise and I was able to sit and watch them and photograph them for most of my lunch break. I have not checked the photos yet, but I think I got at least a few excelent shots.