Clark, H.O., Jr. 2012. Review of Captured: Lessons from Behind the Lens of a Legendary Wildlife Photographer by Moose Peterson. Western North American Naturalist 72:125-126 by lordorman


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									Western North American Naturalist 72(1), © 2012, pp. 125–126

                                             BOOK REVIEW

Captured: Lessons from Behind the Lens of a               2 guides are commonly mentioned throughout
   Legendary Wildlife Photographer. 2010.                 Captured: (1) The Sibley Guide to Birds (Sib-
   Moose Peterson. New Riders, Pearson                    ley 2000) and (2) A Guide to the Nest, Eggs,
   Education, Peachpit Press, Berkeley, CA.               and Nestlings of North America (Baicich and
   $54.99; 396 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-321-                 Harrison 1997).
   72059-7.                                                  Moose has photographed 127 threatened and
                                                          endangered species during his career and has
    Moose Peterson, acclaimed wildlife photo-             worked with 217 biologists. That’s very impres-
grapher, has produced a hefty account of his              sive because it shows that there is more to his
experiences over the past 3 decades photograph-           work than these simple numbers: he has become
ing wildlife as they occur on the landscape.              a spokesperson for species in peril and the
His research and trial and error in the field has         people who study them. His photos communi-
led to an amassed repertoire of photographic              cate to the world that wildlife species are in
skill that is nearly unmatched anywhere else.             trouble and need help. His work is critical to the
In this volume, he shares his insights, advice,           conservation effort and does more to sound
and thoughts on this growing form of photo-               the environmental crisis alarm than anything
graphy. Here, he captures the essence of wildlife         else. Many of his photos have become the rally-
photography in 8 chapters and 4 appendixes,               ing cry for endangered species such as the San
all covering a particular aspect of the craft. The        Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) and
book has a unique appearance because the cover            the blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila).
looks like a leather-bound journal. The rustic            I would not be exaggerating if I were to say
feel continues within, as on almost every page            that the recovery of some endangered species
is a photographic tip or piece of advice “taped”          may not have happened without Moose’s help.
on the page, like “No shot is worth harming                  The best parts of the book are the stories
your subject.” The photos, which are certainly            about his experiences in the field, not only
the highlight of the book, look like they have            with the focus species, but also his interac-
been placed on the page with corner clips. These          tions with researchers and biologists. He brings
features set up a mood for the reader to enjoy            a lot to the table—not just as a wildlife pho-
an “off the cuff ” photographic presentation.             tographer donating his time, but as a fearless
    Moose started out rather humble but eager             worker—from collecting insects for the Attwa-
to learn. His mind was a sponge, and his                  ter’s Prairie Chicken (Tympanuchus cupido
never-ending barrage of questions only made               attwateri) to helping capture Rocky Mountain
him a better wildlife photographer and natu-              bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis).
ralist. Any object was a worthy subject—from              He’s quick to lend a hand, and in exchange he
the common species in his backyard to the                 gains knowledge on the species and comes
stuffed toy animals he used to study lighting.            away with some outstanding photos. Some of
When things didn’t work out, he would labor               his writings in Captured are extremely infor-
even harder to get the shot he wanted. He                 mative; I especially enjoyed his account of the
needed to understand how animals behaved,                 American pika (Ochotona princeps), a flagship
which is key in understanding wildlife in the             species in the new field of climate change
field. When he first started wildlife photogra-           research. His work with the pika is well worth
phy, there were no Internet resources; he had             a read (Chapter 7).
to read scientific journals, such as The Auk,                With experience comes connections. For
The Condor, and the Wilson Report. From the               example, Moose’s work with the bighorn sheep
information in those journals, he was able to             opened doors in Alaska. While there, Moose
grasp basic wildlife ecology and behavioral               wanted to photograph a moose (Alces alces), but
processes. Research led to other helpful books;           before he could, he needed to be interviewed

126                          WESTERN NORTH AMERICAN NATURALIST                               [Volume 72

by the director of the Kenai Moose Research         ground, focus, color, and action (what the ani-
Center. The director had a bad experience           mal is doing). You need all of these things to
with a photographer before, so things were          tell the story about your subject. Sometimes
not in Moose’s favor from the outset. During        you need to get on your belly to get a good
the interview, the conversation about photog-       shot and sometimes you don’t, but you have
raphy was going downhill fast, so they turned       to decide within a few seconds. Photograph
to biology instead. Moose was able to provide       everything—it cannot hurt.
insight into an antler growth problem and cop-         Sometimes Moose goes into lengthy detail
per deficiency. This piqued the interest of the     about a shot he was trying to pull off. One
director, who asked if Moose could provide a        time he spent 40 minutes approaching a nest-
contact name. The contact was Vern, the biolo-      ing Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica), a photo later
gist whom Moose helped on the Rocky Moun-           used by Nikon for a poster (p. 339). The photo
tain bighorn sheep capture project. The direc-      was not included in the book—I would have
tor then asked, “You’re that photographer, aren’t   liked to see a shot that took 40 minutes to get!
you?” Moose was wondering about the mean-              In conclusion, Moose’s book is almost like a
ing behind the question when the director           photographic autobiography. The 3 decades he
said, “Did Vern ever tell you about his Ph.D.       has spent capturing wildlife species has led him
defense?” Nope. Moose had done photographic         to become their voice through images. The book
work for Vern’s research and those photos           contains only a glimpse into the mind of Moose
apparently were used in the defense. The            Peterson—I am sure he could have expanded
director continued: “At the end of Vern’s pre-      each chapter into its own book and photo-
sentation, the oldest, wisest, crustiest member     graphic portfolio. But be that as it may, he has
of the panel, who makes the room nervous just       produced an interesting volume that will surely
when he shifts his chair, paused and cleared        be a sought-after tool for both photographers
his throat. ‘I don’t know much about your sci-      and wildlife biologists alike.
ence, but those are the damn finest pho-
tographs I’ve ever seen!” With the telling of                       LITERATURE CITED
that story, the director welcomed Moose to the
research center (p. 241). Stories like these                  .J.,
                                                    BAICICH, P AND C.J.O. HARRISON. 1997. A guide to the
                                                         nests, eggs and nestlings of North American birds.
make Captured a unique volume.                           2nd edition. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
    I read Captured with the mindset of a biolo-    SIBLEY, D.A. 2000. The Sibley guide to birds. Alfred A.
gist (my profession) and not as a photographer           Knopf, Inc., New York, NY.
(I take hundreds of photos of wildlife in the
field, but I use a high-end point-and-shoot            Howard O. Clark, Jr.
camera). Most of the photographic jargon was           H.T. Harvey & Associates
lost to me, but I was able to learn many of the        7815 North Palm Avenue, Suite 310
basics Moose was communicating. Lighting is            Fresno, California 93711
key to a winning photograph, as well as back-          E-mail:

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