Environment / Nature

Q & A: Rene Rodriguez brings nature into view

Local photographer talks about San Benito County life and landscapes.
Photo courtesy of Rene Rodriguez.
Photo courtesy of Rene Rodriguez.

This Earth Day week, BenitoLink interviewed a few San Benito residents making a positive impact on the earth and on humanity as a whole. We caught up with Rene Rodriguez to talk about his photography.

Lifelong San Benito resident and photographer Rene Rodriguez travels the region capturing its beauty and diversity in still shots, moments in time that bring the natural landscape into view. 

“In my travels throughout the county, I’ve never had any issues with landowners,” said Rodriguez, 59. “I’ve been questioned a few times, but they all seem to be real nice people. They do have a right to ask what I am doing if I am parked on the side of the road. I’ve become friends with quite a few of them through Facebook.”

BenitoLink spoke with Rodriguez about his experiences and what sharing images of nature means to him.


BENITOLINK: How did you come to love our rural region?

RODRIGUEZ: Since I grew up in a rural area, my dad drove me around all the back roads of Paicines. Once I learned to drive, I started driving all around the backroads especially after I got my first camera.

What kind of wildlife do you see when you’re taking pictures around San Benito County?

On any given day, I could run across badgers, deer, birds of all kinds, lots of raptors, coyotes, and I like to go out and photograph the bald eagles in south county and around here. You never know what you are going to come across. I haven’t run into a mountain lion since I was a kid in this county anyways. We do get a lot of migrating birds, as they use this area as a corridor. Paicines Reservoir is a good place to view migrating birds.

Have you noticed any changes in wildlife species or population over the years?

I have heard that there have been a lack of birds traveling through here, but for me I have seen more than normal. Maybe it’s because I am out and about all the time. I don’t have any scientific proof of that, but that is what I have noticed. The deer population seems pretty healthy to me. I’m seeing more bald eagles as well as more golden eagles. 

What kind of seasonal changes do you see? 

Seasonal changes, they vary every year. Sometimes we get plenty of rain which can dictate how much wildflowers we are going to get. I remember getting record rains one year and the wildflowers were abundant the following spring. I love the extended summers around our area. I also love the occasional thunderstorm in the summers. Almost lately, we have been getting a little more snow on our local hills. I guess the wide range of weather is what makes our county so attractive to live in.

How does South County compare to the flatter areas around Hollister and San Juan Bautista? 

The hills are covered with more trees and brush of all kinds. We do have some of the local hills especially around Gabilan Range that are pretty dense in vegetation. The farms and/or ranches down south seem to be more for cattle and horses, growing hay and alfalfa versus the areas around here that are for agriculture because of the flat land areas. 

What do you want people to experience when they look at your photography?

By sharing my photos, I get a lot of comments about what a great county we live in due to all the awesome scenery. People appreciate my photos because a lot of the elderly can’t get around like they used to, so it makes them happy to see what I post. My photos also bring them memories of their past and for those who have left our county or state, they enjoy my daily posts.


Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.