By Tara Lohan
What drives you in your work, and what do you hope people learn?<p>The world is full of pretty pictures and digital photography has made incredible photography possible by so many of us now. But I feel that, especially given the state of the world and the environment, what's needed more than just a pretty picture is a sense of advocacy and a real sense of conservation and compassion.</p><p>I'm very much drawn to the accuracy and honesty in the depiction of an animal and really showing the challenges to that animal's life or interesting behavior that we haven't seen much in pictures before.</p><p>I'll do quite a bit of research before I share a photo or before I talk about a particular issue because I'm often seeking to educate with my photos about a particular challenge that a species is facing or ways that we can better support local wildlife.</p><p>For example, I work with a wildlife hospital and sometimes I go in to capture human-caused disturbances to local wildlife. So, let's say a great blue heron comes in that's been entangled in fishing line. I'll photograph it when it comes in and then I'll photograph it later while it's being treated and rehabilitated. And then I'll photograph the eventual release.</p><p>So I tell that complete story and then I use that story in a number of ways to try to educate people and give them information about how we can avoid things like this in our community.</p>
You’ve written a lot about the ethics of your field. How do wildlife photographers make sure they aren’t harming wildlife?<p>It's about building a caring and compassion for the subject into your fieldcraft. And I think that gets lost a lot in this day and age when social media is king and people are trying to get the most "likes." They're cutting corners sometimes at the expense of the subject.</p><p>We want to get close, as photographers, but we need to know how to minimize our disruption. It's really incumbent on us because wildlife face so many threats and challenges from all sides.</p><p>I always recommend that people study their subject before they go photograph to learn about the stressors for this animal, their habits, the signs of alarm or distress and how can we be better alert to those signs. People need to know if a particular animal is likely to abandon its nest or its den if you're hanging out there for hours.</p><p>As important as knowing the right settings on your camera is building that empathy and that care into your fieldcraft and really thinking whether a picture is worth it. To us, this is just about a photo. But to wildlife, every single moment is about survival.</p>
It seems like some wildlife photography can actually be downright exploitative. How do we as viewers recognize those images?<p>I'm really passionate about the <a href="https://www.outdoorphotographer.com/pro-perspectives/melissa-groo/wild-in-captivity/" target="_blank">photography of captive animals</a> and trying to educate people on how to make choices about what sorts of facilities are ethical and really do care for their animals. And what sort of facilities, such as photography game farms, are completely exploitative.</p><p>At these game farms wild animals are kept in small cages, except when they're trotted out for paying photographers. And when these photographers go away with these photos and they don't tell the truth of these animals' lives and they try to hoodwink their viewers into thinking this is authentically in the wild, it gives a lie to that animal's life. And to me, it does an injustice to the animal as well as to the field of authentic wildlife photography.</p><p>Unfortunately the onus is on us now to differentiate ourselves from the unfortunate practices that are a blemish on the entire field of wildlife photography, like baiting of raptors. I think it's really important for people to give accurate and honest captions and to let people know how you got a shot. It's one way to stand out from photographers who don't care about animal welfare and will do whatever it takes to get that stunning shot that's going to get them a lot of likes on social media.</p>
You initially got into conservation work because of your interest in sounds, particularly how animals communicate. We think of photography as being very visual, but do you rely a lot on listening?<p>Yes, having learned the sounds of birds has been a great tool for me. I live next to this big state forest and I'll drive through with all my windows rolled down and I'm listening so hard. When I hear a species that I'm interested in, I know that I can stop and invest time trying to track that bird down and trying to photograph it.</p><p>I also use the sounds of other animals to alert me to something that I want to photograph.</p><p>Once I found this great horned owl because I heard all these crows mobbing something in the forest and I went running into the forest with my camera, and sure enough, they were mobbing a great horned owl.</p><p>Chipmunks have different chip warning calls for aerial predators than they do for terrestrial predators. If I hear them giving that the special call for aerial predators, then I know maybe there's a Cooper's hawk out in the yard.</p><p>I think it really helps you to be a better photographer if you're a naturalist — even if you're just a real amateur naturalist, which I consider myself.</p>
Do you have a favorite species you like to photograph?<p>I love <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/birds" rel="noopener noreferrer">birds</a> — just my backyard birds — owls and all kinds of birds.</p><p>I'm also really passionate about predators, particularly wild dogs like coyotes and foxes. And wild cats, like bobcats and lions. I've never seen a lynx but it's high on my list.<span></span></p><p>I'm fascinated with elusive predators. I feel there's a real place for them in natural communities and I'm always trying to change minds about them. A lot of people regard these animals — mostly bobcats, foxes and coyotes — as varmint. And that makes me crazy. I think these are really special animals and knowing that they are around me where I live in upstate New York just lends so much magic and mystery and beauty to the landscape.</p><p>I love to travel to Africa and photograph the exquisite animals there. And I've loved photographing the spirit bear in British Columbia. But my favorite photo of all time was taken two miles from my house because it was two miles from my house. But also because it depicts a bobcat mother and her kit nuzzling each other. It's such a rare photo and it's such a rare moment in the wild to have been able to glimpse and to have captured on film.</p><p>It's those moments that I live for.</p>
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Summer has officially come to an end. Luckily, EcoWatch is here to keep its memory alive by sharing the winners of our "Best of Summer" photo contest.
Late Summer view of the Milky Way over Bodega Head, California.
"Spirit of the Valley" at Yosemite National Park, California.
Michael Pizzi / Vibes and Horizons
Update, September 17: Voting is now closed. Winners of both EcoWatchers' Choice and Grand Prize will be announced on Sept. 23.
On June 26, EcoWatch launched its "Best of Summer" Photo Contest. Throughout the summer, we've been receiving submissions from EcoWatchers, and we've been giving readers the opportunity to vote for their favorite image. Our EcoWatchers have determined their favorite photos for July and August, featured below!
On June 26, EcoWatch launched its "Best of Summer" Photo Contest. Throughout the summer, we've been receiving submissions from EcoWatchers, and we're giving readers the opportunity to vote for their favorite image. Our team has reviewed the August submissions and selected the photos below as our favorites of the month. Let us know which photo you like best by voting below!
Update, August 14: Voting is now closed. Michael Pizzi of Vibes and Horizons is the July EcoWatchers' Choice winner. EcoWatchers will vote on an August winner and again a third time to choose between July and August winners to get the EcoWatchers' Choice prize of a $100 Patagonia eGift card.
EcoWatch launched its "Best of Summer" Photo contest on June 26. Images are being submitted from around the world, showcasing EcoWatchers trekking through jungles, beaches and various other scenery, highlighting a shared love and appreciation for our planet.
The EcoWatch team looked at last month's submissions for our "Best of Summer" photo contest and chose five of our favorite photos for EcoWatchers to vote on. You have one week, beginning now, to vote for the EcoWatchers' Choice award for July.
Please upvote below on which photo you feel represents "Best of Summer" on EcoWatch by clicking on the green up arrow located above each photo. For the photos you feel are not the winners, please downvote. You can only submit one vote per photo.
Ascending the Alps<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDUyMzgzNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMDAyMjA3MH0.IObyPrdwK-ZgT5_ajMPwEGY2VnZPf1g6M9d5rY8CDPs/img.jpg?width=980" id="34ac4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="36b58b5f9fc94e6c1fa63c4b12b0d350" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A small herd of cows relax on a beach during a peaceful sunrise in Andhra Pradesh, India<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDUyMzgzNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNjQ0NjA0MX0.G_USgeqwl0bcpRPJPL1f6s4oMmDx2yQyU6QRqcxTKFk/img.jpg?width=980" id="0b54a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e1aefe343b97dd5877517d99a7440776" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Moraine Lake in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDUyMzgzNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Njc2NDc0Mn0.Il-myQpGnYaYISC5MC8O9purjGJN7gHn3ctSTOy3E7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="89ee4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6489cbcfb90de3272ebe31d4c434c9f2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDUyMzg1MS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTc0NDAwMn0.m-fU2qBXJSSy_vz7FR4BfGrWvpwSiO46uJpNaiLudy8/img.png?width=980" id="75ab3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c55a772ec9d8e8c22f834b6b3747b57e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Michael Pizzi / Vibes and Horizons
Ominous clouds gather over a summer day in Zanzibar<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMDUyMzg0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODc0NTcxMH0.s_K8RyHbbDvR4Db8N6JnZk_KI_Pu9TPZnswOc4LRPs8/img.jpg?width=980" id="21093" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="73f358730edc1ae05193df2e70c5fe12" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
By Patrick Rogers
During the day, freelance photographer Stuart Palley covers news events for publications like the Los Angeles Times and shoots images for advertising and PR clients. By night, he pursues his passion: photographing the wildfires that have been ravaging, with increasing frequency, the forests, grasslands, towns and cities of his native California. Over the past five years, Palley has documented nearly 75 fires, from the Mexican border to the Shasta Trinity National Forest near Oregon.
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EcoWatch is excited to announced the winner of our first-ever Gratitude Photo Contest. Participants sent us their best shots of what in nature they were most thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Our three amazing judges—Greenpoint Innovations founder Stephen Donofrio, marine scientist Gaelin Rosenwaks and documentary photographer Marc Bryan-Brown—picked their favorites from more than 70 photo entries of breathtaking landscapes, incredible wildlife and majestic waterways.
Update: The window for photo submissions has ended. The winner will be announced this Wednesday, November 21.
EcoWatch is pleased to announce its first photo contest! Show us what in nature you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Whether you have a love for oceans, animals, or parks, we want to see your best photos that capture what you love about this planet.
By Lisa Moore
Imagine yourself, camera in hand, suddenly spotting a grazing elk, a hummingbird feeding its chicks, a grizzly charging a rival or a bumble bee gathering pollen. You want the shot, but how do you get it without disturbing the natural behavior of the beautiful animal you're hoping to capture through your lens?
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Human's impact on planet Earth is huge. Thanks to the work of environmentalist and photographer, J Henry Fair, we can now get a bird's-eye view of the world's ever-increasing demand for energy, eating habits and rampant consumerism that are degrading our planet.
Fair's book has received rave reviews from many, including Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. "Think of these images as a surveillance camera for the planet, recording the biggest crimes against nature we've ever imagined," McKibben said. "Images like these will be the standards around which we muster."
The New York Times' Roberta Smith said, "The vivid color photographs of J Henry Fair lead an uneasy double life as potent records of environmental pollution and as ersatz evocations of abstract painting ... information and form work together, to devastating effect."
In the book, Fair's images are accompanied by detailed explanations from award-winning science writer, Lewis Smith.
"The overall message is clear," according to Fair. "It is up to us to accept a consumer responsibility and environmental awareness and to change our habits if we want to ensure a better world for future generations to enjoy."
For more information, visit Fair's Facebook page.
By Clara Chaisson
What on Earth have you photographed?
This open-ended question, asked annually by the BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition, invites predictably diverse submissions: A leopard prowling around Mumbai's Aarey Milk Colony, a Chilean volcano's violent eruption, and the surprisingly peaceful relationship between a blackfish and a venomous Portuguese man o' war, just to name a few.
But out of some 5,000 images, it was White Rhino, by Maroesjka Lavigne of Ghent, Belgium, that snagged the grand prize.
"White Rhino," photographed by Maroesjka Lavigne in Etosha National Park, Namibia.Maroesjka Lavigne
"I love the camouflage and the texture—you can almost feel the cracked mud," wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas, who chaired the panel of expert judges, said in a press release. "This photograph also has a poignant, ghostly quality that reflects how rhinos are slipping away before our eye."
For the last six years, the number of rhinos poached for their horns has been climbing and the International Union for Conservation of Nature said poachers killed 1,338 of the endangered animals in 2015. The photo competition hopes that capturing the natural world's incredible variety on film will inspire us to save it in real life.
The "BigPicture" exhibit, on display at the California Academy of Sciences through Oct. 30, features 48 photographs from 27 countries. The judges this year awarded prizes in seven categories: Human/Nature; Terrestrial Wildlife; Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora; Aquatic Life; Winged Life; Art of Nature; and Photo Essay: Coral Reef.
Explore the prize-winning images below:
"Big Cat in My Backyard!" photographed by Nayan Khanolkar in Mumbai, India.Nayan Khanolkar
"The Courageous Crossing," photographed by Manoj Shah in Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve.Manoj Shah
"The Awakening: Landscape of Fear," photographed by Francisco Negroni in Comuna de Fresia, Region de los Lagos, Chile.Francisco Negroni
"Deep Sky," photographed by Eduardo Acevedo in Los Gigantes, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.Eduardo Acevedo
"Pelicans Composition," photographed by Marco Urso in Lake Kerkini, Greece.Marco Urso
"Microscopic View of Sulfar Crystals in Polarized Light," photographed by Peter Juzak in Wennigsen, Germany.Peter Juzak
"The Coral Triangle," photographed by Eric Madeja in Coral Triangle.Eric Madeja
Reposted with permission from our media associate onEarth.