Rick Hobbs Photography
Patience, Patience, Patience
Surprisingly often, when people find out I'm a wildlife photographer one of the first things they say is - "boy, I bet that takes a lot of patience". I usually smile and nod while thinking - "if they only knew how much time I spend just standing around waiting for something to happen or for the light to get right". One thing that always surprises me is even though most photographers are well aware they need to be patient, many of them struggle with being patient enough.
Osprey doing a rouse, Florida
Part of it is human nature, however, I suspect limited patience is somewhat due to the break-neck pace of our society. In general, society seems to be in a hurry, can't wait for anything, and once they have seen something they are immediately ready to move on to the next experience. Most photographers like to spend time in the field whenever they can, however, most photographers have another job to pay their bills and only have a limited amount of vacation time available. As a result, they often feel a need to keep moving in order to get the most out of their limited time. I see this in the field all the time.
Osprey with young, Florida
I can not tell you how many times I've been photographing a subject, or waiting to photograph it, when someone rolls up, takes a few frames, and heads off again. It seems as if they are always concerned they are missing something down the road. Of course they are, everyone is always missing something because it is impossible to be everywhere. But if the situation is good, or has the potential to be really good, then I have found it is usually worth investing the time in the opportunity right in front of you and forget about what you might be missing. Maybe I'm wasting a lot of time standing around when others have the ability to show up at the perfect time, to take the perfect picture, and have the whole experience captured in only a few moments - but I don't think so ;-)
Unfortunately, encounters with
wildlife are often far to short so when you get a subject willing to let
you work it, forget about everything else, and just enjoy the experience.
Even if you don't take a lot of photographs you will be amazed and often
entertained just by watching their behavior. The more you get to watch
- the more you get to see - and usually the more you get to photograph.
After all, it is the being there that matters most - the pictures are
just a bonus.
Osprey warning others to stay away, Florida
On a recent trip to Florida I found an osprey nest that was in a very public place in Everglades National Park. The osprey built the nest on top of a boat lift in a small marina near a convience store. The nest was only about 15 feet off the ground and there was a sidewalk running directly under it that had people on it most of the time. After looking up at the nest for only a few seconds, I saw there were two young osprey in the nest with their mother. I went back to my vehicle and grabbed my camera gear, a pocket full of film, and a fresh bottle of water hoping that I would be spending some time observing and photographing whatever goes on next.
Osprey family in the nest, Florida
To my delight, I spent the next three and a half hours standing there watching and photographing this osprey family as they went about their life. Because of my patience, I was rewarded with images of the mother and young interacting with each other. Also, every time another osprey was flying in the area the female immediately sent them a clear warning to stay away from her nest. At one point the young were hungry and the father had not come back for hours so she left the nest, flew about 100 yards to the open water, grabbed a small fish, and returned to the nest in a matter of approximately two minutes. Unfortunately, the fish was small and in the bottom of the nest so I did not get to see the feeding.
Osprey feeding young, Florida
I continued to watch other photographers arrive, take a few shots, and then leave after they "got it". After three and a half hours the male returned to the nest with a very large fish. When he returned the young popped up and were happy to see him. The female took the fish and immediately began tearing off pieces of fresh fish and feeding them to her young. As you can imagine I shot all the film I had on me.
I thanked the osprey for the opportunity as I walked back to my vehicle with a huge smile on my face. I must admit though it felt really good to get off my feet at that point.
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