Local conservation photographer honored at international exhibit
A Rockingham County resident was honored at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit in London earlier this month. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.
Steven David Johnson of Broadway, a conservation photographer who also teaches at Eastern Mennonite University, was honored alongside international peers at the Natural History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year event. His ephemeral photograph, "Pool of Wonder," is one of 100 images featured in this year's exhibit.
STEVEN DAVID JOHNSON: It is a clump of spotted salamander eggs that are just below the surface of a vernal pool in Augusta County. So, when you're looking at it, you see it's surrounded by moss, and you can also see the landscape in the background.
Johnson has been documenting Virginia's seasonal forest pools, where amphibians breed each spring, over the last decade.
JOHNSON: I wanted to show the full range of the landscape, both over the water and under the water. So I used a technique called a split shot, where I use a specialized dome over my underwater equipment that allows you to see both the forest and the mossy, underwater landscape.
Johnson and his wife, Anna Maria, traveled to London to attend the awards ceremony. This same photograph was featured on the cover of The Nature Conservancy magazine in 2021, and included in a recent National Geographic article.
JOHNSON: I knew it was an image that people responded to, and that it communicated a lot in just one still image, about the fragile environment, about life, about the development of amphibian life in these really fragile landscapes.
Another of Johnson's ongoing projects, photographing riparian wildlife, will be on display at Bridgewater College in the spring.