Some wildlife photographers must have nerves of pure steel.
I got within around 20 feet of these guys. Even these small rams it took me quite some time to work up the courage to get that close. I justified it with telling myself there was a small cliff to my right I could jump off if need be, and several small trees close by for cover. Also adding to my courage was knowing the truck was less than 50 yards away.
Earlier in the day I spotted two other rams. One of whom was much bigger than these guys, but also much further away from the road and the safety of the truck. I started walking towards them, checking my surroundings as I was going. It was an open field in between the truck and them, no trees, cliffs, or cover of any kind. The snow was deep, so running wasn’t a possibility either. I slowly worked my way towards them. The smaller one eventually went scampering off into the woods behind them, but the bigger one just laid right down and watched me watching him, making my way ever closer.
The time finally came when I decided I was as close as I felt like getting, which disappointingly wasn’t close enough for a nice, crisp shot of him. He had looked at me a few times, shaking his head as if to let me know that he could hold his own against other animals that are much, much larger than me. Part of me felt as though a charging ram would make a pretty sweet photo, but the other sensible part of me felt as though those curls could do some damage. I missed what could have been a beautiful shot of the largest ram I’d ever seen due to my nerves getting the better of me. Maybe if I hadn’t forgotten my mace, maybe if there was some cover around and I wasn’t completely exposed, maybe a million other things I could have gotten the shot. The thing is it seems to happen more often than not where everything doesn’t work out perfectly to get the shot, what happens more often is I’d have to put myself in danger to make it happen.
I have a HUGE respect for wildlife photographers. I consider it to be the most difficult form of photography. Anyone can climb a mountain, anyone can go on a harrowing adventure in the wilderness, but aside from freak acts of nature like rock-slides and avalanches, there is not any other kind of photography than wildlife photography where you have so little control over your subject. You can’t tell a wild animal where to stand or how to pose, how to act or even when to show up. It’s pure luck, at the mercy of nature without being able to manipulate the situation or set up the perfect shot.