One of the great truisms about photographers, especially those who specialize in landscapes and nature, is that they always think they have to go somewhere else to create terrific photographs. In unfamiliar locations we see masterpieces around every corner but the places we experience every day don’t even register on our creative radar. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a unique image of my hometown taken by a visitor! Why didn’t I think of that? What is it about our own home bases that make us so blasé?
Maybe we have an opportunity in these times of “Social Distancing” to change that. We can possibly take advantage of this extra time to work on our skills, clean our equipment, learn something new and otherwise get everything ready for the future when we can safely go out again.
Take nature photography for example. I live in the city of Los Angeles, California. Perhaps you have heard of it. This megalopolis probably doesn’t offer much in the way of nature photography. Right? What got me thinking about this was my morning walks with my dog. With nearly everybody staying home and there being almost no noise from automobile traffic, I noticed something different. Birds! Lots of birds! Hundreds of them! Maybe thousands! Every morning my neighborhood sounds like a gigantic aviary!
It got me rethinking about what kinds of wildlife I’ve seen within a few blocks of my house, not to mention in my own backyard. I already mentioned the birds. I see many hummers, songbirds and woodpeckers. Birds of prey like owls, falcons and hawks are ever present. I’ve even seen a Golden Eagle! LA, like most of the places where each of us live, is on a major migration route. The passing of the weeks bring a constant change in the variety of species. Waterfowl such as ducks and geese are always around and there are too many shore birds to mention.
I regularly see other animals as well. There are squirrels, of course, and possums, skunks, bats, raccoons and the ubiquitous coyotes. I’ve even seen the occasional bobcat and numerous families of mule deer. For those of you who are a bit delicate, I won’t list the creepy crawlies that are fantastic for macro or the biggest rattlesnake I have ever seen, just a few miles from my house!
My point is, all we have to do is stop, look and listen to notice the photographable nature around us. There is plenty of it wherever you live! (Don’t forget Spring flowers and other flora!) The internet and apps are fantastic for researching animal behaviors and identifying species. They’re also great for picking up the photographic techniques that will yield fantastic results with practice. And you can do all of this while diligently keeping your social distances! Don’t despair that you can’t travel like you planned. You can turn these difficult times into a windfall of learning and opportunity!
The Peregrine Falcon in the above image was photographed within the city limits of Los Angeles, not a 20 minute drive from downtown (where Peregrines also live). It was raining hard and I only spent a short while photographing but hopefully this is a new beginning of a local nature photography adventure for me!
I hope you stay safe and healthy and make the most of these uncertain times. Keep your camera handy and ready to shoot! You never know what will wander into your own backyard or neighborhood!
I’ll see you all out there… Eventually! – JG
All Photographs © 2020 Sharon Lobel Photography or John Grusd Photography. All Rights Reserved.