What am I to do. As a freshman nature photographer I am puzzled by a thorny conundrum. I am surrounded by woods, farmlands, and rivers that flow into the worlds greatest fresh water lakes. I am blessed with photorgasmic opportunity. However, in my neck of the woods, there are two small lakes, reservoirs really, that are the property of Dow Chemical Company. They are protected by a ten foot fence topped with barbed wire. The inside parimeter is a flat gravel road that gives way to a bald shore. Way across the water is a world renowned chemical manufacturing and research facility. It is a massive tangle of pipes, smokestacks, holding tanks, and nameless brown brick buildings. It scares me. Trouble is, as I trudge the secret places looking for snaps and finding none, I know where I can go. I can go to those damn reservoirs and see a brilliant collection of wild birds and the most entrancing of these for me are the raptors.
Two monster Ospreys use this Poplar tree as a launching pad for their fishing forays into the industrial reservoirs. Yes, I wish there were mountains in the background and so the question begs to be answered, "Is a picture of an Osprey taken by a wilderness lake surrounded by trees more legitimate than one encircled in chain link and barbed wire?"
This Red Tailed Hawk is gazing at the ducks and gulls that crowd the nameless reservoirs. I tell myself, when I'm visiting the site, that I am paying my dues, learning to control my emotions by letting my fumbling fingers experience the rush of having a bird such as this within reach of my 400mm lens. But is it wildlife photography? And while we're talking about it what's with the "so called" Wild Life? Why don't these icons hang around scenic places that are more in tune with REAL nature? It's like they say,"If you want a Bear picture go to the dump, if you want a picture of a drunk go to the bar!"
When I first moved to the Pine River, Nature introduced herself to me and I began to understand the diversity that She seems to prefer. More better birds! I was told in those heady days that Eagles were beginning to make there way back into our slowly healing ecosystem and I watched it happen. One day, way up in the blue sky, a white dot followed by a brown dot followed by a white dot when viewed through binoculars turned into a Bald Eagle! I was ecstatic. Now the excitement is muddled by the nagging conundrums. Are these birds traitors to a higher calling? Or are they pawns? Am I complicit in this treachery by aiming my lens at them and not the smokestacks? IS MAN NATURE? Or is Man
Natures war on itself?
Oh yeah, Big Daddy Bald Eagle hangs out at Dow too. This is what stings.
"Et tu Brute? Then die Caesar"
It is useless for me to struggle in the arms of so beautiful a lover, and I hardly feel the blade as it pierces my heart.
I fear, though, that industry will coop a picture of this Eagle soaring over the smokestacks and let the image shout, "We, the wild creatures have though it over and we want in the house! We will purchase our nests instead of building them for ourselves and we will buy our fish by the pound wrapped in newsprint."
And where am I in this bargain? I walk the barbed wire fence between freedom and surrender. Occasionally I sneak down the forbidden roads, when the sun is setting with perfect light, to get a few hurried chances before the corporate police spot me trespassing and hustle over in their funny uniforms to throw me out. Then I go home, where the Pine River flows with a simple predictability and look at the pretty pixels that industrial technology has made so reasonably priced that even a fool like me might dabble in this forgery.
With a cold chill it dawns on me, that like the Raptors, I am just another tool in their corporate shed.
"And the first rude sketch the world had seen was a joy to his mighty heart,
till the Devil whispered behind the leaves,"It's pretty, but is it Art?"