Here are the articles you’ll find in the Spring 2022 issue of the
Journal of Wildlife Photography:

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

I think that it’s safe to assume that we all know nature is under a full-scale war by our civilization. Some places, such as Great Britain, have lost 50 percent of their biological diversity according to the Natural History Museum in London. In North America, Cornell University reports that the continental bird population has declined 30 percent since the 1970s — meaning there are three billion fewer birds in the skies and the forests here than when most of you reading this were children. And thanks to the longest-running study on sharks in the world, we know that the populations of nearly every species of “great shark” (those reaching six feet or longer) in the Atlantic Ocean have declined by 99 percent over that same time frame.

And then there are the insects.

Do you like birds? What about mammals? How about amphibians? Flowers, perhaps? The produce you put in your belly? The fish on your plate? Or, put in a different way, do you like life as we know it?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then the fact that insect populations have collapsed by 75 percent over the last 50 years should give everyone reading this letter reason to grab their torches and pitchforks.

But statistics are just numbers. They are vague and faceless and ubiquitously ambiguous. Today, we are inundated with such numbers that represent the face of doom and gloom. We already know the sky is falling. Most of us have been told this since our earliest memories of such things. And it’s for this reason that numbers and facts and scientific reports have little to no impact on anyone these days.

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ABOUT THE COVER

Article and photo by Jared Lloyd

The French philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

For some reason, this is what always comes to mind when I am stuck in a blind three hours before sunrise in the middle of the sagebrush sea.

Everything about working a sage-grouse lek is an experience. It begins in complete darkness with a hike into a small pop-up blind you have staked down a few days before. If sunrise is at 7:30 a.m., you need to be in your blind by 4:30.

Imagine clambering about in the dark without a headlamp or flashlight for half a mile through pant-ripping sagebrush. You trip over roots and find one foot tangled up in a strand of rusted barbed wire, the remnant of some other time now long forgotten. You can’t make noise. You can’t use a light. And there is NEVER enough coffee in your system at this time of the morning…

CORRECTION
SUET RECIPE

by Ruth Hoyt

In the Winter 2022 issue, wildlife photographer and writer Ruth Hoyt shared insight into her practice of creating setups for bird photography in her article “The Perch Search,” and she included a recipe for homemade suet that she uses to attract birds to the perches she creates. The proportions we initially published were incorrect, and we have corrected them in the different digital editions of that issue, but we want to bring the corrected recipe to your attention here as well, especially now that it’s spring in the northern hemisphere and prime time to photograph birds.

Suet is a high-energy food that provides both protein from the peanut butter and animal fat from the lard. Birds and other wildlife easily digest and metabolize this introduced food source. The flour and cornmeal bind the peanut butter and lard into a mixture that doesn’t melt, even in the sun.

This recipe is designed for photography — its texture is smooth, and the suet can be smeared into the cracks and crevices on perches. For feeding in cake form, you can slightly reduce the proportions of flour and cornmeal and add raisins, shelled sunflower seeds, raw oatmeal, and any number of other ingredients…

COMMUNITY CAPTURE
Heron at Dawn

Story and photos by Gary Shaver

The Journal of Wildlife Photography Facebook group 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 grew up and worked in the Midwest of the United States my whole life, but when I retired, I decided to make my winter home somewhere far away from winter’s cold, so I chose to move to Florida during the coldest months of the year. I have always had an interest in wildlife photography, so I made myself a goal to capture some of the amazing Florida birds, spend time adding my fine-art photography look to the images, and be proud to hang them in my own home…

 

FEATURE
Meet Your (Wild) Neighbors

Article and photos by Clay Bolt

For the first nine years of my conservation photography career, I quietly worked away in the mountains of South Carolina (USA) near where I had grown up. It isn’t uncommon for people to be unaware of the state’s mountainous crown. In terms of wild beauty, South Carolina is known mostly for its beaches. However, in its western corner lies a remarkable place known locally as “The Blue Wall” for the way that the Southern Appalachian Mountains quickly rise, blue and somber, from the Piedmont’s greens and browns.

While not incredibly impressive in height today, these mountains are some of the world’s oldest and biologically richest. They were formed an estimated 480 million years ago when Africa slowly rammed its way into the eastern coast of what is now North America, pushing and buckling the land up like an accordion into peaks that were once as high as the Alps. Back then, the Rocky Mountains weren’t even a glimmer in the Earth’s eye and wouldn’t be for another 400 million years or so…

SPECIES OF SPECIAL CONCERN
OF MILKWEED AND MONARCHS

Article and photos by Alyce Bender

It was a bright, sunny day with a fickle breeze, just enough to throw off my focus every so often. Using a macro lens takes precision, and any air movement can complicate things. The brightly colored flowers danced as I listened for the papery rustle of fighting wings and scanned my surroundings for a glimpse of the iconic black and orange. People strolled by with children and prams through the manicured gardens that surrounded my shooting position. These are not the wild and unpopulated areas I usually find myself in when photographing endangered species. Here in the center of the seventh-largest city in the United States, within this urbanized metropolitan labyrinth of pavement, concrete, and glass, the San Antonio Botanical Garden is an oasis for one of the smaller endangered species of North America — the monarch butterfly.

SPECIES PROFILE AND HISTORY

The monarch may be North America’s most iconic and recognizable butterfly. Seven U.S. states even list the monarch as their state insect. A larger butterfly with a wingspan of three-and-a-half to four inches, monarchs are a tawny to yellow-brown orange with wide black vein lines and margins. White spots occur within the wing margins and are larger on the underside than on the top. The color, size, and shape of the wings vary slightly between eastern and western populations and migratory status. The adult butterfly’s body is black with white spots…

FEATURE
USING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY TO ADVANCE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

Article and photos by Tamara Blazquez Haik

Photography has become one of the most important tools for wildlife and nature conservation. Through this medium, people can learn about environmental and social issues, connect to a cause, and empathize with the subjects they see. Images can also inspire people to take action against climate change, habitat loss, animal cruelty, and many other problems facing the world today.

Conservation of wildlife and nature is important not just for said wildlife and nature, but for every single living being on the planet, ourselves included. However, in order to get people who are not involved in the science behind nature conservation to care about these issues, we need to bring these issues to the public eye. Scientific information can sometimes feel very abstract or be hard to understand, but images, even a single image, can be powerful enough to tell a whole story on an environmental issue. Photos can help people of all ages and backgrounds understand the severity of the environmental crisis we are facing and encourage them to make informed decisions and even take action to try and reverse the downward trend…

UNDERWATER PERSPECTIVES
DIVING AMONG BAIT BALLS

Article and photos by Eli Martinez

Whitecaps were starting to form, and the swells continued to build. It looked like the day was going to be a bust, but our boat captain was determined to find us a bait ball before he admitted defeat and called it a day. We were 100 kilometers out at sea off Mexico’s Magdalena Bay, and we had already spent four hours of pounding swells in an eight-meter panga, or boat. And so far, no bait balls.

All of us were destroyed and chilled to the bone from the pounding water, sea spray, and nonstop winds. My lower back was throbbing in pain, and deep down, I wanted to tell our captain to turn us around and head for home. We still had three-plus hours to get back to shore, and I admit, I feared the ride. But I held my tongue because I wanted to find a bait ball before going in. I silently kept asking myself, Is this all really worth the pain?

Finally, our captain spotted a lone frigate bird in the distance, gliding high in the sky. The direction in which it was flying had a purpose. It was definitely following something. Moments later, the frigate dove down to the ocean’s surface…

SOUTHERN EXPOSURES
THE LION: KING OF THE SAVANNAH

AFRICA’S BIG CATS: PART TWO

Article and photos by Joe McDonald

The lion (Panthera leo), Africa’s largest cat, is perhaps the most iconic of all of Africa’s wildlife. Almost everyone going on a safari for the first time hopes to see a great black-maned male, the trophy symbol of a successful trip. On subsequent safaris, for those lucky enough to return, ambitions for photographers might broaden to leopards or wild dogs or some other iconic creature for that most sought-after shot, but I can tell you, after more than 35 years of photographing African wildlife, lions are still my favorite.

In my last article, I touched upon the various behaviors of all of Africa’s big cats, and I concluded by saying that lions have so much to offer and that this cat deserves a more thorough examination. This article provides that closer look.

Let’s start our observation of lion behavior by discussing lions’ most obvious activity and the one you are likely to see most often: sleeping! It’s said that lions spend, on average, about 20 hours a day dozing or sleeping, and that behavior gets very old very fast, especially after you’ve seen your first couple of lions…

ILLUMINATING THE SUBJECT
TTL VS. MANUAL FLASH

Article and photos by Gregory Basco

I use a lot of flash, and I talk a lot about flash — in e-books and videos and on workshops and even at the dinner table. One of the questions I hear over and over is “Should we use TTL or manual flash for nature photography?” It’s a very good question, and I have a great answer: It depends!

Neither TTL nor manual flash is inherently better. They are simply different, and each can be beneficial depending on the situation. I’ll walk you through the basics of each mode and offer some guidelines for when to choose TTL or manual for your own nature photography flash work.

TTL FLASH

The most commonly used flash mode today is called TTL (through the lens). TTL is the method used for many flashes, from the built-in flash on a point-and-shoot camera to the flagship hotshoe flashes from major camera brands such as Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Olympus and major flash brands such as Godox, Phottix, and Yongnuo…

DID YOU KNOW?
RED-EYED TREE FROG

Article and photo by Jared Lloyd

When you are a red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas), you have a lot working against you during the daylight hours. Yes, you might be green. But you are also blue, and yellow, and bright orange. Then there are those eyes of yours. Big and red. And all of these colors — the yellow, the orange, and the red — instantly attract birds.

This means that sometimes you need to keep an eye out during the day. But to do so would mean flashing those giant red eyes like big juicy berries in a sea of green.

In order to compensate for this fact, red-eyed tree frogs have developed nictating membranes bisected by golden veins to help break up the big red globes that birds would see otherwise…

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