The other day I went looking for an owl to photograph. I have a fondness for owls. Not only do I think they are beautiful, but, they are fun to watch. You can almost see their feelings on their faces.
I had been standing there for just a short time (maybe 30 seconds my second time around) and a woman asked me to move along. Or basically, “Don’t stay too long!” I was taken aback a bit. Honestly, I thought her shouting that at me to get my attention was worse than me standing to take a few photos. I explained I knew what I was doing and she shrugged and moved along.
I did photograph the owl twice. Both times, I kept it very short. The telephoto lens meant I didn’t need to get super close and I could take a bunch at different settings. I then left, walked away for a while, and then returned for a different angle. I had no plans to stress out the owl. I don’t even share where the owl is and I respect it. It is their habitat – not ours. As I left, I walked down the trail and eventually met up with the woman again.
She took time to apologize for how she came across and I explained that I felt like us talking was more disturbing than me standing quietly and shooting. What she explained next was so annoying. A photographer had come a year ago, at dusk, and set up his tripod and flash and proceeded to photograph the little owl. The flash is a big no-no. And setting up just to use the flash? That’s just wrong. The owl flew away and didn’t return for a long time. As nature photographers, it is imperative that we respect nature. That means that we may not get a perfect shot. We may miss an opportunity or can’t get as close as we’d like. What matters is that wildlife and nature go as undisturbed as possible.
I remember one time I was driving and saw a Great Horned Owl. It was on a branch that I could see from the road. Clearly. I turned my car around and drove back. I suppose I could have parked my car somewhere, gotten out and walked to a spot to get a closer shot. But I simply rolled down my window, looked for cars, and shot as much as I could. The photos aren’t great. I didn’t have a big telephoto with me. I was in a hurry and hadn’t changed my depth of focus. But I had a wonderful experience with the owl.
The same goes for any wildlife. Bears in Shenandoah. Turtles in ponds. Anything out west. It is one reason so many photographers are no longer sharing locations. I won’t tell anyone where this owl is unless I know, 100%, they are a photographer that respects nature. It took me 2-3 times of going to the location just to find the owl. I knew the general area and that was enough. We go. We search. We respect. I wish everyone operated this way.
Below… the little cutie!
This past summer was great for my photography. I was lucky to see numerous butterflies, dragonflies, and flowers. I hiked a lot less than I normally do. The free weekends I had were spent running Spartan Races versus hiking and that’s okay. I’m hoping that my Saturdays will free up soon so I can get back to it. I imagine I’ll be hiking a ton this winter to make up for it.
I wanted to share a handful of photos from this past summer. Some of these are included in my calendars that can be pre-ordered but I am also leaving some as a surprise.
I’m pleased to share that my 2019 calendars are available for pre-order. Last year I made a calendar almost on a whim and people went crazy for them. This year, I had a request for an all-flower calendar. To be honest, it was hard to pick photos for that because I have so many flower photos. I also wanted to do a landscape/nature calendar so I have two for people to choose from.
The options are on my website and all orders will be sent or delivered in December. For those who live near me, I’ll be hand-delivering them. Otherwise, all will be sent priority mail. These are full 8×10 calendars with sturdy pages. Each page is like receiving an 8×10 color print of my photo. I have gotten samples from other, less-expensive places but I couldn’t do it. I had to go back to my original vendor because quality is important.
Go to https://jennifergonzalez.com/calendar-pre-orders/ to place a pre-order. Obviously, I recommend ordering one for the office and one for home. Or one for you and one for a friend.
Questions? Let me know!!
August has literally flown by… I can’t believe that it is almost September. I sound like my mom right now. She always is commenting how fast time goes and I usually agree with her. But August was something else… I guess having two Spartan Races, a family party, with just one free weekend does make the month go by lightning fast.
I had two photo shoots scheduled for this past weekend. The weather forecast changed by the minute and I ended up re-scheduling both of them. And, of course, the weather turned out perfect for both time slots I had scheduled. Incredible. It did leave me with free time yesterday. I’m still struggling with getting my son to want to do anything outside of the house. I have attempted a few things: beach, exploring, fishing, taking a friend… nothing works. I try very hard to not be offended or hurt…but I honestly still am. Since he wanted to stay home, I gave him a list of chores to do while I was gone. I supposed I could force him to go but then we’d both be miserable. One of the issues I have with leaving him home is that I don’t like to go anywhere I don’t have service. That means no hiking in Shenandoah or Sky Meadows State Park or other close areas. So… I drove around.
I put 90 miles on my car yesterday. I stopped at a few favorite spots but they didn’t produce too much in the way of photos. And then I found country roads in Loudoun County that were just blissful. I thought I would find random barns (I found a couple) but instead I think I found where all the wealthy horse farms are in Loudoun. The pastures were just amazing. I found an area where at least 15 goldfinches had taken up residence. I drove past a milkweed plant with butterflies galore. I saw cows and horses and fawns. Because it was a one-lane, dirt road, I basically could stop anywhere to take photos. Only once did a truck come down the road which left me scrambling to try and move my car out of the way.
Eventually, I grew tired and decided to finally go home. I was gone for 4.5 hrs and while I didn’t have a ton of photos to show for it, I did have peace of mind. I had calmed down and wouldn’t return home angry and hurt (well, still a little hurt). I was glad to see so much open space in the south-western part of Loudoun County. There is a new county plan and it really doesn’t allow for much green space. The focus is on building, building, building and growth. I do hope that the protest and comments people are providing will cause them to re-think the plan and keep these open spaces.
These area a few photos from my day.