My extensive collection of nature-themed photographs I’ve taken includes wildlife from Grant County to the South Pacific, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, the wildlife photographs I take mainly show only furry tails, hind legs, few feathers, and the scrub trees where some wildlife hid before they galloped or flew away.

My photography skills lack a timely response when my mind comes up with creative compositions. I do label the results. For instance, on a photo of an enormous lilac bush, I noted that about 50 quail clustered under the branches two minutes before — the length of time to locate the camera.

In China, I became engrossed in photographing a Chinese blue willow-decorated bowl filled with noodles and missed a column of cormorants at the river. While stopped at the side of the road on my way to Alaska, I rushed to close the vehicle’s door as a bear snorted past. He slobbered on our lost camera lens cap, only his rump visible. We gifted him the lens cap.

My photography equipment, periodically updated, still provides a challenge. I’ve been seconds from a stunning photo when I realized: a phone camera needs a charge, the small camera has dead batteries, large camera — I need time to change the lens and screw on a tripod to reduce camera shake, or the needed camera is still sitting on the kitchen table and I’m 40 miles from home.

One of my most amazing scenes — a field with a rough count of about 100 pronghorns. A young pronghorn close to the road briefly locked eyes with me. In the late golden hour of light, they exhibited the delicate beauty of Dresden china. I didn’t take one photograph.

And for the same reason, I didn’t get a single snapshot of the wildlife seen recently while driving around the county: bull elk with six females, coyote loping across the field, wild turkeys, quail, eagle, grazing deer.

The reason for missing prime photo shots: NPTPO, No Place To Pull Over.

I propose some scenic and safe pull-off photographic sites. Roadside signs would be helpful. “Caution. Photographers next two miles.”

To improve my photographing skills, I signed up for a class. After several weeks, I reached a milestone … at the bottom of the class.

“Be honest,” I said to a friend. “Admit that I’m the worst photographer in the class.”

“Yes, you are,” she agreed.

The turnaround in my photography came one afternoon when I spotted horses in a field — powerful horses that stood still, never tossing a head, swishing a tail, or racing off. It looked as though carousel horses had galloped off their circled path onto a pasture, their poles still attached like a Mary Poppins event. I surmised the carousel was being moved, and the horses stuck upright awaiting transport.

During the golden hour of light, I photographed the lead stallion. The photography instructor helped me enlarge and print the image in black and white. From the bottom of the class, I zoomed to the top … at least for one day.

I continue to take photographs. I’ve expanded the wildlife theme to include domestic cats and children at play.

Jean Ann Moultrie is a Grant County writer. Her goal: motivate those of us with a box or trunk full of photos of ancestors with no identifying names to seek out those who might know, and label them, adding where and about when if known.

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