Delmarva Nature and Wildlife Summit

Bordered by the Chesapeake Bay on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east, the Eastern Shore is a land of coastal wetlands and seashores, diverse wildlife, and seasons that bring character to its golden marshes and wide open bays, perfumed piney woodlands, and sandy coastal beaches. Come capture images of pristine field sites throughout the Delmarva Peninsula and learn from our expert instructors. Small class sizes allow for one-on-one instruction in the field creating a truly unique experience. Housing provided on site. Instructors include NANPA members Jim Clark, Nikhil Bahl, Brian Zwit, and Jamie Konarski Davidson, along with Michael Traubel. Held in Wallops Island, VA.

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From the Archives: The Cutest Animal in Yellowstone

This post by Jim Clark first appeared in June 2016.

Story and photography by Jim Clark

Nature photographers heading to Yellowstone National Park would have to be a little crazy not to think about the potential for photographing the park’s herds of bison and elk, the striking mountain vistas and waterfalls, and the extraordinary thermal features of geysers, fumaroles, and mudpots.

I’m no different. I especially love to photograph Yellowstone’s charismatic megafauna. In fact, my favorite is bison as they roam Lamar and Hayden Valleys. But I also seek out the little critters as well.

Of the 67 mammal species documented in the park, the majority are the smaller ones, including such personal favorites as golden-mantled and Uinta ground squirrels, least chipmunk and yellow-bellied marmot. But the one mammal I absolutely love to watch and photograph is the pika—undoubtedly the most charming and photogenic mammal in Yellowstone.

Pika Calling 2 - Yellowstone National Park WY (c) Jim Clark

American pika, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. © Jim Clark

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NATURE’S VIEW: Sounds of nature

Story and photography by Jim Clark

Author’s Note: Click on files below the images to hear the sound!

Be still and listen, the earth is singing. — Karen Davis, artist inspired by nature

Oh, the sweet symphony of melodies that is nature. Can you hear it when you are photographing those grand landscapes or that flock of sandhill cranes as they take flight above the marsh? Well, it’s all out there just waiting for you. All you have to do is listen.

Wildlife sounds include hoots, screeches, roars, bleats, tweets, barks, pants, purrs, squawks, buzzes, shrieks, hisses, cracks, belches, chirps, peeps, hums, croaks, trills, clucks and more.

But have you listened to the songs of the weather or of the earth? There’s the patter of rain on a leaf, the wind’s gentle whisper through a loblolly pine forest, the crashing of waves on the shoreline or the clapping resonance of an impending thunderstorm. As George Santayana wrote, The earth has music for those who listen. Continue reading

NATURE’S VIEW: Within striking distance

Story and photography by Jim Clark

For nature photographers, how exhilarating it is to capture that defining moment as a great blue heron strikes the water? Even better is photographing a full sequence of a great egret stalking its prey and then plunging its bill and neck into the water to seize the prize.

Wading birds come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, and each species use specific hunting strategies to gather a bite to eat; ornithologists have even described 35 types of feeding behaviors wading birds use (see a list in a sidebar to this article).

Understanding how each species of wading bird feeds helps the nature photographer to photograph those amazing moments. Combine this knowledge with time in the field, and the photographer will become more and more successful at recording that special “striking” moment.

A great blue heron is about to swallow its prey after tossing and catching it midair. This image was photographed on the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia. ©  Jim Clark

Here are some feeding strategies of a few wading birds I photograph at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia: Continue reading

NATURE’S VIEW: My favorite megafauna of all time

Story and photography by Jim Clark

Okay, here’s one for you:  What did the mama buffalo say to her little boy in the morning when he left to go to school? “Bison!”

I know, corny as all heck, but it’s the only joke I can remember. Besides, bison are my most favorite charismatic megafauna of all time. I can spend hours in Yellowstone’s Hayden or Lamar Valley just watching a herd of bison grazing, rutting, playing, swimming, running, wallowing or whatever; it doesn’t matter.

Bison graze near Slough Creek, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. © Jim Clark

Bison graze near Slough Creek, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. © Jim Clark

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NATURE’S VIEW: Photographing Patterns

A retrospective of Gary Braasch

Story and photography by Jim Clark

Today a plethora of information exists on the web about how to photograph nature. Just type your question or topic in the search box and immediately you are presented with hundreds of links that may or may not be of use. It seems as though books about nature photography techniques have gone by the wayside.

Photographing the Patterns of Nature by the late, great photo-naturalist and environmental activist Gary Braasch is surely an exception. This is one book that I continually pull from my bookshelf and read.

Published in 1990, Gary’s techniques are as relevant today as they were when he first started his career as a nature photographer in the sixties. The book is only 144 pages, and it is written in a simple, readable and relaxing style. Gary offers a treasure trove of techniques for photographing nature — techniques that will elevate the skill level and photographic vision of any nature photographer. It’s as if Gary is right beside you, helping you discover the patterns in nature.

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Pink salmon spawn in the Indian River, Sitka National Historic Site, Alaska.   ©  Jim Clark

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NATURE’S VIEW: Walking with my telephoto zoom on a backlit type of day

Story and photography by Jim Clark

Like most nature photography instructors, I arrive several days prior to a workshop to scout the area. I check on the condition of the sites where I will be taking my students and search for new ones as well. I take the time to see how the light illuminates a scene at different times of day and determine the best perspective and time for my students to photograph there. These days also afford me time to photograph on my own and to reconnect with and savor nature.

On scouting trips before my workshops along Virginia’s eastern shore, I make time to walk the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge’s wildlife loop drive. The drive is closed to vehicles until after 3 p.m., making it a great opportunity to get my daily steps in while exploring the refuge without worrying about traffic.

The loop is a perfect 3.1 miles in length and winds through major habitat types of the refuge. With a few spur trails leading off from the main loop, there is always a new and different route to explore. Whether I hike the loop in the morning or afternoon, I’m going to find something to photograph — or better yet, experience.

Winged Sumac Leaves Backlit 11162016 Chincoteague NWR VA (c) Jim Clark_6

Backlit winged sumac leaves, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia. © Jim Clark

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NATURE’S VIEW: Still waters and golden light

Story and photography by Jim Clark

For a few years now I have taken my workshop attendees to explore Taylor Landing, an isolated historical boat landing located along Maryland’s lower eastern shore. With the scenic vista of Johnson Bay and the tranquility of a morning shoot, the landing has become a favorite.

A small bay that opens into the much larger Chincoteague Bay, Johnson Bay borders along the western shore of the coastal barrier island of Assateague. The water is protected on three sides, and, weather permitting, it can become very still and flat, with nary a ripple to be seen.

Autumn Morning @ Johnson Bay 11192016 Taylor Landing MD (c) Jim Clark_13

Pre-sunrise moment on Johnson Bay, Taylor Landing, Maryland. © Jim Clark

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NATURE’S VIEW : About Those “Sea” Gulls

Story and photography by Jim Clark

Birds have always been an important part of my life. At just ten years of age, I could identify birds not only by sight, but also by their songs, calls and even by habitat. There were not many days when I did not have my second edition of the Peterson Field Guide to the Birds within arm’s reach.

So imagine my confusion as a kid, at the beach with my family, hearing adults talking about a flock of sea gulls doing this or a sea gull doing that. Sea gull? I checked my trusty Peterson Field Guide, because I couldn’t remember anything about a species named sea gull.

I quickly learned that there is, in fact, no bird officially named sea gull. Yet, that term persists to this day. If there are sea gulls, then shouldn’t there also be river gulls, lake gulls, parking lot gulls and landfill gulls? There are not.

Sea gulls? No these are adult laughing gulls in breeding plumage, photographed at Assateague Island National Seashore, Virginia.                                                                                     © Jim Clark

Sea gulls? No these are adult laughing gulls in breeding plumage, photographed at Assateague Island National Seashore, Virginia. © Jim Clark

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NATURE’S VIEW: Taking a dive

Story and photography by Jim Clark

Within the North American avian universe, no other bird is like the belted kingfisher. Its look is distinctive. Identifiable by its large bill, chunky body and slate-blue plumage, the belted kingfisher is a common sight along any clear open body of water, whether that be freshwater or tidal.

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Female belted kingfisher at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia. © Jim Clark

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