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How I got the shotShowcaseShowcase 2022

Showcase 2022 Winner: Brian Caldwell

By April 29, 2022No Comments

Artist’s statement

This shot has been used as a vehicle to bring attention to the recurring grebe colony collapse issue at Lake Hodges due to fluctuating water levels.

How I got the shot

This is the culmination of several years of hard work and pressure. Having witnessed 3 colonies of over 130 grebe nests fail over the space of two years due to water level mismanagement, I put together a coalition of seven environmental groups and created a successful grass roots social media and mainstream media campaign to pressure California Fish and Wildlife Department to initiate a dialogue with the agencies involved in order to ensure stable water levels for successful future nesting events. That year we saw over 160 pairs of successful parent grebes with chicks, of which the photograph is one.

What I used

I use a low-to-the-water, camouflaged small boat with a silent trolling motor. I pride myself in being able to observe and photograph these beautiful birds while not disturbing them or their natural behaviors. An added bonus is being able to share this opportunity with others. Canon EOS 7D Mark II with a Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-6L IS USM lens at 390mm, f /6.3, 1/800 second, ISO 200. Cropped.

Cuteness Overload: Clark’s Grebes Comfortably Hanging with Dad, Lake Hodges, Escondido, California, 2022 Showcase, Judges’ Choice, Birds © Brian Caldwell

Photo of Brian Caldwell with his arm around a dog.

About me

I am a professional guide and operator of Lake Hodges Photo Tours in Southern California and my favorite subjects are Clarks and western grebes. I’ve been watching them for the 29 years I’ve lived here at the Lake, but since 2013 I have immersed myself in their life cycle and habits.

As a Celtic musician, I travel to some of the most beautiful places in the world with some of the best opportunities for nature photography. From California condors in Arizona to vulture restaurants in Nepal and South Africa. Occasionally an opportunity arises to combine conservation and music. When South African Matt Meyer towed a full sized replica rhino behind his bicycle from Canada to Mexico to generate awareness of the rhino population decline, I collaborated with my band to create a PR piece called ‘For the Rhinos’.

NANPA and me

I’ve been posting to the NANPA Facebook Group for several years, and attended a conference when it was hosted in San Diego a few years back. I finally became a member last year and hope to contribute in some way in the future.

Learn more

Instagram: @lakehodgestours
Facebook: Lake Hodges Photo Tours