Let me start with saying I love nature. I love photography. There is nothing better than going out and enjoying them both together. The sounds, the smells, the excitement of capturing a great image - what could be better than that?
Well, from my experience this past weekend, I thought that what makes a wonderful experience even better is sharing it with someone.
My husband, Roger, is at the beach this weekend, celebrating Father's Day with his kids and grandkids. We are usually drawn like a magnet to stop at Pee Dee Wildlife Refuge on our way to the beach. Yes, it CAN add an hour (or sometimes even more) to our trip, but it's what we DO. So, since he was at the beach, I decided I would go to Pee Dee alone (I had to work this weekend). Roger had seen Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers there recently on his way to the beach. He said they were close up enough and not obscured by the foliage that tends to surround the marshy/swampy area. I decided to pack Cailin, my German Shepherd, up in the car and go for a ride to Pee Dee to search for these gorgeous birds. Now, usually, Roger and I will have walkie-talkies and go off in different directions to search for photographic opportunities. This time, he wasn't there. I couldn't let Cailin out as usual, because she usually hangs out with Roger so as not to scare up the wildlife that I might be shooting. I got out of the car and walked around - I saw 4 deer - beautiful as they bounded away through the swamp, but way out of range to shoot. We saw rabbits, swallows flying about, Prothonetary Warblers flitting around a stump (which decided to fly away as soon as I got set up to shoot them). Great Blue Herons, Green Herons - were all elusive that day. I could HEAR birds all around, but I couldn't see them. I'm okay with that, but Roger and I have such geeky fun searching for wildlife - that's so much a part of the fun of wildlife photography for me. The wildlife in a refuge isn't captive - it is in its own environment, doing the things they do to survive. While that makes it harder to capture images, it's so much more rewarding when you do. It's just the kind of thing that we really love doing together.
I guess what I'm getting at is, it's really nice to share photography with someone. In my case, my favorite shooting buddies are:
Yes, I remember the pictures taken with all these people, but the relationships we have forged through photography and the fun times we shared together far out-value the photographs taken while we are together.
Get out there with friends and enjoy your shared passion for photography and nature. Bring home great photographs, but remember, while the photographs won't disappear, relationships can, and the value of investing your time in those relationships can't be denied. You'll remember these times for the rest of your life!