Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year- Photographs and Thoughts

I have been blogging since October of 2007 and I find it increasingly difficult to make a blog post.  It is not so hard if one puts up a few photographs with minimal commentary--at least if one is having good success with photographic opportunities.  This time of year can be especially difficult in the area where I live as rifle deer season puts the damper on whitetail buck photography.  The countryside is also drab looking when there is no snow on the ground.  I am conflicted about this as I do not like having to deal with snow, but I do like to see and photograph wildlife in it. We have had a bit of snow off and on and I photographed a mature gobbler one morning as he preened and basked in the morning sunlight at the edge of a meadow.

Mature Gobbler Preening: Canon 7D-Canon 600mm F4.0  L IS - ISO 200-1/500 sec. f 5.0
This was a was a welcome change from the usual bare ground, but the snow was gone within a few days.

Distant Whitetails: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 600mm F4.0 L IS - ISO 400-1/1000 sec. f 5.0
It is good to see and photograph deer under any conditions, but photographing them in falling snow is especially rewarding.

Doe in Falling Snow: Canon 7D-Canon 70-200 mm F 2.8  L IS II - ISO 400-1/100 sec. f 4.0
I included an old manure spreader in the background of the photograph shown below to add to the atmosphere, but I am not sure if it is a plus or a minus composition wise.

A Snowy Day: Canon 7D-Canon 17-40mm F4.0  L@40mm - ISO 400-1/80 sec. f 7.1
It should be easier to get good wildlife photographs once the late flintlock & archery deer season is over and wildlife populations calm down a bit, which brings me to a point that I wish to address briefly.

While it is not difficult to make a post such as this one has been so far, it is difficult to write about controversial subjects and one can spend hours or parts of several days in writing a post about this type of subject matter. The problem is that I feel compelled to write about wildlife issues from the perspective of a wildlife photographer as it seems to me that much of the writing done about wildlife issues in the public media is from the perspective of the hunting community.  While it is true that at this point wildlife conservation programs are primarily funded by hunting license dollars, I  think that persons who are interested in wildlife for other reasons should have a voice in wildlife management  and they should be responsible for bearing a fair share of the cost of  wildlife management.

State conservation agencies in general and The Pennsylvania Game Commission in particular, are faced with declining hunter numbers and a  corresponding loss of revenue from license sales, while the legislature steadfastly refuses to give the agency a license increase.  So far the problem has been staved off by funding from timber sales, and Marcellus shale leasing,etc. but this will not carry the load forever.  As a result, there is a frantic effort to attract new hunters and to entice those that have quit hunting back into the fold.  There is a continual clamor for more and longer seasons, special seasons, mentored youth hunts, mentored adult hunts and on and on. At the same time, a substantial-or at least very vocal portion- of the hunting public believes that the whitetail deer population has been decimated by the excessive killing of does and this is the primary reason for the loss of interest in hunting.

This situation provides a fertile field for discussion and I hope to write about some of these issues in the coming year along with the usual photography content.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard  Hill.