In Close

My stepdaughter and her friend came to the island for the holidays.  We went out as often as we could to take pictures.  I made arrangements to borrow a special lens for a few days… a 600 mm lens that could be used with an extender, making our effective reach 1200 mm.  That’s powerful enough to make out the houses on the mainland, 13 miles away.  It allowed us to take pictures of wildlife in a resolution that I have rarely had a chance to experience.

Emily took this picture from very far away.  (By the way, when photographers hang out together, they refer to camera lenses as "glass".  As in, "What kind of glass were you using?"  If you are a member of Canon Professional Services, you can, amazingly, borrow this lens.  Then you can casually say, "Oh, it was just the Canon EF 600 mm f/4L IS II lens."  You can be humble about it.  It's like if you said, "I was just putting my groceries into my Jaguar.  You know, the back seat is so small."

Josh and Emily and I were taking turns using the camera.  I don't know which of us took the picture.

Josh and Emily and I were taking turns using the camera.  I don't know which of us took the picture.

I have said that every lens is like a language.  It is also like seeing with new eyes.  This is one of the things I love the most about photography.  It's great enough to have vision, but I am used to that.  Seeing through different lenses allows me to see things as if for the first time.  Maybe, in that sense, it brings me closer to seeing with the eyes of a child.  With this lens, we could get in closer, especially with wildlife, see their natural behavior without affecting them with our presence.  A high powered lens like this takes practice.  It was quite a trick to see something so far away and locate it in the viewfinder, as Emily did for the deer.  

The seals are still arriving.  We counted eight or nine near Old Harbor Point on the 31st of December and twenty-five on New Year’s Day.  They’ve come from Maine and Nova Scotia to the relative warmth, here in balmy southern Rhode Island.  I debated about using this picture of the seal with the injured face.  It's not pretty but it's true to the reality of their lives.  I remember when this first happened, years ago.  I'm glad to see this seal's resilience... it keeps coming back.  I wait for it.  They say adult seals are solitary creatures.  When I look at them fanning out like a basketball team, evenly spaced to control their territory, or resting together like this, I'm not so sure.

It's good to see them back again, to see them lounging after their travels.  I hope their smiles mean the same thing on their faces as they do on ours.  I think we'd have to have a biologist weigh in here, but I'll just say I've seen them angry and I've seen them alarmed, and their faces seem to match those emotions in a way that I can understand.  I've also seen them blissed out and napping on these cozy rocks.  They look pretty happy to me. 

 Here is a little one, able and independent after just a short time.

We went to North Light and the Coast Guard Station and Cormorant Cove and Rodman's Hollow, and to Southwest Point and Old Harbor Point.  We took pictures of deer and seals, and chickens and peacocks and turkeys.  We saw them in close because of our super cool equipment.  We did this together. 

How did I ever get so lucky?