Wildlife Portraits by Our Photo Contest Judge

Clay Bolt, co-founder of the Meet Your Neighbours photo project, shares some of his shots.

Ebony jewelwing damselflies (“Calopteryx maculata”) prefer to inhabit slow-flowing, shallow bodies of water such as streams, creeks, and swamps. Males will often display for females by flicking their wings open from a favorite perch. Photo by Clay Bolt

We were delighted to enlist professional photographer Clay Bolt as a judge for our 2013 Winter Nature Photo Contest. [EDITOR’S NOTE: The contest is now closed.] His work has been featured in National Geographic, Scientific American, Outdoor Photographer, and Audubon magazines. He created (with Niall Benvie) Meet Your Neighbours, an online photography project that highlights local biodiversity by showcasing portraits of neighborhood wildlife. These are just a few of Bolt’s amazing wildlife portraits. In the captions, he explains a bit about his subjects and techniques.

Young gray treefrogs (“Hyla versicolor”) can often be quite green, but over time they become much darker and masters of camouflage that can blend seamlessly with their surroundings. They are found throughout eastern North America but are usually located by their parrot-like calls that ring out from the trees just before a warm spring rain. Photo by Clay Bolt
My lifelong fascination with insects began with the eastern Hercules beetle (“Dynastes tityus”), which is one of the largest beetles in North America. I photographed it in a style known as wide-angle macro photography, which offers a great way to include habitat with very small subjects. I recently co-authored an e-book on this subject with Paul Harcourt Davies that can be found at http://tiny.cc/widemacro. Photo by Clay Bolt


While on an assignment for The Nature Conservancy to document species that depend on healthy oyster reef systems, I photographed this amazing little Atlantic brief squid (“Lolliguncula brevis”) off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. Backlighting in the Meet Your Neighbours field studio revealed the amazing coloration of this small animal that measured around 3 inches long. Photo by Clay Bolt

The photo above was taken using the “field studio technique” required for Meet Your Neighbours. The project’s website explains the protocol:

• All the images are shot in the field, on location and no subject is collected to photograph indoors – unless it’s there in the first place!
• The background of each image must be uniformly 255 in each channel and backlit. This gives the characteristic brilliance and translucence seen in MYN photos and facilitates design and compositing. Photoshop cut outs can’t match this look, especially in respect of how out of focus edges are rendered.
• Front lighting must be diffused and near shadowless to render maximum detail.
• Any subjects that require to be handled must be returned as soon as possible to the spot from which they were collected. Photographers are expect to observe the normal ethical standards of their discipline.

Meet the Writer

About Leslie Taylor

Leslie Taylor is the digital media manager at Maine Audubon and is a former web editor for Science Friday.

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