Saturday, December 29, 2018
I received word today that Tim White had passed away. I didn’t meet Tim until late in his life. I watched him struggle as time and age took away his ability to pursue his photography. I’m told that he was a fantastic photographer but I never saw many of his images. Time was a villain there as well – his best work as trapped in film and this is now the age of digital.
I had never photographed a Prairie Chicken until Tim invited me to travel to Big Blue Ranch in southern Nebraska. They rent blinds to photographers. You are taken to the Lek before sunrise. You hear the Prairie chickens arrive in total darkness. As it gets lighter, you need to test the limits of your camera’s ISO to capture any image at all. The males challenge each other with random bursts of incredible speed. Just when it is bright enough to easily stop the action, the birds leave for the day.
It is easy to take hundreds of images but it’s hard to get one that makes you are completely happy. For me the fun is in the challenge. I need just about everything I have ever learned about nature photography in the early morning minutes. After that, I go home and review my work to see what I could do better next year.
As we go through life, we seldom know when one of our suggestions or rebukes changes the direction of someone else’s life. Tim changed my life for the better. I hope that I can pass on something I enjoy doing before I Shoot and Leave as well.
Omaha has a botanical garden called Lauritzen Gardens. Its been over a dozen years since I have photographed anything there. At the time, I wanted to photograph the birds and bugs. I couldn’t photograph birds because they didn’t allow tripods. I didn’t photograph bugs because they kill anything that eats the plants. The main reason I didn’t return was because the staff hated photographers and gave me the third degree every time I went.
My photography has improved since then – perhaps they have made some improvements to their facility and attitude as well. In any case, I’ve lowered my expectations and don’t expect to be welcomed as an artist.
According to their web page, Lauritzen now welcomes private non-commercial photography but they have rules that photographers need to follow for the safety of the other guests. The rules include:
Don’t take portraits.
Don’t bring a tripod or Dipod (whatever that is).
Don’t touch the plants.
Stay out of the water.
Any volunteer of staff member can kick you out at any time.
I need to sign an agreement that includes “ I will not use any photographs or video footage taken on THIS DAY, YEAR for anything other than the intended purpose of THEIR REASON FOR TAKING THE PICTURES.”
Ironically, the rules for Artists are more relaxed:
They can sell their work if they want.
They can set up an easel anywhere – but might be asked to move for garden maintenance.
They can’t litter.
I shouldn’t have any problems:
I was in the military – I have experience with people enforcing petty regulations that don’t make any sense.
The strollers and service animals will be safe from my non-existent tripod – but I might try to stand real still at times.
The kids running around can pick and trample all the flowers they want because I won’t be touching any of the plants or their labels.
I can’t imagine that any photo taken at Lauritzen would have any commercial value – let alone mine.I'll just Shoot and Leave.