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David FitzSimmons

The Photographer
David FitzSimmons is a free-lance photographer and writer as well as a professor at Ashland (Ohio) University. He photographs and writes for magazines, including Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, Shutterbug and Professional Photographer. His most recent books include Animals of Ohio’s Ponds and Vernal Pools (Kent State University Press), and the award-winning Curious Critters (Wild Iris Publishing). David gives seminars and workshops to public school groups, college classes, nature centers, civic organizations, and photography groups. His works have been exhibited at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, the National Center for Nature Photography and the Telluride Photo Festival.

The Client
Personal book project, creating a children’s picture book that would help children develop a love of animals and nature.

©David FitzSimmons

The Assignment
Photograph common North American animals against plain white backgrounds.

The Execution
“All images were made with Sigma lenses, especially macros. Currently I am shooting exclusively with the Sigma SD1 camera. I use a two-light Dynalite setup positioned outside a Lastolite Cubelite tent. The resulting soft light brings out the patterns, shapes, and colors of the animals and casts soft shadows beneath each, creating a three-dimensional look.

“Most shots are taken at eye level. Young children are inclined to love nature—they just need to experience it. By allowing them to look eye-to-eye with the animals, they come as close as possible to being with one without actually being with a possum, bat, or spider. I wrote the accompanying text, which encourages children to make the animal’s sounds. This is another way for children to ‘experience’ nature while reading.”
Post Production
“I shoot in RAW with the Sigma SD1 and process the resulting 45-megapixel image in Sigma Photo Pro 5.1. Then I work in Photoshop CS5, utilizing a number of NIK plugins, including Viveza and Sharpener Pro.”

The Output

“Everything I print is on Red River Paper. For my twenty-four image exhibit of Curious Critters, which is traveling across the United States, I use Ultra Pro Satin. It’s my top choice for color, clarity, durability, and longevity. I also love the bright whites of Arctic Polar Satin. And my prints’ colors are spot-on using Red River Paper’s color profiles.”

To see more of Dave’s work and learn more about his seminars and photo workshops, visit For more information about Curious Critters and additional technical details about how it was shot, visit



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UltraPro Satin

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River Linen

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Arctic Polar Satin

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