About a decade ago the Yellowstone Association Institute offered a series of Master Artist workshops in the park. I was lucky enough to be accepted into a class with one of my favorite wildlife painters, Robert Bateman. Over the course of three days in Mammoth, the renowned artist captivated participants with stories, demonstrations, and instruction on how to better portray the natural world in our chosen medium.
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.
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/
Editor’s Note: While spring 2018 is struggling to make its appearance through much of the United States, we can already look in our backyards and see the early signs that it’s on the way. Our backyards are always one of the best places to look for flowers, birds, and occasionally, something larger. This post by Amy Shutt appeared in 2014, and what she describes sounds like the ultimate back, front, and side yards for observing wildlife.
We live on 7.5 acres of land in a little town in Louisiana. Although I’ve only been here for a few years, my husband, an ornithologist, has been living here for quite some time. It’s 95% woods. He gardens the area around the house exclusively for hummingbirds and the rest is untouched. Yep, we are the eccentric neighbors with the overgrown yard with signs designating the ditch in the front as a ‘Wildflower Area’ so the city won’t cut or spray.
I see swamp rabbits almost daily. We have deer…and deer ticks. I have heard foxes in the darkness just off the driveway in the woods. We have enjoyed listening to coyotes howling in unison. Barred owls belt out their crazy calls nightly. Prothonotary Warblers nest in boxes we make for them around the house and in the woods. Point is, it’s pretty cool out here and we share this land with a lot of critters and plants. Continue reading →