Nature Photography Rocks!

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Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains near Lake Isabella, CA.

It is sometimes hard for me to keep up a steady pace of blogs, so I am going to revise and repost older blogs, including all new photos. Here's one:

I believe nature is worth the effort to make better nature photographs. And nature is definitely worth the effort to spend time there. Some of the most memorable times in my life outside of my incredible wife and kids come from time in nature.

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Florida Everglades. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

Since I travel quite a bit, I often get asked, what is my favorite place to photograph. I am not being facetious when I say it is the place I am in at the moment. I love places like Acadia National Park and the Everglades (more than just the national park), but I can't go there all the time, so I am just as happy to be in the Santa Monica Mountains (low mountains northwest of Los Angeles) where I can be in less than an hour photographing the chaparral there. One spring, I spent a couple of days videotaping digger bees there –non-aggressive bees, but what an amazing experience to be with them. If you think there is adrenaline flowing when you are photographing big animals in Africa, try holding a video camera as you move it among swarming female bees above their nests! And no, I never got stung. They are not like honey bees.

Solitary or ground bees (Diadasia tuberculata), Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Los Angeles, California

Solitary or ground bees (Diadasia tuberculata), Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Los Angeles, California

I have to say that one of the most impressive places I ever visited was the front of a cave near Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I was there during a gray bat swarm (a mating behavior of many cave bats), and the experience along with the photography, literally being in a bat swarm, was amazing.

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Gray bats swarming in early fall, Kentucky.

Even closer to home – when the terrible events of 9/11 occurred, I spent the afternoon connecting with nature by photographing in a local natural area. I did close ups of a native sunflower. That was so helpful and really helped me understand that there was still much beauty in our world.

Even closer. I planted most of my yard to native plants. This is an incredible place for me. Since I am in the Los Angeles area, the garden has something in bloom all year round, plus it attracts a lot of interesting insects (including butterflies and native bees) and birds (especially bushtits and hummingbirds). Not only do I have terrific subject matter right outside my door, but also, I feel a real connection to the natural world of California. So many yards and gardens are planted to exotic species that may be pretty, but they keep people separated from nature, rather than connected. Plus, they require a lot of water in an area that is naturally dry, so my garden is also drought tolerant.

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Tiny thrip on San Diego sunflower (a small sunflower).

Finally, last spring, my wife and I got a small place up in the mountains near Lake Isabella, California. This is in the Southern Sierra Nevada. I am loving being able to observe one large and beautiful natural area constantly over the year.

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Rocks at edge of desert, east side Lake Isabella.

About Rob

I am proud of the work I have done as a photographer, author, naturalist and nature photographer, editor and videographer. I love the natural world, and that can be a native bee in my native plants garden as much as a visit to a national park. I am a husband of a beautiful and smart wife, a father to my outstanding son and daughter, and one who lived in Minnesota most of my life, but now loves the variety and very long growing season of Southern California. I have written and photographed a lot of books and magazine articles but what is most important to me about them is knowing that I have helped people become better photographers and gain a better connection to nature. I work to help people connect with photography and nature through speaking and as a workshop leader, too. All of this has gained me a Fellow award with the North American Nature Photography Association. Many people knew me as the long-time editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine and I am still connected with them as a contributing editor. A short list of some of the books I have done: Landscape Photography: From Snapshot to Great Shot, Magic of Digital Landscape Photography, The Magic of Digital Nature Photography, National Geographic Field Guide to Digital Photography, The Power of Black-and-White in Nature Photography and Reports from the Field (an iBook). My website is at www.robsheppardphoto.com; my blogs are at www.natureandphotography.com and www.mirrorlessnature.com.
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4 Responses to Nature Photography Rocks!

  1. Gary Wagner says:

    Great article that I couldn't agree more with. Spent 17 years in Washington State and was in the Cascades every chance we got. Our kids grew up with back packs on there backs. We now live in Santa Clarita and I'm out at Vasquez rocks a couple times a month. Totally different environment but both equally beautiful. Also get up to the Eastern Sierras when ever possible. That place is truly heaven on earth. Thank you for passing on all your knowledge and experience to all of us nature lovers.

  2. Bill Brennan says:

    Being out and totally immersed in nature trying to capture what I see creatively is hard to beat.

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