Digital Photography

Digital photgraghy and the natural world go together as hand-in-glove. We know of naturalists in the tea-time of life, whose enthusiasms for the splendours of the natural world, have been rejuvenated. Now you may identify and confirm that plant when you get home, prove that you saw that rare bird, but best of all, have a lifetime record of the wonders that you witness.

You can immediately send a copy to anyone in the world, you may sharpen or brighten the picture, crop it, make a montage, the only storage space required is that of your computer, it is instant, and once you have purchased a memory card there is no additional cost of film. If you see something unusual, take a hundred pictures if you wish, and one will be sharp. If not, give-up.

If you persist with film cameras, then you probably like George Formby films, continually moan about ‘the youngsters today’, believe that kids should be hit because ‘It never did me any harm,’ you whistle to Bing Crosby songs, listen to the wireless and could do with a good thrashing.

Some critics might say that the interest is solely in getting ‘the’ picture then moving on, photographing but not seeing. Most natural history converts to digital photography report that in practise they now spend longer than before with a subject, and observe behavioural patterns. It will be noticed for example, that a Clouded Yellow butterfly never opens its wings when it settles, some butterflies, such as the Speckled Wood, are territorial, often returning to the same leaf, whilst the Orange Tip appears to be forever on the wing.

Now, buy your camera, a spare battery, plenty of memory cards and click away. Put your settings to ‘Fine’, (you get fewer pictures per card but so what?) and take as many pictures as you wish. Is it worth usung RAW? Usually not. Writing about RAW is just for filling up magazines.

Is photography simply a poor substitute to a good drawing or painting? If I could be an artist, an impressionist, or just 10% as good as a Gordon Beningfield, Christina Hart-Davies or an Eileen Soper, then I would hang up my shoulder straps. Without a doubt, the world’s worst artist, repeatedly I was told that everyone could be taught to draw and paint. I was guarded of such claims, but I bought the books, attended two sessions of evening classes and sure enough - - - - I will continue to take photographs.

To those who have frequented the Charles Renee Macintosh museum in Glasgow, you may recall that every day, he would exhibit a solitary flower immediately outside his studio. This to remind his students, that however self-satisfied and accomplished they may be, they could never compete with the beauty of nature.

With the vast majority of wildlife photography there is no recourse needed for arty-farty distortions. There are really only 2 types of picture required: the subject in its habitat, or the subject filling the screen. You may wish to make a montage or improve the quality, but little more is required; it is best left to fine artists for any extraneous interpretations.

Finally, it may even convert wildfowlers, egg-collectors and other hunters. Some use the excuse that they hunt to be near to nature, it is in our blood. Maybe, but that does not mean we have to do it. Egg-collectors are now less abundant, but they are still around and no doubt breeding. They collect the eggs of the species that can least afford them, being the rarest. Well, photography brings one near to nature, and rather than having a pinned butterfly or a dead goose as the trophy, now they can have a substitute trophy of their day in the fields and a better one at that. A beautiful picture of the bird, glorified and alive in its natural surrounds.

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