I have always said that the most important thing you can do to become a good nature photographer, is shoot, shoot, shoot. The more time you spend in the field making pictures, the better photographer you will be. It is more important than taking workshops or reading books. Nothing teaches like doing. Well, as most of you know, I really don’t do anymore. Two days ago was a rare exception.
I was out for a couple of hours of bird photography. I didn’t make any great action shots. That’s pretty normal for someone who rarely makes pictures. I didn’t get any unusual species. Time spent in the field with a camera correlates directly to finding new and unusual subjects. Still this day was a very freeing and fulfilling experience..
I ask your forgiveness for including this final image. Unfortunately this scene has been a recurring one over my many years in nature photography. Any of us can accidentally hit an animal. I once hit a dog (it turned out okay) and on another occasion I hit a raccoon. The dog ran in front of my car from the sidewalk and the raccoon came out of the bushes, at night on a 55mph highway. I felt horrible about both, but these things can happen to all of us. The animal below is a dead Painted Turtle on a state park’s interior road with a 25 mph speed limit. One of nature’s most beautiful critters. On this day I will bet that the traffic averaged maybe, one car per hour. Turtles don’t run out in front of cars. Over 30 years ago I watched a car in front of me (a local county park) swerve to intentionally run over a Common Snapping Turtle. I once saw a truck swerve to the shoulder from a state highway that runs through a NWR. He managed to get a Painted Turtle and a Blanding’s Turtle. A two for one. I am sure that not paying attention causes a lot of deaths as well. I know all of you reading this blog find those occurrences to be just as distasteful as I do. Being a nature photographer means telling the story of the flora and fauna that live in the natural world. That story can be disheartening and it can even make you angry. We are more likely to save beauty if we see it, and we are more likely to stop scenes like this, if we are aware of it. Once again I do apologize for closing with such a graphic and sad image.