Photographing Wildlife With a Home-Made DSLR Camera Trap

Renous, River, New Brunswick (August 2007).

Renous, River, New Brunswick (August 2007).

Story & photos by Phil Riebel

A favorite hobby on my woodland property.

As a nature photographer I feel very fortunate to own forestland.  I regularly visit one of our properties on the border of the Renous River in Northern New Brunswick, about 35 minutes from where I live.  This is quite a wild area, dominated by forest with few people.

There are many nature photo opportunities here, including several species of mammals such as Moose, White-tailed Deer, Coyotes, Black Bear, Red Fox, Weasel, and Bobcat, just to name a few.  However, because they often avoid humans, it’s a challenge to get good photos of some of these species.

My small trailcam has allowed me to capture some photos and see what is around, but the quality of the photos is not great, especially when compared to a high-resolution DSLR.  That’s when I got the idea of building a DSLR camera trap based on discussions with colleagues and a bit of research.

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2019 NANPA Environmental Impact Award: Clay Bolt

Environmental Impact Award winner Clay Bolt.

Environmental Impact Award winner Clay Bolt.

For several years now we’ve been hearing about problems with bees.  Mass die offs.  Colony collapse disorder.  Potential shortages of hives for commercial pollination.  In 2013, after hearing about the troubles bees were having, Clay Bolt started photographing bees around his South Carolina home.  After posting photos of two tiny bees online, and finding people (even entomologists) couldn’t identify them, a new project was born, which led to Clay Bolt receiving this year’s Environmental Impact Award.

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Personal Photography Projects at the Nature Photography Summit

At one point or another, most photographers will embark on a personal project.  These projects are ways to more deeply explore a personal passion using photography, whether that be documenting how a single location changes throughout a year, looking for variations on a theme, or recording the health and vitality of a species or habitat.  Personal projects can be global or local, big or small, and most assuredly will provide a satisfying and challenging addition to your photography arsenal.

At NANPA’s Nature Photography Summit, February 21 – 23, in Las Vegas, you can take a deep dive into all aspects of personal projects.  That’s one more reason to register and get yourself (and your gear) to Vegas this month.  Sign up before preregistration closes at midnight, Eastern Time, on Monday, February 4th and take advantage of NANPA’s 25th birthday discount!  Use promo code “Happy25” for $75 off a member, non-member, or student full Summit registration.

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NANPA 2019 Outstanding Photographer of the Year: Florian Schulz

Outstanding Photographer of the Year Florian Schulz.

Outstanding Photographer of the Year Florian Schulz.

The Outstanding Photographer of the Year Award goes to an individual who has demonstrated unquestioned skill and excellence as a nature photographer through his or her past work and who has produced extraordinary recent work of significance to the industry.  That would be a pretty good description of the career of Florian Schulz, the 2019 Outstanding Photographer of the Year.

Schulz is a photographer, filmmaker, speaker and teacher, specializing in wildlife and conservation photojournalism. He is a Senior Founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and serves on the iLCS board. He’s been published in publications like National Geographic magazine and is an in-demand speaker.

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Five Big Reasons to Get a Portfolio Review

Portfolio reviews are an essential part of growing as a photographer.

Portfolio reviews are an essential part of growing as a photographer.
Sign up for one at NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit and Trade Show.

A portfolio review is when a professional photographer, photo editor or agent examines and critiques your carefully-curated portfolio of top images.  Reviews are often available at photo conferences, including NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit and Trade Show, where you can sign up for a portfolio review with one of more than 20 top-notch photography professionals.  But, why would you want to do this?

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2019 NANPA Emerging Photographer Award: Sebastian Kennerknecht

Sebastian Kennerknecht photographing on coast, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Sebastian Kennerknecht photographing on coast, Skomer Island National Nature Reserve, Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom

Conservation photographer and iLCP Associate Fellow Sebastian Kennerknecht will receive NANPA’s 2019 Emerging Photographer Award at the 2019 Nature Photography Summit and Trade Show, February 21-23 in Las Vegas, NV. This award (formerly the NANPA Vision Award) is “given to an emerging photographer in “recognition of excellence and serves to encourage continuation of vision and inspiration to others in nature photography, conservation, and education.”

Among the criteria for this award are “a commitment to achieving a positive impact upon nature photography, and the conservation and protection of the natural world; plus the education of the general public about conservation and nature issues.” The awards committee noted that Kennerknecht is “emerging as an important wildlife photographer, especially in the area of wild cats, and species that have not been widely documented. His focus on ethical field practices and species conservation is a model that many other photographers should follow.  His frequent and smart use of social media to share his imagery and message are constantly growing in popularity, ensuring that he is truly advocating for the power and need of high quality nature photography.”

Kennerknecht’s work in photographing and documenting wild cats, both well- and little-known species, and his work with scientists, conservationists and social media to educate the public, make him an ideal recipient for this award. We were fortunate to ask Sebastian a few questions in between his travels.

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What Winning NANPA Foundation’s Philip Hyde Grant Means

 

Cullinan Ranch levee breach - The 1500 acre Cullinan Ranch was purchased by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as part of San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge in 1991. It was diked off from tidal action and drained in the 1800’s to grow oat hay. It is now being restored for endangered species and other wildlife.

Cullinan Ranch levee breach – The 1500 acre Cullinan Ranch was purchased by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as part of San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge in 1991. It was diked off from tidal action and drained in the 1800’s to grow oat hay. It is now being restored for endangered species and other wildlife.

Story and photographs by Beth Huning, 2011 Philip Hyde Grant Recipient

As photographers, many of us are good at telling our conservation stories through imagery.  We use our photos to support projects that protect or restore the earth, its ecosystems, and inhabitants. Philip Hyde was a pioneer in using photographs for conservation and I have long admired his achievements. A native Californian, he was passionate about protecting the American West, and his photographs were influential in many conservation campaigns.

From the Editor: Applications for the 2018 Philip Hyde Grant and the 2018 Janie Moore Greene Grant are encouraged and will be accepted through midnight, October 31st. Details are at the end of the article.

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From the Archives — In Our Yard

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.

Story and Photography by Amy Shutt

Alstroemeria psittacina 'Parrot Lily'

Alstroemeria psittacina ‘Parrot Lily’ © Amy Shutt

 

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

PHOTOGRAPHER PROJECT: Teaching Teens under Holiday Lights by Lynda Richardson

Students pose for me before we start shooting in the garden.

Students pose for me before we start shooting in the garden.

Teaching teenagers is both challenging and incredibly fulfilling. Challenging because you are competing against their unformed brains, their increased awareness, and the distraction of the opposite sex as well as today’s “must have” electronic devices. If teens aren’t fully engaged in what you are teaching, you can forget about it. I had worked with only adults for the past 30-plus years, so when I started working with teenagers four years ago, I had a lot to learn about teaching. (More on the fulfilling part later.)

One of my favorite workshops to give is photographing the winter holiday lights display at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia. What seems like millions of lights are hung over the entire garden, and each year carries a different theme. What I love about this workshop is that you can throw caution to the wind and just have fun working with color and long exposures to create wild and exciting images that are always a surprise. There is a lot of laughing and sharing, and teenagers and adults alike enjoy the heck out of it.

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NATURE’S VIEW – Embracing Out-of-focus Photography, Story and photographs by Jim Clark

I tend to get stuck in my ways for photographing landscapes: sharp and focused. But I’ve started experimenting with another technique that I refer to as ambient light painting.

Ambient light painting may not be what you think. It is not using artificial light sources at night to paint light on a tree, old barn or other subject. Instead, ambient light painting uses both natural light and slow camera movements to create abstract compositions. The results can be something resembling a Monet painting.

When I discovered how much my students embraced this technique, I decided to include it in my workshop resources to help them develop their own vision of nature. Turns out, ambient light painting is fun for them, and that fits right in with my goal to get folks to love nature through their photography.

Autumn Forest, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, West Virginia. © Jim Clark

Autumn Forest, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, West Virginia. © Jim Clark

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