Stunning Nature Photography Show Extended for Climate Awareness

“What is more powerful than fear?” SeaLegacy asks, “Hope. As a simple word, it holds a sheer strength to propel you forward when it appears you have little left to hold on to. A wanting glimpse, an immense presence, or a passing thought, hope draws into any mind that seeks its guidance. And it is the very word that leads and embodies our co-founders, Cristina Mittermeier, Andy Mann, and Paul Nicklen.”

To truly understand the depth of this message, the Town of Greenwich is co-hosting cool Arctic and nautical images by celebrated wildlife photographers and partners Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier at C. Parker Gallery in Greenwich, Connecticut. This gallery showcase of the Canadian and Mexican-born photographers has been extended a full month through July 30th. But as with the realities of climate change, time is running out!

Greenwich is an affluent enclave 40 minutes from Manhattan, and these works have also drawn attention from such pedigreed stars as Justin Timberlake (rumored Connecticut resident) as well as Prince Hussain Aga Khan, Jennifer Garner and Katie Couric. But celebrity aside, both photographers co-founded the organization in 2014, where they use their images spreading the message to save the planet to as wide an audience as possible.

Their work has been published in hundreds of prominent magazines, including National Geographic, TIME, the Washington Post, and CNN among others.

“My photographs are a way of lowering the price of entry into the most important conversation we can have,” Mittermeier explained to Zain Asher in a CNN International video shared with the press release, “And that is the future of life on earth.”

“If we don’t acknowledge the system that has been keeping us alive for millions of years, then we’ll disappear,” Nicklen echoed.

If you are not interested in solely acquiring an image, Mittermeier and Nicklen invite smaller-donor members to join The Tide, an ocean-focused initiative to save turtles and other important marine wildlife directly through

Announcing the Winners of Smithsonian Magazine’s 20th Annual Photo Contest | Arts & Culture

What a photograph subtly suggests or even conceals is sometimes just as important as what’s clearly on display. Skilled photographers know a bit of mystery can make an image that much more compelling–a contrast to what’s often overshared in pictures and video on social media. In today’s society, images often leave little to the imagination, but in his “Wild Mountain Hares Fighting” submission, the Grand Prize winner of our 20th Annual Photo Contest, Arnfinn Johansen, captures a moment that leaves one wondering.

That could be said for all of this year’s winners: the obscured faces of mask-wearing girlfriends out on the town, a pair of rhinoceroses either running away or charging, a singular subject sitting in solitude in the darkness of dawn, and the shadowy silhouettes of figures hidden in plain sight. These are just some of the top scenes that offer just enough to stir emotions, pull viewers in and raise poignant questions, leaving it up to the beholders to interpret the art for themselves.

The diversity of this year’s entries is fitting for the 20th anniversary of this annual competition, which has grown to include more than 32,690 images submitted by nearly 7,000 photographers from 190 countries and territories.

To explore more, check out all of this year’s Photo Contest finalists.

Grand Prize

Wild Mountain Hares Fighting. Photographed in Rorosvidda Mountains, Norway, April 2021

Arnfinn Johansen

Among the peaks of a range in Norway, nocturnal mountain hares violently compete for the opportunity to procreate. It’s mating season, a fight for life. Arnfinn Johansen, 57, who has been practicing nature photography since 1980, recalled that there were five or six hares present during the bout. “They fought each other two and two. Then, the others stayed away watching.” Johansen was also a patient observer, spending eight or nine hours in a nearby cabin shooting through the darkness. Previously, Johansen worked strictly in black and white, and he preferred this photograph without color. “It simplifies and reduces distractions,” he says.

American Experience

First to Vote. Photographed in Atlanta, November 2022

Rory Doyle

On assignment for an Amsterdam newspaper to document the November 2022 midterm elections in the United States, Rory Doyle, 39, headed out before sunrise and came across this lone citizen, who was quietly determined to exercise her fundamental right to vote. She arrived at her polling place even before it opened. “The narrative of the lack of care or the lack of participation gets more attention than people who are willing to literally bring a chair and
a book before the sun is up,” Doyle says.


The Big Top Tent at Fringe by the Sea. Photographed in North Berwick, Scotland, August 2021

Andrew Smith

If you come across a big tent, it’s natural to wonder what’s happening inside. Andrew Smith, 42, who has been photographing with drones since 2017, wondered what was on top of this colorful canopy in his hometown. Positioning his camera to point directly down on the tent, he was delighted and surprised by the symmetry and vibrant colors, says Smith, who appreciates photos that cause an instant reaction. “This was one of those moments for me. I think both the photographer and the viewer recognize it when they experience it. I don’t think it can be qualified or deconstructed. I think you just need to feel it.”


Lollipop. Photographed in Tokyo, October 2022

Jonny Dub

“Who are these gnarly girls?” That’s one question Jonny Dub, 42, would expect viewers to ask when they see the ski-mask-covered, pink-hued candy consumers he encountered in Tokyo’s Shibuya district last Halloween. Dub, who learned the basics of the art as a teen while assisting his father, an advertising photographer, says this picture, snapped before the women realized he was photographing them, was the most authentic of the bunch. He likes that this scene allows people to imagine a story of their own, one that “leaves the viewer wanting to know more about the characters and fills them with a sense of intrigue.”

Artistic Images

Tower of Babel. Photographed in Elburn, Illinois, June 2022

Tracy Whiteside

Tracy Whiteside, 63, a former musical theater teacher, knows how to bring drama to works on and off the stage. In her home studio, using just Styrofoam balls, a cone, hairpins, lots of spray, a blond wig, makeup and a pink tablecloth, she created this fanciful portrait of her grandchildren’s nanny. Whiteside prefers profiles with little expression, which she finds more artistic than a smile. Still, says Whiteside, who has 20 years of photography experience, “I just want people to appreciate the fun in it.”

Natural World

Chasing Rhinos. Photographed in Assam, India, July 2021

Prabir Kumar Das

It was like a scene from Jurassic Park—but with raging rhinoceroses instead of a Tyrannosaurus. Prabir Kumar Das, 46, and his driver were on safari in a vehicle at Kaziranga National Park in India observing and photographing wildlife. “Two rhinos, chasing one another, entered into the frame,” he recalls. “They both were coming toward our car dangerously.” The driver threw the car into reverse to get away. Das, a chemistry teacher, is willing to take risks for his photography hobby, which has become his passion. He now focuses on wildlife and prefers Kaziranga National Park for “its natural beauty along with its exceptional ambience.”


Dancing Silhouettes. Photographed in Chitwan, Nepal, October 2022

Annemarie Jung

Annemarie Jung, 51, who lives in Luxembourg, traveled to Nepal during festival season on a last-minute trip before starting a new job in the finance industry last fall. Her newly developed enthusiasm for photography was a surprise. “I considered myself the least creative person on earth,” she says. For this winning photograph, Jung and her guide arrived too late to the festival to see the Nepalese dancers perform. However, they provided an encore for the duo, whose photography session drew a crowd of interested villagers and revelers. “They all gathered around us and wanted to see the pictures we were taking. It was lovely,” says Jung, who didn’t mind lying down in the grass to get the best shot.

Readers’ Choice

Ice and Fire. Photographed in Muji Village, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China, June 2022

Yuepeng Bao

You don’t happen upon China’s Muji Crater by chance, as photographer Yuepeng Bao, 32, can attest. The journey was quite challenging. “It took us three hours to drive on a poorly maintained mountain road, and we had to pass through two border checkpoints,” says Bao, who suffered from altitude sickness, headaches and swelling to reach this destination. Taking the trek with family members made it more enjoyable for Bao, whose photography hobby helps “alleviate stress from work [as an urban planner] and daily life.” The resulting image of the colorful natural wonder against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains and blue skies made the trip worthwhile, says Bao, adding, “It’s crucial that we demonstrate respect and take measures to preserve” these natural landscapes.

See 15 Amazing Wildlife Images From the Sony World Photography Awards | Smart News

From a playful-looking stoat to a mantis shrimp guarding its eggs, the animal subjects in the 2023 Sony World Photography Awards are captivating. This year’s winning photographers captured creatures in Svalbard, Norway; Bangladesh; Brazil and the depths of the Indo-Pacific.

On Tuesday, the World Photography Organization announced the shortlist and winners in the open competition, which allowed submissions from people of all ages and experience levels. Of the 415,000 total entries, which also included images in the youth and professional categories, the open awards received 200,000.

The contest accepted photos that fit under ten wide umbrellas: architecture, creative, landscape, lifestyle, motion, natural world and wildlife, object, portraiture, street photography and travel. From all of these subjects, one winner will be crowned on April 13.

“Finding original and different viewpoints photographically is challenging—but ever more rewarding,” Mike Trow, chair of the jury that judged the entries, said in a statement when the contest’s professional winners were announced. “They covered the profound and ongoing discussions around narrative truth and agency in art, as well as wider environmental, political and societal viewpoints.”

Here are the stunning animal and nature photos commended in the open competition’s natural world and wildlife category. (Standout pictures from all the categories can be seen here.) After viewing these awe-inspiring images, cast a vote for the Reader’s Choice award in Smithsonian magazine’s own annual photo contest.

“Mighty Pair” by Dinorah Graue Obscura, Winner

Two crested caracaras sit on a branch in nearly identical poses.

© Dinorah Graue Obscura, Mexico, Winner, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

Mexican photographer Dinorah Graue Obscura was taking pictures of crested caracaras flying in Texas when she found two of them sitting together on a branch. Here, these carrion-feeding birds in the falcon family were sitting very still and looking in the same direction, as if posing for the camera.

“I think that a good picture does not need color, it just needs to capture the desired moment in time,” writes the photographer in a statement. But in the case of this image, the subjects also made it stand out. “I was amazed by their powerful personalities,” she writes.

“Stoat’s game” by Jose Manuel Grandio

A stoat leaps in a dance in a snow-covered landscape.

© Jose Manuel Grandio, Spain, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

This snow-white stoat in midair is demonstrating a mysterious behavior. Such twisting jumps are fairly common for the ferret-like creatures, but scientists aren’t exactly sure why. Some theorize it’s an involuntary response to infection by parasites, while others suggest it’s part of hunting.

“Sometimes, the dances are performed in front of a rabbit or large bird in an apparent attempt to confuse or distract potential prey,” Spanish photographer Jose Manuel Grandio writes in a statement. “But on other occasions—as here—there is no prey animal in sight.”

“Pandora” by Marcio Esteves Cabral

Wildflowers in a field under a sky bright with stars.

© Marcio Esteves Cabral, Brazil, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

To capture these Paepalanthus wildflowers that form balls of tiny blooms, Marcio Esteves Cabral used a lantern to illuminate them. In the background, the Milky Way lights up the sky.

The flowers are “firework-like,” the Brazilian photographer writes in a statement. “It took several attempts, as I needed to capture the flowers without any wind to avoid motion blur during the long exposure.”

“The Captivating Eyes” by Protap Shekhor Mohanto

A young owl’s piercing yellow eyes stare into the camera.

© Protap Shekhor Mohanto, Bangladesh, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, Sony World Photography Awards 2023

At the National Botanical Garden of Bangladesh, Protap Shekhor Mohanto concealed himself in order to capture this image of a young owl.

“During the day, these amazing birds tend to hide in nests made in the holes of tree trunks, but they sometimes peep out to observe their surroundings with their captivating yellow eyes,” the photographer from Bangladesh writes in a statement.

“Home Alone” by Pietro Formis

A fish inside a discarded waste basket.

© Pietro Formis, Italy, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

Italian photographer Pietro Formis found beauty in a piece of trash in the ocean. And this fish, a brown comber, found a place to hide.

The walls of the waste basket are lined with crinoids, plant-like marine animals that have been around since the Paleozoic. They make “beautiful decorations for the wall of this house,” Formis writes in a statement.

“Kingdom of the Parakeet” by Subrata Dey

The sky above a rice paddy is filled with parrots.

© Subrata Dey, Bangladesh, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

Thousands of parakeets swarm above a field of rice in the agricultural area of Gumai Bill in Bangladesh. This highly productive field attracts droves of the seed-eating parrots when it is ripe. As Bangladeshi photographer Subrata Dey writes in a statement, “this area could be called a ‘parrot sanctuary.’”

“Puffin at Sunset” by James Hunter

A puffin in soft light surrounded by faint raindrops.

© James Hunter, United States, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

As daylight faded, American photographer James Hunter put the sun at his back, hoping to capture a village in the Faroe Islands bathed in a soft golden glow. Then, a duo of puffins showed up.

“As it started to rain, I lay down and photographed this one in the spectacular light,” Hunter writes in a statement.

“Untitled” by Tibor Prisznyák

Three deer in an orange glow.

© Tibor Prisznyák, Hungary, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

Hungarian photographer Tibor Prisznyák snapped this orange-tinted shot of deer in the morning light. A stag with antlers appears through the haze in the center of the image.

“Proud” by Patrick Ems

A goat in front of the Aiguille du Grépon peak in France.

© Patrick Ems, Switzerland, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

To Swiss photographer Patrick Ems, this goat looked to be standing proud and “enjoying the last rays of sunlight,” as he writes in a statement. The animal is standing in front of the peak of an 11,424-foot-tall French mountain known informally as “The Grepon.”

“Frozen Feet” by Alex Pansier

A small penguin on an icy landscape.

© Alex Pansier, Netherlands, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

A chinstrap penguin walks amid icy slopes, immortalized by Dutch photographer Alex Pansier.

“Pretty in Pink” by Charly Clérisse

A Bargibant’s Pygmy Seahorse

© Charly Clérisse, France, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

Perfect to blend in with its surroundings, this Bargibant’s pygmy seahorse is covered in small red bumps. The tiny species grows to no more than an inch long and lives in fan corals.

French photographer Charly Clérisse captured its likeness in the Indo-Pacific in Tulamben, Bali. In a statement, Clérisse writes that the seahorse was a “very shy subject.”

“The River Crossing” by Arnfinn Johansen

Wildebeest descend a dusty slope and cross a river.

© Arnfinn Johansen, Norway, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

In July 2022, Norse photographer Arnfinn Johansen snapped this image of wildebeest crossing the Mara River, a waterway in Tanzania and Kenya. They moved forward even though the water was infested with crocodiles, the photographer writes in a statement.

“Eye on the Prize” by Vince Burton

A barn owl flies over grain.

© Vince Burton, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

United Kingdom-based photographer Vince Burton captured this photo from below a barn owl swooping down on its prey.

“My precious” by Andrea Michelutti

A mantis shrimp sits atop a bundle of its red eggs.

© Andrea Michelutti, Italy, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

This harlequin mantis shrimp (also called a peacock mantis shrimp) was photographed with its eggs in the Lembeh Strait of Indonesia. Italian photographer Andrea Michelutti took this image underwater, using a snoot, or a device that narrows the camera’s flash down to a point. The shrimp is a multicolored species known for its powerful punch.

“This mantis shrimp embraces and protects its treasure: thousands of eggs,” Michelutti writes in a statement. “It takes a few minutes to obtain this visual contact with both eyes, considering they can be moved independently in all directions.”

“Climate Change” by Mark Fitzsimmons

A polar bear stands on a rocky ridge.

© Mark Fitzsimmons, Australia, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

In Nordenskjøld Land National Park in the Svalbard archipelago, Norway, a polar bear walks along a rocky landscape.

“A decade ago there was a glacier,” Australian photographer Mark Fitzsimmons writes in a statement. “Despite relatively healthy numbers in the Svalbard region of the Arctic, polar bears face many issues, including increased human/wildlife conflict, warmer summers and receding glaciers.”

Hermantown paralegal turns passion for nature into second career as ‘free range’ photographer – Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — Dawn LaPointe calls herself a “free range” photographer, and it means pretty much what it sounds like.

“It means I go wherever I want,” said LaPointe, of Hermantown.

Free range is different from freelance, she adds. “It’s just immersing myself in nature rather than going on specific assignments to specific places.”

Free range and also “organic,” LaPointe quips, meaning there’s “no artificial color or additives” in her photos. What you see is what she saw.

LaPointe doesn’t necessarily plan her exact photos, and she loves surprises. But the effort — and the results — are far from haphazard. She seems to have a knack for going to just the right place at just the right time to capture stunning photos of nature in the raw, from pounding Lake Superior waves, to a tiny flower blossom, to a serene Boundary Waters paddler at sunset.

The bright blossoms of the hepatica, sometimes called liverwort or liverleaf. “The rich purple blossoms of the hepatica bring a smile to my face,” photographer Dawn LaPointe said. “Each spring I enjoy hiking on trails in search of a variety of emerging or blooming spring ephemerals. Finding and photographing them feels like meeting up with long lost friends.”

Contributed / Dawn M. LaPointe

“It’s being mindful, watching the weather forecast, knowing what the temperature and the sky conditions will be … knowing when there will be some clouds to help paint some color on the scene,” she said. “Then I go prepared.”

Take, for example, one of LaPointe’s many shots of ice formations along the winter shores of Lake Superior in and around Duluth. It’s not just the rising sun, which many of us would focus the photo on. She’s also keenly aware that what’s in the foreground of the scene is also important.

Ice near Brighton Beach in Duluth at daybreak. “The bling was abundant as the sun rose and painted the thousands of Lake Superior ice shards along the shore,” photographer Dawn LaPointe said. “I composed this photograph such that the viewer’s eye would meander along the zig-zag of pink, glowing ice plates through the center of the photo, finishing at the sunburst near the top.”

Contributed / Dawn M. LaPointe

Before the sun rises over the horizon, “I think about how the light might paint that object in the foreground, maybe that plate of ice,” she said, adding that she tries to imagine “how the viewer’s eye will travel through the photograph.”

“The sunrise paints the scene, makes it more interesting,” she noted. “But there’s a lot more going on.”

At this point in March, while many of us may be eagerly anticipating spring, later winter, when the ice forms, is one of LaPointe’s favorite times of year to be around Lake Superior taking photographs.

“There’s a different feel along the shore in winter,” she noted. “I have kind of a quiet respect for Lake Superior … a humbling feeling of respect being along the lake in dramatic ice or waves.”

Sunrise over Minnesota Point beach. “Duluth’s 7-mile-long sand spit known as Minnesota Point provides interesting views during winter,” photographer Dawn LaPointe said. “Waves from storms deposit Lake Superior’s ice along the beach, and the sand dunes become covered in snow drifts.”

Contributed / Dawn M. LaPointe

One photo LaPointe posted on Facebook earlier this winter was taken at dawn, the sun just above the horizon where lake meets land, along the Minnesota Point sand dunes on Lake Superior in Duluth. She managed to capture mesmerizing patterns of dune grass, sand, snow, ice and sky all in one frame. When asked to explain the photo’s allure, she paused.

“There’s a path of color and light that runs through the photo, up through the sand dunes to the sunburst,” she explained. “It’s a journey through the photo.”

Falling in love with water and shore

LaPointe, 55, grew up in Prairie du Chien, in southwestern Wisconsin, just two blocks from the Mississippi River. She was drawn to water even then, she noted, but not necessarily to take photos.

Her first camera was a red Polaroid, a gift from her parents, which shot out the film and the photo developed before your eyes.

Her first 35 mm camera was a Canon Snappy 50, she recalls, which used film. She liked taking photos, but it wasn’t her life’s ambition at the time.

LaPointe graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she focused on political science and music, playing saxophone. She never studied photography, but her political science classes were a good prep for her current day job as a paralegal for a Duluth company.

After college she spent three years in Newport, Rhode Island, where she said she lived “like a tourist,” taking in everything the region’s seascapes and back roads had to offer.

Dawn LaPointe.

Contributed / Dawn LaPointe

“That’s where I developed a real love of water and the shore,” she said, noting she would sit for hours, in sometimes awful weather, watching the Atlantic Ocean waves roll onto shore.

She also loved the White Mountains in nearby New Hampshire. “That’s when I really started taking serious nature photographs,” she noted. “I was all over New England.”

In 1996, she came to Duluth and stayed, following her then-husband to his new job.

“I fell in love with this place immediately, especially Lake Superior, but also the wilderness of the Boundary Waters,” LaPointe said of the Northland.

Moose on Saganaga Lake in fall. “A cow moose and her maturing calves were feeding at a campsite we hoped to utilize,” photographer Dawn LaPointe said. “I enjoy creating photographs that show the natural behavior of wildlife, and take steps to avoid disturbing or stressing the subjects, whether large or small.”

Contributed / Dawn M. LaPointe

To this day, LaPointe is drawn to the big lake’s waterfront for her photography, often Brighton Beach — where the ice tends to form and morph and move — but also the sand and ice dunes of Minnesota Point and up along the North Shore rocks.

“The waterfront here is so accessible. … And the ice conditions change so frequently that it’s never the same twice,” she noted. “So I keep going back.”

In 2009, she met Gary Fiedler, a Duluth-based photographer who encouraged her to dive deeper into digital photography. (The two later married and have since divorced, but are still friends.)

“That’s when I began shooting with more intention,” she noted, and when the couple set up her

Radiant Spirit Gallery

online. “I consider myself a part-time professional photographer now.”

The gallery’s name “reflects the intention to capture and convey the radiant spirit of nature through photography, videography and articles.”

A canoeist enjoys a sunset paddle in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. “The silhouette of the paddler effortlessly gliding along the river illustrates the peace and serenity I relish in wilderness canoe country,” photographer Dawn LaPointe said. “This photograph was chosen for the ‘Wilderness Forever Exhibit’ at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where it was displayed as a 40-by-60-inch wall-hanging in 2014-2015. The special exhibit celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.”

Contributed / Dawn M. LaPointe

In 2014, LaPointe’s photo of a paddler in a canoe at sunset in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was chosen to hang in the Smithsonian Institute’s exhibit marking the 50th anniversary of the federal Wilderness Act.

“That gave us a lot more eyes on our work, a lot of media interest, and that’s when things started to take off for my photography,” LaPointe noted.

Her photos have been used in many magazines, including Backpacker, The Boundary Waters Journal, Canoe & Kayak, Canoeroots, Nature’s Best Photography, Northern Wilds and Lake Superior Magazine. Last year, some of her best North Shore photography hung in exhibit in the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park visitor’s center.

A Lake Superior wave hits the North Shore. “During the memorable Oct. 10, 2018, storm, the cliffs of Lake Superior’s North Shore looked like waterfalls,” photographer Dawn LaPointe said. “The relentless waves battered the shoreline and the gale force winds whipped the spray far and wide. It is humbling to witness the power of Lake Superior’s waves and hear the thunderous crashes along the rugged shoreline.”

Contributed / Dawn M. LaPointe

Despite the quality of her still photos, however, LaPointe may be best known for a video she captured. In February 2016, LaPointe was making one of her many trips to the Duluth waterfront when she recorded video of shards of broken Lake Superior ice being pushed onto shore by wind and waves, capturing motion and sound as they tumbled and jumbled together. The mesmerizing video, “Lake Superior Ice Stacking,” went viral — viewed millions of times — and appeared on TV shows and websites worldwide. It was also a highly honored video in the 2016 Windland Smith Rice Awards.

It was no accident that LaPointe was in that place at that time. In fact, she went to the frozen waterfront expecting to see some sort of incredible ice formation. On that Saturday, a day off from her day job, she spent eight hours on the waterfront in below-zero temperatures.

As usual, she was prepared with two tripods: one for still photography cameras and one for video.

“I decide when I see what’s happening which one (stills or videos) will best convey the scene at that moment,” she noted.

On that day, video won.

Several of her video clips have been sold for use in nature documentaries worldwide. But, while LaPointe has become an accomplished videographer, she says video editing can be very time-consuming for someone with a full-time job who would rather spend her free time outdoors.

Northern lights over Saganaga Lake. “My favorite place to view the aurora borealis is in canoe country wilderness, where the skies are dark and expansive,” photographer Dawn LaPointe said. “Occasionally, the surreal scene is accompanied by the calls of nearby loons or distant wolves. Long-exposure night photography requires a steady camera, so my tripod always earns it space in my canoe and on portages.”

Contributed / Dawn M. LaPointe

For still photos, she tends to do her “editing” more in the field, using her lenses as tools, and less on the computer. “I keep my editing very simple and basic,” LaPointe noted.

That’s part of being a free range photographer, she said.

“I try to convey a natural scene,” she said. “Nature is the artist, really, and I’m just its messenger.”

Fall ruffed grouse along the North Kawishiwi River in Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. “As I was setting up for dinner at a BWCAW campsite, I heard the familiar sounds of a ruffed grouse rustling in the brush,” photographer Dawn LaPointe said. “Much to my surprise, it strutted into plain view atop the granite outcropping of the campfire area.”

Contributed / Dawn M. LaPointe

For 2023 LaPointe is embarking on a self-inspired project, using both videography and photography, that she hopes will convey her love for nature in winter in the Northland and encourage others to develop that same love.

“To inspire folks to layer up and enjoy winters in our region,” she said. “And appreciate the beauty in this challenging season.”

A frog on a lillypad. “While canoeing in the BWCAW, I was drawn to an area with abundant water lilies in bloom, and noticed a frog resting on the thick, vibrant lily pads,” photographer Dawn LaPointe said. “I steadied my canoe to capture its portrait from a distance, so as not to stress or disturb the critter.”

Contributed / Dawn M. LaPointe

To see more of Dawn LaPointe’s work, order her Minispriations calendars or order prints, go to her online gallery at

or follow her on




. You can also see and buy her photographs at The Frame Corner & Gallery in downtown Duluth, the Two Loons Gallery in Duluth’s Lincoln Park business district and at Piragis Northwoods Company in Ely.

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The Recorder – Speaking of Nature: 2023 resolutions: Pointing the lens at plants

Welcome to 2023! Another calendar has been used, another red journal finished and safely tucked away on a shelf and newness has taken over. I place a brand new desk blotter calendar on my office desk, I unwrap a brand new red journal and begin to enter all of my almanac data and I crack open a new black journal so I can punch “2023 vol 1” on to its cover. These sorts of rituals are particularly satisfying for my and I take immense pleasure sitting in the silence of an early morning house and poring over the information recorded in years gone by.

Before I opened up this new document I decided to look back at my first column of 2022 to get the exact wording on last year’s resolutions and this is what I found: “So here is my resolution for 2022: I won’t let the paperwork pile up. I will make sure that I process my photos in a timely fashion, which will allow me to keep my website up to date and that nagging little voice in my head quieter than it has been. Like many resolutions this sounds really simple, but if I actually do it I will benefit greatly. Now let’s see if I can follow through.” A year later I can definitively say that I failed miserably.

As of the writing of this column I still had a backlog of photos going all the way back to August.

However, I did manage to take more photos in 2022 than I had ever taken in any previous year. The funny thing about these columns is that there is a curious element of time travel involved in them. I’m writing about the end of 2022 before the I actually experience the end of 2022. By the time this column reaches you I will have hit 23,000 photos for the year, but as I write I am still about 400 photos short of the mark, so I don’t know what the subject of that milestone photo actually is yet.

Anyway, I think that a resolution about getting paperwork done is a little boring anyway. Surely there must be something a little more interesting to focus on than that. As an example, perhaps it is time to see about working on the botany catalog of my property that I have been thinking of. I have six acres of land that is covered in a mixture of lawn, old field and forest. Perhaps it is time that I take an inventory of the different plant species that live within the geopolitical boundaries of what I temporarily call “mine.”

This is a daunting prospect because of the sheer magnitude of the project. Cataloging the trees would be the easiest because there are so few species that I would have to deal with. Beech, birch, maple and oak are all simple enough to identify. Then there are the slightly more challenging hawthorns, buckthorns and alders. And don’t even get me started on the difference between hornbeam and hop hornbeam!

Then you shift into the realm of the forbs and the grasses; non-woody plants that grow and die back every year without leaving “permanent” stems like trees and lilac bushes. Six acres of land could host hundreds of different species and finding them all would require an enormous amount of time, effort and discomfort. The ferns and the mosses would represent the final straw. I’ve got books, but the mosses in particular could actually represent the tipping point for pure madness to take hold of me.

Yet, there is an entire branch of botany called “bryology” that is focused purely on the mosses, liverworts and hornworts of the world. My poor computer is underlining all of these words in red because it doesn’t recognize them.

Well, I think I might be able to find a happy medium here. Perhaps what I will do is dedicate myself to identifying all of the plant species that can be found along the edges of my trails. These trails pass through meadow and forest and emerge into areas that I maintain as lawn. I realize that this might be a little more than I can chew, but I am going to go for it. 2023 will be my year of botany! I will continue with the photography of wildlife, but I will make a conscious effort to aim my lens at plants more often. Time to break out the close-up lens!

A secondary resolution will be to make an improvement on my general paperwork and correspondence. I like going outside and looking for interesting things, but I am not quite so good at sitting down at my desk and working on emails and whatnot. That being said, I am also getting tired of my afternoon routine and I think that I might enjoy dedicating an hour a day to “clearing off my desk” after getting home from work. If I can just do it long enough to make it a habit, then I will never stop doing it.

So, dear reader, I wish you the happiest and most prosperous 2023. I am personally filled with optimism about the coming year and I think that the project that I have initiated will bear fruit. I might even give myself the added challenge of alternating between plants and animals every other week, but that is going to take a little more thinking. Since I can’t get down to the Thinking Chair at the moment, I’ll get some fresh coffee in my mug, throw a fresh log on the fire and settle in for some imaginings of what might come next.

Bill Danielson has been a professional writer and nature photographer for 25 years. He has worked for the National Park Service, the US Forest Service, the Nature Conservancy and the Massachusetts State Parks and he currently teaches high school biology and physics. For more in formation visit his website at, or head over to Speaking of Nature on Facebook.

The 10 best compact cameras, according to National Geographic

The OM System (aka Olympus cameras) just released the flagship OM-1 camera, a major upgrade from the beloved Olympus E-M1 series.   

The OM-1 has a similar layout to the E-M1 series but it packs a super fast stacked sensor for high-speed stills shooting at up to 10 FPS mechanical and a blazing 120 FPS electronic. An updated sensor brings better low light performance and subject detection autofocus algorithms that can detect cars, planes, animals, and humans.  

This model also has hand-held high-res shooting (you can take 50 MP images out of a burst of 16 frames) and the Live-ND filter, which simulates a neutral-density filter. In addition, computational photography for handheld shooting emulates some tripod-based long exposure shooting (for example, a blurred waterfall). The pro line lenses have a high-quality build, integrated lens hoods, smooth zoom and focus rings, and round bokeh visualization (background blur). 

The OM-1’s lens options make it ideal for birders and wildlife watchers. The new 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO gives you a lightweight 300-800mm range and an integrated teleconverter up to 1000mm handheld. Tom tested this lens/camera combo and had a blast photographing birds in his neighbourhood without his arms getting too tired. For more: OM Systems  

Tip: The best lenses include the Olympus 12-100mm F/4 IS PRO (24-200mm), 12-24mm f/2.8 II PRO (24-80mm f/2.8 equivalent), 40-150mm F/2.8 PRO (80-300mm pro zoom), 7-14mm PRO (wide-angle zoom), 300mm F/4 IS PRO (600mm F4 equivalent), 150-400mm F4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO (300-800mm f/4.5).

Fujifilm X-S10  

The Recorder – Speaking of Nature: Examining the rules of nature photography

The world of wildlife photography is an interesting one. First, there are the difficulties associated with actually taking the photographs. In the days when I first got started (back at the end of the 20th century) the difficulties were almost beyond imagination. Imagine a scenario in which there was no such thing as a digital camera. Imagine a scenario in which you may wait for hours until a species or an event finally happens, you take a photo of this species or event, but you don’t know if you “got it” for several days. Such was the case back in the days of film cameras.

Today, with digital cameras, you can take a photo and know almost instantly if you “got it,” or not. Regardless of the wait time (seconds or days) there is still the spirit-crushing anguish associated with the knowledge that the event you attempted to capture on film may not occur again for another year, or even worse, never. Missing a photo can be devastating.

There is also this notion of “authenticity.” What are the rules that govern a photo’s acceptability in different publications? What are the taboos that should be avoided in the world of wildlife photography? Well, the first one (the big one) is pretty reasonable: No photos of wildlife in captivity. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the animal is, nor how “natural” the setting may appear, you just don’t do it. This suggests that the notion of “wildness” has to be respected and maintained by the people trying to represent it. Seems very reasonable, right?

Then there is the notion of background. Unless the content of the story with which a particular photo is associated specifically mentions the specifics of a particular photo’s qualities, it is usually desirable to avoid including certain manmade objects in the background. Again, there seems to be a certain chauvinism against humanity that is associated with the notion of wildness; the idea that somehow, if any trace of humanity is included in a photograph, then it is somehow tainted. Of course there are exceptions to every rule. A bird nest inside an old rusty mailbox might be more desirable than the bird nest by itself, if you know what I mean.

So this brings us to an examination of the photos that I provide with my columns. What sort of photos are acceptable and what sort are not? Are the rules different for me, compared to the rules that might be imposed on a photographer for National Geographic magazine? The inescapable reality to this question is a resounding yes. I can get away with things in this column that I could not get away with in most magazines and it all comes down to context.

The focus of my column has always been the nature that you can experience in your own neighborhood and your own back yard. Over the years this has included the theme of backyard birdfeeders and this is especially true when winter rolls around and the bustle around birdfeeders increases. I am allowed to take photos of birds at feeders because I am specifically trying to show you how to identify the birds that may come for food. And let’s face it, you could wander around in the woods for hours, days and weeks without seeing the sort of activity that you can observe at a backyard birdfeeder in an hour or two.

As a result, I can use photos that have obvious artifacts of human civilization in the background. The railing of my deck has been featured in my photos more times than I care to count. The different feeders that I use have also appeared so predictably that I have no idea of the actual numbers. But even I still endeavor to capture an image of a backyard bird that is taken in a more “natural” setting whenever possible. This week’s photo is a perfect example.

I was sitting in my Thinking Chair on that unusually warm weekend at the beginning of November and I was taking photos of all the birds that were gathering around me. The only reason that they were congregating in my vicinity was because I had put out food. In fact, I do this so regularly that the birds are often waiting for me before I even arrive. Once the food is out, the level of activity grows as the word spreads and it is always interesting to see how a group of chickadees can attract the attention of other birds.

So it was that a dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis) happened to appear on the fringes of the day’s crowd. Curious about all of the commotion, the bird quickly saw that there was food available and though it was understandably shy at first, it eventually joined in and got some breakfast. I happened to snap this photo of the bird as it sat and assessed the safety of the situation and in so doing I captured a wild bird in its wild habitat; perhaps the finest photo of a junco that I’ve taken in many years.

But here’s the thing … later in the winter this same bird may visit my deck to look for food. In fact, every day this same wild bird may spend hours of its life around the feeders on my deck as it tries to survive the winter. So doesn’t that make my deck the “natural” habitat of this wild bird living its wild life? Clearly the answer is yes, but there still remains a certain authenticity associated with a photo with a “natural” background. Fortunately, I think we all just want to see the birds wherever and whenever we can.

Bill Danielson has been a professional writer and nature photographer for 25 years. He has worked for the National Park Service, the US Forest Service, the Nature Conservancy and the Massachusetts State Parks and he currently teaches high school biology and physics. For more in formation visit his website at, or head over to Speaking of Nature on Facebook.