One of the fascinations of nature photography is being an observer in a world in which we know very little of and are not part of. This leaves us with the intriguing opportunity to study what we see and try and piece together what is happening in front of our eyes, and if we are lucky in front of our lens.
Sometimes I take a shot and sit back later to view it and I get an insight into the natural world that I put human characteristics and pre-conceptions to. I did just that with the following picture.
Look as I did I could not see further than the fantastical notion that the picture represented a tale from a children's book. I was looking at Norman the Nymph sat on a stem with his buddy Mickey the Mite, horsing around with Norman using a shell as a pretend hat and he has got his head, comically, stuck in the shell. For some reason when I look at the shot now, I still want to think that. Beatrix Potter has a lot to answer for!
Of course nothing could, probably, be further from the truth. The mite is just a bit player in the situation, it being there is purely coincidental. And "Norman the Nymph" is in fact a nymph stage of a firefly, that is a natural obsessive eating machine. The shell is not a hat but a live meal which the nymph has forced its head and mouthparts into to get at every last morsel of the unfortunate victim.
It is the way of life throughout the food chain, it is the same as a tiger killing and eating a deer and it is the same as me paying someone to kill a cow and then ravenously devouring the burger. But somehow my conditioning makes me ignore these actions as being questionable in my own species yet somehow I still see it as cruel in other species. Or at the very least I have a conditioning that makes me empthazise, or sympathize, with the victim when other species devour each other.
We should each ponder this.
The next time I see a nature documentary and I am empathizing for the poor wildebeest that is struggling in the death lock of a nile crocodile maybe I should understand that it is only natural. When the eagle swoops out of the sky and plunges its tallons into the unaware songbird - it is only natural.
And what about me? When I drive my car, fueled by the bio-fuel that has been created from the destruction of pristine forests, into the burger joint that has been constructed in a shopping centre built on a natural water flood course, and tuck into my burger coddled in wrappings and packaging that I will throw away minutes later as I head off for my weekend away at a hotel built illegally in a national park from timber illegally logged from another national park - it is only natural?
Or am I not questioning my world enough? Are my actions and that of my species, eagerly devouring our victim, planet earth, only natural?