With this image by Rodriguez, In my opinion it was right for him to be stripped of his title of the wolf image. By using a tame wolf and baiting it, you know exactly where the wolf will be go and you can set up accordingly to get the shot. Any decent photographer with the right connections to a tame wolf could do it, but to create that image in the wild would take time, knowledge, patience and an understanding of the wolf’s habits etc, not only does the image then impress but it also gains recognition for the photographer who will be acknowledged for the complexity and achievement in getting the image naturally. Wildlife photography has a reputation of being a hard area to work in because of the environment and nature of the subject matter so by tricking the viewer with a image thats is staged it's cheating the hard working purists out there. If stated its set up then thats fine but don’t try and pass it off as nature and authentic when it is clearly not.
Yet, in wildlife film documentary i think it is acceptable to create staged set ups to document natures if its to dangerous for humans to film in the wild or if filming will endanger the subject. Explaining this process and why it has been done is also very important to allow the viewer to understand the complexity of the nature world and our limitations as human beings and film makers within the natural world environment, this then sets a standard and president for all who may possibly follow into the natural history industry or as a general interest.
In my practice I’ve been recording the winter scenes in the Apple Orchard. I went out on a shoot on Sunday, I initially looked around the environment to familiarise myself with the orchard again, it’s been over 3 years since i was living and working at Iford Manor. I used to spend the evenings sitting beside the orchard taking in the warm evening light. The light at Iford is very special many have commented. Maybe it’s the place the light shines through which is special, not the light. On this mid winters January day it was a grey, drizzling and cold. The place was very quite, only the crowing pheasant could be heard loudly above other winter birds. Iford Manor is closed to the pubic at this time of year so i had the place to myself. A quick visit to Jane, a friend of mine and the current housekeeper to borrow a plastic bag to cover the camera with as i forgot to re pack the previous one I had used. Being an outdoor photography i’ve learnt to adapt with the weather, dress for the occasion and that includes dressing the camera. I had forgotten to re pack the plastic bag, high tech gadgetry at use here. With a plastic bag covering the camera, i was off to the orchard to see what was about. This was the first visit for this project, as i have changed location from when i handed in my research project proposal.
The weather was not pleasant, it is winter after all. I need to embrace this, this is after all what i want to depict, A year in the life of an orchard, including good and the bad weather. At a quick glance it all looks a bit barren, at the moment the trees are in hibernation mode, shutting down for the winter, not many flowers or leaves. I’m currently reading a book about how trees communicate with each other, I've only just started this but its about how trees communicate with each other. Yes, apparently they talk to each other. Well, i’ll let you know as i read about how they do this. As i’m standing in the orchard i get to pondering about the trees and they're communicating. What are they talking about? Are they discussing how the weather is this time of year?, or how big their crops were last year? Having a joyful banter about who’s crop will be the best this year? Well, maybe thats a children’s book in the making right there….
As i wonder around i look at the space and then go further into it. I always do this, look into the big landscape as a whole then slowly, slowly go further into it, getting closer to finding the details within the landscape and the environment i’m studying. I find this requires a slowing down process, emptying the mind of everything and just being present in the moment and the space around me, a sort of meditation, becoming mindful about the surrounding area. I’m reading a book called ‘Becoming nature’ learning the language of Wild Animals and plants by Tamarack Song. This is about how we as humans have lost touch with nature and how we can rebuild that connection, again this will feed into my project as i feel it fits. I feel i need to understand nature and the subject matter i’m photographing to enable me to become a better photographer of the subject not only through the theory we are being taught on this degree about photography, but we as photographers need to know and understand our subject matter especially in wildlife and nature photography.
If i’m photographing a habitat for a field guide then the image needs to be a true depiction of the species as people will be trying to identify species in the field along side written detailed text showing different elements to allow correct identification, this is very important when dealing with for example fungi, there are 5.1 million fungi species, some of which are highly poisonous if consumed by humans and one mushroom can look very similar to another mushroom that isn’t poisonous, so great care and skill is needed to correctly identify the right fungi. True depiction of the subject matter is crucial in these areas of science that use photography.