Richard Peters, on a Back Garden Safari

Richard Peters, on a Back Garden Safari

Posted by on Nov 17, 2015 in Blog, Inspiration | 0 comments

Richard Peters is a professional wildlife photographer from the UK with a style that often takes a priority of light, over subject. During the last year however, he has begun working with camera traps, concentrating on a location he has a personal connection with, his back garden! This project not only spawned a compressive ebook, designed to help others improve their photography, but also resulted in him winning the Urban category of Wildlife Photographer of the Year, as well as being named the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2015. What inspired you to do a project in your garden? As I’ve grown as a photographer over the years, I’ve become more and more obsessed with the idea of photographing unfamiliar subjects. Social media is partly to blame, because everyday I look on my various timelines and see photographers posting beautiful imagery from all over the world. In recent times there have been a number of photographers in the UK doing some beautiful work with more local urban wildlife, but it wasn’t until I saw a fox walking through my garden, that I felt inspired to work close to home and try it for myself. For several months I lay at my kitchen door each night waiting for them to visit at dusk. In all that time I only managed to capture one usable image, but regardless I loved being able to work at home. Not long after I got that one image, they started only visiting once it was dark, making traditional photography impossible. However it was during those early days that I started to see the bigger picture that it would be good to inspire others into seeing the familiar with a fresh perspective – to show that you can take beautiful wildlife images anywhere there is wildlife. So using a camera trap was a natural progression? It was natural in that it was the only way I could continue to photograph the foxes, but the move from traditional photography to camera trapping wasn’t entirely smooth. I purchased a trail camera to monitor nighttime activity and very quickly discovered a badger was also visiting my garden. This led me to start experimenting with using flash, which I had no experience of at all. It was a slow process figuring out how to light the world at night to best effect, and I was also using a remote shutter release to trigger the camera for the first couple of months. This led me into a routine of sitting in my kitchen in complete darkness, with a torch shining out the door so I could see when any potential animals would walk in range of my lens. Despite working from the comfort of home, it was a very frustrating and tiring time as I found myself becoming addicted to waiting each night for a photo opportunity. But with...

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Sebastian Kennerknecht: Tracking Down the World’s Wild Cats

Sebastian Kennerknecht: Tracking Down the World’s Wild Cats

Posted by on Apr 21, 2015 in Blog, Inspiration | 0 comments

Sebastian Kennerknecht is a wildlife and conservation photographer based in Santa Cruz, California. He focuses much of his photography on wild cats and the threats they face. Being totally wild cat obsessed, it’s important to him to play a role in their survival. Though the threats are often easy to photograph, many times, the actual cats are not. This has led him to use camera traps extensively to try and get pictures of these amazing, but elusive animals. He has now photographed a quarter of the world’s wild cat species and is currently working on photographing the Andean Mountain Cat as part of the Cat in Thin Air project. What inspired you to get involved with remote photography work? I have always had an obsession with wild cats and though some species can be seen on a semi-regular basis (I love tracking and interacting with wild Bobcats), most species are incredibly hard to encounter. Because I live in California, I always wanted to get a photograph of a wild mountain lion. It didn’t take too long until I realized I needed camera traps to make that a reality. Besides getting pictures of species nearly impossible to see, it also became quite apparent to me that camera traps provided amazing creative possibilities. Researching and seeing the amazing tiger pictures of Michael “Nick” Nichols, the snow leopard pictures from Steve Winter, and the bat pictures from Michael Durham were truly eye opening experiences. You’ve worked on a number of species in various locations around the world, what was the first commissioned job that you opted to use this technique for and was it a big learning curve? My first assignment in which I used camera traps was trying to get a photograph of an Arabian Leopard photograph in Yemen. (I failed, never getting a picture of the leopard, which hasn’t been photographed in the country since three months before my arrival in 2010… a sad fact). I think everyone who has built their own camera trap can attest to the fact that in doing so is taking the path of insanity. Even though I had seen National Geographic’s camera traps while working for Frans Lanting, I didn’t have an interest in camera traps at the time and missed the opportunity to see how the magazine’s engineers made it work. That subsequently meant that it took me a whole year to construct one camera trap set-up working to the level I expected it to. I ended up taking four camera traps to Yemen, and I quickly realized there were a ton more things to learn. On the equipment side I had to learn things like protecting the cables from getting chewed on by rodents and keeping the moisture out of the different housings. My camera trap design has definitely changed since that first trip. What was your biggest challenge when working in Yemen photographing...

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Philip Briggs Interview

Philip Briggs Interview

Posted by on Apr 8, 2015 in Blog, Inspiration | 0 comments

Philip was born in Kenya and spent his childhood years living in extremely remote areas, spending much of his time exploring the African bush. These early experiences gave him a great love of wild places and nature, which later developed into a desire to capture what he witnesses in the wild through creative photography, in a way that would not only reveal the wonders of nature, but also employ his artistic flair. What inspired you to get involved with remote photography work? While I was photographing in National Parks and Reserves in Kenya in 2008, I was becoming increasingly frustrated with being restricted to designated roads and attempting to capture wildlife from large distances. I wanted to be able to create a different perspective in my images as there were many other photographers that I saw, day in and day out, attempting to shoot the same scenes, side by side. I felt that I had to diversify and add a different dimension to my images. At that point, I was inspired by Anup Shah’s low level photography in unusual locations and aspired to create my own images with a similar unique twist. One day I finally took the plunge and brought a simple hand-drawn sketch to a local carpenter to make an 8ft plank of wood with a base fixed on one end where I strapped the camera. This was then hoisted out of my 4×4 vehicle and placed onto the ground whilst I held onto the plank from inside the car. This gave me great versatility but meant that the animals always had to come to me. In the coming years I developed boxes which I would place in appropriate places and fire with a remote shutter release from a distance. My initial setup was simple but worked like a charm. Although it needed more protection for the camera. These are my first attempts. What do you specifically find are the advantages of using these techniques? Obviously getting close to your subject usually improves the image quality and gives better depth to the environment. But the greatest advantage that I see from this approach is that you are immediately propelled into the animal’s world. It’s amazing how quickly the characters of each animal are immediately exposed and this comes across in the images. What are the disadvantages? The biggest disadvantage for this type of technique is that the situation doesn’t always allow for a camera to be placed out on the ground, maybe due to terrain issues such as rocks and long grass. My camera set-ups over the years have never had wheels, so lack of mobility has been a major drawback. It can also be intrusive on the animals if not used wisely. From a technical perspective on location, what are the greatest challenges you have had to overcome? Anticipating what might happen in a scene in...

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Casey Smartt: photographing the elusive

Casey Smartt: photographing the elusive

Posted by on Feb 25, 2015 in Blog, Inspiration | 0 comments

Casey Smartt is a photographer based out of New Braunfels, TX. He was born and raised in Austin, TX and holds a B.S. in Aquatic Biology from Southwest Texas State University. Casey has had careers as an environmental technician for the steel and construction industry and as an agriculture consultant specializing in large-scale composting and sustainable farming. He was the fly fishing editor for Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine for 10 years and his love of the outdoors led him to wildlife photography, and most recently, camera trap photography. What inspired you to get involved with camera trap work? My interest in camera traps began years ago when I stretched a trip wire across a game trail and rigged it to a compact Nikon 35mm camera. The experiment was a failure. Wild boar and cattle knocked down the wire and camera and stomped it into the mud. But the exercise sparked my interest in camera traps and fuelled my imagination for what might be possible with a better rig. Several years later, commercial trail cameras began to hit the market. I eagerly bought one, and another, and another, and used them to capture images of whitetail deer, coyotes, javelinas, and other critters that wandered around the South Texas Brush Country. Those years were a great experience because I learned how animals approached my cameras, when they were most active, and how to attract them. Then, I saw some images Jonny Armstrong (read his interview here) captured with one of his DSLR camera traps. The photos were unlike any wildlife photos I had ever seen – clear and intimate with incredible creative lighting. They looked like scenes from an animal museum exhibit and I knew the DSLR camera trap was the direction to I wanted to go. What do you specifically find are the advantages of using these techniques? I think one obvious advantage of a DSLR camera trap is its ability to capture intimate, close-up portraits of cautious or secretive wildlife species, especially those that move or feed at night. One key to its success is the option to use off-camera flashes. They open up a whole world of creative opportunity. A perfect example of the potential of these cameras was illustrated to me by the ringtail cat. The curious little ringtail cat thrives in the Hill Country of Texas where I live and in many other parts of the United States. It’s a squirrel-sized critter that loves to climb and will investigate nearly anything it sees or smells. I had always heard ringtails were common in my region but in 4 decades spent outdoors I had only seen one, and he was caught ambitiously trying to steal chickens. When I began running DSLR camera traps on a ranch near my home, I placed the cameras up in the canopy of large oak trees. To my surprise I collected many...

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Laurent Geslin – Lynx in the Jura Mountains

Laurent Geslin – Lynx in the Jura Mountains

Posted by on Jan 25, 2015 in Blog, Inspiration | 0 comments

Laurent Geslin is a photographer who works mainly on environmental issues and, like many, his passion for wildlife led him to the work of Stephen Dalton and Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols. After being a naturalist guide in France, South Africa and Namibia, Laurent moved to London where he became a professional photographer himself and from there, he began his project to photograph wildlife in cities. His original work has been published in numerous books, foreign magazines, is regularly exhibited in galleries and museums and has been recognised by competitions such as the 2014 BBC Wildlife Trap Camera Photo of the Year. Now, Laurent lives in the Jura mountains of Switzerland and has been working extensively with lynx for the last years. His new book ‘LYNX, regards croisés’ is the result of fours years chasing the elusive cat. Laurent has kindly shared some of his images with us below… What inspired you to get involved with camera trap work? I did not have the choice, when I started my project on european lynx, I knew it is a very elusive cat and hiding would not be enough. What do you specifically find are the advantages of using these techniques? I can search for clues or other places while my cameras are working… From a technical perspective on location, what are the greatest challenges you have had to overcome? Wood mice are a pain. They eat the cables even if I hang them in branches. The equipment used can get quite specialist, ranging from a simple remote system to complex lighting, trip-beams and flashes. How complex do your setups get or do you find keeping it simple is the best approach? I use from one to 4 flashes, depending on the setting and the time I have to set up the equipment. What has been your most successful trap-camera project to date and how long did it take from concept to first successful image? I have just publish my book on european lynx and it took me 4 years to get all the pictures. I don’t think I’ll spend so much time for my next project. What’s been your biggest failure, either technically or photographically? I set up a camera near a den after tagging the kittens with the biologists. I wanted a shot with the mother carrying the kittens, but when she came back, she did not come near the den, she called her cubs 5 meters away and the kittens moved towards her… she knew the camera trap was there. You can see more of Laurent’s work, as well as buy his latest book, on his website...

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Jonny Armstrong – Alaska’s Great Wilderness

Jonny Armstrong – Alaska’s Great Wilderness

Posted by on Jan 4, 2015 in Blog, Inspiration | 2 comments

Jonny Armstrong isn’t your typical photographer, as he is also a scientist who, through researching salmon in Alaska, turned his attention to the abundance of wildlife that lives there. His extraordinary work has recently seen him awarded as both runner up and commended in the 2014 BBC Camera Trap photo of the Year competition. What inspired you to get involved with camera trap work? I’ve been researching salmon in Alaska for nearly a decade, often working in close proximity to grizzly bears. In the region where I’ve spent most of my time, the bears are difficult to photograph. They are not human-habituated and they spend a lot of time feeding on salmon in small streams, where they are difficult to observe until you are too close for comfort. Folks I worked with used trail cameras to photograph bears, so that’s probably what planted the idea of camera trapping into my brain. However, I would have never pursued the idea had I not become interested in off-camera lighting. In 2011 I picked up a couple speedlights and began experimenting with flash photography. I quickly became obsessed with the creative process of adding light to a scene. This interest in lighting was what led me to build camera traps to photograph bears. I wanted to take lit portraits of wild animals and I knew camera traps were the best way to do this. What do you specifically find are the advantages of using these techniques? The key advantage for me is being able to slow down. Traditional nature photography is often rushed and frantic as you try to capitalize on a fleeting encounter with an animal. There’s often little time to think about anything except nailing the focus and exposure. I love that when I’m camera trapping, I can work slowly and really think about the image I’m trying to create. I also love that camera trapping can allow nature photography to be collaborative. For example, my friend Jason Ching and I have made dozens of camera trap sets together, both of us contributing to the final image. The more obvious advantage is being able to shoot elusive or nocturnal species that we as humans rarely get the opportunity to see. There are several species that I’ve never encountered in real life, but I’ve captured them on camera traps dozens of times. However, I think most iconic wildlife species are actually a lot easier to shoot in person than with a camera trap; for example wolves are extremely difficult to camera trap but fairly easy to shoot with a telephoto lens in certain National Parks. What are the disadvantages? The remote aspect of camera trapping is extremely challenging. Not being able to adjust settings in real time is a huge disadvantage, particularly when you don’t even know what species you will be photographing or under what lighting conditions. I recently made...

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