We’re celebrating warmer weather with a week of photos taken outdoors, focusing on nature. Outdoor photography offers a myriad of advantages and opportunities, one of which is the ability to bond with nature. However, nature isn’t always so keen about bonding back and when it’s not we humans may just have to pack up and leave.
On the best of days, we are able to schedule about ten days out, as far in advance as most meteorologists are willing to forecast, the weather holds, and we get that perfect blend of morning light with enticing shadows. If necessary, I’ll even settle for a moderately filtered shot as long as I’m getting good sun rays in the background. We have to be extremely well prepared and able to work quickly as the sun rises in the sky, but the results are almost always worth the early wake-up and any other minor inconvenience.
As I was going back through and re-processing this shot (we re-process anything over two years old), I was reminded, however, that nature doesn’t always want to cooperate. Dealing with the moving sunlight is one thing; at least that’s predictable and something for which we can easily plan. What’s not as predictable is how vicious elements such as insects, rodents, and plant life might be on any given day at any given time. In this case, it was mosquitoes the model didn’t even feel whose bites left a number of unsightly little bumps on her skin. Sure, she felt them later, but their silent attack was beyond any on-camera solution by the time their presence was noticed.
I can’t help but feel bad when a model tells me two or three days later that she’s developed a rash, or found some strange bites on an intimate body part, or apparently came into contact with some plant to which she’s allergic. Nature can be a very dangerous place to take pictures!
Mosquitoes are probably the most bothersome culprits, especially as we get deeper into the summer and their numbers seem greater than the entire population of whatever state we’re in. Ants are another common culprit and there is often absolutely no sign that they’re going to be a problem until the very moment we’re ready to sit a model on a stump, look down, and find the place crawling with them as though they’d received an invitation.
Most the time, such encounters are merely a momentary frustration. We try dealing with insects and such in the most humane manner possible. After all, everything is part of something else’s food chain and poison we put into the environment anywhere eventually comes back to our own dinner plates. Yet, there have been times when the aggressiveness of nature simply forced us to leave. One of the worst was probably the evening we were shooting in a small, natural pool that forms in the bend of a creek. We had shot there before with no problem, but on this particular evening crawdads came out and began nipping at the models toes. Despite all our attempts to dissuade them, they were unrelenting and we finally had no choice but to retreat.
So, as we go through this week full of outdoor photographs, by all means enjoy the beauty we’ve been able to capture, but please keep in mind that there are things hiding in that picture that can sometimes make paradise a living nightmare. Nature doesn’t always want us merging with it; sometimes it wants us for lunch!