Sometimes you don't know what you don't know. As a photographer I guess I consider myself a landscape photographer first and foremost, but where you find nature you find wildlife and it's not unusual to find deer, chipmunks or other animals in frame. And I knew I didn't have the skills or the equipment to be a serious wildlife photographer but this weekend I had my eyes opened on both how much I had to learn and how much I wanted to.
My wife recently got me an amazing birthday present: a half day safari with a professional wildlife photographer in Point Reyes. Daniel Dietrich was the perfect guide; he was an expert in the wildlife, the landscape, and photography (and a friendly, patient guy to boot). His trained eye knew where to look and he spotted the most hidden, camouflaged animals from a distance. In a few short hours we saw three species of owl, otters, elk, harriers, hawks and one creature I wanted to see most, a bobcat.
Looking back at the day I'm pleased with my photos but the experience of seeing the animals in the wild was the biggest thrill. During the day I had been focused on getting the sharpest, most detailed shot of each animal, as close in as possible, but studying the images I realized something else. Every animal was perfectly evolved for its environment. The fascinating thing was framing it wider with some landscape only emphasized that relationship and the context added to the story. Seeing how much I have to learn and how exciting it is to search, I might just be hooked.