I Shot Bambi

Nature photography can be frustrating. It’s typically very hard to get close to wild animals. Hardcore nature photographers thus often use tripods, blinds, and very long lenses. This combination lets them create images that seem impossibly close up from hundreds of feet away. I’m too cheap to buy any of these lenses. They usually cost thousands of dollars and are too heavy to lug around casually. So the only animals I can usually get closeups of are either dead, domesticated, or exceedingly stupid.

[fawn](/weblog/images/ar ticles06/20060610-5051-1024.jpg)

Fawn, hiding (click to enlarge)

In the “exceedingly stupid” category I would put the wild turkeys that have decided to live on Negley Avenue in the middle of Pittsburgh. I regularly walk (and drive) within a foot of these things, but unfortunately have never had my camera with me. But yesterday’s lucky find makes up for my lack of turkey luck. I managed to get within 6 feet of a recently born fawn while carrying my camera and a reasonably long lens. It sat perfectly still while I took photographs of it. It was practically suffering fear-induced cardiac arrest. Had this been a full-grown deer, I never would have gotten within 40 feet of it. So I got a good shot. The only reason I was able to get this close to it is that I saw it wandering around looking for its mama. As I drove up, it dove for cover in the underbrush and went to ground. That gave me plenty of time to park, get the camera, walk over, and calmly and methodically torture it with fill flash for voyeuristic purposes.

This particular deer, like all deer everywhere since the beginning of time, was mangy and starving. So before you start feeling too much sympathy for it, and get too terribly mad at me for torturing the deer, remember that in return for my great photo, I’ll probably contract Lyme Disease. The fawn did eventually bolt when I got within about 3 feet. Had I been so inclined, I could have reached out and touched it.

[fawn](/weblog/images/ar ticles06/20060610-5041-1024.jpg)

Well-hidden? (click to enlarge)

Had I not seen exactly where the fawn had gone to ground, I would have walked right by it.

Later that day, I saw two more fawns gallop madly across an open field in the noonday sun. As they ran, they bleated for their mother. When they reached the woods on the other side of the field, they turned around and ran back to where they came from, bleating the entire time.

Apparently in Western Pennsylvania, it’s been a bad week for fawns all around.