Leave No Trace

July 31, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Photographing the wonders of naturePhotographing the wonders of natureProtect what you love. Once it's gone you will miss it.

Looking after your environment whilst chasing your dream capture 

In a time where you can backtrack most photos by looking at its EXIF data, there are not many places on earth where there haven’t been any photos taken.

You can read about stories of overrun and ruined places nearly every day. To stand out with your photography, you need to be unique, better or more spectacular than the next person. In all that rush of fame, one thing seems to be forgotten. Okay, I’m not talking about manners, that is a whole other topic in itself. I’m talking about the places we go and geotag, the things we do to get the likes and followers. I’m talking about our surroundings, nature, our outdoors.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo - Macropus giganteusEastern Grey Kangaroo - Macropus giganteusEastern Grey Kangaroo, Macropus giganteus, is a marsupial mammal that belongs to a small group called macropods. They have hind legs that are larger than their forelimbs. Their hind feet are also large and powerful. Their long muscular tail is used for balance when hopping and as a fifth limb when movements are slow. The fur is a light grey woolly colour except the face which is darker. A dark tip of fur is also found on the tail.
Males: body length to 1.3m, tail to 1m; females: body length to 1m, tail to 0.84m

(Text Source: Australian Museum)

I have come across an organisation which has the protection of the outdoors as their principal. It’s called leave no trace.

Leave no trace is a none for profit organisation which came up with the 7 principles to protect the outdoors. Visit their website if you are interested in what they do.

What I have done for years and has reignited since reading about the organisation is to think about it more, to build it into my planning. 

What leave no trace means for me is:

  1. don’t geotag your photos of little known places. 
  2. don’t trample on or collect protected flora.
  3. Don’t interfere with wildlife
  4. Don’t build hides in protected areas without proper permission. 
  5. Don’t litter
  6. Be nice to people around you

Stay on your tracksStay on your tracksEven staying on the track will give you amazing results.

Geotagging photos is something I haven’t done for years. When you photograph wildlife and you spend hours not to disturb an individual animal, the last thing you want is for hundreds of people to go to that location because of your geotag and displace the animal. That goes for point 2 as well. When I try to find animals I always try to walk on tracks, animal crossings or in a way not to disturb the fragile flora. The reason is to not to compact the ground where you walk which can damage or kill plants as well as giving weeds a place to thrive.

DumpedDumped carRemains of a dumped car

Once on location and photographing, my philosophy is to not interfere with wildlife.  I have written about the impact of luring and wildlife baiting in my March blog Food for Pose. In that blog, I have discussed the implications baiting has. Not to disturb the animals while photographing is sometimes hard but I strive to be as elusive as possible.

Sulphur-crested cockatoo - Cacatua galeritaSulphur-crested cockatoo - Cacatua galeritaThe raucous screech of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo can be heard in many parts of eastern and northern Australia. A flock of hundreds of snow-white birds with pale-yellow crests can be a spectacular sight when seen in the distance, but up close their calls can be deafening. Being a gregarious species, these cockatoos usually spend much time in flocks, foraging together on the ground (often with a few perched in nearby trees keeping a lookout for any sign of danger) or roosting together in trees.

(Text Source: BirdLife Australia)

When out and about you come across all sorts of things, sometimes even makeshift hides. This is quite problematic, especially if it is in a national park. There are plenty of people ignoring all the signs and rules which protect the park. They just build a hide then and there. Whenever I can and need, I use my DIY wildlife blind. In November I have written about how to make one on a budget. If you’re interested in learning how to make one, just follow this link DIY Wildlife Blind. This hide is lightweight and movable and it won’t leave any traces after taking it down.

Have you seen people who have snacks and stuff with them and after eating leaving everything behind? I have. It puzzles me, to be honest. They have the space to carry it wherever they go but miraculously they don’t seem to have space after finishing that pack of chips.

Trashing the placeTrashing the placeWhere people are there is often rubbish as well. Unfortunately many people leave it behind with no second thoughts.

Last but not least, for crying out loud be nice to people around you. If you found that amazing bird and taking up the whole track with your gear, don’t get cranky at the people wanting to use the track to admire the area. Photographers have not the best reputation so why make it worse. Instead of trying to capture that bird on a busy weekend, what’s wrong with a quiet weekday. Probably you will have the area all to yourself. And if that’s not working find a more remote or secluded spot to photograph your priced find.

With that said, have an enjoyable and safe day out wherever you capture your next photo.


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