Tonight’s Pic – Loner at Pocosin Lakes NWR

If my recent statements about getting lost didn’t clue you in, let me blunt. I don’t like photographing around other photographers. I like hanging out with them, but when it’s time for the serious photography, I’m a loner. It’s the only way I can concentrate on what I’m doing and make the best images. So you can imagine how much I hate photographing in certain locations, like at some of the more popular sites in the national parks.

One such location is Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I started shooting there in the late 1980s, when few photographers had ever heard of the place except for a few old-timers. My friend Bill Lea had been shooting there for more than 10 years by that time, and I enjoyed it for a few years until the masses moved in. Today, you aren’t likely to find me there shooting on my own. Bill and I are leading a photo tour to Cades Cove in September, but you won’t see me taking any pictures, as I’ll be concentrating on making sure the participants are getting the best shots.

(In case you’re wondering, the irony is not lost on me. Yes, I’ll be leading a group of photographers to a location that I won’t shoot at because it has too many photographers. Hey, I can play the role of walking contradiction along with the best of them.)

Snow geese at Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

Snow geese in a twilight sky at Pocosin Lakes NWR. Nikon D700, Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens, f/4.5, 1/800 sec, ISO 400.


What really gets my juices flowing is to shoot at a location that offers photo opportunities as good as other sites that are extremely crowded, while having the place all to myself. One such location is Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina. While a hundred people are lined up elbow to elbow at Bosque del Apache NWR in New Mexico photographing tens of thousands of snow geese in flight, I can be pretty much by myself at Pocosin photographing tens of thousands of snow geese in flight. I might see a few other photographers there during peak season, but there’s usually enough space between us that I could answer Mother Nature’s call without turning red.

Am I worried that by making this post I’ll be contributing to its demise? Not really. Pocosin isn’t as user-friendly as Bosque and isn’t likely to become overcrowded. There are no sandhill cranes at Pocosin, which is one of the major attractions of Bosque; no visitor centers or facilities of any kind; all of the roads are dirt, and when it rains, you need 4×4 to drive most of them; no hotels or restaurants are very close by.

Just my kind of place!

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