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Interview With Moose Peterson: Capturing Critters on Camera

Wildlife photographer, Moose Peterson

Wildlife photographer, Moose Peterson. Image courtesy of Moose Peterson

In this interview, Moose Peterson talks about his passion for photography, his must-have camera gear, his most memorable moments, challenges that come with being a wildlife photographer, and more.

Q&A with Moose Peterson

Rhonda Callow (RC): First, tell me a little about yourself and where your passion for photography comes from.

Moose Peterson (MP): Well, I’m a third generation Californian and grew up touring the state in the family station wagon. I was raised on stories of seeing California Condors from downtown Los Angeles and in the granite slopes of the Eastern Sierra. By the time we were in our twenties, my wife and I saw much of what we cherished already disappearing so we started to get involved in getting the public involved with their wild heritage. The vehicle we’ve used for three decades is photography.

Alaska moose photo captured by Moose Peterson Photography

Alaska moose. Image courtesy of Moose Peterson

RC: What’s your must-have camera gear?

MP: Everything in my camera bag! This is the current list:

  • Nikon D4
  • Nikon D800
  • AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR
  • AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II
  • AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II
  • AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED-IF
  • AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G
  • AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED
  • NIKKOR 18mm f/2.8 AF-D
  • NIKKOR 16mm f/2.8 AF
  • Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III
  • Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II
  • Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14 E II

RC: What’s the most challenging aspect of being a wildlife photographer?

MP: Time! Time to do the homework, time to be in the field, time to wait for life to unfold. The rest is really actually very simple, it’s just photography. Now for many, this is the difficult part but that’s only because they’ve not been fortunate enough to spend as much time as I behind the camera.

Alaska marmot photo captured by wildlife photographer Moose Peterson

Alaska marmot. Image courtesy of Moose Peterson

RC: If you had a time machine and could travel back to when you were just starting out, what advice would you give yourself?

MP: To take a deep breath and not sweat out the little things. It’s hard to understand that with time, all things work out. We just never seem to give ourselves that time so things get all goofed.

RC: For those who aren’t necessarily looking to get into professional photography but rather just want to capture wildlife photos while on vacation, or even from their own backyard, what photography tips and techniques do you think are most valuable?

MP: No matter the subject, light is everything. Once you understand how to use light to move the eye around the frame, then you realize you don’t have to fill the frame with an eyeball but rather, the subject can be small in the frame. When you allow that space around the subject, then you start to tell a story about your subject and grab the heartstrings of the viewer. That all starts and ends with light.

Black-bellied plover photo captured by wildlife photographer Moose Peterson

Black-bellied plover. Image courtesy of Moose Peterson

RC: As a wildlife photographer, what is the most memorable moment you’ve had?

MP: I am incredibly fortunate, I’ve had hundreds, perhaps thousands over my three decades of shooting. Some involve my family as they’ve been behind me and with me all those years. Things like a bald eagle white washing my front element to grizzly bear cubs under my tripod to goshawk diving and putting me into the ground to a kangaroo rat asleep in my shirt pocket. Most of the best is exposed on the thin emulsion of my mind, never making it to film.

Crested caracara photo captured by wildlife photographer Moose Peterson

Crested caracara. Image courtesy of Moose Peterson

RC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

MP: Wildlife photography is a pursuit anyone, anywhere can master and spend a life chasing. There are many, many photographers out there with better images then I and that’s great. The only difference might be that I’m a long haul shooter with stories that I share as often as I’m permitted. I truly hope though that many, many more around the globe take up the challenge of photographing our wild heritage and sharing their stories with all who will listen.

I want to thank Moose for taking the time to answer my questions. You can learn more about Moose, read his blog posts and see more of his photos by visiting the following websites:


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