More From Today In Nature Photography

I have commented several times on the PBS television show Travels to The Edge with Art Wolfe.  Love it and wish they were making new programs.  Now we have regional photographer Doug Gardner’s Wild Photo Adventures  Doug is a southeastern U.S. nature photographer and Wild Photo Adventures is carried on Public Broadcasting System’s Create, which means that most stations will now be carrying WPA.   A regional (eastern U.S.) show that is all nature (mostly wildlife) is the perfect show to compliment Wolfe’s TtTE.  Travels is a spectacular show that takes us to the most remote corners of the world and is an A+ production but it is awesome to have a show that comes from a smaller geographic sample and deals more specifically with the photography involved in making those pictures.

All of my comments about Gardner’s show come from only one show.  The show I was able to view in its entirety was a trip to the state of Maine, to a lake to photograph moose and loons.  I can identify with all of the issues he faced in an attempt to get pictures.  The sun traveling in and out of the clouds, backlighting, subjects that don’t show up, depth of field issues and on and on.  I do wish they had the budget to spend several days filming.  That would give them many more minutes of productive moments to use in each program and allow them to eliminate some of the slow portions of those programs.  One way to accomplish that is for us to write (email)  PBS and tell them how much we like the show.

Since I wrote the above paragraphs I have seen another episode of Wild Photo Adventures.   This time Gardner was in Shenandoah N.P. to photograph the Whitetail Deer rut.  The nature lover in me, the outdoorsman and animal tracker in me, and the person who loves watching photographers work, thoroughly enjoyed this episode.  The actual photographer that resides in me will be a bit more critical.  Gardner clearly fell victim to something that usually only new photographers do.  In fact I think we all did this when we were new to photography.  He was so involved with his subjects and their activity, he forgot to think about the whole image.  For most of the show almost every image we viewed, was sub-par.  Branches and lines everywhere.  Some images had out of focus branches in the foreground.  At least once the out of focus branch was over the face of the buck.  Now the environment he was in is why that happened but he is supposed to be a pro and should have known that he was producing bad pictures.  Towards the end of his shoot, he began making some good and a few great images.  He has the courage to show more pictures from a shoot than most (including me) would be willing to.  Combine that with a very difficult and thick forest, and I certainly understand why he had so many less than great pictures.  I just think he needs to either edit how much he shows, or use the worst images from each episode as a teaching tool for the viewers.   As a personal aside I cannot imagine being in Shenandoah during fall’s prime color and not making any landscapes.  Especially when there are thousands of locations to photograph the rut of the Whitetail Deer.  Of course for all I know Shenandoah landscapes could be the next episode.

When I write about the world’s “name” nature photographers, I have always left out George Lepp and Dewitt Jones.  The monthly columns that each write for Outdoor Photographer have made both “big name”  shooters.   Neither has gained their status via the photos they make, but by the words they write and the seminars that they present.

Lepp is the high-tech guru of nature photography.  From the days of film to digital and on to the Photoshop world that we now live in, he is without a doubt at least as knowledgable as anyone in the business.  He is a better fit with the experienced photographer.  He has created some great images but there is not a one that sticks out in my mind.  I believe that is because every image he creates exists so that he can write about it or talk about it with a slide show.  Frans Lanting, John Shaw and Art Wolfe create images to express themselves and/or for the joy of it.  They then pick from among those images what they believe that they can write and talk about.  In other words the act of photography comes first and then the money and success, not the other way around.

I once spoke with someone who knew Dewitt Jones and who stated that he is one of the nicest photographers around, and he surely does seem like that kind of person.  My issue with Dewitt is that he trivialize’s photography.  He is much happier creating images with his cell phone or hand holding a point and shoot digital camera than he is putting forth the effort that it takes to make images as if they are important.  Remember that I said those were my issues.  He has every right to create images with minimum effort and there is clearly a market for someone who does just that.  I love abstracts and so does Dewitt, but his point and shoot style just doesn’t inspire me.  I enjoy his writings just the same.

It seems impossible that I could have missed a veteran nature photographer that is highly successful.  That seems to be the case, as my knowledge of Stan Trzoniec was zilch.  He has a “how to” article on fall photography in the latest issue of Outdoor Photographer.   According to their profile he has written over 2,500 magazine articles, and has 850 magazine covers to his credit.  That’s a lot.  He is working on his seventh book.  I may have missed him because he photographs a lot of subjects other than nature.  Give Stan a look at

I love recording those serendipitous moments that occur in nature.  Just he same my best images were usually premeditated.   A clear, crisp vision that I had been seeing in my mind’s eye.  It doesn’t always work but it is a guarantee of some good images.

In keeping with the word ‘Today” in the title of this post, I have five quick images from 10/6/11

The birth of autumn 2011

Chipping Sparrow

Autumn grasses, fence & flowers

Yellow Flower

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