Here are the articles you’ll find in the Spring 2021 issue of The Journal of Wildlife Photography:

Shutter Speed and Flash: One of Life’s Great Mysteries Explained
By Greg Basco

On my photo workshops in Latin America, we use a lot of flash. In the rainforest, that’s out of necessity because we are often faced with either low light or harsh light. In the more open ecosystems of Latin America, say the high Andean plains, the Atacama Desert, or the vast spaces of Patagonia, flash is not necessary but still opens up new problem-solving and creative avenues.

There’s a lot to unpack when using flash for nature photography wher-ever we roam. But one of the main sources of confusion among my clients centers around the fact that shutter speed does not affect flash exposure. You might think that diving into this issue is an es-oteric endeavor, but comprehending why this is true actually serves as a cornerstone for taking our flash skills beyond the basics. By un-derstanding flash in temporal terms, we can effectively, consistent-ly, and confidently use flash to portray time and motion in our nature photography. To help us wrap our heads around this issue, I will be introducing you to a concept I call “flash/ambient ratio.” Yeah, it’s going to get a little weird, but it’s worth the ride…

By Alyce Bender

There’s nothing quite like the quiet of the desert. Bird song is sparse in many areas, and yet this allows for the wind to be heard as it whispers softly across the earth. Days that get well above 80°F often start cool, with warm pastel light warning of the heat to come. But there is life out here if you know when and where to look.

In early spring, camped in the shadows of high red rock formations, I had just woken to enjoy the peace of the campground before others were about. Little wind meant there was little to cover the small sounds of things like the snoring coming from a few spots over or the scurry of a small rodent just out of eyesight in the brush. Yet, when looking around, taking in the botanical smells and fresh air of a new day, I realized I wasn’t the first up…


by Clay Bolt

I’m feeling a lot of pressure right now. This is my first column for the Journal of Wildlife Photography, and had I really hoped to kick things off on a peppy note: Nature is beautiful; a camera is your passport into the wilderness; was that a butterfly’s wing whispering on the wind? I’m grasping at straws.

Maybe it would be best to tell you what’s on my mind. If I could get just a few things off my chest here at the start, I’d feel better. You could even skip to the end if you’re only interested in a feel-good factoid to share with your friends. I can’t promise that it will help you out one bit though. I’ve often been reminded that the best things are found while slogging through the mud. Won’t you wade in with me?

A career in conservation photography is difficult. Those of us who work in this field likely pursued it because of a love of nature or concern for the future of our planet, or out of fear that our own species won’t be able to survive if we don’t smarten up. We are driven by our passions, but waking up every day and fighting to justify why the things we love most should be allowed to live on can be demoralizing. Obsessive tendencies help…


by Eli Martinez

Shooting with strobes is easily the most popular way to capture professional images in an underwater environment. There are considerable benefits to this method, and when done right, the images taken will jump off the page. However, you can capture images with a more natural look and a less intrusive approach to underwater wildlife: shooting with ambient light. It’s a less popular way of capturing underwater images because it has some limits, but if done right, using nature’s light can offer you stunning results.

First, let’s look at what happens to light underwater. Water is much denser than air, about 800 times as much, which causes it to absorb light. The deeper you go, the more light loss you will experience, and because of this, color loss happens…


by Joe McDonald

With spring and ever-increasing COVID-19 vaccinations, travel, particularly international travel, may soon be on the horizon. For one non-human mammal in particular, that international travel is already taking place, as upwards of one million white-bearded wildebeest (AKA gnus) are presently undergoing their annual migration from the lower reaches of Tanzania’s Serengeti to the grazing plains of Kenya’s Masai Mara. That migration draws its own migration of a kind, as thousands of photographers travel to northern Tanzania and the Masai Mara to witness this incredible event through the months of July, August, and September.

Let me first clarify a very misleading and often very misrepresented assumption about this gnu migration. Many of the photographers I’ve talked with believe that this migration is centered around what can be very dramatic river crossings at the Mara River. Many have the belief that the Mara River cuts across the gnus’ path, and the river must be crossed for the gnus to complete their migration. This isn’t true…

by Jared Lloyd

The silence of this place is deafening. It’s a lost world, forgotten by time and passed over by the hum of civilization. Though the snow has begun to melt here, the ambient temperature is well below freezing this morning and will continue to fall until the sun, at last, begins to bathe the hardstem bulrush marsh that stretches out before me.

I will be the only human for miles in all directions that this place will see today.

Elsewhere in this ecosystem, grizzlies are beginning to descend from the lofty heights where they dig their winter dens. Many will have cubs of the year in tow, desperately trying to keep up with Mom as she puts nose to the wind in search of food to restore lost fat supplies. In lower elevations, where the sweet scent of sagebrush fills the air, greater sage grouse are putting on a spectacular show…


written by Aldo Leopold | photographs by Jared Lloyd

A deep chesty bawl echoes from rimrock to rimrock, rolls down the mountain, and fades into the far blackness of the night. It is an outburst of wild defiant sorrow, and of contempt for all the adversities of the world. Every living thing (and perhaps many a dead one as well) pays heed to that call. To the deer, it is a reminder of the way of all flesh, to the pine a fore-cast of midnight scuffles and of blood upon the snow, to the coyote a promise of gleanings to come, to the cowman a threat of red ink at the bank, to the hunter a challenge of fang against bullet. Yet behind these obvious and immediate hopes and fears, there lies a deeper meaning, known only to the mountain itself. Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.

Those unable to decipher the hidden meaning know nevertheless that it is there, for it is felt in all wolf country, and distinguishes that country from all other land. It tingles in the spine of all who hear wolves by night, or who scan their tracks by day. Even without sight or sound of wolf, it is implicit in a hundred small events: the midnight whinny of a pack horse, the rattle of rolling rocks, the bound of a fleeing deer, the way shadows lie under the spruces…

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