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“The best way out is always through.”

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Latest Pop Photo Column: Wildlife from Cars

I don't know if I've mentioned it on here much or not, but for the past six months or so I've been writing a monthly column called "Traveling Photographer" for Popular Photography magazine. My most recent column (the December issue--January was bumped for space reasons) was on photographing wildlife from wildlife drives at national wildlife refuges. I love finding new wildlife drives (there are about a half dozen listed at the end of the article) because you have the convenience of being able to drive deep into a wildlife preserve and you get to use your car as a blind. Also, some of the preserves that I visit (like the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville, Florida, where I shot this great egret) can be kind of dangerous for casual walking--we've seen lots of alligators, Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, wild (feral) hogs and bobcat there--not to mention mosquitoes the size of small aircraft.

By the way, if you are interested in photographing birds or wildlife, I can suggest some great books and sites--so if anyone asks, I'll do a future posting on that. In the meantime, probably the best bird photographer alive (possibly the best ever) is Artie Morris and his Birds as Art site is worth exploring (you'll be there for hours). Artie's The Art of Bird Photography II is a CD version of his classic book ($40) and it's astounding--literally hundreds (come to think of it, there may be thousands) of his photos that will simply blow your mind. I got it from Lynne for Christmas one year and every time I look at it I just want to run away and become a full time wildlife photographer. His photographs are incredible and he teaches more on that disc than you can possibly imagine--he shares everything and holds nothing back, the mark of a great teacher.

Teaser: Coming up in the March issue of Pop I have a column on cave photography--so get your headlamps and caving gear ready.


Victoria said...

I'm sending a message via regular email... hope it doesn't wind up in your spam/junk folder because it will be from variation of my email address other than the one used on my blog. I went to the photo column and read every word... and bookmarked it for future reference. There are a few wildlife preserves in the mid-Atlantic but I don't know (haven't been to them myself) whether or not they include drives or are more for hiking in... I do plan to venture into at least one of them in the not TOO distant future so will keep you posted if the refuge includes a drive for shooting from the car.

Jeff Wignall said...

Hi Victoria,

I did get your email and I'll answer it in a minute, as soon as I warm up the cup of tea :) One drive that you should absolutely do, even though it's short, is the one at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge--such a wonderful place and such a fun little town. The drive is only open to cars after a certain hour (1 pm, I think) and in the mornings is only open to bicycles (or walking). Also, not too far north of you, in NJ, there are several great drives in the Atlantic City area. There must be one on Chesapeake Bay somewhere, too. But my favorites are in Florida--the weather in winter is just so nice compared with "Connecticut: The Blizzard State!" :)