Tip #42: Know the Biology

Danaus plexippus - Spring Migrant
Don’t underestimate the power of knowledge, the acquisition of which often takes time and careful study. As photographers seeking to capture intimate details in the natural world, opportunities are lost whenever we fail to make the intellectual investment. 

Asclepias tuberosa

Prior to our travel to Tanzania in 2008, we purchased field guides, photographic essays, and Hemingway novels about Africa. I studied the work of masters, and scoured the pages of old National Geographic magazines in search of inspiration. In photography, the moment of capture is an ephemeral thing; preparation leverages our opportunity to slow time.
Danaus plexippus - Brief Encounter
Mated pair
The image maker knows natural history and can anticipate the way climate, light and seasons influence behavior. This type of knowledge empowers the nature shooter and sharpens their vision.
Asclepias syriaca - Fruit of Labor
Seed Dispersal
Before photography, I was a field ecologist. I studied pelagic birds in the arctic, rodents in the desert and migratory butterflies that are iconic visitors to the midwest. Real scientific knowledge allows for an insight that other photographers lack. My vision is unique, my approach is deliberate, and knowledge is a secret weapon.
The posted photographs tell a story about a species and its North American habitat. Careful study of the species and its niche made each of these images possible.
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