May 8, 2019
Nature photography is both a fun and challenging hobby. The fun part is abundantly clear to me, but may be less apparent to those who don’t care for being out of doors, or don’t share the same enthusiasm for photography.
One of the very best parts of being outdoors every day taking pictures is its therapeutic effect. This may not be true for everyone who spends time walking among the trees taking pictures, but when I am looking and listening intently for creatures I’d like to photograph, there’s absolutely no more room left in my brain for anything else– like the gut-wrenching headlines we have been bombarded with every day. I’m completely engaged and totally zoned out when it comes to taking pictures of wildlife– which explains, in part, why this is such an addictive hobby.
The other addictive part of nature photography is sorting through all the pictures on my computer at the end of the day and discovering minute details that I could not have seen with my naked eye– like the time I enlarged a photo and I saw my own reflection in a frog’s eye!
The challenging parts of nature photography have to do with three basic things: the weather, the ticks and my own safety. The weather here in Michigan is either too hot, too cold, too wet or too windy. Once in awhile, though, we get lucky, and it’s “just right”!
The ticks, on the other hand, are never right! They’re nasty little critters that carry Lyme Disease.
Lyme is one of the fastest growing infectious diseases in the United States and Western Europe. If untreated, it can become a severely debilitating illness affecting multiple organs, including joints, heart, brain and other parts of the central nervous system.
Before the threat of Lyme Disease, I had never been concerned about walking through tall grass or sitting on the ground to enjoy a sunny day, but I do now. I still walk through tall grass or overgrown weeds if it means getting a good picture, but not without thinking twice about the possibility of a tick latching onto me. I take all the necessary precautions, like spraying myself down with bug juice, checking myself for ticks afterwards, and showering as soon as I get home– and so far, they’ve left me alone.
As for my own personal safety, the most mundane of challenges is the ground itself– it has any number of hidden holes, protruding roots and brambles just waiting to trip me up as I walk along gazing up in the trees looking for birds. On more than one occasion, I have found myself splatted face down on the ground, camera in hand, because I was looking up instead of down. Fortunately, neither my camera nor my body has had to undergo any repairs!
Last but not least, is my vulnerability as a woman walking alone in isolated or semi-isolated areas. My vulnerability never keeps me from going out anywhere, but it often gives me pause—as I expect it does for many women. To mitigate my risks, I take the following things with me on my walks: pepper spray, a cell phone, a whistle, an ID bracelet with the names and phone numbers of three family members and a list of any drugs I’m allergic to. In addition to all that, my husband has a ‘where’s my wife’ app which gives him my location at any given time. Fortunately, I’ve not had to put any of those things to use!