Thursday 20 December 2012

The best photos ... almost!

My camera is an invaluable tool in my art practice. Given the focus of my work is animals and birds, a photographic record of my sightings and experiences not only offers solid reference material, it triggers my memories of where I was and what the moment felt like. My firm belief is that the art I produce must be based on my own experiences, and my camera helps me fulfill that personal and professional mandate.

Photographing critters is not without its challenges. As often as not, they're far from cooperative and it's important to have speedy reflexes in order to get a photograph before they fly away or dart into the undergrowth. During my recent travels in Guyana, I experienced a few disappointing instances where, had I been just fractionally faster with my camera, I'd have recorded some pretty special moments.

For instance, a split second before this shot was taken, two red and green macaws were perched perfectly, well lit and at close range, on the trunk of a tree where they were scoping out a nesting site. I came around a bend in a trail while hiking and suddenly there they were! Had I been just a fraction of a second quicker, you would see them in their full glory rather than just the the flash of their feathers as they exited the scene to the left.

There was also this brocket deer who started to cross the road in front of my vehicle, but then thought better of it and disappeared into the underbrush.

Several times I saw agouti (oversized, long-legged relatives of guniea pigs) scamper across my path while I was on foot or in a vehicle. Not once was there time for photograph.

And the crowning "almost" moment was the sighting of a jaguar, yes a jaguar, at the side of the road. It was just a glimpse as the vehicle I was travelling in approached the huge spotted cat from behind. It glanced back over its shoulder and then slipped away into the forest. As we pulled along side, I caught a second glimpse of it disappearing behind a fallen tree into the undergrowth. This sketch is an embellished version of that moment and is what I will always see in my mind's eye:

It's times like this when it comes in handy to be able to put pen and paint to paper and capture, from memory, a moment that either happened too quickly for the camera or was simply too special to even think about doing anything but watch it unfold. My jaguar sighting was both.

Happily, in addition to the "almosts" there were some truly golden photographic moments that I won't reveal here. All I can say is you can expect to see some new art pieces from me soon based on my truly amazing time in Guyana.

For those interested, my camera is a Panasonic Lumix FZ 200 and I love it! It's an adaptable, versatile camera that works perfectly for my purposes.


  1. Good post, Deb. Those beasties! The number of shots of an ear and part of a head [cat] or the gigantic horse nose, as he closes in to taste-test the camera.

  2. Oh how I relate to those 'best photo ...almost!" moments! And how I envy your ability to capture lost photo opportunities with pen and paint on paper!