I’ve been spending quite a lot of time photographing Peregrine falcons nesting in a nearby church. I post the photos to Flickr. The photos and my comments give the impression that it’s an exciting time. Which it is! Sometimes! But mostly it’s intensely mind numbing. It’s a staring at one spot kind of a thing, which gets to you after a while. Gets to me!
I started this blog post from wanting to write about the experience of ‘boredom’ that I get from photographing the peregrines. You could say it’s the excitement of seeing the birds that makes the boredom worthwhile. There’d be some currency in that, but not enough. Maybe I’m there for the boredom. I don’t know. I kind of want some time standing around so I can think about my PhD. But I kind of don’t. Time spent waiting and watching isn’t good thinking time. It’s more of an anticipatory waiting, a ‘what’s going to happen next?’ waiting. It’s a dumb machine like waiting, because to photograph a flying bird is to be like a tracking machine, a targeting tool. So to stand there is to be ‘ready at all times’. It’s not conducive to letting your mind wander. As a mind-set, it seems designed to keep you alert, which is to stay with the moment. I don’t know why – although it should be obvious – but it seems a way to block thinking. That alert-readiness is tiring in some psychological and physical way. Hurts my eyes!
The more obvious pay-offs are the usual Flickr ones, the ‘having a nice photo’ feeling, the bits of small time photo fame: “Wow. Great shot!” The excitement is easy to write about. Seeing a Peregrine falcon attack a Herring Gull is exciting. It’s adrenaline pumping excitement, and to ‘get the shot’ is to show that experience, as much as that’s ever possible. But that excitement is so rare. I must have spent 20 hours just standing there, just to get 2 or 3 half decent shots. So I don’t think the excitement really explains why I go. Maybe I go for more anoraky reasons. Maybe it’s the standing there in all weathers – ‘observe my commitment!’ I get something from that kind of involvement, which is no doubt social at heart: ‘You can’t say he didn’t work for it!’ And Protestant! I blame my parents! And my grandparents.