with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Nature Photography, Stink and Smells

In an older article I found on Boing Boing, it mentions how humans can track smells which helps us learn about how animals can track smells.

UC Berkeley researchers report that humans can determine where a smell is coming using just our noses. In Berkeley study study, subjects were presented with essence or rose, cloves, and also odorants that smell like vinegar and banana. Brain scans revealed that the right and left nostrils are tied to separate regions of the primary olfactory cortext. As a result, the brain can locate a smell similarly to the way we localize sound based on input from two ears.

The article went on to explain how tracking by smell could be trained, that it didn’t come naturally with birth, explaining how true trackers learn from others and extensive practice and training.

Deer in woods, photograph by Brent VanFossenIn our nature and travel photography, we are always sensitive to how we smell as it can effect animals by attracting them or driving them away. We avoid all perfumes, even those found in shampoos, body soaps, deodorants, and other things we put on our body, including the laundry soap and softeners we use which often put perfumes into our clothing.

Tracking animals in nature photography requires a lot of skill in identifying footprints, hair, spoor, and other things animals leave behind as they move, including smell. The idea of actually tracking any animal by smell is a fascinating one that we’ll have to explore more.

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