National Geographic : 1999 Apr
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (Assignment * VERNAL POOLS A Photographer's Rite of Spring The pool was shallow, but the problem was deep for photographer George Grall. "I'd be shooting in one foot of water over two feet of mud. I had to figure how to photograph the animals without scaring them off, and also without stirring up the muck and ruining the picture." The solution? He launched a stealth attack via air mattress (above). "You have to be creative," says the photographer, who once fashioned a floating camera housing from a plastic-foam beer cooler. JESUSLOPEZ George, staff photographer at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, used scientific papers, local word of mouth, and his own outdoor experience to be in the right place at the right time for this story. That often meant the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere-in the cold and rain. "And still sometimes there'd be nothing to shoot." So he learned to chase the spring. If he missed the salamanders' egg laying in the Pied mont, he might catch it slightly later when warmer weather reached the mountains. But he had to act quickly. Seasons may move slowly, but a salaman der, says George, "never gives you a second chance." NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC(ISSN 0027-9358)IS PUBLISHEDMONTHLYBY THENATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY,114517THST.N.W.,WASHINGTON,D.C.20036-4688. $27.00A YEAR FORU.S.DELIVERY,$5.00 PERSINGLECOPY(INCLUDESPOSTAGEAND HANDLING).PERIODICALSPOSTAGEPAIDATWASHINGTON,D.C., AND AT ADDITIONALMAILINGOFFICES.POSTMASTER:SENDADDRESSCHANGESTONATIONALGEOGRAPHIC,P.O.BOX63002, TAMPA, FLORIDA33663-3002.