Sunday, January 6, 2008

This Camera Changed My LIfe!

The Canon L2-A Life Changing Camera!

Canon L2 with 75-300 Canon IS: Elk County Pennsylvania

When I acquired the L2 in 1997 I was an avid squirrel, woodchuck, and turkey hunter, but my first and foremost interest was hunting the whitetail deer, whether it be with gun or camera.

A favorite activity was hunting turkeys in the fall, which coincided with the mating season of the whitetail deer or “the rut” as it is commonly known. I acquired my first SLR, a Minolta SRT 101 in 1974 and from that point on usually had a camera along. When I changed to video in late 1990, the SLRs were replaced by a VHS camcorder. I didn’t carry a tripod so that I could also have the firearm along.

This approach worked well for several years, but over a period of time I found that I enjoyed the whitetail photography and video recording more than the turkey hunting, and often wanted to kill a turkey quickly so I could put the firearm away and concentrate on the photography. Although I didn’t have inkling at the time, this compromise situation was about to change.

As I mentioned earlier, I bought a used L2 camcorder in May of 1997. That fall I bought a Canon 75-300 EF IS zoom lens on the recommendation of the same Kim Morris who introduced me to the long lenses on the Canon L cameras. This lens worked quite well and became a favorite until I replaced it with the Canon 35-350 L.

I was literally like “a kid in a candy store” with this outfit. For the first time I was able to really reach out and get video footage. Where previously one had to hide in blinds to get subjects close enough, now larger animals such as deer and elk could be photographed at extremely long range so I was able to range over the countryside in search of wildlife and still get good detailed video footage.

One drawback was that the L2 required the use of a tripod in almost all cases. In time I came to realize that this applied to all camcorders as I became very aware and intolerant of shaky footage. However, with the L2 and the powerful lenses it was even difficult in some cases to get good footage with a tripod because of vibration.

When fall arrived I realized that I had to choose between my old methods of operation or I could leave the firearm at home and pursue the wildlife with the camera. When it came to the crucial test the camera won out, at least until deer season.

I did hunt deer that year, but a new way of looking at things was surfacing almost unbeknownst to me. I videotaped a nice nine-point several times in the fall of 1996. To my surprise I saw and recorded him that summer on a farm less than a mile from where I saw him in the fall. He was definitely the same buck, but he was now a large ten-point. When rutting season arrived he moved back into the area and I recorded him on numerous occasions. One day I realized that there was no way I would shoot him with the rifle if I saw him in deer season. Even though I had not encountered him at close range and he had not bonded with me, I now viewed him through different eyes and felt a bond with him. As luck would have it I did not encounter him and so was not put to the test, but I am certain that I would have let him live.

That was one factor, but another of equal importance was that this camera caused me to spend more time afield and to see animals doing things I had never witnessed before. I began to identify with them, and changed from observing and photographing them as possible targets of a hunt, to photographing the animals and interacting with them being the entire reason for being in the field. This may not have the excitement of putting an animal down with a bullet, but to me it had a much deeper satisfaction and I felt much better about things at the end of the day. As one gets older, they require less and less excitement anyway.

The following year I only took the rifle one day on a half-hearted walk into the mountain. I hunted one morning and evening with the muzzleloader and that was it. My gun hunting was over!

Within a year this camera would inspire me to travel to Shenandoah National Park and in 2001 to Cades Cove in The Great Smoky Mountains

Young Bull Browsing In Spring: Althugh not taken with the L2, that camera was responsible for renewing my interest in still photography and I got the Minolta's back in service in 1999 and changed to Canon DSLRs in 1999.

To Be Continued:


Andrea said...

Interesting. I will be back to read your "To Be Continued"

Love the picture of the deer or rather young bull and the camera looks nice too.

SandyCarlson said...

I like the photo of the young bull and your story of your relationship with your camera.

Kekiinani said...

Cute photo of the young bull!! :) :) Great commentary!! Cant wait for the to be continued.. Like a good book!! Glad the camera won out over the rifle or whatever you use to shoot those cute animals!! :) :) Guess you can tell I would make a terrible hunter... :) :) Have a great week!

Tom said...

Hi Willard
This as been a fantastic read my friend, I like the honesty of how it's written, I could eazily have sat here all morning and read more.

I can well understand how the change came about, on a much smaller scale of shooting for rabbits I would admire the wonder of all the other stuff going on around me, I soon realised it was the 'other' stuff I had more interest in. I think Big Pete is the same.
I look forward to more.

Anonymous said...

Howdy Willard.

You know me.

The frugal kid born during the Great Depression who almost starved to death during World War II, me...the one who hated to spade the vegetable garden, but who was threatened with bread and water all summer and next winter, just the water, unless I finished spading the garden.

When I got here this morning and took a look at the camera that changed your life, the very first thing that popped into my warped brain was...

If I had that camera my tranquil marriage would be in a shambles. It is a beautiful camera that cost more than my 2003 Toyota Corolla.

So, I am left with a kind of lust and a kind of envy or is it coveting thy neighbor's goods?

Nice shot of the four legged creature. I am certainly tickled to death that I got to know you when I did and that you are an excellent photographer. Thanks for that.

If I have made any mistakes. sprry.
Abraham Lincoln

Willard said...


The truly sad thing is that that camera is now just a souvenir of those days as repairs are no longer available, and it will not work anymore.

The picture of today's high definition camcorders is truly amazing, but yet I am truly astonished when I load footage from this old camera on my computer and see just how good it still looks when it is properly processed.

As it is I drive a 1996 Chevy Blazer with nearly 150,000 miles on it and a 99 Cavalier. I have always sacrificed on the vehicle end to be able to afford the cameras. My wife always put up with it in the hopes that someday "I would make something out of it".

I would expect that with inflation and being on a fixed income that my days of keeping up with Canon's top end camcorders are over or nearly so. (Hopefully one more model before they go out of my price range)! I yearn for the day when these cameras record to flash media rather than tape. Anything with a tape transport is highly susceptible to mechanical problems.

Kerri Farley said...

Oh Willard, what a FANTASTIC story! I love the way you tell it...and can "hear" as I read that it truly did change your life.
How Wonderful!

PS - I've said it before and I'll say it really do have a wonderful storytelling ability!

Gretchen said...

Always love to stop by and see your new work. You have true talent!

DeeMom said...

Looking forward to the next installment.

This made me think about my Dad's Hasselblad camera. I still have it! ;)

imac said...

Great shots from a great camera(which ever camera you use)from a great person who writes great posts.

er did I mention they are great photos too??.lol.

dot said...

What a nice story Willard! I've actually read it twice but didn't comment the first time for some reason.
Cades Cove is Tina's favorite place and I'm sure she will love hearing you have been there.