For those who may be interesting in how I got started in nature photography, keep reading.
For most of my life I have been addicted to outdoor activities. I started around 18 years old when I was introduced to hunting and fishing. I fell in love with being in the woods, and spent about 20 years hunting and fishing. I decided I had done the hunting and fishing long enough and needed to find some new outdoor activities.
In the mid 90’s I notice that mountains bikes were becoming popular and it looked like fun, and the local park had developed some great trails for mountain bikes. So I bought my first mountain bike and started riding the trails. Lots of fun.
Then on a camping trip to the upper peninsula of Michigan I was at a small park where for the first time I saw a Kayak. Our family rented some and had a blast. So as soon as I got home I found a store that carried kayaks and bought two. I was always looking for new things that would give me an excuse to be outdoors. So than for a few years became addicted to kayaking.
In the late 90’s I started seeing dog sledding on TV and thought that was pretty cool, so found an outfitter up in Canada, and a buddy and I booked ourselves a trip. We each got three dogs and a sled, and off we went, twenty five miles into the bush, stayed overnight in a cabin and then the twenty five miles back then next day. What a blast, and the dogs were awesome.
Still fascinated by the dog sledding, I went to Alaska to see the 1999 Iditarod, the last one of the century. I got to meet the famous mushers I had read about and pet the dogs, which are amazing athletes.
In 2000 I was at an REI store and saw a brochure from a guide service in California that would take you to the top of Mt Shasta. I thought, wow I gotta do that. So talked another buddy into signing up. To get in shape we trained and the same park where I was mountain biking because of the hilly terrain.
While on these training hikes I was starting to pay more attention to my surroundings and thinking about what great photos could be made if only I had a camera, which I didn’t.
In the summer of 2000 I got to the top of Mt Shasta, and had a great time. After that climb I wanted a more challenging climb, and was told that Mt Rainer was the toughest endurance climb in the lower 48. It’s where all the american climbers that climb Mt Everest do their training. I signed up with Ranier Mountaineering Guides.
In the mean time I signed up with my wife to go on an archaeology dig in Canada, and hooked up with a professor that took our group to a farm where the farmer had discovered an Indian midden, which is an Indian garbage dump. We found all kinds of cool stuff like, beads, pottery, bear jaw bone, other animal bones, and I found a small stone with a deer etched in it, which the professor was pretty excited about. All the stuff we found would eventually end up in a museum that in I believe was in, London, Ontario.
During the winter of 2000, I did my first winter backpack trip on the shores of Lake Michigan, even had a snow storm during our trip, very cool stuff. In that same winter I booked a trip with an outfitter in Canada to do some ice climbing near the shores of Lake Superior. Climbed up frozen waterfalls.
In August of 2001 I went to Mount Rainier and did the climb. what a great experience. Got to meet some famous mountain climbers like Peter Whittaker, who is a well known climber and his family owned the Rainer Mountaineering Guides. Peter’s father and uncle were legendary climbers, and his uncle Jim Whittaker was the first American to stand on top of Mt Everest. One of my guides was the well known Dave Hahn, who has nine ascents of Mount Everest, 25 ascents of Antarctica’s Vinson Massif which I believe is the record for accent on that mountain.
On the plane ride home from the Rainer trip I was thinking of new adventures in the outdoors. I started thinking about all those cool things I was seeing on my training hikes at Stony Creek Metro Park, and thought, I’m going to look into nature photography. I did on occasions buy a Outdoor Photographer magazine and was always fascinated by the images.
I bought a book by John Shaw on nature photography to figure out what kind of equipment I needed to buy. I went on ebay and bought a used Nikon N80 film camera and an assortment of lenses, tripod and head. So in late October of 2001 I ventured off to the woods of Stony Creek Metro Park to take some picture.
At first I was interested in being a landscape photographers, but realizing that the area I lived had limited potential for great landscapes, I started to study the macro world, fell in love with the tiny landscapes, and sold my wide angle lenses, and became a macro freak.
By 2004 I was starting to make a little money with my macro images, and in 2008 I gave up my Painting Company and was able to make it as a full time nature photographer. The business grows bigger with each year. Unfortunately the nature photography business consumes so much time that I don’t get as much time to do my other interests that I’ve been involved in, but it’s okay because the photography has become my favorite of all the activities I’ve been involved in.
If you made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read my story.
Tomorrow I will post an image from that first fall morning I went out to Stony Creek with my new camera gear.
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