First revealing of the book

August 15th, 2012 No comments

Book signing with writer, Joel Vance

More than 250 people came to see the first revealing of the book at the Boone County Historical Society museum in Columbia, Missouri on August 3, 2012.

Thank you all for coming and thank you for your support.

Special thanks go to Cliff, Molly, and their band for wonderful music and to John Dengler for taking these wonderful pictures.

*For anybody who has missed the opening reception, the exhibit is still going on until August 31th at the Boone County Historical Society Museum (3801 Ponderosa Street, Columbia, MO 65201, 573-443-8936). Also the book is available for purchase there.Preview

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“Save the Last Dance” book is almost here.

May 31st, 2012 1 comment

The final book files are now to the printer finally. And the book will be out by the end of July.

I received color proof pages back from the printing company, and to my relief, everything looks great!

The book tells a story of fascinating grassland grouse– the birds that I have come to care so much for the past 11 years. It also includes my field notes with stories on how I captured along with photo info pages, which include the camera settings for the images.

My editorial team and I have been working very hard on the book production for the past 18-month, not to mention 11 years of photo shooting.

I’m proud to say, the book has been receiving rave reviews from experts, including Dr. George Archibald (Founder of International Crane Foundation), Jim Brandenburg (internationally acclaimed nature photographer), Editor of National Wildlife Magazine, and others. -

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On the Springfield New-Leader – “Discovering the beauty of the outdoors — indoors”

September 16th, 2011 1 comment

The Springfield New-Leader posted a nice story about my exhibit and program (9/16) at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center.

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Voted “Favorite Outdoor Artist or Photographer” of the year

August 11th, 2011 5 comments

River Hills Traveler readers voted me as “Favorite Outdoor Artist or Photographer” of the year.

Based in Piedmont, Missouri, the River Hills Traveler is a monthly newsletter that mostly covers the eastern Ozarks.  It focuses on Missouri’s beautiful outdoors through various activities, including fishing, canoeing, hunting and wildlife-watching.

They wrote a nice story about me.

“Noppadol Paothong captures the essence of whatever he photographs.

Actually, that is an understatement. “Nop” is an outdoor photographer for the Missouri Department of Conservation, whose sharp images of even the tiniest parts of creatures make a person see how intricate nature can be, for nature’s own sake.

“My photos appear on a monthly magazine, Missouri Conservationist,” he writes. “They are a showcase of Missouri wildlife and natural resources.” Another place you can find his images is online at

It’s easy to see from the images why our readers would pick this 15-year veteran wildlife photographer. In addition to images that are technically excellent, Nop tries to capture the personality, or the essence, of whatever he photographs. The quizzical attitude of a fox. The grace of a soaring bird. The majesty and changeable weather of the prairie.

“I specialize in rare and endangered species,” he said. “For the past 10 years I’ve been working on a photo book titled “Save the Last Dance: a story of North American Grassland Grouse.” On his website, Nop tells of being mesmerized while taking pictures of prairie
chickens, and how he hopes his book will help save them.

More recently, he conducted a Facebook auction of some of his prints, as well as a chance to spend a day in the field learning photography from him – with the proceeds benefiting the Joplin tornado victims.

He’s a winner in more ways than one.”

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Longest-lived insect in North America – Periodical Cicadas

August 3rd, 2011 2 comments

From mid May to June, millions of Cicadas appeared in central Missouri. They are called “Periodical Cicadas.”

Here are some facts about these periodical cicadas.
The periodical cicada is a native North American species. It is the longest-lived insect in North America. They are widely distributed over the eastern half of the United States and occur nowhere else in the world.

It might have been a nuisance to some people. But their life story is simply amazing – spend 13 or 17 years underground as silent, solitary juveniles and emerge by the millions all at the same time. How do they survive such a long time underground? How do they know when to come out? How do they communicate with each other to emerge at the same time? So many are unknown to us.

For me, it was an impressive sight to see as millions of cicadas emerging from the ground and making such a loud sound all synchronized. It took several attempts to photograph their process of shedding skin. Apparently some were stronger than others. So some made it out of their skin in an hour so, but some never made it out. Also these cicadas were unbelievably loud that I had to use earplugs while photographing them.

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Giving it back

July 14th, 2011 No comments

Joplin was my hometown for several years when I went to school (Missouri Southern State University) and worked for the newspaper (the Joplin Globe).

I was very saddened by the destruction of such a warm and wonderful community and I wanted to help it rebuild.

I set up a facebook page (“Auction to help Joplin“) and auctioned off some of my photographs and a half-day workshop.

I’m happy to share the news that I raised $3,500, and Shelter Insurance Foundation generously matched the amount, which made it to $7,000.

I’m happy I could give something back to the community that has been so warm and generous.

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Photography Workshop on Prairie Garden Trust

July 3rd, 2011 3 comments

I hosted a photography workshop on the Prairie Garden Trust in New Bloomfield, Missouri yesterday.

Henry Domke manages this beautiful prairie, and he kindly allowed me to use this place. (Please contact Henry if you’re interested in visiting this place.

This workshop was for people who made the highest bid in the auction I set up to help Joplin tornado victims. (For more details, visit the Facebook page here.)

The workshop included discussion on photography techniques such as how to look for good background, what exposure to use, effects of f-stop and shutter speed, white balance, and differences between auto-focus vs manual-focus, etc. followed by photo-shooting in the field.

We had a great time photographing butterflies and flowers on the prairie.

(Click here to read Henry’s blog on this workshop.)

Three of a kind

November 30th, 2010 2 comments


After a successful evening with an adult red fox, I was itching to take more pictures of the fox family.  I moved my photo blind closer to the front of the den and left it there for a few days. Most animals wouldn’t care about a photo blind, but a wary animal like foxes know their environment very well. 

Of course,… things didn’t go as I planned. For the next two days, the fox kits were so wary that they didn’t even come out of the den.  As you can imagine, sitting in a photo blind for hours in a hot and humid day isn’t necessarily fun. 

The third day, I tried something different.  I sprayed myself with a scent eliminator and went into the blind well before sunrise.  The first hour I saw one kit poking its head out a few times.  The second hour I saw a second one and then a third one poke their head in and out of the den.  At last, the next hour, a magic happened.  All three of the kittens came out of the den at the same time. 

Startled at the sounds of camera shutter, they pointed their ears and looked straight into my direction. With a 600mm lens with 2x teleconverter, I decided to have more depth of field (f/stop) to get all of them in focus.  I set my f/stop at f/11 and sacrifice a shutter speed, as slow as 1/60sec.

With a new Canon 1D Mark IV, I was able to set ISO at 1600. Amazingly, this new Canon camera allowed ISO to go this high and still managed to produce sharp images.  How sharp? I made a 24×36 inches print and I could see every hair on them.

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Prairie Birds

November 29th, 2010 1 comment

For several years some birds like Henslow’s Sparrow, Sedge Wren, and Upland Sandpiper had eluded me.  They are not the most striking-looking or the most interesting birds.  However, they are unique and important in the prairie ecosystem. 

In fact, Henslow’s Sparrow is on a watch list in many states including Missouri.  These birds spend most of their time hiding in grass and only in certain time of the year (and only if you’re lucky) you can hear their calls. 

Some photographers don’t get much excited about these birds or don’t have much desire to photograph them.  But as a conservation photographer, I feel it is my duty to document these birds and make people care and understand their importance.  

To find these birds, I have to learn to listen to their calls and watch for their movement in the prairie.  Both Henslow’s Sparrow and Sedge Wren pop up very quickly to perch on grasses or flowers.  My technique of getting close to these birds is to sit low and move slow. 

I was able to get close enough to this bird with my 600mm lens with 1.4x teleconverter.  One hot evening I spot an upland sandpiper perched on a fence post. I positioned myself directly below where the bird appeared.  

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November 15th, 2010 2 comments

Some people may think that prairie landscape is boring.  Some folks even teased me - “Did you see grass moving there?” 

Actually prairie is quite a sight to see, not to mention it plays a very important role in our ecosystem.  Many species including birds, insects, and plants depend on it.  Sadly, these precious grasslands are disappearing from our landscape. 

With a good amount of rain this year, flowers were thriving.  Grey-headed Coneflower and Prairie Blazing Star were blossomed as far as my eye could see.   I closed my eyes and took a deep breath of fresh air.  All I could hear was the sound of grass waving in the wind. 

One late evening thunderclouds approached from the west.  I scrambled for my wide angle lens, a polarizer filter, and a graduated neutral density filter.  The light was fading fast and I knew I had less than a few minutes to capture the scene.  In fact, I didn’t know what I had until I got home and really took a look at the image.  And it took my breath away.

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