Why I Took These Shots
Matt Poole has been visitor services manager at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts and nearby Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge in New Hampshire since 2010. “My photographic interests and practices are extremely broad,” he says. “I'm just as happy to photograph rusty old cars and fire trucks and dilapidated buildings as wildlife. In fact, I'm much more of a landscape, flower and botanical macro-photographer than I will ever be a wildlife photographer.”
Of the photo at the top of this page — showing a gull among sanderlings along an Atlantic Ocean beach — he says: “I find great humor in this image. I think I had originally called it something like ‘Attempting to blend in with the crowd.’ Clearly, that goal has not been achieved.”
We asked Poole to select a few more of his favorite photos from Parker River and Great Bay National Wildlife Refuges and tell us about them.
“For me, the implied wing movement, reflections and high key background make the image. If you flipped this photo of greater yellowlegs upside down, you might not notice the difference.”
“I’m very mindful of giving plants and tiny critters equal time — compared to the amount of attention given to 'charismatic megafauna' like snowy owls and piping plovers. Here we have a small American copper on a black-eyed Susan. This little butterfly on this yellow flower is as visually interesting as any polar bear picture I’ve ever seen.”
“What could be more mundane or uninteresting than a humble and tiny brown-lipped snail, sliding along on a paved walkway? But people loved this on Facebook. It is a smartphone image, taken while I was lying face down on the sidewalk, an inch or so away from the snail.”
“What New Englander doesn’t love birch trees? I like the layered manner in which the trees are arranged in the frame. This image has a pleasing mixture of texture and color. I also think there is something ‘biophilial’ — something that bonds nature and humans — about images involving the meeting of land and water.”
“Rather than being an image of yet another snowy owl sitting on a dune with its eyes closed, this one shows the power of this raptor. Just look at the size of those feet and talons. Imagine the power of those wings.”
“This image strikes me as a simple still life that works because of the pleasing textures and colors. There is a visual circularity, with your eyes continually moving among the three dune plants.”
“One might argue this is a cliché shot. However, it does speak to the primary purpose of Parker River National Wildlife Refuge — providing habitat for migratory waterfowl. What do I like about the image? Sort of that classic “flock flight shot.” I like the color palette and the implied movement of the geese.”
“A photographer needs to have good observational skills and believe in the positive power of serendipity. Both elements explain how this image of a monarch butterfly and a brown-lipped snail was noticed and then captured. It’s this sort of chance encounter that fuels my personal sense of wonder when in nature.”
“I like the high key background, which forces your eyes right to this majestic raptor. The lower branch provides some nice visual balance, as does all the white space.”
“On national wildlife refuges, birds get lots of attention from photographers. I try to be mindful of the value of training a camera lens on other types of critters. This a soft way of reminding people about biodiversity. This image of an Eastern painted turtle works because it is tack sharp and has a very nice reflection.”
More about photography at national wildlife refuges.