Perseverance, Sweat, & The Rest of the World
I think my Mom was one of the first to notice, that I seem to get along with animals much better than I do people. There’s just something about the animal kingdom that gives me a moment of pause no matter how hectic my life might be. Despite that, I’ve seldom been able to capture photos of animals that I’m really happy with. I’ve nabbed a great photo of a pet here and there, but photographing animals has always been a challenge for me. So much so, that I’d seldom seriously attempt to do it.
I made a promise to myself that 2010 would be the year that I pushed myself photographically, getting out of my comfort zone of the ‘sweeping vista landscape shot’ that I’ve dwelled in for so long. So far, I’ve shot a great series of candid portraits, an air show, and even a wedding. A few weeks ago, I had a chance to shoot at the San Diego Zoo. As fun of an experience as it was, I just wasn’t too thrilled with the images. I did get a small handful that I was ‘okay’ with, but honestly I just got lucky on them.
Stubborn as I am, the experience had been weighing on me since. The problem was, thinking back to an earlier post, I wasn’t ‘there’……I hadn’t gotten myself into the experience enough to capture it well. So today I headed down to the San Diego Wild Animal Park to try again.
Well, I made it ‘there’. Getting up at 6am on a Saturday didn’t really bother me. I should have brought an extra shirt for all the sweating I did, but no biggie. My shoulders are sore from hauling my camera gear around all day, but I’ve got a heating pad.
I sat alone for the a good while watching a California Condor preen itself, only to be rewarded with this view when it was done. It was as if he was impressed with his own work and wanted to show off to me. A few other visitors showed up shortly after, but those precious few moments were all mine.
Patience paid off again watching the elephants, with me being rewarded with this image of babies playing while the adults look on.
You could have heard a pin drop on the viewing platform as we all watched these two play (well, that and the sound of camera shutters tripping like machine gun fire!)
One can’t visit a zoo and not feel conflicted. For here are all these magnificent creatures, on display for us when they should be running wild and free. The logical extension of that thought however is to really look at what happens in the wild…again due to us. Elephants are hunted for their tusks, Gorillas for bushmeat, other species are at risk from our own destruction of their habitats.
That last point stuck with me as I was coming back home. Looking at the absolute disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, due to us (no surprise), entire species are at risk. As I write this, wildlife organizations are doing everything they can to save what is a vital ecosystem both to the animals that call it home, and to the humans that depend on it for their livelihood.
In the end, what is in the mission statement of every zoo in the world hit home with me today. Learning about, and learning to appreciate, the diversity of life in the animal kingdom, our impact on it, and what it’s loss inevitably means to us is a priceless experience that unfortunately gets lost somewhere along the way in our hectic lives.
I became a member of the zoo today.
Keywords: Life Lessons, Patience, Perseverance, Philosophy, Photography, San Diego Wild Animal Park, San Diego Zoo, Travel, Wildlife, Zoo
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