Buddhists have a term, samma sankappa, which loosely interpreted speaks to "RIGHT INTENT": the intent of goodwill and harmlessness. That's obviously an over-simplification. But in deciding what to share without completely withholding, intent and possible outcome inform my wildlife choices. Will sharing this information have the effect of harm or harmlessness? Or better yet, can sharing this achieve some possible benefit to the animals?
I've done a "best of" selection at the end of previous years ... but this year I'm opting for a favorites list. I didn't realize there would be a disparity between the photos I consider my best technically versus those I hold close to my heart. There appears to be only a loose correlation between the merits of an image and my feelings about it.
This fork in the Nooksack is a known spot for Bald Eagles scavenging salmon carcasses in the winter ... the fish now expired after their long haul upstream. The salmon fulfilled their life mission -- leaving their legacy in eggs laid among pebbles of the river bed.
In the Northwest, you're working with multiple environmental factors when making wildlife pictures. From a technical standpoint, the most dramatic adaptation in this gorgeous green zone is light -- both quality and quantity of light. You're always playing the odds with rain, clouds, diffusion, and time.
Water is always in flux, mutable — liquid, vaporous, frozen — evaporating, condensing and expanding. This fluidity of form and purpose fuels life with its hydrological rhythms. I find my own personal cryosphere on a 23-degree day in Seattle. Instead of water bears, though, in this ice I see the planetary and the galactic ...
I get many emails and comments related to this post -- from people interested in micro four thirds (m43) and mirrorless cameras as a wildlife format. I've been shooting with Olympus m43 gear exclusively now for three years and plan to update my impressions before the end of the year.
After the Snow Geese stippled our little Honda with their version of a Pollack drip painting, I waited a while before heading to the car wash, thinking it would be a waste of resources when the rain would just wipe the body clean. But, faithful to Northwestern climate patterns, the rain came in fine mists rather than cleansing sheets. A few days of drizzle left us not with a clean car, but with an even broader canvas of goose abstractions. I was car-wash bound.
I heard a lecture recently where Picasso's view of photography was described this way: For Picasso, "photography was never an exact registration of a scene, but it was a creative device.” (Arthur I. Miller). The lecture was about conceptualism and perceptualism in both art and science, using Picasso and Einstein as subjects. Picasso's view of the camera is obviously liberated by the fact that he was using it as a fine art tool, not a photojournalistic one.
I work hard to frame and expose shots correctly in camera. But I almost always post process in some form. Photography instructors like Scott Kelby would say that you shouldn't avoid digital darkroom software ... that it's an amazing tool available to us these days. I have friends who believe they've failed if they use PP. I have other friends who grant themselves a lot more leeway than I do, often using Ansel Adams as an example of how PP has always existed in nature photography.
The sound of flocking snow geese is sometimes described as a “cacophony,” a “symphony,” a “storm” — a “baying of hounds,” a “noise blizzard.” The sound, in fact, varies. There’s a comfortable warbling of goose grumbles and calls as the birds graze, punctuated by escalations that bubble up in sections of the flock. Then, there is the silence — a sudden, dead halt to the goose voices. It’s just a blip, a clipped hesitation, a warning.