Winter 2022 Issue
Winter 2022 Issue
Here are the articles you’ll find in the Winter 2022 issue of the
Journal of Wildlife Photography:
In this issue of the Journal, we begin to wade into the topic of ethics in wildlife photography. But before we do so, we should talk about what exactly this means, because there is a considerable degree of confusion that surrounds the concept of ethics in our modern world.
Above all else, it’s important to understand that ethics change. They evolve. They devolve. They shift sideways. They are organic. And most importantly, they are also very personal.
Today, many people expect to be told what is and what is not ethical as if ethics were a set of rules or laws handed down to them like the Code of Hammurabi. Ethics are, by their very nature, personal opinions as to how a person or a specific group of people should think about behaviors that impact others.
For many centuries, societal institutions have asserted that an ethical life was one in which you did what God or Allah or Yahweh, for instance, instructed you to do. From this, we see the creation of the top-down approach to ethics. A higher power decides what is and what is not right, ultimately freeing us of the responsibility of considering some of the tougher questions for ourselves…
By Izzy Edwards & Ethan Beckler
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 am an 18-year-old nature photographer based in Longbranch, Washington, USA. My devotion to animals and the arts started when I was very young — I’ve been drawing animals since I could hold a pencil and took on the professional camera and lens at the age of seven…
Article and photos by Ruth Hoyt
Most nature photographers who visit my region of Deep South Texas are interested in capturing photos of beautiful birds in attractive settings — what we in the business call “cover shots,” i.e., photos worthy of gracing the cover of a magazine or printed, framed enlargements that might hang in a prominent place on someone’s wall. These are not the typical “bird-on-a-stick” kind of photos; if the bird IS posed and sitting still on a perch, you will notice that there is something more to the photo than that! This calls for what I have named the all-important “perch search.”
Rather than chasing birds while hiking, I frequently employ techniques involving setting up natural, temporary perches for birds to use while I photograph them from a photo blind. There are pros and cons to either practice. When I hike, I prefer enjoying the actual hike rather than carrying heavy gear and trying to capture images of elusive birds. When working from a photo blind, I attract the birds to my unique perch setups and believe I capture better photos of relaxed birds…
We stopped to photograph a kopje, a conglomeration of boulders forming mini-ecosystems in Serengeti’s seemingly endless sea of grass. “Kopje” means “little heads,” and I guess that’s an apt description as these rock formations look somewhat like heads popping up across the grasslands, but we think of them as islands. Here, in sheltered crevices and ledges, lions, leopards, and cheetahs often come to find a protected shelter to have their litters, and from the tops of these mounds of rocks, these same predators stand watch, scanning the surroundings for potential prey.
I’m writing this report while still on safari, and my memories are still fresh and vivid. On this particular day, while we were looking for the big cats we were also pausing frequently to, as I say, “smell the roses,” taking the time to photograph, and to enjoy, whatever struck our fancy, be that a kori bustard, black-backed jackal, or a beautiful pile of granite rocks framed against an array of massive clouds.
While we were shooting, my wife, Mary Ann, spotted a caracal (Caracal caracal), the fourth-largest of the African savannah cats, as it trotted up a sloping rock face. We hurried to get closer, stopping a moment for some fast shots when the cat paused before continuing up and over the top of the kopje…
Feeding wildlife has always been a touchy subject, but it’s incredibly controversial when it involves feeding predatory species like wolves, bears, and in the underwater world… sharks.
This subject has always been a hot topic for debate, and understandably so. We do, and should, ask ourselves and others questions regarding the ethics of this practice. Why are we feeding these animals, or why aren’t we? Should we feed these animals? Are we changing their behavior? And most importantly, what danger does this activity pose for both the animals and humans involved?
The first thing we should look into is the reason and motivation behind any potential baiting situation. Why do we feed wildlife, specifically predators? The main reason to bait any predatory species is to hunt the animal. Some hunters hunt with guns and rods and reels. However, we photographers hunt animals to capture images of them, and many of us use those for greater conservation purposes. I like our reason better…
Winter is beautiful. It is a time of rest and reflection. It’s “fa-la-la-la-la and all that jazz,” as Lucy quips in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Here in Montana, it is also our longest season, or so it seems, with snow falling on and off for eight months out of the year.
For many wildlife photographers, winter can be incredibly productive. This is the time of following tracks, of photographing foxes diving headfirst into a snowbank, or seeking great gray owls dusted with fresh powder. However, for the macro photographer, especially those of us who usually turn our lenses to insects and other invertebrates, it’s the beginning of a seasonal slump. At least it can be, that is, unless we know where to look.
Growing up in the southeastern U.S., I was accustomed to humid, subtropical summers and mostly mild winter weather that only lasted from November through early April. This is a climate perfect for insect life and its fan club. However, the bountiful summers made me lazy, and by the time winter rolled around, I felt oddly relieved that I could stop shooting for a time. It was an embarrassment of riches in the form of nearly nonstop bugginess…
Oh-dark-thirty and there was a light crunching of the leaves outside my tent. The rhythmic sound of vegetation being ground between teeth told me this was a herbivore, and the sound of it shuffling around told me it was a large one at that. Having prepared for this situation, I had my camera ready to go and slipped out of my sleeping bag and into an extra sweater as dawn approached on this chilly autumn morning. I didn’t want to startle the creature, so I let it move off a bit before I slowly exited my shelter, camera in hand, and set off to create the images I had dreamed would come if I was lucky enough to have an encounter like this.
Over the next hour, I walked alongside what was considered to be the second-largest bull moose (Alces alces) in the Tetons that season. I modulated my positioning and speed to give the massive animal a respectful distance, never pushing or rushing so as to not disturb his morning foraging. Since he had come through camp so early, few others had witnessed his presence, and thus I was essentially on my own with him until the sun rose above the horizon. He ventured down to the nearby river where he proceeded to investigate different scents laid along the bank…
The inverse square law is a fundamental concept in flash photography. It describes the rate at which light falls off or decreases as it moves away from the source. It can get complicated for sure, and I’m going to get into how the inverse square law actually works because I think you’ll find it interesting. More importantly, though, I’m going to give you some tips and shortcuts so that you can use the basic concept of light falloff quickly and effectively with flash in your own nature photography. Let’s do it!
HOW THE INVERSE SQUARE LAW WORKS
Light, for photographers, is electromagnetic radiation of medium wavelengths. Toward one side of the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation types are shorter-wavelength X-rays and ultraviolet light. On the other are longer wavelengths that make infrared, microwaves, and radio waves. It’s only that small portion in the middle of the wavelength spectrum that’s detectable by the human eye, and this is what we call visible light…
To photograph the lives of wildlife is to get to know them and document them, preferably in a way that tells their story. By researching how the weather triggers and affects their life cycles, such as nesting in spring or migrating in winter, you harness the knowledge to photograph them by design rather than happenstance. Then, you can further by understanding what they eat or what eats them and how that changes due to seasons throughout each year, and you can understand what motivates their very survival. Through this planning, you can select moments that inspire you to create and build your portfolio.
In the eastern United States, the cold chill of winter seems to slow time. As the days grow short, night takes over the landscape. In this land of four seasons, the Susquehanna River threads through the mid-Atlantic region. I planned a trip one year on the winter solstice when I knew the river would be frozen over except at the Conowingo Dam in northeastern Maryland…
As one of the least vividly colored poison dart frogs, the common name for the lovely poison dart frog (Phyllobates lugubris) is a bit of a misnomer. However, despite its comparatively nondescript appearance, this intriguing little frog is worth a second look.
See that bump on this frog’s back? That’s a tadpole catching a ride. After fertilizing a female’s eggs in a nest of dry leaf litter, the male frog of this species will stand guard over his brood for nine to 14 days until the tadpoles hatch, periodically urinating on the eggs to keep them moist and viable. Once the tadpoles emerge, he transports them on his back to nearby forest streams where they continue their development into legged…