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I am the owner of Great Wildlife Photos, LLC which provides photographs, framed and unframed, Aluminum or canvas, calendars and notecards to customers who love to be surrounded by my stunning landscapes and relaxed, natural wildlife. I started this business in 1996. As an ecologist, I worked for 38 years with wildlife doing research or field studies or managing them. Ecologists cannot “retire” because they live and breathe to be in the out-of-doors. Great Wildlife Photos’ customers benefit from my drive to learn more about animals. I love to provide photo tours so that many customers can see antelope, coyotes or wild horses for the first time in the local Reno area.
The advantage of being a biologist first and a photographer second is my knowledge of animal behavior and habitats. I see animals I am studying eating, sleeping, in their mating rituals, and even playing. Most tourists who visit wild lands rarely have the time to let animals acclimate to their presence, so they rarely see animals being wild, natural, relaxed animals. I consider myself to be an “ambush photographer.” Unlike a studio photographer who takes human portraits, I cannot “pose” my animals for that perfect photograph. I always joke that I don’t make as much money as a studio photographer but my animals never complain that I made them look fat. Battle scars on wildlife make them more photogenic!!! In fact my wild animals are anything but posed! So, I must make my animal photographs through great patience.
Photography for me is fundamentally a “waiting game.”
That is, I wait for the animal to exhibit postures that I think are expressive. The expression of the animal, such as the eyes looking directly in to the lens, or the position of the body, will make the difference between a marketable and possibly award-winning image and a “throw away.” When I am watching an animal through my camera, I look for that combination of head, legs (or wings), and eyes, in hopes of recording a scene that I think is “perfect.” Knowing when to take that photo is difficult, as most animals have eyes or ears that are always in motion—ever alert for that sign of danger.
The longer that I am with an animal, the greater the opportunity for me to get an intimate photograph as the animal begins to acclimate to my presence. Sometimes, being motionless and passing up early photographs of the animal is my key to great photographs. Other times, I use wildlife calls and hunting techniques to convince the animal that I am another wildlife species.
Determination, persistence, skill, and of course luck, are all factors in whether the images captured are unique and expressive or not. Hopefully, I can inspire you to love these wild animals that have been my life and to inspire you to help conserve these wild animals and their habitats for future generations.
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