Being mired in the demands of exams, Edin invited me to author a guest post for her blog this week. It is an opportunity I am privileged to accept as the chance to share some our adventures reminds me of the joy we have experienced together.
Adventures are fun and feed the soul but shared adventures are a step beyond and feed the heart as well. Since a young age it has been clear that Edin shared my passion for wild places, wild things and image making and, despite not usually being a morning person, she would be up before the sun to make the most of opportunities as they arose. These mostly began as opportunities within the context of family holidays but we have recently made some special memories with specific expeditions, and those of you that follow her blog will have seen some photos from these. In this post I will share some of the “behind the scenes images” from some of these expeditions.
Easily accessible images begin from around 2004 when I got my first DSLR and moved from film capture. This coincided with our first visit to Elandshoek, a game farm in Limpopo province in Northern South Africa that we have been back to many times. We start before the sun with coffee and rusks and then usually walk a circuit of waterholes stopping to photograph birds and game. The heat of the day and hard light interrupts photography until later in the day when we head out to one of the dugout hides to again photograph. These next 2 photos show Edin at age 10 making the most of opportunities at Elandshoek.
As time has progressed and her skill has increased the quality of her images has really improved. This image of a Warthog sow defending a food source for her piglets is an example of her work from our last trip in 2012.
2013 saw us make a more local trip, hammock camping on a tributary of the Wanganui River in search of Blue Ducks. Photographically this was not too successful but we had a great time and excellent memories were made.
2014 began with an adventure to South Africa for a family event which gave us opportunity for quite a bit of photography including an unexpected visit to the Vulture Hide at Giants Castle to photograph Bearded Vultures.
This led on to Edin’s great year of photography awards, winning the D-Photo Amateur Photographer of the Year and the New Zealand Geographic Young Photographer of the Year. Her two winning images were difficult to achieve, high key images of white birds in flight against white backgrounds and confirmed her mastery of some challenging technical aspects of photography. Her success brought me great pleasure as birds on white has been a long term project of mine, and seeing her succeed in competition with images that are not universally popular with bird photographers has been a great joy. Her profile from this success has led to opportunities for us to connect with photographers I have long admired including Kim Westerskov, Tui De Roy and Richie Robinson.
Early 2015 saw our great adventure to Antarctica. A shared cabin across the Drake Passage revealed a world of incredible beauty and wonder and left a longing to return that seemed unlikely to be superseded.
July 2015 saw a return to South Africa and a return to Giants Castle for Bearded and Cape Vultures as well a trip to the beach where the Wooly-necked Storks were very co-operative.
Edin spent Christmas 2015 and New Year 2016 in the Southern Ocean, and I was lucky to join her on an expedition leaving just after New Year that saw us again sharing a cabin in the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties. This was the first time that she was guiding me in a place that she had been but was new to me. She managed to point me in the right direction to maximise the opportunities available, and I came away with better images than I would have if I been finding my way for the first time.
While most of our adventures have been photographic, Edin also shares my other love of fly-fishing and, having become competent with a fly rod we have also enjoyed a number of expeditions in pursuit of trout where we have also regularly seen Blue Ducks as both creatures favour lovely wild habitats.
This may all seem to be the ramblings of a proud parent and there is definitely some truth to that, but the real message is that searching for and taking opportunities for experiences and adventure is crucial to making the most of the time we have. If we hadn’t made the effort to get to Muriwai to photograph the Gannets and Terns or hadn’t made the effort to get up early to photograph Egrets in South Africa, Edin would not have made her award winning images. But making the effort for the opportunity is not enough. You need the passion and drive to educate yourself and then tirelessly practice so that you can make the most of the opportunities when they present themselves. The adventures we have shared have had some financial cost but there are ways of doing things as economically as possible, and the value of the experiences far outweighs any financial value of the cost. All Edin’s work has been with well used “hand me down” or borrowed photography gear and confirms the point that resource spent on opportunity is more important than spending it on the latest camera gear or smartphone. Being at the stage where I look back on more life than I can look forward to, the memories I have made in these shared adventures are of incalculable value and I look forward to making more before having to rest and only reflect back on them.
Finally I am pleased to see that Edin has her priorities right and is focussed on her exams while delegating the task of blogging to me. It will now be my blog that is playing catch up!