What it Takes to be a Wildlife Photographer by Dr. Leonard Lee
This was a very delightful article. Your attitude is right-on
for for more than just being a wildlife photographer but for
living itself. Your article sums up my attitude toward living, but
I had never tried to put it into words. Thanks for saying it for
Superb article!!! I really like this man!! He seems to have
dedicated his life to photography, especially wildlife. Has he
ever been to the Indian sub-continent? There, there are places in
which he can get into a variety of animals and stuff like that -
even in Sri Lanka also.
Just a few words to say how inspiring your autobiographic story
and writing was. What a talent.
Thank you so much,
Avinoam Strahilevitz, Israel
Just finished the article by Lennie Lee Rue. What a
disappointment. If I wanted to hear someone brag about all his
accomplishments I'd look up an article from Galen Rowell. Sorry
but you guys missed on this one. Sure, the images were very good
but the article was worthless - nothing for aspiring wildlife
photographers to learn. Just a lot of snobby bragging about how
great he is.
Nevertheless, most of your articles are very good. I'll keep
I didn't see it as blowing his own horn,
but rather telling the story of how he came to be where he is
today. In my experience Lennie is very down to earth. Remember
this man really has accomplished an awful lot. Telling the story
of your life doesn't make you a snob or a braggart if you've
really accomplished what you say. (Ed.)
Digital's Dirty Little
McGee you're a Luddite! Digital is da bomb!
I've never set fire to a wooden loom, I
The "Dirty Little Secrets" article was excellent and
brings up a number of good points. I would like to think that most
of the photographers currently embracing digital consider the fact
that the cameras and related accessories are just an additional
set of tools for us to have to pursue our craft.
I just bought a Canon D60 and requisite memory cards. Will it
replace my current 35mm gear - NO WAY?! Will I chuck my medium
format - NOT A CHANCE?! Might I someday - who knows?
For those who are interested in the latest and greatest -
digital or otherwise, unless they are independently wealthy, they
can never keep up. Technology has a way of increasing
exponentially. Having been involved in computer graphics for some
28 years and photography for over 30, I use whatever it takes to
get the shot - period. Computers are helpful, yes but it still
comes down to seeing the shot to begin with from our own points of
I just read "Digital's Dirty Little Secrets". First
you tell me there's no free lunch. Then you tell me that the
advertising guys lied. Next you'll tell me that politicians lie!
You're right on the first two but I've
never heard a politician lie - when his mouth was closed.
It's no Dirty Little Secret if you're living it. I do
industrial photography. We've been through a procession of Kodak
professional digital cameras, a Fuji FinePix, and most recently a
D1 that we're supposed to be replacing with a D1X. We could have
bought a couple of F5s and a truck load of film for what we've
spent to "save" money with digital. You can't even give
those old digitals away. Nobody wants them. But what to you think
a used F5 would be worth?
About the article "Digital's Dirty Little Secrets". I
work in the computer industry and agree wholeheartedly with the
points you made in your article. I've gone from DOS 3.1 to Windows
XP. Each step has been both a step forward and a step backward.
With each step forward you give up even more freedom as you gain
Hopefully people will pay attention to your warning and learn
more about the technology they are entering. It troubles me when
people stumble in a buy the whole sales pitch without considering
the ramifications. That or they do not consider what they need to
invest in time to truly learn what it is they are working with.
Great article! I've lived it.
I've got 22 years in IT (Information Technology). I could fill
a garage with the computers, printers, and peripherals I've owned
over the years and if I ever totaled up the cost of upgrading
everything every 18 months I know I'd break down and cry. But 22
years ago I got my first "real" camera, a Nikon, with my
first real paycheck. I've upgraded to bodies with more features
twice. About once every 11 years, not because I needed to but
because I wanted autofocus and more recently because I was just
ready to do it. And you know what that 22 year old Nikon still
works fine if I want to use it.
I've been lucky with stock options. Later this year I'm
retiring. I'd much rather spend my money on lenses and film and
never buy another thousand dollar "disposable" computer
as long as I live. The people who are going on so much about
digital will get some very nasty surprises.
Coasting to retirement,
I disagree with the suggestion that you give in the article
Digital's Dirty Secrets. While I agree with your concerns about
technological obsolescence (I have been a computer engineer since
the 80's and seen most of my life's hard work become obsolete), I
think that storing your photographs on a HD is risky.
Hard Drives are a magnetic based media with moving parts. Over
a 50 year period, I feel that the risk of failure for a HD is far
higher than failure of a CD-R (which doesn't have moving parts and
isn't susceptible to magnetic fields). If you are concerned about
the possibility of CDs becoming obsolete, it would be better to
back up on CD and keep an IDE CD-R drive in storage. Even better
would be to keep a an old computer that you use to browse your
archive. Keep that computer with a compatible version of Photoshop
installed (if file formats really do loose backwards
compatibility, you can save to a RAW file and always import in a
newer version of Photoshop). Use that old computer as your burning
With all that said, I still prefer film. There is nothing in
the world like holding the 100 year old photograph of my
grandparents... knowing that they held the same photo as well.
Best wishes and thank you for a wonderful site,
See the next comment
The article has one fundamental flaw - if you want to keep data
on older media (let ignore the actual vs projected life span of
CDR's and CDRW's) it pays to keep an older drive reader handy or
migrate as newer media appear. Yes there is a cost - but there is
also a cost to maintain in perfect state the orginal film bases
media. The paper based prints - color is iffy it might not last
without significant fading black and white is probably a hundred
The hard disk back up method proposed is a limited end
solution. As the sheer size of the files add up increases the need
to either sift off disk or be caught in a recurring hard disk
expansion cycle - see it no change from the the initial constant
upgrade of CDR, DVD. Similar dangers apply in terms that hard disk
may also disappear some day to be replaced by other data storage
In technology nothing stays the same for very long. Within the
last 15 years, the hard disk has become from a luxury item to a
staple, with size and specifications leap frogging as time passes.
As users of technology, this change cycle has to be managed.
What I was recommending is that an
external hard drive act as a backup. I would never expect a hard
drive to last 50 years. The problem with a backup machine
connected to old technology is that in a few years you won't have
any way to get the files off of it. The solution I proposed was to
use and external drive for backup and for loading the next
generation of systems. But it's critical to keep an eye on where
standards are going. USB is already giving way to firewire, so if
I were to buy a drive today it would be a firewire drive to
replace my USB drive. The whole point is to keep two copies of all
your image files in two locations - one copy on your hard drive
and one copy on an external backup drive. The best of all worlds
would be to keep copies in two locations as protection against
fire or some other disaster. This assumes that 1) you have a lot
of images, 2) you will be upgrading your computers regularly, 3)
that you have images you care about preserving.
The Key to Success!
I'm a very beginner photographer and really appreciate your
magazine. I have learned so much!! Now if you just had a secret
for remembering it all at the appropriate time! I look forward to
each issue of the magazine and read it from front to back.
Thanks so much,
We write everything on the back of our
hand with magic marker ;^)
I just read Gary Stanley's article on getting the most out of
your photography. Excellent advice! I took Moose's advice a while
back on having an 81A on every lens...and was quite surprised and
pleased with the results it has rendered in my estimation of
positive enhancement. I think I'll give Gary's Red 81A a try
now...what do I have to lose? How do we know until we're willing
to stretch our imagination to another challenging level..what
results may render?
Thanks for another good article VLP!