Art in Nature

By Noppadol Paothong and David Stonner | February 14, 2012
From Missouri Conservationist: Mar 2012

Accuracy matters in nature photography. We are, in essence, nature journalists, and we tell the story of conservation in Missouri.

We strive to depict the flora and fauna of our beautiful state in a way that reveals as much about the subject as possible. Most of the pictures that accompany our stories are meant to teach the viewer something: how to identify a species, how it behaves, where it lives. When we show a picture of a bird, we want viewers to be able to use the picture to identify that bird and its habitat on their next outing. Through our landscape photos, we hope to convey not only what a place looks like, but also how it feels to be there.

While we try to capture the important details of our subjects, we also step back and look at the natural world in a completely different way. We deemphasize the journalist and emphasize the artist. We look for photographs that are compelling purely for their qualities of light, pattern, texture and color. We allow ourselves to become painters with our cameras.

Here we focus on the beauty and inspiration of nature, the pursuit of which—with or without a camera in hand— is a fine way to enjoy more time in our great outdoors. You, too, can find this beauty. All you need to do is step outside and take a walk. Look closely at the world around you. Crouch down low to see things that we often miss from our normal altitude of 5 to 6 feet. Cock your head to one side for a slightly different perspective, and you may find that colors, patterns and textures coalesce into something new and beautiful.

Please join us in nature’s art gallery.

American Lotus | Noppadol Paothong

I used a telephoto lens to isolate this lotus from the background against sunlight. The lens revealed the fine lines of the flower, giving a blurry abstract impression. 600mm lens • f/11 • 1/25 sec • ISO 200

Driftwood | David Stonner

The still waters of Duck Creek Conservation Area mirror roiling clouds and contrast with weathered drift wood piled up by winter storms. The blue hues of the cloud-veiled sunset help to convey the cold landscape. 16–35mm lens • f/8 • 1/15 sec • ISO 400

Autumn | David Stonner

The bright warm colors of a freshly fallen leaf contrast with rich green moss in a moist box canyon at Hickory Canyon in Ste. Genevieve County. Sometimes the small things underfoot can be lost in the quest to see the grand landscape. 24–70mm lens • f/4 • 1/60 sec • ISO 100

Teal Hunt | David Stonner

Heavy fog on a restored wetland in Carroll County reduces an image of a hunter to bare elements of monochrome shape and form. 70–200mm lens • f/2.8 • 1/100 sec • ISO 800

Toothed Spurge | Noppadol Paothong

I was intrigued by this native plant’s formation at Spring Creek Gap Conservation Area. After a number of attempts, I was able to get this shot that showcased Euphorbia dentata’s colorful formation and contrast against the background. 180mm lens • f/5.6 • 1/60 sec • ISO 200

Blazing Stars | Noppadol Paothong

Blazing stars were showy late in summer at Prairie Garden Trust in New Bloomfield. Instead of getting a close-up of one flower, I decided to focus more on the simplicity of their formation by using high depth-of-field. 180mm • f/32 • 1/15 sec • ISO 200

Greater Roadrunner | Noppadol Paothong

While photographing a greater roadrunner, I caught a glimpse of glistening on its feathers. When I got close enough to get fine details of the feathers, I was amazed by their beautiful color and formation. 500mm lens • f/11 • 1/160 sec • ISO 400

Migration | David Stonner

Hundreds of thousands of snow geese take flight at sunrise on the fall journey south. A

long telephoto lens compresses the birds into a two dimensional abstract pattern.

500mm lens • f/4 • 1/500 sec • ISO 400

Chanterelle Mushroom | David Stonner

Lying down on the ground inches from a Cantharellus lateritius, I saw intricate undulations and form that I would normally overlook on a hike in the woods. 100mm macro lens • f/8 • 1/250 sec • ISO 100

Also In This Issue

fishing rod and reel
Paddlefishing is no leisure sport.
75th anniversary fishing
This year, MDC celebrates the 75th anniversary of putting the state's citizen-led conservation efforts into action. In this issue, we highlight the Department's diverse sport-fishing management efforts that conserve and enhance Missouri's world-class fishing.

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler