Glenn Nevill is a wildlife photographer based in San Francisco. His work includes an expansive photo diary covering the lives of San Francisco’s urban Peregrine Falcons. He’s been photographing these birds since 2005, documenting the official banding of the Peregrine chicks, the first flights of fledglings, and the lives of adult Peregrines about town. His catalog includes many other bird and wildlife species found in the Bay Area, and you can see the full breadth of Glenn’s work at his website, Glenn Nevill Photography and also at his blog Musings on Nature & Other Interests. Glenn was also an early supporter of the Wildlife Conservation Stamp Project.
What initially fueled your interest in wildlife photography?
I love watching wildlife, but find it hard to see everything as I am watching. Using a camera I capture moments too fleeting to absorb with the naked eye. My most recent pull into photography began with my acquisition of my first digital camera and nesting falcons just outside my office building in San Francisco back in 2005.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned through photographing birds and other wild animals?
Give them space. Crowding in on a wild creature disturbs them. They deserve our respect and the best thing we can do is pass up on a shot if we can’t do it without bothering the animal.
Tell us about your favorite photograph or field experience.
Hard to pick just one, but if pressed, it would be the first time I was asked to document the banding of Peregrine Falcon chicks on the 30th-story balcony of an office building in downtown San Francisco. I had never been that close to biologists at work and never that close to falcons in the wild. I came away with an amazing sequence of images as well as a new found appreciation for raptors.
“George” – San Francisco Peregrine – © Glenn Nevill
What gear do you almost always pack with you?
I photograph birds primarily, so I’m either packing a 500mm with 1.4x tele-converter or a 400mm lens attached to a Canon 1Dmk4 body. If possible, I carry a tripod and Wimberley sidekick swivel mount, but will shoot hand-held if I have to.
I always carry extra memory cards, a spare battery, a blower bulb and lens cleaning kit. Water bottle, hat and sunscreen.
What’s your favorite photography location and what’s special about it?
One of my favorite locations for bird watching is Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. There are all kinds of bird species to see and most are pretty used to being close to people. Plus, it is close to home. An even closer spot for me and thus a favorite location is Heron’s Head Park, right on San Francisco Bay. It is home to more than 100 species of birds. But I can find great birding all over the Pacific coast or anywhere I travel.
Farallon National Wildlife Refuge is the only Refuge I have been to in California, and only once, but it’s worth the trip — great for whale watching and pelagic birding.
Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge on the big island Hawaii. There are limited tours of this mountain side location and again, I’ve only been once. A very memorable experience. There are eight endangered bird species and twelve endangered plant species in this reserve.
Your best nature books or field guides:
For learning the best ways to photograph birds I recommend two books:
Photographing Wild Birds by Chris Gomersall and The Art of Bird Photography by Arthur Morris
The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley is my favorite field guide.
Also, for places to go: Birding Northern California by John Kemper.
American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau (edited by Bill McKibben)
Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
And Return of the Peregrine (editors: Tom J. Cade & William Burnham)
What is your dream photography location or species?
I’d like to make it to Costa Rica someday.
Favorite species is the Peregrine Falcon.
How has wildlife photography changed your personal or world view?
My wildlife photography has helped me reach a deeper understanding of how connected we all are to nature. It’s one world and we are a part of it, not outside of it.
What contributions to wildlife or conservation are you most proud of in your own life?
I’m pleased with the response I have gotten from the gallery of images I have presented online. The feedback is encouraging and it seems to inspire people.
Your best tips for the novice wildlife photographer:
Photograph what you are drawn to. If you have a passion it will show in the work you do.
What changes would you like to see in the way people interact with wild animals?
I think the guidelines put forth by NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) are succinct and would do a lot toward protecting wild animals.
My favorite one is this:
“Treat wildlife, plants, and places as if you were their guest.”
And this one:
“Use appropriate lenses to photograph wild animals – if an animal show stress, move back and use a longer lens.”
Words of wisdom you like to live by?
Take care of the world and it might take care of you,
(Don’t take care of it and we’re all pretty much screwed.)
Also this quote from Mark Twain:
“Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”