Did you see my recent video where I went to photograph short eared owls at Forvie Sands in Aberdeenshire? This wildlife spectacle only occurs in the winter months at Forvie and as a result, I had to visit in order to see and photograph the owls for myself before they migrate away for the summer.
I've undertaken wildlife photography very sporadically over the years but when I find the time to do it, I'm transported to a new and exciting world. Let me explain...
Despite my ability to read light and connect with nature through landscape photography, something special occurs when I find the time to shoot wildlife. I become more aware of things happening around me when I embark on a wildlife mission. You see, as a landscape photographer the light is forever changing and as a result, I can be snapping away and practicing my techniques, even when the light isn't at it's optimum.
When practicing wildlife photography however, you have to be on the ball at all times. The oppertunity to shoot other things while your waiting for the wildlife to appear is not a wise move. Their ability to appear out of no where or sneak up on you means you have to be ready with the camera posed and set at all times. These owls for instance didn't make a single noise when flying around. If I wasn't ready and waiting, chances are I would have missed all opportunity to get an image of them.
This process however opens up our senses to situations we didn't know existed. To demonstrate this, let me talk you through my time in the Cairngorms photographing this red squirrel a few years back:
I had to wait about two and a half hours to capture this image. How may of us can sit still in a hide for that long without getting bored or frustrated? The truth for me at the time was that I enjoyed it. I learnt a new skill that I had never experienced before - the ability to tune into nature and detach from my present mind set. In those hours I sat waiting, I was able to witness several snow showers passing through and open my senses up to the sights and sounds that came with them. I observed how the wind changed speed and direction as the showers arrived and left. I noticed how the trees we've affected by this and how their branches swayed back and forth. I became aware of the fact that the soft snow made no noise as it fell to the ground - how it was able to arrive without causing a scene. I was transported to a deep and meaningful state of mind where I could see things we're all unaware of as we live our lives day in day out.
The point I'm trying to make here is the fact that undertaking wildlife photography allows you to step back from life and observe. It teaches you the sheer importance of detaching yourself from life from time to time and immersing yourself in the small things, which many would view as meaningless. You could say it's like an escape. You listen intently for any sounds of animals approaching. You watch constantly waiting for something to move or appear before your eyes. It teaches you to be at one with the world and observe the beauty that is created naturally around us.
I guess it's so easy in these situations to understand why poets, authors and musicians often feel their most inspired out in nature or somewhere quiet. It's so simple yet mesmerising to witness. So next time you have some free time, sit with your camera posed and watch the world go by around you. I can guarantee you'll go home with a completely new mindset and feel more relaxed as a result.
Please feel free to share your wildlife moments and how you felt transported to a new world in the comments below.