October 21, 2023
‘Down the rabbit hole’ is an English-language idiom which refers to getting deep into something, or ending up somewhere strange—or wonderful. Lewis Carroll introduced the phrase in 1865 as the title for Chapter One of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
I tumbled down the nature photography rabbit hole quite by accident and I fell in deep. It all started about seven years ago when my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas. It took a while for me to come up with something I really wanted, but eventually I hit upon the idea of a camera. I wanted a better one than we had. My request came when we had two small grandchildren and I thought if I had a better camera, I could take better pictures of them. But that’s not what happened!
We went to Florida for the first time that winter and visited some of the most amazing preserves with incredible wildlife. It gave me the opportunity to use my new camera for the very first time. It wasn’t a fancy camera, but it did have a built-in zoom lens and I could get much better shots of birds and other wildlife than I ever had before! I was hooked! (The pictures below were taken with more recent cameras.)
Within a year or so, I was already yearning for a better camera and a longer lens; a camera with a quicker shutter response time, and a lens that could capture birds that were even farther away. Once I had the newer camera and the longer lens (thanks to my husband’s diligent research), I spent more and more time outdoors taking pictures, totally immersed in my own little world.
It wasn’t long before I had exhausted the shutter life of that second camera, with well over 100,000 pictures, and started looking for yet another camera and an even longer lens!
To date, I’ve gone through four cameras in seven years, mostly because I exceed the recommended shutter life of each of them. My current camera is a Nikon D500 with a shutter life of 200,000 cycles; I’m well over 127,000 after only a couple of years! The lens I use most often is a Sigma 150-600mm. The D500 camera and the Sigma lens have been the perfect combination for me and for the things I like to photograph.
I go out almost every day in all kinds of weather, even if ‘going out’ means just standing on our deck or in our backyard. Some of my favorite shots have happened right outside our back door where I have a ‘designated tree stump,’ placed in the yard, and a ‘designated tree branch’ attached to the deck for bird and mammal ‘portraits’. Plus, we have a beautiful bank of trees nearby and a small creek behind the house, both of which are attractive to a variety birds and mammals.
I love going on picture walks! I love looking for interesting things to photograph, whether it’s a bald eagle or a green bottle fly! It’s all quite fascinating, especially when I bring up the pictures on my computer and can see so many amazing details—like the individual hairs on a fly, or the tiny red mites on a dragonfly!
One of the things I also enjoy doing after taking all those pictures is finding interesting facts about the creatures I’ve photographed and then sharing what I’ve found on Facebook, our local newspaper, or this blog.
The name ‘picture walks’ started years ago when I first fell down this rabbit hole and was heading out the front door for a walk. If I was leaving the house without my camera, I’d tell my husband I was going on a ‘regular walk’, which meant I’d be home in an hour. If I was leaving the house with my camera in hand, I’d say I was going on a ‘picture walk,’ which was code for “I won’t be home anytime soon!”
Some of the rabbit holes we fall into can be disastrous.
This one has been quite delightful.