A feeling is worth a thousand pictures

Story and photography by Tim Irvin

We were deep in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, Canada (about 500 miles northwest of Seattle), the home of the white spirit bear. Before us was what we had hoped for. The bear had accepted our presence and was now perched on a rock mid-stream scanning the creek for salmon. Her white fur was wet from overnight rain and steam rose from her back in the morning sun. It was like a scene from National Geographic television – only this was live.

Spirit bears (also known as Kermode bears) are an exceedingly rare sub-species of American black bear with a recessive genetic trait that makes their fur white. There are perhaps only 200 to 400 in existence and they are found only in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest. © Tim Irvin

Spirit bears (also known as Kermode bears) are an exceedingly rare sub-species of American black bear with a recessive genetic trait that makes their fur white. There are perhaps only 200 to 400 in existence and they are found only in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. © Tim Irvin

Our group of photographers and nature buffs was thrilled. Between snapping photos we glanced at each other – smiling widely, giving each other the thumbs up. We never could have imagined this exact scene beforehand, but the hope of being part of something like this was why we had come. Continue reading

Capturing little creatures

Story and photography by Bill Tyler

When most people think of wildlife photography, birds, large mammals, and possibly reptiles come to mind. But in the grand scheme of things, these are a small fraction of the picture. Insects and other arthropods constitute the vast majority of animals, both in numbers of individuals and numbers of species. These small creatures show huge diversity in anatomy and behavior, and make fascinating subjects for nature photographers. What’s more, they’re accessible. With millions of individual arthropods in a typical acre, you don’t have to travel far to find subjects. But photographing them requires different techniques than larger subjects. Here’s how I photographed a live centipede collected from my yard.

When possible, I like to photograph arthropods in their natural environment, unconfined. But that wasn’t going to be practical with this constantly moving specimen. I needed a way to keep it confined in a small area, rather than letting it run to the nearest shelter to hide. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have a helper who can gently stop a subject from running too far. This time I was working alone, and needed a containment device of some sort.

I had a small petri dish over which I could place a large clear photographic filter as a lid, and I put the centipede into this enclosure. Photographing through the optically flat filter gave a clear, undistorted image, and the glass dish let light in from the sides, while the filter was too heavy for the centipede to lift and escape. A ceramic plate made a white background.

Photographing through a clear lens filter provided an undistorted image while keeping the centipede from escaping. A ceramic plate serves as background. © William B. Tyler

Photographing through a clear lens filter provided an undistorted image while keeping the centipede from escaping. A ceramic plate serves as background.
© William B. Tyler

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Six weeks in the Smokies as artist-in-residence

Story and photography by Tom Haxby

It was my dream come true to have been the Artist in Residence as a photographer in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for six weeks from September through November of 2016. I have been to the park many times and I would never have imagined having this opportunity. My background as a natural resource manager for 26 years along with my passion for photography helped to secure the chance to take photographs for an entire season in one of the most picturesque national parks. For me, it was about more than just taking photos. I wanted to take the time to gain a greater understanding of the park.

Oncoaluftee Watershed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All landscape photos seen in this article were taken with a Nikon D800 and this assortment of lenses: 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm. All were on a tripod. © Tom Haxby

Oncoaluftee Watershed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All landscape photos seen in this article were taken with a Nikon D800 and this assortment of lenses: 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm. All photos were taken on a tripod.
© Tom Haxby

The National Park Service, the Friends of the Smokies and the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts sponsor the artist program in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Continue reading

Getting to know you; A year-long project

Story and photography by Kathy Lichtendahl

I admit it…I am spoiled by where I live. Northwest Wyoming, with its easy access to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, is a nature photographer’s paradise. In the summer months I can be in Lamar Valley within two hours. In early winter, an hour’s drive south puts me in range to capture that magnificent moment when two bighorn rams collide with incredible force and in spring I have the joy of photographing young pronghorn and elk literally in my backyard.

Heart Mountain, October 24, 2016 © Kathy Lichtendahl

Heart Mountain, October 24, 2016
© Kathy Lichtendahl

But even in this amazing environment, there are those months when the photo doldrums set in and I wonder if I will ever get another opportunity to shoot something that makes my heart beat a little bit faster. That is why, every January 1, I try to come up with a personal photo project instead of the typical New Year’s resolution. I started this practice a couple years ago when I felt the need for a challenge to get me through the long cold months that stretched to spring. Continue reading