Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Fearless Fawn

While traveling a country road near my home, just after noon on a warm June day, opportunity presented itself. My reason for being where I was appeared at the edge of a field. Wildlife!

On a small rise, just the other side of a ditch, two brown forms took shape, standing still as statues. A doe and her newborn fawn!

For years taking wildlife photos like the pros had been a dream. To capture publishable pictures of elusive wildlife is tough, and usually requires expensive, specialized equipment. Since I’m not independently wealthy, and have no real prospects of ever becoming rich, I’ve been forced to rely on what my meager income could provide.

From the time I became serious about photography I was determined to own the best cameras and lenses I could afford. After much study I determined that most nature photographers used 35mm cameras, and the majority used either Nikon or Canon gear. A lot of pros have switched to digital, but Nikon and Canon are still the brands of choice.  I've owned many cameras and lenses over the years.  On this particular day I was using a Nikon 35mm camera with a 70-210mm zoom lens.

In order to be prepared while driving, I keep my camera on the seat beside me, covered by a towel, as a means of dust control. Using aperture priority, I set the f-stop wide open, meaning the lowest number on the f stop dial. In this way I know that the camera will automatically set the shutter speed to the fastest possible setting for any given lighting conditions, a necessity for wildlife photography.

When I got to the spot where the mama and baby were, I slowed to a stop. The doe bounded off into the field, well out of camera range, but the fawn appeared fearless, and stayed put! It must have been mere hours old. Instead of following mama, it tried to hide behind a small group of weeds at the edge of the field.

I took a couple of shots, and the fawn looked like it was beginning to become nervous. I took a couple more shots and figured that would be it. Instead, the fawn came down the small hill and slipped into a dense patch of weeds in the ditch. At this point I was still sitting in the car, about fifteen feet away. I took a few more shots, and discovered I was out of film. I quickly reloaded, figuring the fawn would flee any second.

Armed with a fresh roll of film, I snapped a couple more frames while the fawn remained in the weeds. I got out of the car, figuring it would bolt, but again the fawn surprised me by crouching, trying to appear smaller. I slowly approached, periodically taking a shot.

My trusty 70-210 lens had a minimum focusing distance of around four feet. I actually approached until I was closer than the lens’ minimum limit, and had to back off. Knowing it wasn’t a good idea to keep the fawn separated from its mother too long, I took a few more shots and returned to my car.

After all was said and done, I took about thirty photos of that precious, innocent fawn, most of which turned out fairly well. The whole episode took less than five minutes. It was exciting, and satisfying to realize that, because I was prepared, I had succeeded in capturing quality images of one of nature’s wonders, a newborn fawn.

Note:  Text and photos are Copyright Bill Diller 2010

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