I love the thrill of photographing wildlife, just a bit more than I abhor the frustration of doing it. Invariably when an interesting creature wanders by I have the wrong camera settings, or the wrong lens, or everything packed in my backpack, or some such makes-me-feel-like-a-novice issue that prevents me from making the image I want. Sometimes I feel the best wildlife images I have were the result of the creature simply waiting for me to get my act together!
This guy, for example. I was hiking through a state campground at Tahoe, looking for better vantage points of the lake. Due to the state budget issues California has closed several of their state parks so I literally had the place to myself. After trekking along a ridge overlooking the lake I’d put everything away and was wandering back to where I’d parked the car. These squirrels were chirping away as I passed through, alerting everything to be on the look out for the stranger in town. Not that they seemed overly concerned about it, though, as they kept digging through the ground cover for food and only keeping a casual watch on my progress through their territory.
This one decided to be the appointed watchman, however, climbing to this vantage point where I was always in view but safely at a distance. As a result I was able to not only set up with the tripod, lens and camera settings I wanted (open aperture to blur the background), but was also able to position myself to compose him in front of the bright tree in the background with the darker area to the right. Even though this all took about a minute, squirrels rarely give me that much of their time – they are just too busy making future plans to argue with me about shutter speeds and focal lengths.
And I imagine the squirrels in California state parks are working overtime this summer, what with the serious decrease of people to feed them and leave easy pickings behind in the trash areas. Fortunately the woods around Tahoe are little affected by the beetles that are killing off other parts of the western mountain tree cover so there remains enough seeds from various sources to provide them forage for the summer and storage for the winter. At least I’m hoping for that. Hate to see such good subjects have to move somewhere else for a living.