30 March 2018

Your Photographic Rootball

Around here, Red-winged Blackbirds have been back for a few weeks, Spring Peepers fill the nights with their song, and before long, Round-lobed Hepatica will be pushing up through leaf litter. These are all signs that Spring is in the air here in Michigan.

Spring is an exciting and busy time for most nature photographers. From waterfowl and warbler migration to photographing Spring’s ephemeral wildflowers, and let’s not forget, courtship, mating and nesting behaviors, there is certainly a lot to see and photograph this time of year.

As a nature photographer, it is always fun and thrilling to photograph new subjects. But one of the things we really Love to do is to return to places that we know and photograph old favorites. Spring is the season when we do that more than any other. Take the Spring ephemerals as an example. One year you may photograph a cluster of Lady Slipper Orchids growing alongside a fallen log. At the end of season, the leaves and flowers die back, and all that year’s energy feeds the surviving rootball. Returning the next year to that same location, the cluster of Orchids emerges again from the over-wintering rootball, they come back stronger, more colorful, and healthier than the previous year’s plant.

One of the challenges of returning to a subject is that we don’t want to get into the rut of making “the same old picture of the same old subject”. The goal is always to make different, better, more compelling images of that subject.

With any luck, that will not be as hard as it sounds, because hopefully, much like the Lady Slippers, over the past year we will have grown our “photographic rootball”. We will come at it with a different perspective, a different skill set, and perhaps even a new tool to help us realize a different vision. Always push yourself artistically. Try to look at every subject with fresh eyes and use your creativity to make unique and exciting images.

Good Luck and Good Light!

Steve and Nicole

Image: Yellow Lady Slipper Orchids, Thompson’s Harbor State Park, Northern, MI.
Nikon D300S, 200mm macro, ½ sec @ f16, ISO 200