The Cost of the Shot

I was looking in my news feeds yesterday, and saw a piece by Moose Peterson, talking about the cost of wildlife photography. Specifically, he muses on the antics of photographers he’s observed on his recent trip to Yellowstone. It’s a good read, and well worth paying attention to if you photograph in the field.

The clan Wright saw the same thing when we were at Yellowstone in June of ’08. Traffic jams were common whenever there were any big mammals near the road. I know that’s not a good thing, but there’s really nothing you can do once you’re trapped in it. It’s like watching a train wreck — you’re there, and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. And wherever the critters were, someone was bound to be putting a kid fifteen away from bison for that year’s Christmas card. That’s why I like my long lens and teleconverters — I don’t have to do that kind of thing.

I’ve gotta agree with Moose’s post. While I don’t tromp around in the “big wild” (most of the time), the principle’s the same. Stalking the critters isn’t worth the shot. And frankly, if you’re grabbing their images while they’re fleeing from your pursuit, that’s not exactly nature photography. More like unnatural photography.

I’m pretty much a rules-based kinda guy. If you’re not supposed to chase the wildlife, you don’t. Stay on the trail. Don’t pick the posies. That kind of stuff. When I hear about folks trying to operate outside the rules — whether it’s chasing their photographic vision, or just horsing around — I just have to wonder when the nature they’re exploiting will be taken away from all of us, either by fence or foible. Either way, t’aint right.