Sometimes, you have to do something that makes you happy. That is how I feel about photography. Not everyone sees what I see in my pictures…but I see it. They say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and I always thought they meant finding love, but it really means any kind of beauty. My photography may not be beautiful or even unique to everyone, but to me each shot is an amazing expression of my own discovery. I say discovery, because most of the time, I don’t do anything, but see something that I think is photo worthy. Sometimes, I see other people who like the same kinds of things that I do, but just as often, other artists have very different styles than I do. And some seem very strange to me, as perhaps my photography does to others.
This past weekend, while Bob and I were in Thermopolis, we took the time to walk along the river, and up by the hot springs pools. The birds, including ducks, geese, and at least one Great Blue Heron, live in the area year round. It seems strange that they don’t migrate south, until you realize that with the hot springs, the river and especially the pools provide a warm climate for them. This makes migration unnecessary, and that is a cool thing for the people who love to visit the area. The birds, while not tame, are very much used to the scores of people who come to the area, and while they will not let you get seriously close to them, they are much more tolerant of people nearby…provided you move slowly. Of course, for the sake of my photography, having a child try to run up to the birds provides a perfect opportunity to try to get a good “flight” photograph.
Flight photographs are much harder to take than one would think. While all birds fly, and fly often, it is not that easy to take their picture doing it. They go very fast, and trying to chase them with your cameral lens and focus in time is not easy. Then, there is the problem of catching them in a position where they actually look like than a bird and not a ball of feathers. A tripod doesn’t work for this type of picture, obviously, because you have to be able to move. In reality, the best way to take this type of picture is to get your camera ready, and have someone move quickly toward the birds, making them fly away. While that may not be a spontaneous photograph, it is often the best way to get that coveted “in flight” shot. While I didn’t ask them to, there were kids who caused my birds to take flight. To me, it doesn’t really matter what made the birds take flight, but rather the fact that they took flight that makes the scene photo worthy.
Last Sunday, while on a trip to Hot Springs, South Dakota to hike the Mickelson Trail, Bob and I found ourselves sidelined due to rain. We sat around the hotel for several hours…until Bob decided that he had cabin fever. So we decided to go for a drive. I had driven this road on my trip to Wisconsin with my mom and sister, Cheryl. The road took us out the east side of Hot Springs, and then toward Rapid City. We went a ways and then turned toward Custer. The drive was beautiful with all the fall colors. It would eventually connect us with Custer State Park, but since we weren’t going to the Needles or the Wildlife Loop, we didn’t have to pay the fee.
As I said, the drive was nice, even in the rain and the scenery was beautiful, but one thing we started to notice…over and over, was a lot of turkeys. It felt like we had stumbled upon Turkey Central. They were in the farmers fields, by the side of the road, and even walking down the road. And they weren’t one bit afraid of our car either. In fact, they completely ignored us and our car. They moved only when they wanted to move. It occurs to me that these turkeys are quite used to all this traffic, and they might even like it. It also occurs to me that these turkeys are most likely bound for Thanksgiving and Christmas tables in the area. As we drove, we slowly went beyond all the turkeys, but it was too late by then, because I had already decided that we had just traveled through Turkey Central. It was as if they owned that stretch of road…or at least thought they did.
The rest of our drive was fairly void of wildlife, and I went back to looking at the beautiful colors. My only wish would be that our area might have a few more red fall colors than it currently has…and that there might be a few more of the various kinds of wildlife. We did happen to see a few buffalo, but they were on someone’s ranch, so I suppose they aren’t wild…not that I intend to find out. For me, the turkeys were really the highlight of the drive. They just acted so bold and brave…never even taking notice of us at all. I think it was a very interesting drive through Turkey Central, indeed.
Every year in late February or early March, Bob and I take a three day weekend and head to Thermopolis to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It isn’t a long trip, but rather, a peaceful getaway. We have taken longer trips, and enjoyed them immensely, but the nice thing about going to Thermopolis is that there is very little to do in this small town, so you find yourself relaxing and doing the simple things. We like to take long walks along the river, and up by the hot springs. Most of the time I like to be alone…just the two of us, but today was a little different. It’s not that was were with a group of people, but rather the people we interacted with that were so interesting.
First there was the man with his dog. The dog was so happy to be playing in the water again after such a long cold winter. Every time his master threw the toy into the water, the dog could hardly contain himself. He ran splashing into the river, grabbed his prize and brought it back to his master for another go. Then we watched two little boys who were happily throwing rocks into the river. Each one tried to find a bigger rock than their last one had been. They were quite the pair.
There were the fishermen and the strolling walkers, but the one who was the most interesting person who crossed our path was the little girl who was so excited about rushing the ducks, that she didn’t see that I was photographing them until it was too late. She quickly apologized, but I told her that she didn’t ruin my picture, but rather enhanced it. She then decided that the would do the same thing with some geese a little ways away, and I quickly snapped those shots too.
Normally, I enjoy just being in our own little space on the Thermopolis retreats we take, but the people around us this time, who were all excited about the fact that nice weather had finally arrived…all expressing their own individual version of their excitement, were just too interesting to ignore, and we were quickly drawn into experiencing it with them. It was their expressions of the joys of being alive that made each of them interesting in their own way. And I found joy in simply watching them. Spring seems to have finally graced us with its presence, and after the long cold winter, that makes me feel amazing.