Two Ducks, Six Bears And The Misadventures Of A Landscape Photographer

Mr. and Mrs. Duck

First there is a warning quack, then a resounding quack-quack followed by the fluttering of wings.  “There goes Mr. and Mrs. Duck” Tammy will say and we watch the pair skim over the water in the same easterly direction.  And so the chain of events repeats itself, day in and day out as we take our daily walks.  Ahhh, summer in the mountains of Southern Colorado.

When I was a kid, I’d take an old shoe box, poke a hole in the end of it and tape a piece of black and white photo paper inside.  It always amazed me how I could miraculously produce a photograph using such simple tools.  Today, it amazes me that with all of the fancy equipment I can’t seem to get a wildlife image that looks much different from those pinhole camera pictures.  Shooting photographs or video of wildlife is an art form that I have not neither mastered.  I am persistent however and I have the desire, a combination that will eventually unlock the door to success.

So, back to that elusive pair of Ducks and the comical scene that unfolds each time I try to photograph them.  I’ve done everything shy of dressing in camouflage and building a duck blind to capture their image.  I have indeed, crawled through the grass on my belly and hidden behind a nearby shack a number of times.  Holding my camera in shooting position, I peer around the corner as if I’m an FBI agent on a drug raid.  “Quack…Quack Quack….Flutter Flutter”, they’re gone before I can take command of my focus ring.

Quack…Quack Quack…..Flutter Flutter

It seems as though the same scenario plays itself out no matter what the subject matter is.  Tammy and I drive everywhere with cameras ready and tripods extended for when and not if we see a heard of Elk, a Bear or a Mountain Lion.  The way it really seems to work is quite different from what we anticipate though.  In the past 7 days, we have seen a Blonde Male Bear, a Black Male Bear and a Momma Bear with three darling little Cubs.  When we see something really great there is an adrenaling rush and a very confusing attempt to communicate with one another that could easily lead to disaster.  “Stop” “Go” “Roll Down the Window” “ Move out of my way” “We need a new windshild” are the types of things you might hear in that moment.  It’s not uncommon for me to lose my mind and attempt to take pictures from a moving vehicle, while I am driving.  And then there are the times when we are whispering and moving very slowly to get into position.  I open the door with the key still in the ignition and the “ding-ding-ding” announces to the whole forest that we are there, larger than life.

So go easy on me when you judge these pictures.  They aren’t as easy to get as you might think.  You can bet that I will be bragging it up when I finally get that award winning wildlife shot.

7 thoughts on “Two Ducks, Six Bears And The Misadventures Of A Landscape Photographer

  1. Michael, I could only dream of taking these pictures! I love them. I can’t believe you had the opportunity to see these bears! I think it’s pretty cool you would crawl on your belly through grass to get the right shot. It’s a sign of a true wildlife photographer, if you ask me! And as for the shoebox camera–I knew there was a way to do it but what is that exactly?

    • Living here, I have opportunities almost daily, that is the easy part. As for the pinhole camera, that was in the old days when I had a full black and white darkroom and all the supplies.

  2. Not that I am any better. I had tried to capture a red-winged black bird in a wetland area close to my home and in all the photos I thought I had captured him clearly, it was actually blurred because of my not-so-good manual focusing. One bit of advice I have, would be to find a spot you would feel comfortable sitting in for hours on end…some place you think you might be able to capture animals. I’m thinking like a river’s edge, or watering hole that looks like it gets animal traffic. You can always tell with the little paths that are made through the brush to a river’s edge. Then just sit and wait. I would do this for several hours from right before dawn to about 9’ish in the morning. Then again right before dusk for a couple of hours. This way, you aren’t rushing to get somewhere to take that perfect shot. You’re letting the animals come to you, rather than you running to them. It’s kind of like hunting, but without a rifle.

    • I agree with you and I think that must be one of the secrets of the successful wildlife photographers but I can tell you right now I don’t have that kind of patience. Oh well, I’ll just keep fumbling along and one of these days…………

  3. I love your pictures,But you sound like me”roll down the window, stop the car and this is avery 25ft. will maybe not avery 25ft but allmost. This was going to Sedona, AZ.By the back roads.Or the woods of Flagstaff AZ. In Flagstaff we saw a heard of Elk it was breathtaking.
    Your pictures tell it all. ” True Wildlife Photographer “

  4. Dind Ding Ding… that darned doorbell in the woods. Your description of announcing to the whole world after stealth operation made me laugh… been there too. Keep shooting. 🙂

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