For those that might be thinking about exploring the world of wildlife or landscape photography on a more serious basis and wonder what that journey might involve, I have tried to put down a few thoughts and remembrances of what it was like for me. I’ll try to be informative without being too boring.
Like others, most of my photography was limited to taking photos of the family during vacations with simple point and shoot cameras. Something in me wanted the photos to be their best so I would annoy the wife and kids by having them stand in just the right place in the best light. I was letting the camera make all the decisions on settings, which was probably the right thing to do.
We would travel to National Parks and other places in the wild and avoided, for the most part, theme parks and other crowded locations. We would hike trails and drive around to search for bears, deer and other wildlife, occasionally taking a photo or two. Naturally, without serious camera equipment, the wildlife photos were not very impressive.
In 2007, in preparation for a family trip to Alaska, I purchased my first DSLR camera. It was a Nikon D200 and I got an 80-400mm telephoto lens. I was so ready to photograph the Alaskan wildlife! I did not have a clue or a tripod. It wasn’t pretty, but I was now hooked. I wanted to learn to do it right and get good images.
In early 2008, I went on my first photography workshop with Jess Lee, www.jessleephotos.com. I went with him to Yellowstone National Park during the winter armed with my new Canon 1Ds Mark III 21 megapixel camera, a 600mm telephoto lens and a Gitzo tripod. Yeah, now I was ready. Jess was a great instructor and the real education began. I tried to act like I knew what I was doing, but I think he knew better. We remain great friends today and have gone to many amazing locations.
The following years saw a lot of wildlife photography. My skills improved quickly and I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to find and photograph wildlife. From small birds and little Pika to large Alaskan grizzly bears and moose, I was shooting it all. Every minute of it was a blast.
Wildlife photography generally requires that you go to locations where the wildlife is used to the presence of people. This resulted in returning to many of the same locations. I would occasionally slip in a landscape photo on my wildlife trips. They weren’t the greatest photos, but I would get far more interest in these photos than from any of the wildlife photos. This, combined with there were so many more places I could go for landscape photography, resulted in a shift in focus to landscapes.
So, here I am today, chasing light around the world to produce fine art landscape photography that will look great on your home or office wall. They say it isn’t work if you love what you do.