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The Design Center / Creative Networking / Field Trip: CritterZone  

The Price of Admission to Goosedom

By Andy Williams,

the goose The mission of is to provide graphic designers with animal and nature images that make clients say "WOW!"

At this time, there are over 30 photographers participating in CritterZone from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Hungary and Japan. We soon hope to add more people from Asia, Australia, South America, and other E.U. countries.

With such a diverse base of artistic talent, we're able to gather photos from scenic landscapes to funky insect close-ups and slice-of-life shots spanning the diversity of creatures that inhabit our forests, deserts, grasslands, oceans and back yards!

While out in the sticks and mud, we attempt to get two types of photos, "personality" images and identification shots. Personality images include things like mothers and babies, animals yawning or showing teeth, fighting, predating and eating -- anything a viewer can relate to on an emotional level. These photos make killer advertisements! Identification shots are just that, full body portraits of animals that may be useful for encyclopedic type content. They aren't quite as exciting, but still serve a useful purpose.

Animals don't always cooperate

the critterAnimals don't always cooperate with you, and getting personality shots is always a challenge. Besides the patience required for sharp, interesting, properly exposed portraits, environmental factors have a giant influence on wildlife photography.

Earlier this week, I spent 20 minutes crawling through grass covered in goose droppings. It was an attempt to gain the trust of goose and gander in order to get closer to their fuzzy napping goslings. The slow approach had to be at goose level and quiet.

familyUpon reaching optimal photography range, I contorted my body into a pretzel-like shape to attain the best photo angle without worrying the protective parents. Within only a few minutes, it was over. Out of my peripheral vision, appeared a very enthusiastic chocolate lab. The canine was brimming with joy as the geese rapidly waddled to the water's edge in fear of being a live rubber ducky or worse. Needless to say, I didn't get to fill up the digital film that afternoon.

ducklingIn my approach to keeping geese calm, I've gone as far as emulating their behavior, and, in the process, thoroughly entertained the local fishermen. From walking like a duck and matching goose style head bobs to attempting some of their calls, I've tried it all. Have I been accepted into goosedom? Possibly at times, at least long enough to enjoy their family life up close and personal while getting the shots I was after.

Since summer began here in Denver, my local waterfowl haunt has nearly always been occupied by water-skiers, dog walkers, and loads of very curious children. They're just out enjoying nature in their own way along with me, but sometimes it makes getting really good wild animal shots a lot harder. However, in some instances, I've found that the ski boats can work in my favor, driving aquatic birds closer to shore and my camera's lens!

If, at the end of the day, can provide an ad agency or designer with an animal photo that makes them chuckle or murmur, "How cool!," our mission has been accomplished.

Andy Williams

Images and Text �2004 Andy Williams for the

Nature Photography at its best...

The Critter Zone

Don't miss the The Critter Zone Gallery -- CritterZone is the Environmentally Minded Nature & Wildlife Photography Site -- more than 30 pro and semi-pro photographers grab the best images from around the world from ants to zebras ... sunsets to deserts ... amphibian, big game, bird, bug, insect, mammal, marine mammal, reptile, spider, scientific, flower, landscape, water fowl, insects, spiders, arachnids, amphibians, frog, salamander, reptiles, alligators, crocodiles, lizards, birds, mammals from antelopes (african), to wolves; fish and underwater photography, flowers, plants, landscapes, textures, art, beaches, trees, clouds, garden of the gods, great sand dunes national monument (colorado), jungles, rainforests, swamps, lightning strikes, moons, mountains, oceans, river, waterfalls, sand dunes, sunsets, swamps, jungles, plants, seeds, fungi, fruits, nuts, seeds, textures, tracks, fire, backgrounds and landscapes and more and more and more and more.

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