Tag Archives: wildlife

The Power of Your Voice

Nature needs your voice!

You may not know that considerations are underway by our current Department of the Interior whether to declassify lands that are presently national monuments, such as the newly designated Bears Ears in southeast Utah, the new Berryessa Snow Mountain (California), Giant Sequoia (not the national park section!) The Carrizo Plain, Sonoran Desert, Grand-Staircase National Monument, and the list goes on – 22 in all.  Seriously. 

Aside from your political beliefs, consider the implications of losing these wilderness spaces, and the value that they have as places one can go and ‘lose oneself’ and merge with the whole of nature. As a landscape/nature photographer, these and other public lands are often the source of my photographs, but those photographs are the outward expression of the inward inspiration that I receive while being in these wild, special places, places that take my breath away – and not from hiking, but from the sheer joy of seeing fantastic geology, flower-filled meadows, rushing streams, and wildlife. 

Preserving wild, natural places, is, in my mind, essential for mental health. of us all. Even if we never visit these places, the human mind needs to know that there are places that we can ‘escape to’, a safe zone in nature, away from it all. It’s a primeval base need within us all, whether we are conscious of it or not. If you use local or regional parks for your time with nature, a walk, a hike, a paddle on a lake, then you have felt some of that refreshment, that rejuvenation, that comes from being in nature. These national monuments are land much like a ‘local’ park, just on a grand scale.

National Monuments serve to preserve the integrity of  wild areas that might otherwise be abused by extractive industries, and in some cases provide a buffer zone to those processes just outside of their borders. Many also preserve space needed for wildlife to survive, let alone thrive. And ironically, with the crowds that populate our national parks these days, these monuments are oasis where one can still find solitude, without the crowds, and they are wonder-filled, too, although perhaps not on the grand scale of the national parks nearby. But to the animals, and those of us that go there, they are essential.

I know that not everyone sees ‘eye to eye’ on issues like this, but if you feel strongly about the need for these lands, please consider taking a moment and make your voice ‘heard’ in the public comment period for these monuments on the list.  You can read the information and comment here:

https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOI-2017-0002-0001

The public comment period for the other monuments ends June 10th, EXCEPT for Bears Ears – that ends May 26th, so please, if you plan to comment, do so soon.

Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.
― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire


 
 

Posted in bird photography, Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Conservation, Landscape Photography, nature photography, USA Also tagged , , , |

A’cruising we will go

 

 

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be the instructor for a few Lindblad Expeditions in the coastal waters of southeast Alaska beginning in late May through late June! It’s an area I know very well, having led at least 8 photo adventures (along with Jed Manwaring) in the Inside Passage with Dolphin Charters. Three weeks on the boat will provide me with a continuity – on many trips, you find your rhythm a few days into a trip, and then in a very short time it’s finished. So I like that I’ll be working solid for three weeks straight in southeast Alaska’s pristine coastal wilderness. I’ll be teaching people to create their best photographs, and to see beyond the obvious shots to make ones that show behavior and personality of the animals, too. This post image is an example. Sea lions love to frolick and are quite aggressive and curious. This one plowed through the surface of the water while keeping an eye on us and it was a fun and different way to photograph this animal with all the bubbling water around it!

I’ll be posting from the ship – when there’s connection – but it will be spotty. Follow me on Instagram at brenda_tharp_photo for updates!

Thanks for visiting,

 
 

Posted in Alaska, Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, nature photography, wildlife photography, workshops & photo tours Also tagged , , , |

Telling stories of the Etosha Pan

My wildlife photography has mostly been about telling a story – by capturing a moment, a gesture, an interaction, of the animal(s). While I love portraits, too, gestures make the picture more exciting and storytelling to me. 

Last August-September, our tour group spent time in Etosha National Park, a park teeming with wildlife and birds. It was a drought year, but that made the animals more concentrated around and at the water holes and certain savannah areas where there was still grass to graze. I set a goal to capture stories – in just one frame. That meant observing the animals closely and watching for signs of behavior or gesture. Our guide was great – he would call out what he thought was about to happen, which helped us all learn to see the ‘telltale’ signs after a while. But even he couldn’t predict all the moments that we saw, which made it fun for him, too.

In the main blog picture, ostriches, as it turns out, love to eat the acacia blossoms. Only they don’t just pluck them off the thorny branches; they toss them

in the air as they feed on them. Once I saw this, I knew I had to get a photo of it. It took a lot of tries to get the timing right, and this was one that I just love because the ostrich has such a happy look on it’s face! And why not when there’s food to eat! 

In the images below of the zebra, knowing they were very social animals, we just had to stay long enough to watch and see what might build between groups or pairs of them. First, there was the wonderful ‘necking’ and this mother and child were so sweet; then there were three ‘bad boys of the plains’ who were biting each other…

Mother and young zebra necking, a social and bonding activiity amongst zebra. Etosha National Park, Namibia.

And on our way to lunch we encountered a group of Black-backed jackals who were seeking shade to rest up and cool down. This wash with a small cliff was right near the road and our vehicle and it was perfect position to watch and photograph. I waited for this one to finally relax and put its head down, to tell the story of resting in whatever shade they could find. It’s eyes are open slightly, because it was still watchful, but it’s head is tucked into the edge of the wash in a way that tells the story. 

It’s interesting to watch the hierachy of the animals as they visit the water holes. An oryx trumps zebra – if it decides to charge them. But then again, maybe it’s a lion outside the frame that trumps them all? not in this case, but that would have done it – they would all scatter. 

In the end, I made a lot of single-image stories on this past trip and I am really looking forward to our journey this September into both Etosha again, as we’ll be finishing off our Caprivi Strip & Botswana Photo Safari with a visit to eastern Etosha. There are going to be many more stories to be told on this entire journey!

Thanks for visiting,
 

 

Posted in bird photography, Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, Namibia, nature photography, workshops & photo tours Also tagged , , , |

Persistence Pays Off

 

I know how difficult it can be to photograph roadrunners – I’ve tried for years – but I’m always not ready when they cross the road in front of my car! Seriously – when I have my camera/long lens in the passenger seat, ready, I never see one. But put the camera away, and I cross paths with about 2-3 a day when driving around the desert. Thankfully, this year, I was on foot with my Tamron 150-600mm lens, ‘stalking’ cactus wren building a nest, when I heard the call – no not that call – but the call of the male roadrunner. It was behind me, and I slowly and carefully backtracked to the dirt road to try and spot it. And there is was, running away from me, again – but it would stop and look back, and I played the game – walking when it walked, stopping when it stopped, and each time gaining a little on the space between us. Slowly, it felt I was no longer a threat, and it started to come back towards me, ironically, and then hopped up on this rock. It bowed it’s head in a courtship gesture, cooing to it’s partner hiding somewhere in the bushes. The plan was to offer her the gift of this lizard. But in the few moments it perched on the rock, I managed a series of images and I was so grateful! The whole process took about 40 minutes, but patience paid off, as it usually can, in capturing this moment.

Thanks for visiting, 


 
 

Posted in Brenda Tharp's Photo Blog, nature photography, USA, wildlife photography Also tagged , , |