When nature photographer Donny Moore went out to shoot an annual bird migration last month, his camera unexpectedly failed during the outing. To “bring some levity” to the sad situation and to make the most of his time in nature, Moore decided to start sketching instead with his kids’ art supplies.
The Ontario, Canada-based Moore says that as a hobbyist nature photographer, he was excited to start birdwatching and doing bird photography as migration kicked off in May, but his camera wasn’t up for the task this year.
“The worst possible thing happened,” Moore tells PetaPixel. “My weather sealed camera body didn’t seem so weather-sealed anymore and it malfunctioned under the first wet morning shoot. I was instantly devastated but being a nature lover, I wasn’t going to let that get in my way of enjoying what birds were moving through.”
Moore’s personality is one that always begins looking for good lemonade recipes when life hands him lemons, and that’s what happened in this case.
“I have always dealt with most situations by bringing some levity to it and this was going to be no different,” he says. “So I set about sketching some of the sightings I got by using my kids’ art supplies.”
“Traditional naturalists used to go out, before cameras and that, they would take field notes,” Moore tells CBC. “Some description of the bird, and a little drawing. So, the idea came in my head, ‘well, I have no camera, I might as well practice what I preach.'”
Moore’s humorous sketches have become a hit among his friends and followers on social media.
“In my head I’m up there with some of the great names in the nature world of art like David Sibley, but that does not seem to translate down through my pencils,” the photographer says. “Trying to keep the sketches as basic as possible but also trying to highlight some field marks of the wildlife I came up with caricatures more than any kind of realism.”
Sketching has been a fun and surprisingly productive diversion so far, but Moore is looking forward to getting back to creating photographs.
“Some of my followers of my photography latched onto the drawings and I bantered back and forth in the comments,” he says. “The descriptions I gave for the sketches, while also lighthearted, still hopefully engaged some people into what is out there for us to enjoy.
“[The sketches] have gained their own little of popularity with some followers, [but] I do hope it’s not too long before I have a good camera in hand to get back out shooting what I enjoy best.”