I spend so much time on a river, or out in the woods, I get a lot of good photos by accident. In my files are hundreds and hundreds of color slides taken in the 70’s and 80’s. Then in the 90’s we started taking nothing but color prints, so in another part of my office there are hundreds more of those. I have slides or photos of everything in the outdoors that you can imagine, from duck hunting to drum fishing, from woodcock to walleye, from bobwhites to bass, from gooses to goggle-eyes, from… well you get the picture. In addition, I have photos from 28 different Ozark float streams; most every high bluff and a thousand gravel bars.
Truthfully, the camera is becoming more important to me than the rod and gun. I guess that means I am getting old. There was a time when I sold a ton of photos to outdoor magazines I wrote for, and a score of cover photos as well. It helps when you are a free-lance writer, to have pictures to back up what you write about. If you write about catching a fifty-pound catfish or a ten-pound bass, you’d better have photos.
When Sondra Gray began working as editor for the Lightnin’ Ridge Publishing Company, I could see she knew what a good photo was, and I told her how we could float down the river with a blind on the front of a camouflaged boat and sneak up on all kinds of wild creatures, anxious to pose for photographs. Few of today’s outdoor photographers do that, most float the river in a yellow or red canoe and bang around on it trying to get it to go straight. If you can paddle from one side, and slip down the river noiselessly with a blind of oak, maple and willow boughs on the front of your boat concealing it and its passengers, think of how close you can get to migrating waterfowl, and all other creatures that live along the rivers.
Last week, with the river full, Sondra and I took a little short float trip down the river to see if we could perhaps catch a fish and get some photos. The fishing wasn’t much, but right away she got a good shot of a drake and hen woodduck. There’s an eagle’s nest along that stretch, and we were surprised to see a new nest being constructed downstream about two hundred yards from the first. That’s an odd thing. I know where there are seven eagle’s nests, but never saw two within miles of each other.
We didn’t photograph any eagles. I have so many photos of eagles I doubt I ever take anymore, unless we find one flying along carrying a pig, or something of that sort. You will notice that every newspaper photographer nowadays who tries to bring the outdoors to suburban readers, photographs eagles and great blue herons.
Page 2 of 2 - They are so numerous that you can get photos of either on almost any trip to a lake or river. Recently I noticed photos in one of those “outdoor sections” of crows and buzzards. The same old photos of bluffs, canoes and gravel bars too. I figure the next focus of their photos might be coots and cormorants, maybe a pelican or two. There are a ton of them today. It makes me want to write to those guys and tell them that I will take them down the river and see to it they see things they never knew about, for only 100 dollars. Maybe, with today’s economy, I ought to just ask for 50.