Editor’s Note: With spring finally making an appearance across the United States, birds are very active; building nests for their young, looking for food during much of the day, and treating us to their beautiful songs and chirps. This piece by Melissa Groo appeared in 2016 and is very worthwhile reading for this season. DL
Melissa Groo is an award-winning wildlife photographer, writer, teacher, and speaker. She writes a regular column on wildlife photography for Outdoor Photographer magazine, and her photos have been published in many magazines, including Smithsonian, Audubon, and National Wildlife. Issues of conservation and ethics in photography are passions for her, but more than anything, she loves revealing the soul of her wild subjects and sharing that with others. Continue reading →
Story and Photography by Jim Shane (unless otherwise noted)
As a nature photographer, I spend a large percentage of my time photographing birds, and raptors are at the top of my list of favorite targets. Fortunately, The Peregrine Fund is headquartered close to my home so I attended a live flight show. In a blatant attempt to establish some form of communication, I offered images to the bird handlers, which blossomed into a role as volunteer photographer and adviser. Now I get opportunities and requests for help gathering images for use in educational programs. The American Kestrel photo below is one example.
Among the many anomalies found in the units of the National Park Service are a few National Monuments located within the sprawling Navajo Nation of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. While the boundaries of some monuments encompass thousands of acres, visitor access within these sites may be restricted to specific rights of way granted by the Navajo tribal government allowing visitors to traverse their lands using designated routes and trails.
As I make my way from my winter location in Tucson to the NANPA Celebration in Jackson Hole, WY, I’m photographing some of the iconic locations in California: Sequoia, Yosemite, the Redwood National and State Parks. Then I’m going to venture up the Oregon coast. I find myself spending more time in these iconic locations. They are beautiful and wonderful places to photograph.
The Internet is full of photographers saying, “don’t go there,” “too many people,” “I need solitude to make beautiful images.” Even on NANPA’s Facebook page, I see comments that say, “find a different location to photograph.” Don’t listen to them (unless you have 1,000 images from places such as Yosemite Valley)!
As I stood at Tunnel View in Yosemite looking over the valley, thinking, you’re crazy if you don’t come here at least once in your life, I noticed there were only four tripods, but 150 selfie sticks. Everyone was polite, and I ended up taking a lot of cell phone pictures for couples. Yes, our national parks are crowded, and park service staff are doing their best.
So why photograph here in the footsteps of Ansel or other great photographers such as William Neill? Will I sell any of the images I take? Probably not, but I don’t care, nor should you. I will try to find other less iconic locations and shoot more intimate landscapes, but the waterfalls are roaring, and I can’t resist. Yosemite flooded two weeks ago, the meadows are littered with logs and branches, the wildflowers are gone, and so are some of the roads; yet, I will stay and photograph this amazing place.
What I will do with my Yosemite images is use them for greeting cards, coasters, and slates. It’s amazing how many non-photographers like these things and they sell well. During my local craft fair, I sell all the cards I bring. You don’t need to be a “pro” to do these sorts of things. It’s fun and you meet some great people, and it can help a little bit with your photo budget.
As I said earlier, I will eventually get to Jackson for the NANPA Celebration. While I’m there, I plan to look for bears, moose, and owls to photograph each morning. I hope there is snow (I’ve been in Tucson all winter). Last spring, at the NANPA regional event in Yellowstone, I was able to photograph seven bears the first day, but the second and third day, not a bear was in sight. What I’m also looking forward to is seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Every time I attend a NANPA event, the friends I make are always the best part of the event. So, if you see me in Jackson, come say hi and I just might take you to the spot where I know a big bull moose hangs out.
NANPA recently recognized our volunteers during National Volunteer Week. I knew there were a lot of people who helped our organization, but frankly, when I read through the list, I was impressed with how many of you pitch in. On behalf of NANPA and the board of directors, I thank you all once more. I wish there was room here to give a public shout-out to everyone, but here’s a link to the latest volunteer list that’s on our website. http://www.nanpa.org/membership/get-involved/meet-our-volunteers/