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.
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 →
Photography, like life, is a non-stop learning experience. While we should not take ourselves too seriously, it is still good to pause and reflect on your journey now and then. Recalling all the mistakes you made, and why you made them, helps you get ready for those still ahead. Often those mistakes start out as myths – received wisdom that ends up working poorly for you. These are some of mine:
1.) The more photos I publish, the better.
You will produce some poor work. Get used to it, but develop a critical eye and ruthlessly bury it.
We all know people who talk too much and tend to say foolish or inappropriate things, and we hope like hell that’s not us. Yes, there are times to speak, but it is wise to first listen and think, and doing that you are more likely to say something meaningful or memorable.
It is no different with your photography. You make your reputation on the images you put out there for people to see, so you want to be very, very careful that what you publish is consistent with the photographer you want to be. The great danger with publishing on the Web – web sites, album sites, social media – is that it is far too easy and tempting to publish way too much and in doing so, publish work that is not your best. Even a small amount of mediocre work in your portfolio is enough to tell people that you are not a judge or producer of great photography. Continue reading →
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.