Getting My Priorities Straight

I often tell people I’m not a birder, that I’m a nature photographer. However, thinking about today’s blog entry made me realize I’m not really a photographer either. No, I’m an experiencer.

Although I am aware by now that I often get my best pictures at Port Orchard, I always set out to walk Theler wetlands, not go to Port Orchard. In fact, all the photographs from the trip end up in a folder called Theler Wetlands.

I managed to get this picture of four Hooded Mergansers at Theler, but they were so far away that it was impossible to get a great shot.

two pairs of Hooded Mergansers

However, when I got to the Port Orchard Marina I immediately spotted this pair of hoarded mergansers,

pair of Hooded Mergansers

and got a far better shot than I’ve ever managed to get at Theler.

I didn’t have to go very far to get an even better shot of this female Hooded Merganser.

female Hooded Merganser

On the other side of the dock I got what might well be the best shot of a Hooded Merganser I’ve ever gotten.

Male Hooded Merganser

It’s clear to me that if my main priority was simply to get good photographs I would take my 500 mm lens and tripod and set up in the Port Orchard marina. That’s never going to happen. I really can’t imagine going to Port Orchard without first walking the 3 to 4 miles of trails at Theler, and I’m not going to carry my 500 mm lens and tripod all that way.

If I had to choose between an enjoyable walk and great photographs I’d choose the enjoyable walk every time. Of course, it was the five-mile walk at Nisqually that inspired me to buy photograph equipment so I could get pictures of birds.

Luckily, for me, it’s not an either/or choice. It’s the whole experience, including getting pictures, that inspires me.

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