Landscape Photography Can Be Dangerous (Podcast)

Landscape Photography Can Be Dangerous (Podcast)

In this episode of the Fine Art Photography Podcast, a friendly reminder that landscape photography, wildlife photography, and nature photography can be very dangerous

Episode 75 Full Transcript

In this episode, a friendly reminder, landscape photography, wildlife photography, and nature photography can be very dangerous

Intro music

Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of the Fine Art Photography Podcast. I woke up this morning to a headline from PetaPixel that a landscape photographer had died in Oregon after falling from a 300-ft cliff while hiking. According to the article, the photographer slipped off a trail and fell 300 feet onto a rocky shoreline below. He was pronounced dead on the scene by a medic who had been rappelled down to check on him.

The Curry County Sheriff’s Office issued a call for hikers and others to be especially careful at the location at Natural Bridges, because they are frequently called to the area to help with accidents.

I get press releases from the National Park Service and they’ve been warning visitors for weeks to be careful around wildlife, especially while elk are calving. Just a few days prior to recording this episode, a 25-year-old Ohio woman was gored and tossed 10 feet into the air by a female bison at Yellowstone after getting too close to the animal.

Last year, several people were pounced upon by mountain lions in the Western US. In the southeastern US, there are alligators.

Also on Petapixel, I saw a recent video of a Canadian photographer being pursued by a youngish black bear. The bear got bolder and more persistent as the photographer backed away toward his car, until finally being chased away by a healthy dose of bear spray. I recently watched the movie The Revenant starring Leonardo di Caprio. There’s a harrowing scene, where his character is mauled by a Grizzly bear, that will make you think twice about ever stepping into the woods again. 

Just a few weeks ago, I was hiking to a waterfall on a well-used trail and came across a venomous copperhead lying in the sunshine right along the trail, mere inches from where people step.

Copperhead snake lying in the sun near a hiking trail
Copperhead snake lying in the sun near a hiking trail.

So take this episode as a friendly reminder that nature is often still quite wild, and landscape photography can be a dangerous pursuit. In addition to falls and animal attacks, there are plenty of other risks including snake bites, tick bites and their resulting diseases, heat exhaustion or hyperthermia and frostbite, dehydration, getting lost in the wilderness, drowning or slipping, and being injured on the rocks in rivers, flash floods, bad weather.

Speaking of weather, a lot of photographers intentionally seek out storms, and of course, that brings the risk of lightning, hail, strong winds, and of course tornadoes.

Of course, landscape photography doesn’t always involve hiking miles into the wilderness. Many times a great shot is spotted right along the road, making car accidents and vehicle-pedestrian collisions a common risk. More than 475 people have died from car accidents just in the National Parks alone. Drivers are easily distracted by the splendors all around them, and might not be watching the road head as they should.

Landscape photographers are notorious for getting out before sunrise to be on location for the best light, but hiking in the dark brings its own risks. Add in the component of feeling rushed to arrive before you miss the light, and it compounds the risk.

Sometimes safety is simply a matter of exercising good judgment. About ten years ago I had the brilliant idea of crossing a stream bed by walking across a fallen tree. Midway across, my feet slipped and I went down, dropping with my full body weight, straddling the log with both legs like I was on the back of a horse. Let me tell you, that’s a mistake you only make once. My voice was two octaves higher for weeks.

Of course, for those of us who hike alone, as I generally do, there’s also a risk posed by people you meet. Luckily I’ve never met any nefarious characters in the woods but when you’re carrying thousands of dollars of camera gear, the risks are obvious.

This episode isn’t designed to scare anyone. It’s just what I said, a friendly reminder to be prepared, tread carefully, leave an agenda with a loved one, bring water, and appropriate safety gear for your location, and use common sense. And enjoy!

That’s all I’ve got for this episode. Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you again real soon.

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