Chris Herig has been interested in photography since age nine when she went away to camp for the first time, but she didn’t “get serious,” she says, until much later in life.
“It wasn’t until both of my parents had passed away and no longer needed me that I truly began traveling for pleasure and then eventually traveling longer distances and visiting the places I had only dreamed of, most especially our national parks,” Herig explained. “I started my national park adventure with Grand Teton and then Yellowstone on my 50th birthday!”
Herig registered for a brown bear workshop led by NANPA member (now President) Dawn Wilson and was inspired by Wilson’s 15-month journey traveling across the U.S. by RV. So she joined NANPA and keeps discovering new things.
A photo blind in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
While participating in a NANPA webinar, Herig mentioned that she frequently photographs at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in northern Florida. The refuge is home to numerous waterfowl, hawks, eagles, bobcat, deer, butterflies, alligators and, well, a lot of wildlife. But Herig didn’t realize it is also home to a photo blind funded by the NANPA Foundation.
One of the biggest challenges in nature photography is getting close to wildlife. This is especially true in locations outside of parks and refuges where wildlife is often habituated to people. Photography blinds allow you to get into camera range in places that would be impossible to otherwise and allow you to shoot where no one else is shooting – a local woodlot, marsh, or your own backyard bird feeders. Using a photography blind is often the best or only way to photograph a particular species, location, or behavior. A good photography blind is one of the most important tools in a wildlife photographers’ arsenal for getting close. Working from a blind also benefits wildlife. Rather than pursuing and potentially disturbing subjects, the photographer lets subjects come to them. This increases a photographer’s opportunities to shoot natural, undisturbed behavior, and minimizes their impact on wildlife. One of the great things about working from a blind is that if you’ve done your homework and planned well you can be confident you are going to have some unique opportunities for photography.
As you age, your ability to walk around is limited, so I have started using my vehicle as photography blind. Occasionally I get out of the car, use the tripod, and hike to a hot spot, but generally, I’m shooting photos from the car especially if I’m on a driving trail such as a loop road.