Shooting exotic places…close to home

Author:  Vicki Uthe

The other day, after a monsoon rainstorm in Flagstaff, my 10-year old granddaughter and I wandered down to the local park. We had been to the playground earlier that day and wandered over to the pond where she discovered a family of American Coots. Dad was preening himself on a log while Mom was chasing around her brood. It was mid-day so we vowed to return at sunset.


We hung out indoors for the afternoon while lightning and rain did its thing. At around 5:00 pm I grabbed my 100-400 mm lens mounted on my Canon 7D and my granddaughter and headed back out. We went straight to the pond and found Mama sitting on her kids. Every now and then a little orange head would pop out only to disappear moments later.

Eventually Mama Coot became comfortable enough with our presence that she let her little chicks run amuck. Turns out she has five. Earlier we only saw three. The lighting was beautiful at that time of day and I didn’t have to go very far to get some great shots of nature. These four images were gathered in a 90 minute time frame within a mile from my home.


The moral of the story? Don’t wait for big exotic trips to get out there and shoot. There is a lot to be seen right in your own backyard. And if you practice there, you will be even more ready to shoot when you DO take those exotic trips.

Vicki Uthe is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.