Look like you’re doing something proper

It is a little known fact that Orson Welles, film and media giant of a bygone age used to have a fetish for spying on other children’s model train sets as a child. He would stand outside their houses, basking in the sulphurous yellow glow from the windows, face pressed against the glass like a lump of SPAM, just to get a glimpse of the looping, wizzing blur of the miniature locomotives designed for people with special emotional requirements. That is, he used to do this until the long arm of his house keeper, Clive Belltop, collared him, caught him red faced and red-handed. It was here that young Orson learned a valuable lesson that would stand him in good stead for the rest of his life. Looking down at him from a top his 7ft 6 inch beanpole frame, Clive simply said; “If you’re going to do something, for fuck’s sake at least look like you’re doing something proper, otherwise people will just think you’re weird”.

This very phrase sprang to mind last week as I stood by the side of the road, camera in hand, looking for all the world as though I was staring in to the distance at absolutely nothing and then randomly jabbing my camera towards unseen nothings and dancing a strange and impish jig to get a better angle of absolutely nothing. I could see the confusion and the concern flashing past me in the eyes of the drivers who flashed past me, having seen me jigging, pointing and staring from a a distance of at least 400 yards. It was the shaking of the passing heads that hurt the most.

In my defence, I may have been jigging about, but I was doing it for a reason and I was not pointing randomly and staring at nothing. I was trying, largely in vain, to photograph Lapwings as they skitted around the ground like nodding donkeys and danced through the air like drunken acrobats. I had a legitimate reason for looking and acting as I did, honest! The only cause for concern I will admit to in this whole affair was whether or not it is wrong to photograph Lapwings as they mate. When does it cross over from wildlife photography to something else?………

lapwing in flight 8 bw

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