David Brickner: Blog https://www.davidbricknerphotography.com/blog en-us (C) David Brickner (David Brickner) Fri, 22 Jan 2021 15:08:00 GMT Fri, 22 Jan 2021 15:08:00 GMT https://www.davidbricknerphotography.com/img/s/v-12/u85928385-o208941375-50.jpg David Brickner: Blog https://www.davidbricknerphotography.com/blog 120 80 Rediscovering nature photography https://www.davidbricknerphotography.com/blog/2021/1/rediscovering-nature-photography I got started on wildlife photography by visiting places such as Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Glacier National Park. Sweeping valleys offered opportunity after opportunity for spotting bison, bears, and on the rare occasion, wolves. I was somewhat spoiled by the abundance of wildlife. While many of my photos from these places reflect my inexperience as a photographer, I developed a deep passion for wildlife photography, particularly photographing the large mammals of North America. I can’t fully describe what it was that clicked inside of me on these early trips, but I have found few things in life that bring the same rush of excitement and purpose as finding and photographing animals such as moose, bears, and wolves. There’s something deeply meaningful when a moose allows you approach and sit with it while it grazes at sunset. Or when a wolf looks up and makes eye contact with you, it’s yellow eyes meeting yours and staring right through you. These were a lot of my early experiences with wildlife photography and they shaped my photography more than anything else. IMG_4860IMG_4860Bald ealge in flight. Location: Covill Park, Red Wing, Minnesota. Date: February 15, 2016.

Living in Minnesota, finding and photographing wildlife looked very different. I would make occasional trips along the Mississippi River to photograph eagles. Every now and then I would trek up to a well known area to photograph owls. But much of the time my photography was limited to local state parks which primarily meant deer and birds. For the most part I felt somewhat lost in my own state when it came to photographing wildlife. I knew the opportunities were out there, but I didn’t know where to start. 

There came a season where I moved away from wildlife photography and focused on other pursuits. Along the way I had upgraded my camera gear and in the process hadn’t replaced the lens necessary to capture images of wild animals. I wasn’t sure if wildlife photography would have a place in my life going forward and in general I wasn’t sure how photography fit in.

T hen Covid happened. Many activities that I enjoyed were no longer available and I felt overwhelmed at the idea of sitting in my apartment for the next several months. So I started browsing Ebay for used lenses suitable for photographing wildlife. Within about a day I had purchased one and over the next few weeks I spent countless evenings wandering off-trail through the forests along the Minnesota River Valley photographing owls, sunsets, and anything else that caught my eye. 

Over the course of these few weeks I experienced a reawakening for wildlife photography. This time I started to feel a call to turn my attention to northern Minnesota, whose forests are home to bears, moose and wolves. I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life and had never encountered any of these animals in my home state. In Yellowstone you are almost guaranteed to see these animals. Its sweeping valleys provide incredible opportunities. But the dense forests of northern Minnesota provide a unique challenge. 

DSC08908DSC08908Great Horned Owl, Fort Snelling State Park, Minnesota
Northern Minnesota has always been a very intimidating place for me when it comes to wildlife photography and I didn’t really know where to begin. Inspired by other local photographers, I started doing research on where I might encounter bears, moose, or wolves. Then my wife and I made our first trip up the Gunflint Trail. Our plan was to camp, canoe, and spend time hiking and exploring the area with the hope of seeing wildlife along the way.  On our first morning we encountered a moose. It was late morning  and in an unlikely spot. But there it was. The next day a pair of black  bears ran in front of the car. Then we came across two more moose later that night. On top of that we saw several foxes, loons, and had a great time canoeing, hiking, and exploring. I was completely hooked and throughout the rest of 2020 we made countless trips up north exploring back roads, canoeing, and hiking. 

All that being said, and as difficult as 2020 was, the pandemic led me to step back into nature with a long lens and the goal of photographing Minnesota’s wildlife. The experience of spending  time with wildlife is powerful and I hope that the images I capture and share inspire others to value nature and step into it with the goal of experiencing it in whatever way is meaningful to them. 

I have a lot of photography goals for 2021. First is to capture more and better photos of moose. Minnesota’s moose population has seen a significant decline in the past 15 years and to see and photograph these animals is truly special. I also hope to capture some quality images of black bears. These animals are numerous throughout the state but often difficult to find. But I have hope that this year might be the year I get a decent photo. 

Thank you to those that follow along on this journey whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook, or through my website. I am excited for this year and whatever it may bring!

DSC03034DSC03034A moose walking along the backroads near the Gunflint Trail
 

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(David Brickner) animals bears eagles explore forest minnesota moose owls trees wilderness https://www.davidbricknerphotography.com/blog/2021/1/rediscovering-nature-photography Fri, 22 Jan 2021 14:00:00 GMT
The search for moose in Minnesota https://www.davidbricknerphotography.com/blog/2020/12/searching-for-moose This summer I set out with the goal of exploring the forests of Northern Minnesota with the hope of photographing some of Minnesota’s most elusive and most impressive animals; namely bears, moose, and wolves. I have had the opportunity to see and photograph those animals in places like Wyoming and Montana, but I had never had the opportunity to do so in my home state. Northern Minnesota has always been a very intimidating place for me when it comes to wildlife photography. Its dense forests make it difficult to see wildlife from afar and I really didn’t know where to begin. I started doing research on where I would have the best chance of encountering these animals. All signs pointed north. Way north. Deeper into the forests of my home state than I had ever traveled before. It’s intimidating heading out to a new place hoping to find wildlife that rarely makes itself visible to people. Fortunately, my wife loves northern Minnesota almost as much as I do, so we planned a weekend of canoeing and hiking with the promise of searching for wildlife thrown into the mix. Even if we didn’t see anything at least we still had a weekend of adventure ahead of us. 

DSC03034DSC03034A moose walking along the backroads near the Gunflint Trail On our first morning, driving to a canoe outfitters, we came around a corner and there was a bull moose at the edge of a pond. I didn’t even have my camera ready as we hadn’t anticipated seeing anything at 9am. But there it was. My first moose sighting in Minnesota. The rest of the trip didn’t disappoint. The following day a pair of black bears ran across the road in front of our car. Then that evening we set out to explore some back roads deep in the forest where we came across two more moose, one of which was casually walking down the road toward us. When he saw our car he gave me the classic over-the-shoulder look before heading into the trees. I was able to snap a few photos of each of these encounters, and while none of the photos were particularly amazing, I was completely hooked. 


Six days later I made a second trip up the north shore and back along the Gunflint Trail. I combed Minnesota’s forests DSC03430DSC03430A cow moose and her calf feeding in a small pond along the Gunflint Trail for hours, driving hundreds of miles and search along any drivable back road I could find. Eventually it paid off when I came upon a cow moose and her calf feeding in a small pond just before sunset. The cow plunge her head into the pond to feed and every time she brought it up water would cascade from her head. Meanwhile, her calf swam back and forth across the pond, passing occasionally to interact with its mother. It was such a beautiful encounter and I couldn’t believe that I had found moose two weekends in a row. 

2020_bullmoose_sawbilltrail_bringtoLR2020_bullmoose_sawbilltrail_bringtoLRA bull moose pauses to look back as before is disappears into the forests of northern Minnesota. Several weeks later I was back on the North Shore for a climbing trip with my wife. I have a way of working in wildlife photography into many of our trips, and on our first morning I rolled out of bed around 5am to search a new section the Superior National Forest. After only about 15 minutes of searching, I noticed a large dark shape moving through the trees. Sure enough, it was a bull moose and by far the largest I had seen this summer. He gave me only a few minutes of his time. The rising sun caused the trees behind him to glow and I kept hoping he’d step into the light. The best he could do for me was give me a parting glance over the shoulder as he disappeared into the trees, morning sunlight hitting the edge of his giant antlers. 


All that being said, this summer has opened a new chapter for me for wildlife photography. While it’s possible I’ve just been really lucky this summer, I feel confident that I will continue to have opportunities to photograph the impressive animals of Minnesota’s northern forests. It’s incredible to live in a state that is home to wildlife such as moose. In the past I would have waited for trips out west to places like Glacier and Yellowstone to see wildlife like this. I no longer feel like I need to wait. The opportunities are before me and I look forward to future endeavors into the wilderness of Minnesota.


 

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(David Brickner) animals explore forest minnesota moose trees wilderness wildlife woods https://www.davidbricknerphotography.com/blog/2020/12/searching-for-moose Tue, 29 Dec 2020 18:30:00 GMT