You don’t have to go to the four corners of the globe to find good photographs. However, there is something uniquely exhilarating about photographing virgin territory. When you explore new places with your camera every photograph is a discovery. Every click of the shutter is like unearthing a new fossil or an unknown society. You are more than a photographer you are an anthropologist, an archaeologist.
Few places are left on earth that human beings haven’t explored. But that takes nothing away from the thrill one gets from one’s own discoveries. Documenting those discoveries with the camera lifts our spirits and stokes our inquisitiveness. It pushes us to seek and find more.
At the train station, Jeremy Wade Shockley photographs Rachel Klein-Kircher.
Whether it’s 300 miles down the coast or on the other side of the planet, traveling to new lands stimulates your inner Indiana Jones. Adventure is around the next bend. Everything is new and different. The people, the food, the music, the art. The geology and the landscape. All there for you to discover for yourself. To fill your brain and broaden your mind; to stimulate your curiosity. It may not be a first for humanity but it’s a first for you!
That adrenaline rush, that increased heart rate, those hairs standing up on the back of your neck…that is real.
On the road.
So what are you waiting for? Pack up the camera gear and get to discovering.
From far above the river I saw this great blue heron standing still on the rocks below. It was right on the river’s edge, waiting patiently for a passing meal. I carefully made my way down over fallen tree limbs and loose rocks. As I got closer I would stop occasionally and make a few photographs. After about five minutes I’d edge myself closer and wait and shoot some more. Then scoot a little closer still. I eventually got myself into a good position about 15 to 20 feet away.
From the moment I first saw the heron I imagined a photo of a good size fish struggling in that stiletto beak. I waited over an hour, sitting uncomfortably on solid rock, hoping for the bird to snag a catfish or bass from the water. There were several attempts, yet each came up empty. From my perch above I could see the occasional shadow of a fish swim by, but the heron either didn’t see it or it was too far out of reach to even try.
At one point another heron landed nearby. It was apparently just a little too close for comfort and this one chased it off. Then as it made its way back to its fishing spot I made this shot. Ultimately, other obligations made it impossible to stay any longer so I never got the fish-in-beak shot. But I’ll be back. And so will the herons. I’ll get the shot. Just going to take some patience.
Sometimes the image you hoped for doesn’t materialize. But that shouldn’t mean you come away with nothing.
This past weekend I met a group of Civil War re-enactors at the Canal. After talking to the men honoring the 7th Pennsylvania Reserves from 1861 I learned a good deal about what drives some to go into Living History representations. Very thoughtful fellows. Hope you enjoy:
This is the first in my new weekly series on YouTube celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service. Tune in as I share my favorite National Park entity, the Potomac River Gorge! (Also, photography tips!)
Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) is a nationwide program that studies and tracks songbird populations. I visited the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Maryland in the Spring of 2012 to document its staff and volunteers as they went about collecting and recording data of various avian residents. (Do visit them if you find yourself in the area. Beautiful place and good people!)
It’s an early start at Jug Bay. Mike Quinlan is first to arrive at 6 AM. He opens all 14 nets situated around the sanctuary, he then helps lead the all volunteer crew as they capture, measure, weigh and band various song birds for the MAPS program.
Portrait of an adult red-eyed vireo.
Tufted titmouse. Awaiting extraction from one of the mist nets.
Measuring the wing of a tufted titmouse.
Male northern cardinal registering a complaint.
Volunteers are urged to bring sturdy, comfortable footwear. It is a one mile round trip to visit all 14 net locations in the sanctuary, and there are 6 rounds each outing.
Sandy Teliak, one of the volunteer leads, photographs a prothonotary warbler for his records.
There’s no mistaking an adult male scarlet tanager.
Mike Quinlan and Sandy Teliak take measurements as Karen Caruso (center) records the data.
Male prothonotary warbler ready to take flight after banding.
View of Jug Bay from the visitor center’s overlook deck.