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From Photographer

Phil Schermeister

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photograph courtesy Phil Schermeister


Yosemite On Assignment Photographer Yosemite On Assignment Photographer

Field Notes From Photographer
Phil Schermeister

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   One day I went into the field with a woman who was doing research on owls. She knew the location of a female owl with two babies. So we drove for about half an hour, then hiked for another half hour into a remote area. Shortly after we got there, the mother owl started calling and then flew in closer to us, occasionally perching on mossy branches. A lot of times you can walk through the woods in the daytime and not see any wildlife. So for me, that owl really made the woods come alive, especially because I rarely get to see them. I photographed the owl for two hours.

   As a photographer, I always have to look for ways to bring something new and creative to a situation. And that's difficult to do when the light is constantly bad or I'm just tired. I had a couple of those days, and they were always the worst. When I'm shooting good stuff, I feel like I have the best job in the world. But when I'm not, I'd just as soon be a garbage man.

   I was driving along the Merced River late in the afternoon when I caught sight of a coyote crossing the road farther up ahead. So I pulled over and got out of my car. The coyote obviously spotted me, but he kept walking along the river. I tried to follow behind, scrambling over huge boulders, tree snags, and banks. The coyote would stay far enough ahead of me that I would eventually lose sight of him. And then a few minutes later, I'd find him waiting for me before taking off again. We walked together, so to speak, down the river like this for almost an hour. After that, the coyote lay down in a grassy spot to rest for a while, and I finally had enough time to get some good pictures. When it got too dark to shoot, he got up and ambled down the river again. To me, it felt like the coyote wanted a companion, and I was happy to oblige.


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