Are You a Dragon Photographer? I am

Story and Photography by Cathy & Gordon Illg

© Cathy & Gordon Illg

© Cathy & Gordon Illg

In our early days of nature photography, long before I had any right to be that way, I was very competitive. I wanted the awards and accolades. If someone took a good shot of something, I wanted a better photo of the same subject. Most of the time I didn’t succeed in capturing one, but I certainly tried. Continue reading

Wood Thrushes- Nature’s Flutes

Story and photo by Budd Titlow

A wood thrush takes a bath in a cool mountain stream. © Budd Titlow

A wood thrush takes a bath in a cool mountain stream. © Budd Titlow

Many years ago, I was walking through a lovely old-growth stand of northern hardwoods on a glacial moraine hillside in northeastern Connecticut, conducting a bird survey for a proposed residential subdivision. With each step, my mind slipped deeper into despair over sacrificing this beautiful woodland habitat for human housing. Continue reading

THIS BIRDING LIFE: A Winslow Homer Painting Comes Alive

Story and photos by Budd Titlow

Monhegan Island is the real thing – an active lobstering village! © Budd Titlow

Monhegan Island is the real thing – an active lobstering village! © Budd Titlow

When spring/summer rolls around, I always start to think about the songbird migration – especially my experiences with warblers on Monhegan Island, Maine. The first time I set foot on Monhegan Island, I needed a pinch to make sure I hadn’t died and gone to heaven. Walking up the hill from the ferry into the village was like going back fifty years in time: dirt roads, handmade signs, and wooden buildings. It was like a Winslow Homer painting had suddenly sprung to life before my eyes. If this wasn’t enough—flocks of colorful songbirds flitted about all over the place, perching on trees, rooftops, fences, anything that was standing upright. The only things for visitors to do on the island are paint (Monhegan supports a summer art colony, including many famous artists like Jamie Wyeth), photograph (every well-known bird photographer visits Monhegan from time to time), and watch birds—lots and lots of birds! Continue reading

Fostering Personal and Artistic Breakthroughs During Nature Photography Workshops

© Steve Moeller

© Steve Moeller

Story and Photos by Steve Moeller

Five Simple Things You Can Do to Optimize Your Results

Like many creative people, I love workshops, attending them, designing them, and leading them. Over the past 15 years, I‘ve participated in scientific conferences, training workshops, and transformational adventures with Amazonian shamans. My research and personal experiences convinced me that nature photography workshops can be fantastic vehicles for personal growth and lasting positive change! Continue reading

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Story and Photography by Gordon & Cathy Illg

© Gordon and Cathy Illg

© Gordon and Cathy Illg

A seemingly endless supply of uncontrollable factors. Will the weather cooperate with our group of photographers? Are we going to have an aurora? Is a spirit bear going to show up? Will the filling in my right, rear molar last until my next visit to the dentist? The list goes on and on. Why do we worry so much about a future we cannot control? Why is it so hard to simply prepare as best we can, leave the future in the hands of the fates, and sleep as if we had no cares in the world? Sometimes having a big brain is not all it’s cracked up to be.

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NHSSP: Fostering My Future Aspirations

Story and Photographs by Lione Clare

Steelwool Image © Lione Clare

Steelwool Image © Lione Clare

I was born and raised in Sitka, Alaska, and fell in love with nature at a young age. My interest in photography began at thirteen and quickly developed into an avid passion that has awarded me many unique opportunities and winnings in local, state, and international contests, including the North Pacific Research Board (state) and Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year (international) photo contests. Continue reading

NATURE’S VIEW: My Seven-year-old Encounters a Bruin

Story and photographs by Jim Clark ©

On the eve of my first trip to Churchill, Manitoba, to photograph polar bears and other arctic wildlife, I’m reminded of my son’s first encounter with a bruin. Carson was only seven, and his reaction to the experience serves as a lesson for all nature photographers. After all, it’s not the age from whence wisdom comes, but instead, it’s the true value of the wisdom that matters. But I digress.

Carson

Carson at age seven explores a trail near Cranberry Glades of West Virginia. © Jim Clark

For several summers, Carson and I would take a week-long trip to explore our favorite places in West Virginia. This became a time for father and son to have fun, discover new things, eat pizza nonstop (Don’t tell his mother!), and spend time as best buddies. Oh yeah, we photographed a bit, too.

One June, we visited the usual locations: Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls state parks, Beartown Natural Area, Falls of Hills Creek, and Cranberry Glades Botanical Area. Carson’s love for nature photography (especially wildlife) had just begun, so he was hoping to find something special to photograph at one of the locations.

While walking on the boardwalk at Cranberry Glades, I showed Carson recent signs of a black bear—scat on the boardwalk, broken alder branches and partially eaten skunk cabbage. Well, that got him excited. So, with camera in hand, he decided we should walk the boardwalk several times that morning to see if we would actually see the bear.

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WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER, by Cathy and Gordon Illg

The plant is communicating with the flies, calling them to pollinate its blossoms. © Gordon and Cathy Illg

The plant is communicating with the flies, calling them to pollinate its blossoms. © Gordon and Cathy Illg

There’s always something new under the sun. There are always surprises waiting for us in the most unlikely places. Recent studies are showing plants may be far more than the yard decorations and colorful picture elements we’ve taken them for. These beings that we’ve always considered to be merely ground cover are capable of movement, communication–yes, they can talk to their neighbors–and even arithmetic–some species need to know the hours of darkness and calculate if they have enough starch to survive the night. Charles Darwin recognized intelligent, purposeful movement in plants, and he even wrote a book on it. The scientific community ignored his findings for more than 120 years. Continue reading

NATURE’S VIEW: Slowing Down

Story and photographs by Jim Clark

Autumn morning along Blackwater River, Tucker County, West Virginia. © Jim Clark

Autumn morning along Blackwater River, Tucker County, West Virginia. © Jim Clark

We are all overbooked these days. Our lives are commandeered by everything we deem uncompromisingly critical. Add those electronic devices that have become as indispensable as an appendage, and we are saturated with an excess of things to keep us too preoccupied to even take a breath.

Remember a time when you hiked into a meadow, laid down and watched the clouds float across the blue sky? Did hawks and vultures glide into your view, and did you wonder what it would be like to fly? Watching, admiring, thinking and developing—that is slowing down at its essence. Continue reading

PHOTOGRAPHER PROJECT: Buddy, Carson & Me, a Journey of Discovery by Jim Clark

Beaver adult and yearling at Dry Fork River, June 2010. © Carson Clark

Beaver adult and yearling at Dry Fork River, June 2010. © Carson Clark

In 2007 my wife suggested that our son and I do a book together. I had already published a few, and although Carson was only eight years old, he had already won national and international awards for his nature photography. What better co-author, photographer and partner could I have asked for? It was a perfect combination.

So, during the winter of 2008, Carson and I decided to do a children’s book about a family of beavers at a local nature preserve. To give Carson the full experience of a nature writer and photographer, I had him do a bit of homework. The more he understood nature, the better he would become at photographing it. Continue reading