In the second week of February, the Big Guy and I drove 3 1/2 hours SE of Phoenix to Bisbee, to use it as a staging point for 3 visits to the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, wintering grounds for about 15,000 sandhill cranes. My photos of those birds weren’t what I’d hoped for. I was able to get no closer than about 100 feet and maybe not that close. In any case, I was much too far away to get good, high-resolution shots with my camera equipment, which gives me a maximum 300mm zoom. I’m sure my skill level had nothing to do with it.
This past week, I visited the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary about 45 minutes SW of where I was staying in Vancouver. The resident sandhill cranes are pretty habituated to humans, and I was able to get within 5 feet of them without causing them any distress. The biggest challenge here was keeping the ducks and sanctuary infrastructure out of the backgrounds.
What I want, of course, is pictures with the quality of the close-ups possible in the bird sanctuary, but with the ambiance of the wildlife area – and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with getting a rare picture (even just rare-ish). Like Sally in When Harry met Sally, I just want it the way I want it. And, you know, without making it my full-time job.
I’m not sure what to take from these disparate experiences. My first impulse is to devalue the wilderness shots on technical merit (lack of close-up clarity), and to devalue the sanctuary shots on artistic merit (lack of rarity).
On the other hand, I guess I could be happy with both sets, valuing what I managed to do in each case, while continuing to strive for better. Which sounds like a good model for life, even if altogether too well-adjusted . . .