Really we are all “photographers.” We might say we are just “landscape photographers,” but don’t tell me you haven’t been called upon to shoot family birthdays, grandkids, a nephew’s high school sport action, maybe even a relative’s wedding? How about architectural shots of a neighbor’s home he is trying to sell? Families are unforgiving if you cop to the “I don’t know how” excuse. So somewhere along the line we learn a bit about flash, reflectors, DSLR video and sound, group posing, using long lenses hand-held with high shutter speeds, continuous focusing and a ton of other stuff. (Note: and then temporarily your landscape output is diminished a bit, but in the long run it gets better.)
So I am sitting on a small boat with 11 other folks, including my son, and a crew of six. Not all photographers, by the way. The boat is floating free in the pack ice north of Svalbard when a polar bear approaches. That guy is moving. And it’s not sunrise (well, there is 24 hour daylight) and it’s not sunset (same excuse). You can’t just sit there. You have your camera. You remember that high shutter speeds require an un-landscapy ISO well above 100, and you start firing. And it’s fun! And you get excited and want more. Subsequently you find a few Walruses, whales, Puffins, and flying birds.
Later you might come down to earth a bit when you realize that your 600 mm lens cost $1000, while the “standard” pro equivalent can be well north of $8000. But you are not tempted. The pictures are fine – save the extra $7000 and take more trips. Even at this discounted price, I am now officially a “Wildlife Photographer.”
Polar bear pictures here:
More Svalbard and a few more wildlife efforts coming soon.