Before My Eyes: One Photographer’s Love of Close-Up Nature Photography

by Tom Whelan | October 1, 2012

Tom WhelanPhotographer Tom Whelan has caught the bug for photographing small things. He specializes in close-up photographs of natural subjects: abstracts of natural designs, portraits of flowers and insects, the many forms of water, and intimate landscapes. In this video, Tom shares his passion for nature’s tiniest details. Tom joined NatureScapes in its infancy and became a moderator for the Flora and Macro Forum a few years later.

Whelan is a naturalist, and photography fits right in with his innate interest in nature. His goal as a photographer is to create simple, well-designed images that are graphically successful and go beyond straightforward documentary natural history images.

Butterflies are one of Tom’s favorite subjects, and they have become the basis of one of his long term photography projects. “Observing butterflies opens a window on the close relationships between plants and insects and the ecological roles they play in different habitats,” he said. “Butterflies and other insects are in the middle of a web of living relationships between the physical world, plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates.”

Another ongoing project is photography of ice and ice crystals. “Water forms extraordinary geometric shapes on the top of streams in winter. Frost crystals, seen at high magnification, form fern or leaf-like shapes. There are an astonishing variety of shapes and forms; images of ice can range from rhythmic monochrome abstractions to crystalline decorations of plants and flowers,” he said.

Tom’s work has been featured in American Butterflies, on the cover pages of numerous nature photography websites, and in displays at the Museum of Science in Boston, galleries operated by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, at the Discovery Center at Silvio Conte National Wildlife Refuge, and at the gallery for the Northeast Regional office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He has also won awards in competitions sponsored by the North American Butterfly Association and the National Wildlife Federation.

About the Author

Tom Whelan is a nature photographer and naturalist who specializes in close-up photography of plants and insects, portraits of wildlife, and intimate landscapes. His images range from abstracts of natural designs, to butterfly portraits and high magnification images of ice crystals, to forest and waterfall scenes. Tom is active in conservation and land stewardship in his home area in Massachusetts, working on invasive plant removal projects, fund raising for conservation projects, and serving on the board of a town conservation organization. He is a member of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the North American Butterfly Association, and the Massachusetts Butterfly Club. His clients include the City of Aspen, Colorado, Trent University, Ontario, the North American Butterfly Association, the Boston Museum of Science, and others. Tom's photographs have won awards in competitions sponsored by the National Wildlife Foundation and the North American Butterfly Association. Visit his website at: www.whelanphoto.com or his blog at tomwhelan.wordpress.com.

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