Along the foothills of the front range of the Central Colorado Rocky Mountains, the annual transformation from Winter to Spring is in evidence everywhere one cares to look and nowhere does it reveal itself more so than does in the flora and fauna. Buds and blooms, coats and plumes all transmogrify into their seasonal forms of expression. In some cases it is increasing refulgence and splendor, in others, it is a reduction of bulk and insulation. In either case it is a morphing into a form which is less about conserving the uptake of energy during the last cycle of growth and more about consuming the energy to be made available in this cycle. My Grandfather, the agriculturist, capsulized the feeling best for me when he said; "it's best to make hay while the sun shines." Plants and trees grow heavy with buds and leaves, some early harbingers, like crocus' and my wife's favorite, tulips, even bloom flowers. Meanwhile the fur bearing critters lighten their load and shed heavy insulating undercoats in preparation of the coming warmer and wetter atmosphere. Some critters shed appurtenances hanging on from last year, like antlers, to feed and regrow fresh ones, hopefully more resplendent and vigorous than the previous in service of their greater personal glory in the battle for their genetic future.
As the season of rebirth spreads its wings and shucks off its overcoat, there is a great buzz of anticipation and hope in the air and upon the land. Hope for an abundant season of sustenance, growth, and opportunity not to be squandered. As a photographer, it is an invitation to wander, and focus my lens on the all the glorious color and diversity of expression that leaps forth trying to attract the attention of mates and pollinators, or the predatory stealth of the kill for eating and feeding to offspring. In my fascination for observation and preoccupation with trying to capture an image it is sometimes easy to overlook the gravity of the life and death drama for the subjects being observed. Whether it's trout, ouzels and swallows feasting on mayfly nymphs and hatches, or the Coopers hawks ambushing Doves under my bird feeder, one critter lives and the other dies and that's the way its always been.
In the photography field there has been an ongoing conversation about how & when one can and should remain neutral and maintain the "objective lens" in the presence of savagery or cruelty. It is clearly an issue for photographers working in areas suffering intense human cruelty, but wildlife photographers also witness suffering that could be relieved by their intervening hand. When is it okay to stop performing the objective function, and actually involve yourself in the scene? In a practical sense, it is an argument I've had with myself at times. But in my theoretical justification of not intervening I tell myself that just being there trying to record the event makes you involved. In quantum theory, there is proof that at the particle level, the mere act of observation modifies the behavior of particles. Anyone who has realized with a start that they were being observed when they were convinced the were utterly alone will admit to the suddenness in the change of sensation. If your being observant you'll notice it with wild animals you encounter. If you take notice of their presence, before they take notice of yours, but then keep moving, and not looking at them directly with your eyes they will often not react until you "observe" them, then they react.
So where am I going with this line of reasoning, you might fairly ask yourself? Well consider this, over the last couple of decades, technology has provided the ability for nearly constant observation of quite nearly everything, with some very notable results. Folks losing their jobs, health insurance or spouses for being caught in a lie by the ubiquitous google map cameras, carried by car or sattelite. Wild animals having to cope with sudden and unexpected speedlight flashes at night, or the mere scent of game cameras. Warriors & militia being observed by drones carrying lethal loads. Women in restrooms & politicians being recorded without their knowledge Or you and I, driving harmlessly along the public motorways being observed by traffic cameras of official entities or cameras in other drivers autos, or helmet cams for motor and pedal cyclists trying to preempt unjust liability defense claims. How about all the recent footage from police "body-cams", or the go-pro footage of extreme and other athletes and adventurers. Even in your home, if your computer has a camera, it is subject to mal-appropriation to be used for concealed observation in your most private of places, your domicile. How about the new born route to celebrity and fortune as a youtube (insert specialty here) videographer. Has it altered behavior? I think we can say conclusively that it most certainly has. Is all of the resultant change of a sort that moves us forward, can it be called progress in a social sense? I think the jury is still out on that one. What it does affirm for me is the power and attraction of the medium of imagery. Since it was first created, it has continued to grow new antlers and expand its range and reach, season over season, in ever increasing and unexpected ways. Its strength to either confirm the truth, or to create a lie, continues to morph, grow and feed the consumption cycle, and for me, for now, that's enough to continue to draw me to it as both vocation and avocation. It has the power to leave dramatic legacies across the years, and like any power, it is the individuals choice of how to apply that power that determines the benefit or detriment of that legacy in the broader sense. As you forge ahead into the season of renewal and energy collection, choose your imagery partner wisely, it may be more important than you think. Happy Spring!