Panama and Ethical Field Photography with Jennifer Leigh Warner

Have you ever wanted to travel to Central America and photograph exotic wildlife, such as Howler Monkey, Three-toed Sloth, or Toucan? Join conservation photographer Jennifer Leigh Warner in the Cocobolo Nature Reserve in Panama for this incredible opportunity to photograph species rarely seen anywhere else in the world, while learning valuable techniques on how to photograph your subjects more ethically.

Dates: March 16 – 23, 2019

Lead by: Jennifer Leigh Warner

Location: Cocobolo Nature Reserve, Panama

Price: $2,000 pp

Maximum Number of Participants: 10

Climbers, Crawlers and Flyers: A Guide to Ethical Nature Photography Workshop

Should Photographers Intervene in Nature?

Screen shot of The Times (UK) article about a film crew intervening in nature.

Screen shot of The Times (UK) article about a film crew intervening in nature.

If you saw an animal in the wild that appeared to be in distress, would you try to help? Would you report it to the authorities? Would you leave it alone, since it’s just nature being nature? As nature photographers, we are interested in conservation and generally love the animals we photograph. Is it our responsibility to let nature take its course, even if an animal dies? Is it our responsibility to save the animal? Or, does it depend on the specific situation?

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Has Instagram Changed Your Photography?

@nanpapix on Instagram

Are you following @nanpapix on Instagram?

We recently asked a cross section of NANPA members whether Instagram and its social media cousins had changed anything about their nature photograph and, if so, how.  Did it change their approach to photography, to sharing images, to marketing their business?  Did it change the type of images they created or the way they processed images?  We’ll be posting the answers in a series of blogs over the next few weeks.

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Don’t Miss NANPA’s Town Hall Meeting: Creating an Ethical Field Approach

Photo of photographers and a moose.

Learn about ethical nature photography practices in this month’s Town Hall Meeting.

There’s still time to register for NANPA’s next online Town Hall on Wednesday, October 24th, at 5 PM EDT.  Jennifer Leigh Warner, NANPA’s Ethics Committee chair, will help you learn how you can have a more ethical approach to photographing wildlife and how to better label your images so you can maintain public trust in the credibility of your images. Join us for this webinar where we will discuss some basic tips to approaching wildlife and how to properly label your images. We will also discuss what the NANPA Ethics Committee has been up to this year.

NANPA Town Hall Meeting: Creating an Ethical Field Approach
Presented by Jennifer Leigh Warner
October 24, 2018, 5pm EDT
Target Audience: Everyone

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Volunteer Profile: Daniel Dietrich

NANPA volunteer and ethics committee member Daniel Dietrich.

NANPA volunteer and ethics committee member Daniel Dietrich (and some precious cargo).

Volunteers are the life blood of membership organizations.  At NANPA and the NANPA Foundation, volunteers serve on committees, help plan conferences, present webinars, judge competitions and evaluate grant applications.  Volunteers serve on the Board of Directors and play other key roles in keeping NANPA vibrant, relevant and growing.

This is the third of an occasional series of volunteer profiles, saluting those whose hard work, ideas, passion and commitment benefit NANPA and its members.

NANPA recently had the opportunity to ask NANPA ethics committee member Daniel Dietrich a few questions about his volunteer experiences.

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Volunteer Profile: Jennifer Leigh Warner

Jennifer Leigh Warner

Jennifer Leigh Warner

Volunteers are the life blood of membership organizations.  At NANPA and the NANPA Foundation, volunteers serve on committees, help plan conferences, present webinars, judge competitions and evaluate grant applications.  Volunteers serve on the Board of Directors and play other key roles in keeping NANPA vibrant, relevant and growing.

This is the first of an occasional series of volunteer profiles, saluting those whose hard work, ideas, passion and commitment benefit NANPA and its members.

NANPA recently had the opportunity to ask Jennifer Leigh Warner a few questions about her volunteer experiences.

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Death of Moose Prompts Calls for Safe Wildlife Photography

News report of drowned moose.

New England Cable News report on a moose that drowned because it was frightened by excited tourists. (Screenshot)

Earlier in September, a moose drowned in Lake Champlain, Vermont, because of tourists.  Not directly: people didn’t go up and kill it.  Rather, it died as a result of what people did, or didn’t do.  After swimming from the New York shore to Grand Isle, in the middle of the lake, the moose came ashore.  Unfortunately, it came onto the island near a road and tourists, excited at the sight of a moose so close, got out of their cars and started snapping photos with their phones.  Sadly, the commotion frightened the moose back in to the lake.  Tired from its swim over from New York, the moose didn’t have enough energy left to cope with wind and waves and drowned shortly thereafter.

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From the President: Gordon Illg

Galapagos flycatcher landed on my finger because I was the tallest shrub around, Santiago/James Island, Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

Galapagos flycatcher landed on my finger because I was the tallest shrub around, Santiago/James Island, Galapagos National Park, Ecuador.

I love being close to animals. Their proximity reaffirms the fact that we are a part of nature, another thread in the tapestry of life, rather than something separate or apart from it. If my youth is any indication, this is an affinity we are all born with, but it gets lost if it’s not exposed to the right stimuli, wild stimuli. The first wild stimulus I’m aware of in my own upbringing was bears. My family was visiting Yosemite when I was three, and in those days the park had an open-air dump where bears would scavenge. Upon seeing the large animals, I set off running towards them, yelling, “Doggie, doggie!” My parents managed to overtake and control me before the bears could be traumatized by an overly enthusiastic toddler, but it was a near thing.

Being close to animals remains an incredibly precious experience for me, and it makes no difference what the species is—butterflies or bighorns, sea turtles or snakes, mice or moose (they’re all doggies to me). In Baja, I laid in the path of an approaching tarantula just to see what it would do, and to get some wide-angle shots, of course. After a few tentative steps on my arm, which was dry, flaky and hairy, the spider decided it did not care for the terrain and retreated to walk around me. Now approaching any creature closely is not something to be taken lightly. There is an element of danger involved any time you are near a wild thing, more for the subject than the photographer, for even if it’s the photographer who is injured, the animal will almost certainly be killed. And that’s one of the reasons NANPA decided to come up with some guidelines to help photographers make wise choices, ethical choices.

My degree is in Wildlife Biology, and I have worked at getting close to critters of all kinds for more than 50 years—50 years! Boy that makes me feel old—but even with that background, I know I would’ve benefitted from projects the Ethics Committee has tackled. In my early days as a nature photographer, the images I was trying to capture often took on a life or death level of importance to me. I’m sure I stressed subjects more than I should’ve and trampled things under my boots that I should’ve been more aware of. Three decades ago, there was rarely another person anywhere around me, so the impact I had was relatively light. Today, where one photographer goes, hordes are likely to follow, and our potential for disturbance and disruption is correspondingly greater. It’s been 20 years since NANPA first came out with a code of ethics for nature photographers, but the game has changed. And not only because there are so many more of us, but because newer research shows some of the old practices have the potential to harm the landscape or the creatures that live there. The original code of ethics is kind of paltry compared to the guidelines listed in the latest Ethical Field Practices, another indication of how much things have changed. Check it out. It’s worth looking over regardless of how experienced you are and how many covers you list on your resume. An ebook on ethical nature photography is also scheduled for release in the near future, and, with any luck, it will be out before the summit next February.

Another issue the Ethics Committee has worked on is the accurate captioning of images. At one time, this was something that pretty much only applied to editorial photography and contest entries. It was important to know if an animal or plant was captive, and if the photo had been manipulated in some way. There was a definite temptation to fudge the truth a bit just to get published or win a prestigious contest, and that temptation is still there. Not too many years ago, the winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest was caught using a captive subject for his winning image. At a time when we could have used both the money and the fame, my wife, Cathy, and I passed up an opportunity to have the cover of Defenders magazine by letting the editors know the wolverine they wanted had been photographed at a game farm. Not only was it the right thing to do, it wouldn’t have looked good for the person who wrote the original Truth in Captioning article for NANPA, as well as sitting in on the Truth in Captioning panel at the 1997 summit, to be caught cheating. Those were the early days of Photoshop, and its limits were still being tested. Today there is literally nothing that cannot be done to an image during processing. Between the incredible possibilities in photo manipulation and a new awareness of the nuances that exist between wild and captive, the Truth in Captioning Document is considerably more detailed than the one we arrived at back in 1997. Again, this something all of us should check out and be aware of.

These issues were not approached with the idea that NANPA is going to be a policeman or play referee, watching over all of our work to slap us down if we cross the line. The completed projects are there to help nature photographers better understand some of the implications of what they’re doing. We did not get into nature photography for the money or fame (if you did, you’re really barking up the wrong tree). We picked up a camera because we love nature, we love wildlife, and any help we can get is welcome, especially if it makes life easier for the wild landscapes and wild things that mean so much to us.

 

Truth In Captioning – An Interview with Melissa Groo and Don Carter

Photographs by Melissa Groo

Interview by David C. Lester

 

A Great Horned Owl in Fort Myers, Florida. © Melissa Groo

Although little introduction is needed, Don Carter is the president of NANPA, and Melissa Groo, in addition to being a world-renowned wildlife photographer, is chair of NANPA’s Ethics Committee.  Over the past several years, significant ethical considerations around nature photography have arisen, along with the need to honestly and accurately caption the details of images.

After several years of work, NANPA has developed a new “Truth in Captioning” statement that addresses these and other issues.  I recently sat down with Don and Melissa to talk about ethical considerations in wildlife photography, as well as the work done on this document.

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