Sometimes…. being prepared isn’t pretty

In my last blog post I talked about one of the mantras of wildlife photography – ‘be prepared’. I can’t over-emphasize the importance of this one. If you don’t have your camera handy, enough battery power, or enough shots left of your memory card so that you can ‘seize the moment’, then well…. that moment will pass by you without being caught on pixels.

Let me put my caveat here – that not every moment has to be captured in pixels.  Sometimes it’s nice just to forget about the camera and watch a fawn, on wobbly new legs, saunter along in front of you. You just drink in the moment and forget about the camera. Those moments are worth it, just to take them in and not panic to catch them on pixels.

Having said that, I am a wildlife photographer after all, and do like to do my best to make beautiful images of nature. So back to our ‘be prepared’….

On Friday morning, I got up at 5:40am so I could watch Wil and Kate tie the knot. Our power had been out since noon the previous day due to a wicked wind storm. The only way I could watch the ceremony on our 47 inch tv was for Ray, my hubby, to run an extension lead from an inverter plugged into his Dodge Ram, which was in the garage. But that’s another story…

I watched the ‘I Do’s’ and shortly after that the battery ran out. No more tv. I was thinking of heading back to bed, but instead lingered to look out our livingroom windows, to our ‘backyard’ (aka the beaver pond). And lo and behold, there they were! The otters! Four of them! Frolicking around in the pond, having fun chasing each other and catching fish and crunching them in their teeth while they swam.

So of course, I grabbed my camera. Luckily I keep my camera on my 600mm lens, on a tripod, close at hand. So I quickly put on my knee pads (can’t do photography without those suckers), grabbed my gear, and ran outside. It was a bit chilly and I was worried about appearing too ‘bright’ so I quickly put on my camo jacket. I knelt in our backyard, snapping away. The otters were a bit far away and in the water, all I saw were heads poking out of the water or the occasional curve of the body as the otters ‘porpoised’ through the water. Reminds me a bit of the photos I’ve seen of the Lock Ness monster…

Swimming otters (copyright Shelley L. Ball)

Anyway, I continued to snap away and was lucky enough to see one otter go ashore on the far side of the pond to eat a fish. He was pretty far away and light levels were still fairly low, so I’m not sure I got a good shot of it (haven’t had a chance to look!), but I did my best to capitalize on the situation. I was prepared and did my best to make the most of the situation.

Crunching a fish while out for a leisurely swim (copyright Shelley L. Ball)

One lesson I did learn that morning is that being prepared may not always be pretty. As I was in the backyard, rattling off frame after frame of the otters, I realized I was standing in our backyard dressed in pink Eeyore pajama bottoms, a red long-sleeved t-shirt, that was covered by my camo jacket, and fuzzy, pink piggy slippers on my feet.  Let me tell you, it was NOT a good look. But very thankfully there was nobody there to see me, well, except for the otters. Maybe that’s why they were frolicking – they were rolling over laughing at my attire. Can’t say that I’d blame them.

On shore for a snack (copyright Shelley L. Ball)

But I was prepared. The photos are so-so. These guys are really tough to photograph, especially when they are 60 or more feet away or swimming with just their heads above water. So I don’t have great images. But it was fun trying. And it was a lot more fun than just going back to bed.

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