personal

The Future of the Wild Focus Project

Hi everyone. While I was writing last week’s post about the evolution and physics of bird flight, I came across a really interesting article about a team of engineers modeling a new plane off of albatrosses and their long distance flight abilities. This pulled me into the world of bioengineering. That post, however, is going to have to wait. You see, life, uh… gets in the way. …

Cameras for Conservation: New Findings

The whole reason this website exists is because of my Master’s in science communication. As part of the thesis, you have to do a creative project in addition to academic research. But what about the research I did? There have been a lot of edits and rewrites and even some new testing since then. So now, it’s time for an update on the research behind the Wild Focus Project…

Take Nothing but Pictures?

In one of my earliest blog posts, I wrote about the ethics of wildlife photography. I summarized my list of guidelines with the adage, “Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures.” While I still stand by my guidelines, I now think that that phrase leaves something to be desired. It’s a good principle, but it’s a little too simplistic…

John Muir and the National Parks

Earlier this week, the US celebrated its 242nd Independence Day, and I kind of… forgot about it. I live outside of the US, and I’ve never really been a super patriotic person anyways, at least not in terms of the flags and the songs and stuff like that. But there is one thing that makes me very proud to be American, and that’s our National Park system…

A Microcosm of Biodiversity

“Biodiversity” is a pretty all-encompassing term. Many people use it when talking about worldwide biodiversity, i.e. all of the different animals on the planet, from parrots to parrotfish. But the term also applies to smaller groups – in this case, much smaller. We can see tremendous biodiversity just by looking at one tiny subset of a single family of insects: Formicidae – better known as ants…

What's in my camera kit?

Earlier this week, I took advantage of an unusually warm and clear autumn day to go explore the coast around Dunedin. It was also an excuse to properly try out my new telephoto lens! As many photographers will tell you, it’s really important to know your equipment well when you’re photographing wildlife, so I took most of a day to learn the ropes of the nicest, biggest lens on the best camera I’ve ever had…

James Cook: Naturalist

I was cleaning my room earlier this week when I came across a stack of paper covered in my own messy writing. Intrigued, I sat down to read. Turns out they were my notes and speculations from reading the accounts of James Cook, leader of 3 hugely influential voyages to explore the Pacific and southern oceans in the late 18th century...

The Fast, the Furious, and the Feathered

We’re back from hiatus! I took a few weeks off to focus on moving house, and to travel around NZ’s South Island for a couple weeks. We made a big loop around the South Island – from Kaikoura to Kahurangi National Park to Milford Sound – but the highlight was 4 days of tramping. And while we were out in the backcountry, we got to see New Zealand falcons! NZ falcons are rare and endemic, so getting to see one is pretty special...

Favorite Birbs + Going on Hiatus

After last week’s post about the popularity of certain types of animals in photography, I decided to look through my own nature photos to see if I also seemed to prioritize certain animals. While I did find quite a lot of photos of large charismatic mammals, I was glad to find a wide variety of other creatures and organisms too. But the creatures I seem to photograph most by far are birds...

An Afternoon at Orokonui

On a bright summer day at Orokonui,

I saw bellbirds and robins and kaka and tui.

Tuatara and takahe step to and fro,

Like small dinosaurs from eons ago.

If you come here at night, you can hear ruru hoot,

And you may see a kiwi (the bird, not the fruit).

These creatures and more deserve your attention,

Since they could vanish without good protection...

Wasatch Winter Wildlife

A few weeks ago, I was looking back through some of my old photos from our family ski trips, and remembered that there’s loads of wildlife in the ski area we used to visit every year. ... They have some of the world’s best snow, plus some of the ski area is part of the Wasatch National Forest, so it’s a protected area with lots of trees and meadows – and wildlife...

A Little Too Close for Comfort

The soft, steady thudding of my hiking boots slowed to a halt. The trail wasn’t particularly steep or difficult, but when you’re surrounded by the world’s largest trees, you’ve just got to stop and look sometimes! This early in the day, the woods were relatively quiet and still. Birds chattered and branches rustled in the slight breeze, but there were no other people around – just me and my parents. They hadn’t stopped, so after a minute, they disappeared behind the next ridge. I glanced around, and then froze. Turns out that I wasn’t alone after all...

Turkey Talk

Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday. But being an American living in New Zealand makes Thanksgiving a bit of a challenge – especially getting hold of a turkey. There’s just not that much demand for it here, which means if you want a nice big turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, you have to special order it from a farm several weeks in advance. Throughout this whole Thanksgiving prep process, I’ve been wondering about turkeys – wild ones, that is...