The Unexpected by SJ

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This Post by S. J. Brown

Recently I was reminded life rarely goes as planned. Sometimes you just have to go with it. Like the bride & groom that had an extra thousand or so people at their wedding reception. They waved to the crowd, toasted one another and smiled for the cameras. Like when Hubby and I bought a new house and couldn’t move in until six months after settlement. We did a little remodeling and relaxed on our new deck. Making plans are good, but you should always be prepared to tweak your plans just a bit when the unexpected happens and makes life a bit more interesting.

The unexpected is pure gold to a reader. The plot twist they didn’t see coming, the well laid path that leads them to a surprise destination, or the killer they never suspected.

As a wildlife photographer, I live for the unexpected when I am out in the field. A chance encounter with a surprise critter is always a plus.


These meetings can have a variety of results. Those results are what drive the stories I write. The seemingly simple photograph that took hours to get, the friendly looking critter that wasn’t all that friendly. Being close enough to a wild animals to hear their breathing. These situations are all part of the life of a wildlife photographer.

Bighorn Sheep

Weather and terrain are also factors when I am in the field. A cloudy day often is more photo friendly than bright sunshine. Rainy days are always a challenge. But if I am there and the critters are there, I cover the camera, put on a poncho and keep shooting. Did you know cold weather kills the camera batteries? They need to be kept warm between shots. Time in the field teaches most wildlife photographers how to deal with this issue and many more.


Standing ankle deep in muck to get just a bit closer to the subject isn’t uncommon, neither is climbing trees, over rocks or laying on the ground.


For me the ultimate shot is achieved when a critter pauses, and looks right into the  lens. When viewing a photograph do you consider the angle it was taken from? When reading a murder mystery story do you consider the amount of time and effort that goes into that unexpected ending?


Fiction writers test the limits of their imagination, while wildlife photographers test their limits of observation.

On November 29th I will be joining a number of fellow authors at the Berkeley Springs WV Book Festival. If you are in the area stop by the Ice House on Mercer Street between 10 am & 4 pm. I will be giving a presentation about wildlife photography. Also I will be sharing photographs and autographing copies of my books. I always enjoy chatting with people about their favorite wild critter. What’s yours?

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Close Ups & Close Encounters Available through CreateSpace, Ingram, Baker & Taylor,,, and Everywhere Fine Books are Sold

All the Birds I See CoverCover

S. J. Browns Children’s books are available exclusively through S. J. Brown.  at

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27 thoughts on “The Unexpected by SJ

  1. What a great post. Love that you tie writing and photography into a seamless thread. As you know, I don’t photograph many animals, scenery is my thing, but you make it seem so easy. I know it’s not, even scenery photos can be a pain. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and the best to you on the 29th. I’ll be there i spirit. Doris


  2. SJ, great article and great photos. Thanks for the tips. I too love photography, and have sold a few of my prints here and there, along with my artwork. I, like Doris, love the way you tie photography and writing together. Thanks. Cher’ley


  3. SJ- Wonderfu! Such a diversity in nature covered in your photos- the large and the small. The duck is saying “Will you just get on with that write-up of ME, because I’m such a fab duck, and you’ll never get another poser quite like me!” 🙂


  4. Loved the column. And agree whole-heartedly with the wisdom, “get ready to greet the unexpected.” When out walking or hiking, it’s what required to see the unexpected side of nature.


  5. Your photos are wonderful. I’m sure you must have some tales that would be great fodder for a book.

    I guess my favorite animals that I actually see are the hawks. We have red tails, Cooper’s, and occasionally a falcon. One animal I’d love to spy in the wild is a mountain lion. Used to have one visit when we lived on acreage. Never saw it, but the dogs let us know when it was around.
    Nice post.


    1. Yes, I am working on another book about my adventures in the field. Since I have been at this for a while now I am finding it hard to decide which stories to include.
      Hawks are sometimes co operative, sometimes a challenge when it comes to getting the shot.


  6. Enjoyed your post and descriptions of how you get photographs. Those are great photos and I think it’s great also how you are able to tie your two professions together. Good luck with your time in WV. You are a talented lady.


  7. Great post, S.J. Your photography is utterly amazing and beautiful! I’ve always yearned to be a good photographer but I have at least taken lots and lots of pictures trying to be one. Enjoyed the way you correlated photography and writing.


    1. You really need to find your passion. Not everyone loves wildlife and photographing critters. You might enjoy flowers, scenic or even photographing people. When you look through your photos you will notice the ones you like the most all have a similar subject matter. Just keep shooting.


  8. Enjoyed your post very much, SJ! I especially love the sentence, “Fiction writers test the limits of their imagination, while wildlife photographers test their limits of observation.” I am writing in a genre right now and it is certainly testing my imagination! Love all your photos, SJ! And I wish I was able to be at your signing — good luck!


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