Josh Asel started wildlife and conservation photography in 2012 and has transitioned into an award-winning photographer, Ethics Committee Member at NANPA, large carnivore tracker, author, and instructor. He founded Wild Expectations, is represented by Wildscreen, and has appeared on multiple judging panels. Josh’s publications include Defenders of Wildlife, Improve Photography, National Geographic Education, Alaska Airlines Magazine, and The Press Democrat, among others.
Your Name: Joshua Asel
Title of Your Winning Image: A Long-tailed Weasel Killed by a Vehicle
About your winning Showcase image:
1) How I Got the Shot
My friend told me about a long-tailed weasel he picked up that was hit by a car, as he knew I am working with the UC Davis Road Ecology Center to help raise awareness for the need of more wildlife over and underpasses in California. I used the opportunity to borrow the body and safely place it near the site of the strike. I set up warning cones and a road flare on the side of the road to make my presence obvious and received permission from local rangers to be there. I wanted to photograph the weasel at sunset to metaphorically parallel the little creature that itself had just faded away. I decided to use some of the road indicators to enhance the scene as cars drove by and it hit me that subframing the weasel would make it the “hero” of the scene without the other main lighting elements distracting from the animal. I also wanted the red of the flare, the blue of the sky, and the yellow of the car’s taillights to be a trifecta of primary colors. I think experience with unusual lighting at night time and working in low-light settings at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab with some of the weirdest and difficult light setups a photographer has probably ever seen helped me mentally prepare for setting up this shot.
2) What I Used
Nikon D7200 with a Sigma 8-16mm, an Oben BE-117 Ball Head attached to an Oben AC-1451 tripod, and shutter-release cable. Settings were at 14mm, f/10, 4 second exposure, and ISO 100. The tricky part was getting the right length of the tail light-streak while the very bright road flare was not overexposed. It pays to know how very different lights affect your scene, and therefore, the white balance within the camera. One natural ambient, one bright flame, and one fast-moving mechanical all produce different qualities of light that can compete against each other.
3) About Me
At the moment, I’m based in Sonoma County, California and am currently a semi-professional photographer. I’ve been shooting since 2012, but more on that later. My favorite subjects are large carnivores, Threatened and Endangered species, and birds of prey.
4) My Photographic Journey
It was a series of events, but the one that set me off was in 2012. A website called Project Noah (www.projectnoah.org) that only featured wildlife photography with descriptions of animals and that got me excited. I borrowed a camera and went outside. I photographed the first thing I saw, which was a ring-necked dove, and got a massive adrenaline rush. I knew immediately this is what I was born to do and dropped out of college the next day to pursue wildlife and conservation photography. Nature’s designs with all its endless complexities and beauty keeps me interested, especially large carnivores. I’m self-taught, but shout out to my step-dad Kris White for answering my random photography questions and to raptor identification expert Larry Broderick. So many other people, organizations, and experiences were critical to my growth, but I’ve run out of space to write.
5) NANPA and Me
I’ve been a NANPA Member since January, 2018. It’s been an honor since then to serve on the Ethics Committee and encourage photographers, including myself, to higher standards of ethical nature photography. Granted, I’ve not been recognized in other NANPA showcases, but did receive 2016 California Wildlife Photographer of the Year and was given the award by State Senator Mike McGuire (an awesome individual) on the State Capitol Senate floor.
6) Where Can People Learn More About You?
My NANPA Portfolio is: https://nanpa.org/portfolio/joshua-asel-2019/.