Thursday, February 28, 2019

The “new” thing for better photography

Winter Sun Through Snowy Forest

Photographers are conditioned to always need something new.

Often it’s equipment. We’re bombarded with ads for new cameras and lenses that somehow will immediately make our art better.

For nature and wildlife photographers, it’s also locations. There’s always some hot new location that promises incredible opportunities that are like none we’ve ever seen before.

But there’s one new thing that will make an even bigger difference in your photography. It’s attitude.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Remembering the monarchs

Cluster of Monarch Butterflies at Dawn, Pacific Grove, California

It was the spring of 1980 and one of our final kindergarten projects involved watching a pair of caterpillars transform into monarch butterflies. For weeks, we watched them feed on milkweed leaves and then disappear into their chrysalises. When they finally emerged as butterflies, we took them outside to the playground and set them free.

That experience in the classroom near Seattle, Washington, was one of my favorites in school and helped give me an even greater appreciation for nature. It took nearly 25 years, but I finally got a chance to photograph monarchs in their wintering grounds in Pacific Grove, California — butterflies that were perhaps 100 generations removed from the ones we helped raise.

That winter in California, I found clusters of monarchs so dense they somewhat resembled leaves. Since then, the numbers of butterflies have plummeted, each year reaching a new record low.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Best of 2018

Bald Eagle and Red Fox Tussling Over Rabbit, San Juan Island National Historical Park, Washington

Welcome to the annual post of my favorite images from the past year. And let’s just get this out of the way right now: eagle, fox, rabbit.

The image of the bald eagle that stole a rabbit from a young fox quickly became a defining picture not just of my year, but of my career. Just hours after I posted the story and a sequence of images on my blog this spring, TV stations and newspapers were emailing me, wanting to do a story on it. By the end of the week, it had run in papers from Russia to Australia, on network TV news and was a featured story on National Geographic. And now, CNN named it one of the pictures of the year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Behind the scenes: Bioluminescence, Mosquito Bay, Vieques

Bioluminescence, Mosquito Bay, Vieques, Puerto Rico

Whether you call it Mosquito Bay, Bahía Bioluminiscente or something else, the bioluminescent bay on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques is the world’s brightest. The Guinness Book of World Records says so.

The glow comes from dinoflagellates, which are not actually rare. They’re a type of plankton and are found in most ocean water. What makes Mosquito Bay special, however, is how concentrated they are there.

Friday, November 30, 2018

In the footsteps of the Impressionists

God Beams and Manneporte, Étretat, France

The art that we create today stands on a foundation built by the imaginations of the artists who have come before us. No matter how original any new work of art may seem, the artist who created it was able to draw from thousands of years of experiences of other artists. Nothing truly comes from scratch.

Even though I am a nature photographer, for the past several years, I have found my inspiration in the work of Impressionist painters. Last month, I got a chance to travel to the Normandy region of France to photograph locations featured in some of my favorite paintings.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Why yes, Virginia, those are mountains!

Sunrise Through Storm, Ridge View, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

I’ve lived my entire life in a state that’s home to five volcanoes. The word “mountain” has meant to me a permanently snow-capped peak that often reaches into the clouds.

Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains are nothing like that, but they are inspiring nonetheless — maybe more inspiring if you count the number of times they’ve been featured in songs. I can’t think of them without hearing John Denver singing about them, but Take Me Home, Country Roads is just one of dozens of songs in which they’re featured.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Finally out of the eagle's shadow

Red Fox Kit Sleeping, San Juan Island, Washington

I originally planned to share these images with you five months ago — but a certain eagle stole the show (just like it stole the rabbit from the fox).

Like the eagle/fox/rabbit sequence, these images are from San Juan Island in Washington state. I try to keep some variety in my posts both here on the blog and on social media. The sequence got so much attention, I wanted a bit of a break before I shared other images from that trip.