Would We Listen?

Do you ever wonder what they're thinking about, while we admire them?

I'm having trouble lately, not knowing which direction to go. Photography has always been an escape for me, from the facets of this human world. I was lucky enough to learn that taking a step outside normality reveals so much more about this place. This is a big planet. A big planet with big ecosystems, big open spaces, big trees and mountains and wild animals roaming it all; but slowly, that space is disappearing. The walls are closing on all things wild, as our population grows exponentially and our technological advances keep improving. Humans will adapt to whatever it is a changing world throws at them. The others won't be so lucky.

I don't think I can continue to take pretty photos of wild animals and act like everything is okay. Because, it's not.

What remains is beautiful, and truly inspirational. It all inspires me. If the natural world could talk, what would it say? And would we as a society listen? The truth is, the natural world is talking, and it's talking right to us. Listen.

If I'm going to keep a camera in my hand for the rest of my life, as I so wish to do, I need to change gears. When I first began this journey, I wanted to be a voice for my subjects and capture the facets of their lives that make them so incredible. I like to think I've done that, to some extent, but I know I could do better. We could all do better. Here and now.

It's time to start the next chapter, and actually make a difference on this big planet; with its big ecosystems, big open spaces, big trees and mountains and wild animals roaming it all.

How? I have no idea, but when I look back on it all some day, I want to know that I made a difference. And if I didn’t, I want to know that I tried.

Here’s to trying.


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S is for Spring

Spring is for the songbirds.

At last, the forests are filled with song. I’ve made it my goal this year to get out of my (once established, but since broken thanks to excursions in Montana…) comfort zone, and get into the woods and off the trail to where the songbirds are. The last month or so has been spent trudging down steep and mossy ravines, up sharp rock outcuts, through dense brush and tick-littered understory to get up close to the songbirds. Leaving the trail and heading into the backcountry was so new to me last year, but it made me realize something quite beautiful. I find a deeper connectedness to the woods when I create a path of my own.

These photographs represent some of my findings thus far.

An ovenbird on a once downed tree, a black-throated green warbler amongst the lichens, and a chestnut-sided warbler in hawthorn.

S is for spring, and spring is magical.

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Have I wandered too many cliffsides, or need I wander more?

“Is this what you do? Just wander back and forth looking for animals?” Words from a local hiker out for a walk yesterday at my latest obsessive destination. “Not animals, just two birds,” I replied. We each carried on. Twice a week for the last few, I’ve spent hours scouring the sides of a particular ridge (that I am purposely keeping anonymous) and photographing its peregrine pair in all of their splendor. Apparently it’s just slightly more difficult to remain inconspicuous with a 500mm resting on my shoulder.

On the best days I have the cliffs to myself. I walk freely up and down the ridge, following the birds as I wish. Their habits have become predictable with time, choosing familiar perches, circling for lift on the right winds. I know just how close I can be, and how comfortable they are with me being there. This time of year, the male hunts while his mate sits on the nest. Each day I’m there, he delivers her a new prey item. Last week a young red-winged blackbird, yesterday a mourning dove. I’ve began to predict what it will be in days following. It’s all so familiar, bringing me back to the start of this journey along the Palisades cliffs of Jersey. I with many others would wait high above the Hudson river, and stake out a different pair of peregrines; the pair that sparked my addiction. It was always a social gathering it seemed, very seldom allowing solitude. But here, hundreds of miles from any Parkway, I’ve found a haven. This is a place where I can escape and feel a true appreciation for a remarkable species. A real environment, all in my loneliness.