An Australian native studying in Germany, Morgan Cardiff traveled even further from home this year to volunteer with the Landmark citizen science program on American Prairie Reserve. A seasoned photographer and videographer, Morgan captured the landscape, animals, and fellow prairie travelers in ways that only he could – living, breathing, and exploring the most remote parts of the project area. Here are his tips for capturing the prairie through photography:
(1) Wake up early, Stay out late.
(2) Try to plan your trip around a new moon and wake up at 2am. It will blow your mind.
(3) The wide open spaces mean that getting close to wildlife is a difficult task (beyond sitting in a hideout all day) or having a super telephoto lens. Try and think about how to capture the wildlife as part of the overall landscape rather than as an individual or group.
(4) Bison move across the landscape incredibly quickly. Look at the general direction they are traveling and position yourself for the best opportunity. If you are always following them, you will get a lot of rear end shots. A vehicle is a good way to get closer and avoid the risk factor. Also the longer you spend with them, the more comfortable they become with your presence.
(5) Look for photo opportunities during the day and return when lighting conditions are more favorable.
(6) During summer, you can see the dramatic storms coming from miles. Have a few locations pre-conceived, keeping in mind that most of the super cell type storms travel from the west.
(7) Walking is the best way to find great photo opportunities, as much of the beauty is in the small details.
(8) Most of all be patient, it is not the type of landscape that shows its beauty immediately, you have to wait for it, and work with it, but it can be incredibly rewarding.