Saturday, June 20, 2015

Nature Photography - It's More Than Just Finding the Animals

I've been working on my nature photography this spring, and have been enjoying my new Nikkor 200-400mm f4 VR lens in the process. While I'm now quite comfortable with the lens, and very impressed with the image quality it produces, I haven't really nailed any nature shots that make me super proud yet.

Here's an example of what the lens can do:
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 200-400mm f4 AFS VR Lens

This is a perfectly acceptable photo of a bald eagle, in a technical sense, but it sure doesn't tell much of a story. Really, I just found the animal, and got a decent shot of him. Then it was over.
Here's a shot below that I made some time back, of a much less exotic animal, with less exotic optics, but with more of a story. I love how the toad's singing, exhibited by the extended throat, and more importantly, by the standing waves in the water surrounding it, tell you more than "This is a toad." I aspire to finding more stories like this.
Eastern American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus), by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, 14-140mm Zoom Lens

The reason I'm thinking about this is that I read an interesting story about Frans Lanting, famed National Geographic nature photographer, on the Smithsonian website. (Click Here) to read that post. Lanting is a very interesting person, and the TED talk video embedded in the story tells a lot about how he feels about his work.
I've seen a lot of his night photography, where he sets up remote camera traps for elusive species. I see these as mainly challenges to find the animal and document it. However, he has other images, some of which he describes in the blog piece, that really tell much bigger stories. Read about the hunters reflected in the zebra's eye, and the African bullfrog, with approaching clouds above. Interesting stuff.