Photographing Rare and Endangered Species

Posted on by Kathie Fife

In today’s (June 13, 2013) Sunday paper, The Nashua Telegraph photo editor and writer, Don Himsel created a great story about my work photographing the rare and endangered flora and fauna of NH.  More specifically, the story focused on the state butterfly, the karner blue.

I’m so happy with this story because Don Himsel created the story to tell the whole story — not just about a photographer snapping photos of interesting subjects.

Here is a link to the full story  (a log in is required to see the story) in The Nashua Telegraph:  Photographer searches for rare state butterfly in Concord.

Screen shot of the online version of the story by Don Himsel:  The Nashua Telegraph story:  Photographer searches for rare state butterfly in Concord

The Nashua Telegraph story: Photographer searches for rare state butterfly in Concord

My background is in environmental conservation and I’ve studied botany and worked in the professional field for about 20 years.  While it may seem romantic to go out in the fields and forests and begin to take photographs of rare species, it isn’t always that easy.  The weather conditions, carrying up to 40 pounds of photography equipment, and timing it just right so that the plants are at close to peak flowering time can be challenging.

Kathie Fife searches for rare and endangered species.

Kathie Fife searches for rare and endangered species. Don Himsel Photo, Nashua Telegraph.

I recall a trip last year to a unique bog where the endangered showy orchid grows.  The area is owned and monitored by conservation groups including the Nature Conservancy and The New England Wildflower Society.  Visitors may experience the bog and it’s showy orchids (more than one orchid species grows here, which is a real treat to see!) via a boardwalk.  Signs ask visitors to please stay on the boardwalk.  As a photographer, it can be tricky trying to get the perfect shot when you don’t want to trample on young shoots, or other plants.  Its never a good idea to walk on plants, especially in sensitive areas like this bog.

I watched as visitors walked through the bog with their point and shoots wanting to get a nice shot of a beautiful orchid.  I watched as they stepped off the boardwalk and trampled on plants to get to the orchids.  What are they thinking?!  That one step onto a young shoot just killed an orchid!

Large-Flowered Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora) is an endangered plant in NH.

Large-Flowered Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora) is an endangered plant in NH grows in rich mesic soils and forests of sugar maple and ash.

Please, if you are not 100% sure that you can identify plants, please be mindful and do not walk on any plants, especially in the area where rare and sensitive species are growing.  One careless mistake like walking on a rare plant can be detrimental to the plant, and ultimately to the whole plant community.  Some species of plants take many years to mature and bear fruit.  And many plant species are dependent on the survival of nearby plants to survive!

Many times I have decided that trying to get that perfect shot wasn’t worth the impact I would create on the plant community.  The plants are worth more alive than an image on my website or in a book.  I am happier knowing I can go back each year and visit them in person, and see them alive and thriving in their natural community. Do you agree?

To view more images of rare orchids, please visit my native plant gallery.

NH's state butterfly, the karner blue on the native wild blue lupine.  Both species are rare in NH and found in one small habitat called the pine barrens. Also available as a Limited Edition Fine Art Print.

NH’s state butterfly, the karner blue on the native wild blue lupine. Both species are rare in NH and found in one small habitat called the pine barrens. Also available as a Limited Edition Fine Art Print.

Click here to order the Wild Blue Photograph as a greeting card.

As always, please be mindful and respectful to property and wildlife.

All content including images are copyright Kathie Fife Photography.  Please contact us for permission for use before downloading and or copying.  Thank you.
Please note:  All text and photographs are copyright Kathie Fife Photography and The Nashua Telegraph.  If you would like to use any of the images or material for use, please contact me for permission.

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