Wanting to tell the ‘story of takeoff,’ I had been trying for two years to make a sequence of the sandhill crane shedding the earthly bounds that was in focus and sharp. It took many attempts, as the birds do not always travel parallel to the camera. In addition, trees, bushes or other birds can get in between the camera and the target during the sequence. Many, many files landed on the cutting room floor with either the wrong shutter speed or slight focus issue.
I always remind my group to keep their cameras out during our flight to or from Lake Clark National Park — you never know what you might see. On my last trip, as I sat in the back of the plane, I noticed the windows were especially clean. I pulled out my camera and started looking for interesting patterns in the deltas where braided rivers ran down from glaciers into Cook Inlet in southwest Alaska. I loved the browns and blues in this scene high above a river’s outflow.
Story and photos by Tom Haxby, NANPA Board President
It is an understatement to say that these are unprecedented times, but we nature photographers are a hardy bunch. We’re accustomed to physical and intellectual challenges in our pursuits of excellent visual stories. And this isn’t the first time we’ve weathered the need to re-imagine how we do business.
In short, you’ve got this, and NANPA is still here to help.
I arrived at Wakodahatchee Wetlands later than I had planned and knew I wouldn’t have long because of an impending storm. I grabbed my short, light Nikon 200-500mm lens, and walked slowly around the boardwalk hoping to find a quiet area where I could spend some time. Suddenly I spotted two Great Blue Herons interacting atop a tree. The male was attempting to entice a female with his elaborate stretch display, and she was playing hard to get. Fascinated I stopped to watch them just as serious bill duels erupted between the pair. Thunder began rumbling in the distance, and their long, flowing plumes were accentuated as the wind picked up. I was thrilled to witness this dramatic behavior which continued for a few brief moments signaling what I hoped would be the beginning of a strong bond leading to a successful breeding season.
While traveling in Costa Rica, I had the opportunity to photograph nectar bats in the rain forest at night. I set up my camera and lens with multiple flashes to provide the light necessary to produce this exposure. I sat in a chair a few feet away and watched them swarm the blossom. A couple of them even bumped into me!
The area within the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh, that our conservation programs are focused and where this shot was taken is a restricted area. I was required to apply for the permit, stay in a designated area for a very limited timeframe, and also to be accompanied by four policemen at all times. We were guided by our indigenous parabiologists to this small, remote Mro village and luckily were able to convince them to pose with these hornbills which were being reared by the family. This photo was taken to demonstrate the challenges for both wildlife and the local people.
A group of us were watching and photographing an Alaskan brown bear and her two cubs that were sparring and digging for clams in Lake Clark, AK. Having a soft spot for still life and close-up photography, I shifted to compose some deep tracks in the sand which I found most compelling when filled with water.
We were coming back to camp in Kruger National Park with friends from Johannesburg. It was getting late when this female leopard stepped onto the road and stared at us briefly before crossing into bushes on the other side. Surprisingly, she sat down calmly before disappearing. I had little time to think for this shot so I quickly supported my Nikon D4 and 200-400mm lens on the window ledge and began to shoot. At that moment I whispered to myself as I so often do with wildlife: “Turn your head, turn your head!” And she did. The moment was spellbinding.
I found this moulin while exploring under a glacier. Checking PhotoPills showed that the moving stars would match the sweep of the moulin perfectly so I came back on a clear night for the shot. After getting my exposure set for the stars I locked my shutter release open so it would shoot one image after another until the battery died. I sat outside the cave for safety (in case it collapsed during the 2.5 hour shoot) and to make sure I didn’t accidentally shine my headlamp and ruin the image.
This image was captured in late afternoon in early December, 2018. As the sun was setting I saw the light happening through the trees. I set up for this composition, captured several frames to adjust for the desired exposure and told myself that, if I could capture a couple of cranes flying between the trees, that would be ideal. The cranes were foraging through the grasses and would occasionally fly. These 2 provided just what I had pre-visualized and I captured the frame.