The sun is about to rise on the almost alien landscape of Death Valley as I settle in and pull my camera into position. A cool brisk breeze in the twilight hours of dawn ruffles my jacket. I check my camera settings again as I peer over the valley. I know that the scene will suddenly flip from chilly blue dark to brilliant golden light. I may have only a few seconds of perfect light as the sun climbs up; I can’t afford a mistake. Am I nervous? Or am I excited? I realize it’s both, as the sun finally peeks through the break in the low-lying clouds. Action! My camera is in rapid fire, capturing the nuances of the changing light until the sun hides again. I quickly shift to a new spot, chasing the light; it hides, then returns, skipping across the landscape. While I wait for the sun to break through again, I appreciate the moment, soaking in the sense of humility in this vast space and deep quiet. In such moments, I feel alive.
This dance between patient anticipation and often-frenetic activity is the rhythm of my nature photography. It is a rhythm repeated over and over, from taking in a landscape, focusing on a sunlit flower, or tracking a bison moving through a blizzard. As I look forward to my next picture, I think about sharing my joy in those rare moments of change when a landscape or an animal reveals its secrets. A picture of the spectacular mountain silhouette of the Grand Tetons may evoke memories of a childhood trip there. The acrobatic pose of a nuthatch feeding its chicks might encourage you to spend more time watching familiar birds close to home. A closeup view of a wildflower could invite you to meditate, swimming in subtle shades of color, following repeated patterns, and flowing along sensuous shapes.
My journey to photography emerged from growing up near and in New York City, where opportunities for nature experience were relatively few, but opportunities for visual experience were many. From my art historian parents I learned to appreciate how human stories are conveyed through diverse styles of art, even though I was far more interested in the fishponds of the museum’s courtyard than in the painting indoors. In my career as a researcher of animal behavior, I used photography to capture fleeting moments of action and interaction. Now retired, I use photography to communicate my love of nature and to reinforce the viewer’s connection to our beautiful and diverse planet.
Natural History magazine
National Park Service Rocky Mtn NP
National Geographic books