When I was a young lad I was a big fan of Arthur Ransom’s Swallows and Amazons books. One of the characters, the one whom I identified the most closely with, was an amateur ornithologist. When I found a positively archaic camera at my grandmother’s house, I decided I would be too.
This old film camera had no zoom whatsoever, and my stealth skills were less ninja and more air raid siren. When I got the film developed, there were quite a few photos of trees. If you looked very closely — possibly with the aid of a magnifying glass, or for some of them an electron microscope — you could see something that may possibly be a bird, or sometimes just a clump of leaves that seemed like it might be a bird’s nest.
After a while, buying the ancient variety of film this camera required and then paying to get it developed had exhausted my preadolescent funds. Furthermore, the mockery from my brother on the terribleness of my photos was galling to my preadolescent ego. I stopped my photography attempts and turned my attention to other pursuits.
In 2016, I took a trip to Tiritiri Matangi, an island off the coast of New Zealand which serves as a sanctuary for many native species, mostly birds. Learning to photograph these beautiful creatures the right way (i.e. with a zoom lens and a greater helping of patience than 11-year-old me possessed) caught my fancy and once again I was bitten by the ornithology bug.
Since then, I have photographed a number of birds, and some of the photos are almost good.
I would say that this story proves that we should never give up on our dreams, but of all the dreams I had as a child, being a moderately competent bird photographer is an odd one to fulfill. There is no moral.