What turns a bird picture into a work of art? A magazine recently asked me and other photographers who had been honored by Audubon that question. I’m certain we gave them enough material to fill a how-to book. But they were looking only for a short article, so little of it ended up in print. Here’s what would have gone into my chapter.
Thursday, September 30, 2021
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
There’s a lot about nature photography that’s difficult. Fighting uncooperative equipment. Braving intense weather. Conquering tough trails. But one of the most difficult aspects is standing around, doing nothing, as nature does what nature does.
If you watch many nature documentaries, you may be under the impression that photographers get excited the moment they see animals struggle for their lives. Struggle seems to be a necessary part of life and it can result in dramatic images. While documenting that struggle can be a necessary part of my job, it is a part that, frankly, sucks.
Let me tell you about an afternoon I spent observing the nest of a pied-billed grebe.
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
For the past month my grilling tent has been a nursery. A pair of songbirds, dark-eyed juncos, decided to try to raise a family in it.
I don’t have any great pictures to show you. Given that I am a nature photographer, that may seem odd, but their little lives are far more valuable than any pictures I might make.
Sunday, February 28, 2021
When I launched the 5 Minutes in Nature project, I purposely avoided talking about specific plants or animals. This project is about finding your own connections to the natural world. I also didn’t want to suggest something that you would never see in your own area.
But today, I’m going to introduce you to the chickadee. It’s a fascinating bird. And you can find it almost everywhere. You can likely even find it now before other birds arrive for the spring.
Monday, February 15, 2021
Have you ever taken the time to observe how many different types of birds use your yard? In this 5 Minutes in Nature activity, we’ll venture out to appreciate the variety of birds and see how they get along.
This post is part of the 5 Minutes in Nature project, a series of quick activities designed to help you relax and build a deeper relationship with nature — a few minutes at a time.
Monday, January 25, 2021
I suspect for most people, ducks are the first wild creatures they remember encountering. Ducks are everywhere and some species, like the mallard, don’t show much fear toward people — probably because we have a reputation for tossing bread at them.
We now know we shouldn’t give them bread. It’s like junk food for them, making them feel full without giving them the nutrients they need. But it’s still fun to watch them feed. Take five minutes to study them.
Monday, November 30, 2020
If you’re in one of the many communities that are returning to stay-at-home orders, you might find some enjoyment in appreciating how social some animals are this time of year.
This post is part of my 5 Minutes in Nature project, a series of short activities designed to help you relax and feel closer to nature. Numerous studies have found that spending even a few minutes outdoors is good for our well-being.
Sunday, June 30, 2019
Friday, March 31, 2017
As I write these words, more than a quarter-million people are watching a live Internet video stream of a captive giraffe that’s about to give birth. Or so they think. April’s keepers have been saying she’s due for a couple of months now.
I’m not much of a giraffe-cam groupie. I’ve seen a few minutes of the video every now and then as I scrolled down my social media feeds. But as a nature photographer, I realized I have a lot in common with those people who’ve been hanging on for her every tail flinch.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
There is no one today who has witnessed the spectacular migration of the passenger pigeon. The last bird died more than 100 years ago, but decades earlier their numbers had dwindled so much that they were no longer able to eclipse the sun.
Today, there is a similar spectacle. But just like when the passenger pigeons were in their prime, relatively few people appreciate the show.
Friday, July 31, 2015
It may be hard to believe, but there are still a few wondrous places on Earth where animals aren’t afraid of people. With word this week that a hunter with more money than compassion brutally slaughtered a lion from one of these special places, I’m afraid we’re about to lose another.
I’ve never photographed a lion in the wild, but like most nature photographers who’ve ventured very far off the beaten track, I’ve had my share of absolutely magical encounters with wildlife. One that has had a dramatic impact on my view of animals and our relationship with them happened nearly 10 years ago on my first trip to Iceland.