|Well, it’s time to plan your
next photographic adventure. So you ask yourself,
where do I want to spend the limited amount of time
I have for my Nature Photography?
This friends, is the question that keeps getting
harder and harder to answer.
I set out to one of my old “Honey Holes”
a little rookery about 15 minutes from my home.
Convenient and productive was the best way to describe
this little rookery. Unfortunately when I arrived,
I found it fenced off with no trespassing signs.
A new Harley Davidson dealership bought the land
and was building a showroom there. Dang! Another
Look around, the signs of progress are everywhere.
It seems as if there is no limit to the construction
of new homes, roads, schools and golf courses.
The politicians bask in the glow of the “job
well done” they receive from their constituents.
And why wouldn’t their constituents be happy?
They have created new jobs, new schools and just
look at the revenue being collected as property
and business taxes.
The public for the most part is uninformed about
much of the real impact, so called “progress”
has on our remaining natural places.
But to be fair, “progress” does have
many real, albeit short term benefits. So to suggest
all “progress” must stop is unfair and
unrealistic. On the other hand uncontrolled “progress”
can be devastating to the remaining natural places
and the wildlife that resides there. “Progress”
and urban sprawl not only reduces wildlife habitat,
it also fragments it as well.
Habitat loss is easy to understand, habitat fragmentation
is a little tougher to grasp. Fragmentation is the
result of large habitats being cut into smaller
parcels, with no means for the wildlife to move
freely from one area to another. Roads, buildings
and other obstructions prevent wildlife from moving
outside that small area, held captive, almost as
if they where caged. As seasons change, (particularly
in a state like Florida where there are two seasons,
drought and flood) wildlife need to move to other
areas with better forage, another reason wildlife
need to move is the availability of fresh genetic
material. An excellent example is the Florida Panther;
the gene pool has been so greatly reduced by habitat
loss and fragmentation that all Florida Panthers
have a kink in their tail. This is the obvious visible
result of the inbreeding, the other results of inbreeding
are less visibly noticeable but unfortunately much
Many species are extremely hardy and can adapt to
new “habitats”, like the retention pond
behind Wal-Mart or the ditch along the road where
the marsh used to be.
Others species are not as adaptive and given enough
pressure even the hardest / most adaptive will fail
As Nature photographers we must be concerned about
the impact all of this so called “progress”
has on the well being of our subjects, but there
is a selfish concern as well. In the future, where
will we find the subjects we love and love to photograph?
Will we be forced to shoot only in the remaining
National and State Parks? Or is there something
we can do to raise the public’s awareness
level about the results of uncontrolled development?
As a Master Naturalist, much of my training has
been on how to help the public and government officials
for that matter, to understand how uncontrolled
growth negatively effect wildlife and other natural
resources. If you have programs similar to this
in your area, I highly recommend it.
Training is an invaluable aid in helping you communicate
the importance of your message, as well as enable
ling you to communicate it to a wider audience.
As a photographer, much of my work is trying to
express in photographs the beauty of our remaining
For the most part, people a preoccupied with
the everyday hustle and bustle of life.
And in order to get from one place to another
in this fast paced world, most people will choose
to travel the fastest routes available.
You can be sure that it is quit impossible to
see the beauty of the remaining wild and natural
places when traveling at 70mph on an Interstate
Highway. And that is exactly how most of the public
see the world. How can anyone attach value to
an area, making it worth saving, when it is seen
as just a blur?
Take for example a swamp or marsh, set along
side the Interstate. People go speeding past these
wetlands, and as far as they are concerned it
is just a breeding place for snakes, mosquitoes
and other undesirables. The fact that wetlands
filter drinking water, recharge the aquifer, buffer
against floods and provide valuable habitat for
countless species is lost on the public due to
misinformation and the fast pace that most people
live their lives.
Lets’ say I photograph a Rosette Spoonbill,
Snowy Egret, Redheaded Woodpecker or any one of
a number of different beautiful species that reside
in these wetlands. And if I do it well, if I do
it beautifully, then perhaps the public and governmental
officials will see the hidden beauty of these
wild places. Beauty is most often perceived as
having value. And of course something of value
is worth saving. Our photography can have a positive
impact on stemming the tide of habitat reduction
But just taking a beautiful photograph is not
enough. For the public to realize the value of
the remaining wild places, they must see the beautiful
landscapes and wildlife images taken in these
This means, slideshows for the family and friends.
It also means contacting groups like Audubon or
other environmentally conscious clubs or groups.
Camera clubs, schools, newspapers and regional
magazines, just to name a few, are all effective
ways to get your images seen and your message
out. No need to be shy, this is an important message.
If not you, than who?
Armed with education and beautiful images we can
and will make an impact on stemming the tide on
uncontrolled “progress”. How can I
be so sure? Simple, I have seen this approach
in action and successfully so. Saving our wild
and natural places, saving the subjects we love
and love to photograph is worth the effort. But
not just for ourselves, but for generations to
come as well.
Stay tuned for my article on Mitigation and Restoration
projects and how they affect nature and nature