John James Audubon, a French-American ornithologist (a person who studies birds), became internationally known in the 1800s for his ambitious goal of painting and documenting all the different bird species found in the United States. His methods, however, weren’t exactly bird friendly. To prepare his subjects, Audubon would first kill them using fine shot and then fix them into striking poses using wire.
Ornithologists these days have a much better way of capturing birds for science: mist nets. The nylon mesh nets virtually invisible to birds when suspended between two poles, and allow scientists to capture, study, and release the birds unharmed. Photographer Todd R. Forsgren wants to be the modern day equivalent of Audubon. His project titled Ornithological Photographs consists entirely of photos showing different birds caught in mist nets. Read more…
While working as a fishing guide in Tofino, British Columbia, Matthew Thornton captured this wild photograph of a humpback whale calf leaping out of the water an extremely short distance away (estimated at 10-30 feet). In his submission to the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest, Thornton writes,
On our way in from fishing for halibut we noticed a few humpback whales playing in the distance and we stopped part way in to watch. It was quite an experience to see something completely airborne so close to the boat. The lucky thing was I got the photo I submitted. A fellow boat also got a picture of the whale close to mid air and it was also all caught on video. Was an amazing day.
Lake Bogoria in Kenya is home to one of the world’s largest populations of lesser flamingos. When conditions are right, the lake turns into an eye-dazzling spectacle, with over a million birds congregating to feed on the blue-green algae in the waters. Wildlife photographer Martin Harvey was able to witness, shoot, and film one such gathering, and calls it “truly one of the worlds greatest wildlife experiences left on earth.” Read more…
Garvey recognized an opportune time to capture this photo when she was walking with a friend. A bee came close to him and started buzzing at a high pitch. She said that’s normally a telltale sign that a bee is about to sting, so she readied her camera and snapped four photos.
The images showed the progression of the sting, but the most interesting part was that the bee’s abdominal tissue lingered behind, she said.
Garvey has captured over 1 million photos of bees throughout her life, but says that — as far as she knows — this is the first photo of its kind.
“All the Wild Horses” is a photo series by South African photographer Andrew McGibbon that consists of beautiful studio portraits of horses. McGibbon writes,
For thousands of years the horse has been mankind’s closest ally. The horse made travel and development possible. We tethered, weighted and reigned them. We captured, stabled and trained them.
Ever willing, the horse was the magnificent tool of man’s ingenuity. The Horse is a beast of legend, taking on its own character, personality, emotion and mythology. However, with the advent of the steam engine the horse was made obsolete, and now they are resigned to the realm of shows and races, a world of equestrian sport, a mere shadow of the beast’s former glory.
McGibbon says painstakingly lit each shot in a manner reminiscent of the portraiture of the rich and famous. Read more…
Photo enthusiast Chris Malcolm needed a better way to aim his 500mm lens at fast moving subjects (e.g. birds in flight), so he upgraded his lens with a DIY sighting aid by attaching a non-magnified red dot sight:
They’re designed to clamp onto a gun sight wedge mount, so some kind of adapter is required. I played with the hot shoe mount, but it was too flexible — the sight needed re-zeroing at every mount, and was easily knocked out of calibration. The degree of precision required to aim the central focus sensor at the target via the dot also made parallax error a problem on the hot shoe. So I decided to mount it directly on the lens. Least parallax error, plus the geometry of the lens barrel and the sight mount naturally lines it up with the lens. To protect the lens barrel I glued the sight clamp to a cardboard tube slightly too small, slit open to provide a sprung grab on the lens body. The slit also handily accommodates the focus hold button on the lens barrel.
Malcolm reports that the site “works amazingly well”, making it “trivially easy to aim the lens at anything very quickly”. Read more…
Being able to concentrate is a great quality to have as a photographer, but make sure it doesn’t make you tunnel vision and cause you to miss shots. Photographer Hans Kruse was photographing deer in a park outside Copenhagen, Denmark, when he spotted this wildlife photographer miss out on a close-up of a huge stag because he had his telephoto lens pointed in the wrong direction. He states,
The other photographer had been staring at the woods for a while while when this rather large deer appeared out of nowhere and tiptoed past him. I was laughing so much it was quite hard to take the picture.
Last year we shared a table listing the various hazards National Geographic photographers experience while on the job. Of the 45 members surveyed, 8 of them had been attacked by wild animals. Here’s a video in which Nat Geo photographer Mattias Klum describes an experience in which he went face-to-face with a lioness, and escaped with both his life and an amazing photograph.