Olympics Shed Light on Pressure to Succeed

Photo of a female moose crossing a body of water. The water comes up to her knees. There is a forest background. Moose are one of my favorite animals to photograph, and I spend quite a bit of money and time while racking up miles on my truck looking for them. Is it worth it? It is for me personally. © Dawn Wilson
Moose are one of my favorite animals to photograph, and I spend quite a bit of money and time while racking up miles on my truck looking for them. Is it worth it? It is for me, personally. © Dawn Wilson

By Dawn Wilson, NANPA President

A couple of weeks ago, I had a very personal conversation with a friend and fellow photographer about photographer burnout. We discussed where she was with her photography, why she was feeling like she wasn’t achieving her goals, the pitfalls of comparing your own work to other photographers, the thoughts of walking away from photography, and the source of all this stress and concern.

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Are You Physically Prepared for Field Work?

The Nature Photographer episode #17 on Wild & Exposed podcast

There are lots of ways to prepare your body for field work, even a simple daily walk on uneven terrain can help. © Jason Loftus

Dawn Wilson, Ron Hayes, Jason Loftus, and Mark Raycroft talk about daily hikes, canoeing, cycling, or even hiring a personal trainer for targeted HIIT training to prepare for the unique demands of a specific trip. How do you prepare for rugged terrain, high elevations, heavy camera gear, or simply staying hydrated? Hear how these photographers build endurance and strength and reduce the risk for injury for those grueling days when the pedometer hits 20,000 steps. “The more fit that you can be and the more prepared that you can be, the better your opportunities are.”

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What About Used Gear?

The Nature Photographer episode #16 on Wild & Exposed podcast

In this episode, the team tackles a listener-submitted question. Bob wants to buy a 600mm lens, but the price is steep…should he consider a used one? Find out what criteria our co-hosts use to answer that question for themselves, what kind of research they do on used gear and sellers they don’t know, and why the answer for a glass purchase might be different than a camera body. Plus, how having a solid network helped Ron get a $12,000 lens for $3,000, how “refurbished” differs from used, and other options you might not have considered.

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Eye Tracking or Single-Point AutoFocus?

The Nature Photographer episode #15 on Wild & Exposed podcast

Dawn Wilson, Ron Hayes, Jason Loftus, and Mark Raycroft tackle another listener question in this short episode. With newer mirrorless cameras, do you still use single-point autofocus and anticipate the location of the animal’s eye? Hear which mirrorless cameras have the best eye tracking functions and in which situations it works best. Plus, find out why Mark is a late adopter of new technology and what even the mirrorless users in this group are doing in high risk/high reward situations in the field. You’ll also hear about a Canon April Fools’ Day joke that actually came to fruition.

Sometimes the camera chooses a bit differently than I would…it’s still just a tool for the photographer.

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Giving Pause featuring Clay Bolt

The Nature Photographer episode #14 on Wild & Exposed podcast

Fuzzy-horned bumble bee (Bombus mixtus), Idaho © Clay Bolt

Conservation photographer Clay Bolt tells Dawn Wilson, Ron Hayes, and Mark Raycroft how he learned about the rusty-patched bumble bee and why he got involved in efforts to get it added to the Endangered Species list. Find out how this bee stopped the Atlantic Coast pipeline, what you can do in your own community to support native pollinators, and which SNL Weekend Update joke hit close to home for Clay. Plus, hear what happened when Clay and Eli Wyman went to Indonesia in search of Wallace’s giant bee—a species that hadn’t been seen in more than 35 years—and why your mobile phone may be the best conservation tool around. 

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The Things We Do for Love featuring “The Grebe Whisperer” Krisztina Scheeff

The Nature Photographer episode #12 on Wild & Exposed podcast

Krisztina Scheeff is known as “The Grebe Whisperer” around her home base of Lake Hodges in San Diego County, California, where she’s been studying and photographing Western and Clark’s grebes’ elaborate courtship rituals that include “rushing” or walking on water. Krisztina offers Dawn, Mark, and Michael insight into bird behavior, how workshops have changed since COVID 19, and how she chooses destinations for her photography tours—like her regular trips to rural Scotland and Ireland for dramatic landscapes, puffins, and, admittedly, the local pubs. She’s also got some packing advice, including why she travels with a tarp to lay on when working around birds. 

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Wildlife and Wild Lives featuring Joe and Mary Ann McDonald

The Nature Photographer episode #11 on Wild & Exposed podcast

Bengal Tiger © Joe and Mary Ann McDonald

2021 NANPA Lifetime Achievement Award winners Joe and Mary Ann McDonald have been studying, photographing, and writing about wildlife together for nearly 35 years. They’ve photographed the Seven Big Cats of the World four different years, and both have won in the prestigious BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. In this episode, Joe and Mary Ann talk candidly with NANPA’s Dawn Wilson and Wild & Exposed‘s Mark Raycroft and Ron Hayes about their 107 treks—”so far,” Mary Ann is quick to add—to photograph mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Plus, hear what they’ve been photographing at home in Hoot Hollow during the pandemic and why they like Olympus gear.

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Showcase 2021 Winner: Dawn Wilson

The processed legs of a bison (Bison bison) sit in a cart after being slaughtered outside of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming for wandering outside of the park boundaries. 2021 Showcase, First Runner-Up, Conservation © Dawn Wilson
The processed legs of a bison (Bison bison) sit in a cart after being slaughtered outside of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming for wandering outside of the park boundaries. 2021 Showcase, First Runner-Up, Conservation © Dawn Wilson

Artist’s statement

Back in the early days of the pandemic, I had just received notification that my home state of Colorado was considering putting stay-at-home orders in place. I was visiting Yellowstone National Park when I heard the news, so I scrambled to pack up and head home. As I left the hotel, I found a trailer of bison parts—heads on the bottom, legs missing hooves in the center, and these plastic-wrapped legs tied to the sides. It was so disturbing, yet I couldn’t help but ponder what I was seeing. In the winter, when bison leave the safety of the park and venture into the surrounding ranches, they can be slaughtered because they may transmit brucellosis to domesticated cows. It seems such a horrid thing to do to animals just looking for food away from the deep snows of Yellowstone. Seeing the fresh carcasses made my gut wrench in pain and sadness.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photo of a male cardinal perched on a branch. A northern cardinal, referred to by my Louisiana family as a red bird, poses for a Valentine’s Day portrait. I used my time in Louisiana over the holidays to practice my backyard bird photography from a blind. I don’t have land in Colorado, so it was a nice change to sit in a blind, and a great way to improve my bird photo skills.
A northern cardinal, referred to by my Louisiana family as a red bird, poses for a Valentine’s Day portrait. I used my time in Louisiana over the holidays to practice my backyard bird photography from a blind. I don’t have land in Colorado, so it was a nice change to sit in a blind, and a great way to improve my bird photo skills.

Story and photos by Dawn Wilson, NANPA President

I hope everyone is surviving and thriving into the New Year. There are certainly signs of hope on the horizon for many aspects of our world. The vaccines are being distributed and the pace of that is picking up. Our new administration has set forth goals to advance environmental justice and listen to science. And the team at NANPA has many, many great things coming in the next few months.

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Happy Holidays!

Two brown bears play along the beach of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska on my 2019 brown bear photo workshop. My 2020 workshop was canceled and I am hopeful the 2021 workshop will go as planned.
Two brown bears play along the beach of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska on my 2019 brown bear photo workshop. My 2020 workshop was canceled and I am hopeful the 2021 workshop will go as planned.

Story and photos by Dawn Wilson, NANPA President

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and opted to be outside for Black Friday.

As the year comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect back on the ups and downs of the year.

Because of the coronavirus, our lives came to a standstill early in the year and plans significantly changed and evolved. They still keep changing, and planning for 2021 remains difficult.

All of my workshops were canceled or postponed to 2021, as were many for our members. All of my in-person classes were canceled, but Zoom provided an alternative that opened up the ability to teach to a larger audience (and reconnect via happy hours with my sorority sisters back in New Jersey and other states).

We were ordered to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID, yet it became a business opportunity to sell masks with my photos.

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