Photographer Kevin Fleming gets up close and personal with the First State’s flora and fauna for his new book.
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In just one year, Kevin Fleming shot tens of thousands of beautiful snow geese, two endangered piping plovers and one precious ruby-throated hummingbird.
Don’t fret. He was using a Nikon.
Fleming captured thousands of spectacular images of these birds and scores of other flora and fauna for his most recent book, “Wild Delaware.” The 240-page publication, scheduled to hit bookstores November 1, includes essays from locals who are well versed in the First State’s natural world.
“I’ve admired Kevin’s photography for years,” says Jim White, who works for the Delaware Nature Society and contributed a piece on reptiles and amphibians. “He has always taken the angle I had never seen before.”
Fleming’s photos, many posted on a website that serves as a daily diary of his adventures, capture minute details such as dewdrops on a dragonfly’s wings or scraps of raw fish meat on a young osprey’s sharp beak. The photos reflect the great colors found in nature, such as the traffic-cone orange of an oystercatcher’s bill or the rich red and orange hues of a sunset at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.
Fleming, a Delaware native who has published numerous books about the First State and traveled the world as a photographer for National Geographic, has shot plenty of wildlife in his time. Just not like this.
The key, he says, was putting himself in the right place at the right time and finding the perfect light.
“I had to learn about wildlife and wildlife behavior,” says Fleming, who shot 300 images on good days. “I got good at finding stuff and predicting where they’d be. It was a combination of random and predicting and hoping.”
Memorable shots include two piping plovers in a tug of war over a worm and an up-close visit with a venomous copperhead snake. Fleming even hopped on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry to capture an intimate shot of an elusive northern gannet.
One of the few that got away: an albino whitetail deer. Fleming was foiled twice by a passing walker and once by perhaps being too good.
“I could set my watch by where he was going to be,” Fleming says. “I went inside the woods where he had gone. It was perfect. The dewdrops were in the trees, the sun was rising and there he was. He was too close. I had too big a lens on. That’s my white whale.”
Fleming says the driving force behind this project is that he’s seen acre upon acre of wonderful land turned into subdivisions. He’d like to help save what’s left.
“I have the lofty goal of getting people to see what’s here and that it’s worth protecting,” Fleming says. “I don’t know if I can stop anything, but I can do something to make people aware.” —Drew Ostroski
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