Here are the articles you’ll find in the Fall 2021 issue of the
Journal of Wildlife Photography:
Welcome to the Fall 2021 edition of the Journal of Wildlife Photography.
We have passed the autumn equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. For those of us north of the equator, night is officially overtaking day. Temperatures are falling. Leaves are changing colors and have even begun to disappear entirely, depending on where one lives.
This is a season of change. The animal world is on the move. Migration is in full swing. Some five billion birds have left the North American boreal forest that stretches across the entirety of Canada and Alaska and are beginning to spill over into the tropics. Ruby-throated hummingbirds that grace so many people’s feeders across the eastern deciduous forests are popping up on the islands of Panama and Columbia. Osprey are arriving in Venezuela where this year’s chicks will stay for two full years, lounging around in cohune palms and dining on peacock bass, before taking wing again, homing in on the exact GPS coordinates of their birthplace thousands of miles to the north and making their trek across Mesoamerica and dispersing across the entirety of North America to begin the cycle all over again.
And then there is the rut.
From caribou and musk ox to moose and bighorn sheep, the annual autumn rut is one of the great wildlife spectaculars in the northern hemisphere.
Over here on this side of the pond, elk and moose have largely wrapped up their tournaments. Now, it’s time for the smaller species of the deer family. Whitetails, mule deer, and Pacific blacktails are preparing to square off and begin their annual fights for the hearts, minds, and breeding rights of the females.
I certainly hope you are ready!
By Cody Evans & Randy Robbins
The Journal of Wildlife Photography Facebook group (www.facebook.com/groups/journalofwildlifephotography) has grown by leaps and bounds in recent months, and every day in this space, wildlife photographers share truly stunning photos from the field. In each issue, we will highlight one or more images that caught the eye of Journal staff along with the photographers’ stories of how they captured and created their photos.
If you haven’t already, join the group! Share photos you’re proud of, and contribute to the community conversation. We’ll see you there.
I’m an amateur photographer from a small town in Ontario, Canada, and I started my journey in photography in January of 2020. I’ve always been fascinated with raptors, especially osprey (Pandion haliaetus), so I set out to capture the ultimate osprey dive photo…
By Joe McDonald
On an African safari, nearly everyone hopes to see and photograph the iconic wildlife, especially the Big Five: the lion, leopard, African elephant, African buffalo, and black rhino. The rest of the creatures are, to too many, just fillers, rounding out a trip’s portfolio, considered nothing more than a pleasant diversion as the photographer searches for the iconic species. But these other animals offer some exciting photographic opportunities as well. So let’s not talk about the Big Five or the iconic predators here; let’s consider the herbivores, the predators’ food, and how knowing what to look for in this interesting collection of mammals can transform a snapshot or record shot into an interesting image that captures behavior.
Antelope behavior might be a bit more subtle than that of the predators, but once you know what to look for, and capture those behaviors with your camera, those shots will have meaning and interest. For example, several species of antelope have large preorbital glands: black-looking depressions, pits, or grooves located just in front of the eye. They use these glands to mark territory by inserting a grass stem or twig into the gland and depositing a small, easy-to-miss black glob on the tip of the plant…
By Alyce Bender
I was surrounded by miles and miles of flatness. It really didn’t matter which way I decided to go or what area — it was going to be flat. This seemingly unending expanse is a common denominator in the environmental topography for the species I sought. The vast arid grassland prairie I faced in this particular instance was in northern Texas, part of the high plains region.
When I arrived on location in mid-July, I found no real shade to talk of, and wispy shimmers of heat rose from the ground — a perpetual nemesis of photographers. Surrounded by the oscillating rattle of dog-day cicadas (Neotibicen canicularis), all I wanted was a cold drink and a long nap. But the sharp telltale alert yips of the black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) brought my attention back to the field in front of me as I adjusted my hat to better shade my view.
The area around me was about half the size of a football field, covered in mature native grasses kept short by the expansive prairie dog population. Mounds of red soil, colored by the clay sediment, dotted the field in a random pattern. Each splash of color represented the industrious nature of the prairie dog town housed below…
By Gregory Basco
I hope you’ve enjoyed my series of articles discussing some of the more technical aspects of flash for nature photography in recent issues of the Journal of Wildlife Photography. As with any aspect of photography, it’s important that we have a solid conceptual foundation. And of course we need to know how to use our photography equipment in terms of menus and settings and functions. But this is not the end goal. Technique is simply the vehicle that takes us to the fun part — trying to take great photos of our favorite subjects.
There are four basic ways I like to use flash in my nature photography:
• One on-camera fill flash
• One off-camera fill flash
• One off-camera flash for macro
• Multiple off-camera flashes for remote setups, camera traps, hummingbirds, etc.
In the following pages, I’m going to take you through some examples of how I do it and the gear I like to use. These tips and techniques will work whether you’re in your backyard or traveling…
By Eli Martinez
Many years ago, when I first got into scuba diving, a friend warned me to stay away from whales. Once I got in the water with them, he said, I would become addicted and not want to dive with anything else. Well, he was sort of right. Of course, I still love diving with sharks and other ocean species, but I do admit, there is no greater thrill in the underwater world than seeing one of these great giants up close and personal.
Just seeing a whale from land or when you’re sitting on a boat is a thrill, but being in the water with one, or several, is just pure magic. You experience a rush of excitement deep down in your soul when you’re in the water and a 50-foot-long humpback whale swims by you, jolting you with the pressure wave created by its wake. Imagine having to duck out of the way as a baby sperm whale swims up to you, wanting to play. The feeling is so hard to define.
OK, now that I got the emotion of seeing whales out of the way, let’s talk about the challenge, excitement, frustration, and fun of photographing these iconic animals. Despite their size, whale photography is not easy. To capture a good image of a whale, you need to be close, but not too close and not too far. There’s a magic distance for capturing a nice shot, and it’s different for each whale…
By Kate Garibaldi
As a wildlife photographer, I strive not only to create beautiful imagery, but also to use my photographs to help tell the story of the wild animals that grace my lens. In a society where many people are completely disconnected from nature, photographs of wildlife are that much more important and powerful. I see a single photograph as a complete scene, like the stage of a play where the wildlife subject is the main actor and star of the show. Often forgotten but equally important is the background, which gives context to the scene and can often strongly enhance the story told.
Most wildlife photographs are tightly cropped intimate portraits or show the whole animal but not much of the space around it. Conventional photography rules teach us to remove distractions and clutter to hone in only on the subject in minimalism. In stark contrast, here enters the environmental portrait. This style of image both uses and breaks rules to go beyond the usual photograph, to become a different kind of image — one that speaks to the viewer and shows them a world they may not know. An environmental portrait is a photograph where the mindsets of wildlife and landscape photography collide.
In an environmental portrait, you pull back from the animal subject and give weight to the addition of more of its habitat and background. Often the wildlife is smaller in the…
By Jared Lloyd
If you are worried about what your camera settings are, then you are likely going about it all wrong.
No one wants to be told they’re doing it wrong.
But then again, if you’re doing it right, you aren’t thinking about these settings. You aren’t questioning what your settings should be. You aren’t experimenting with camera settings. You aren’t looking at settings on Facebook, hoping this will teach you something.
This isn’t your fault though. You have likely been trained to think this way.
From workshops to YouTube to camera clubs, spewing technical settings is the norm because it’s a whole lot easier than trying to help teach people to think for themselves — a systemic problem that certainly transcends wildlife photography…
By Clay Bolt
I spend a lot of time thinking about insects. I’ve been doing it for so long that sometimes I forget that the rest of the world isn’t doing the same thing. Even within the world’s leading conservation organizations, there is often a kind of blindness to the importance of insects and all they do to allow the world’s ecosystems to continue running smoothly.
A few years ago, I gave a presentation in Washington, D.C., to a group of leaders from one of the world’s leading conservation non-profits. The topic was North American native bees, and my personal goal was to encourage more consideration and acknowledgment of these insects in future conservation initiatives.
At the end of my presentation, the organization’s director of freshwater ecosystems came up to greet me with a big smile on his face. He was very complimentary about my photography and went on to express how, prior to that morning, he had had no idea just how amazing and beautiful insects were. He described them as jewels — as artwork, even — and said that he would never look at a bee in the same way again…
By Danielle Taylor
If you see or think you see an American dipper (Cinclus mexicanus) in the field, wait a moment for it to blink. When it does, this intriguing little bird’s eyes flash white thanks to tiny feathers on the skin of its eyelids. Biologists think this feature may help other wildlife better identify this relatively nondescript bird in its noisy streamside environment, or it could be used for communication in courtship, but as with many things in the natural world, science doesn’t know for sure.
As North America’s only truly aquatic songbird, the American dipper takes its name from the bobbing motion it makes as it catches all of its food underwater. Over the years, it has developed other unusual physical characteristics that allow it to dive, swim, and navigate the beds of fast-flowing streams along the western portion of North America. Its eyelids also feature nictating membranes that allow it to see underwater, and its nostrils have nasal flaps that close automatically when a dipper puts its face in the water and turns upstream. Also, extra hemoglobin creates more oxygen in a dipper’s blood, allowing it to stay underwater for 30 seconds or more…