Why We Do what We Do

An interesting thing happen this morning at my usual photographic hang-out. I came to the realization that a 2 ounce little bird can control the actions and hold in its tiny little wings the lives of 12 grown adults. Not only does it control our busy lives but we PLAN to be taken over by this Cantankerous little feathered nemesis! (or would it be nemesis’es since she is a female Kingfisher??.. is there such a word?). Hypnotic LadyHot, cold, rainy, foggy, and perhaps even snow (if we could get snow down here in Central Florida) won’t stop us in our pursuit of this little hypnotist and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Welcome to our world.

As I prepare for another year of, hopefully, exciting images I have to ask my self why I do what I do. It is an interesting question and one that I have asked myself several times over the last several years. For me, waking up before the crack of dawn every Saturday when I am not working at my regular job, and lugging around 20 pounds of camera gear every day whether I am working or not,  just so I can capture the perfect image is a thing of passion. Passion not for the sake of photography but passion about the wonder of Gods creation and a desire to share it with an over worked, highly stressed world that doesn’t take the time to “see” what I and many of my friend photographers see on a regular basis. Hopefully bringing with my images the thought of a single question, “Who made this world around us?”

In answering that question we have to look to Gods Word, The Bible, to find an answer. In the Book of Romans, the apostle Paul, led by the Spirit writes, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Rom. 1:20 By viewing creation and its wonders we are forced to ask the question of who made it knowing deep down that “something or someone” bigger than us is at work here.

Ice CreamBy viewing creation we see the intricate patterns of leaves, we are amazed at the butterflies wing patterns and we can observe the mating of birds and other creatures than happen the same time each and every year. We smell the saltiness of the oceans and hear the crash of the waves as they perform their lunar dance. We are marveled by the stars in the sky and are heart broken at the loss of a beloved pet hoping that we will see them again in a better place. In most cases we are unaware of the creative force behind all of these wonders and this brings me back to my opening.Morning Love Call

I do what I do so that I can hopefully cause the viewer of my images to see a loving, just, and forgiving God who provided His Son as a way of escape for those who believe in Him. By understanding creation and taking in its wonder we can see that God planned for and plans His creation, including us, so that we can see His great love.

…gone in a blink

Florida is known for its sandy beaches, sunny weather and the best in theme parks but most folks are not acquainted with Florida’s wild side. Specifically the Florida Scrub Jay which is considered by some as the true “State” Bird. This little blue bird brings a sence of awe to all who visit it but it also commands a warning that few heed.

Scrubjays-(5-of-5)Florida Scrub Jays are native to this state and this state alone, they live in Florida Scrub habitats such as Sand Oak, Sand Pine and Chapmans Oak and are considered by most to be a very docile. The Federal Government classifies them to be a vulnerable species and that is why they remain on the endangered species list. Once numbered in the tens of thousands this lovable little creatures now barely lists 4000 mating pairs through out the state. As dire as it may be, everyone who loves this little guy can also help in the solution that insures the survival of this lovely bird.

Scrubjays-(1-of-5)First and foremost, consider the habitat that it lives in and do what ever it takes to preserve it. Wildfires do major damage to the scrub oak than construction so think about that campfire and its placement. Next, think twice about feeding this bold friendly blue ball of feathers. Sure they will love you if you carry a nut into their habitat but that action will cause them to be dependant on humans for part of their food. I spent the better of the morning the other day with these birds and trust me they have plenty of food to eat. I understand the temptation to feed them and get close to nature in the process but, considering the cost, be patient and they will reward you with the obligatory head landing just to say hello.

With respect on photographing these little guys, I used my 300mm f4 but found it too long in most of my images. I settled on my 70-200mm with a 1.4 TC and that did the job just fine. You could use a point and shoot if that is all you have and if you sit still long enough they will come to you and you can shoot til your heart’s content.DSC_7598

Remember, as the higher species, man has a responsibility to watch over the lesser creation. Not doing so will cause our this favorite woodland creature to be lost forever; 4000 mating pairs may sound like a lot but they can be gone in a blink.

A Matter of Perspective

Recently I was out on a shoot and ran across another photographer sharing the early morning light. As usual we struck up a conversation about the available subjects at this location, what was good and what wasn’t.  I was surprised to hear that there was really nothing to “shoot around here” especially since I had just spent the better part of the last hour capturing some of my favorite shots! Now I should say from the outset that I am not a world class photographer but I have won several contests with my captures. So to hear a statement like I just heard was a little unsettling.

One of the first things I learned as a budding photographer ( and still am learning) was that there are things to shoot all over the place! If you can’t find anything to photograph you are not looking hard enough.  I once tried an exercise where I planted my self and forced myself to look 360 degrees from my location and find something new or different. By doing this simple exercise I was training my eye to pick out new things or maybe the same things seen from a different angle. It was really amazing to see that I could find the odd and fantastic anywhere around me. One of my favorite subjects is the Snowy Egret
which are found just about everywhere around this area. It is easy taking a picture of these comical creatures using any camera you may have. For me I like to take it a bit further with these birds and I’ll wait for the ‘odd shot’ moment before I press the shutter. For example, I love to photograph these birds while they fish. _JAY0800_6705They move back to and fro sizing up the pond looking for breakfast and when the time is right they STRIKE! Head and all goes into the water, splashing and scaring anything that happens to be near them. Many times I have walked away with nothing but the memory of being there but there are days when I get a great shot that is “wall worthy”.

If you are going to pick up a camera you really must have the mindset that you are going to simply not settle for the average “snapshot”. Now snapshots have their place but if you truly desire to find the unique you have to get low and become part of your subject. Find out what makes it tick or what makes it special and then capture that moment. Also become your worst critic! By viewing your own work with a critical eye you will begin to see an improvement with your shots and by all means, shoot for your own pleasure. In the final analysis what you capture must be pleasing to you first; no one else matters (even the most discerning editor). Someone once said that if you love what you do, it won’t even feel like a job but will become your passion.

Finally keep looking for the shot! There are thousands of things right in your own backyard to shoot. Get on the ground, get muddy, become one with the subject and click that shutter!