Penguins, Seals, and Icebergs, Oh My!

The MV Ushuaia cruising off South Georgia Island.
The MV Ushuaia cruising off South Georgia Island.

Story and photos by Debbie McCulliss

I spent weeks preparing and packing for my “Epic South Georgia” voyage, a photographer’s dream bucket-list trip, run by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris. One of my main priorities was having proper clothing and photography gear.  That and staying healthy before and on the trip, especially because there is no airstrip, rescue or other emergency service on the island, nor is there cell or Wi-Fi service.

By the time I left home the first week of October 2019, I had watched plenty of YouTube videos and seen enough Facebook and Instagram posts from South Georgia Island to make me vividly imagine returning home with memories and images of magical experiences. In reality, I had no idea what to anticipate. Nor could I assume I would get great images, having only two years of experience in nature photography. Little did I know I’d go as a hobbyist wildlife photographer and return as a budding conservation photographer and advocate.

Continue reading

Awards Season

Joel Sartore, John Shaw and George Lepp (left to right) receive NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award at NANPA's 2019 Nature Photography Summit in Las Vegas.
Joel Sartore, John Shaw and George Lepp (left to right) receive NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award at NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit in Las Vegas.

It’s that time of the year: awards season.  Last night was the Grammys and before that the Golden Globes, Directors’ Guild and Screen Actors Guild.  The Oscar nominee list is out and, soon, the Emmy list will be, too. And just how is this related to nature photography?

What all these awards have in common is a focus on honoring outstanding achievement in their respective fields.  So, too, do NANPA awards.

Continue reading

Weekly Wow! Week of January 27, 2020

Showcase 2020 Top 100 winner: "Western Burrowing Owlets, Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, California," © Melissa Usrey.
Showcase 2020 Top 100 winner: “Western Burrowing Owlets, Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, California,” © Melissa Usrey.

All of this week’s Weekly Wow! images can be seen in the slideshow on the NANPA homepage at nanpa.org.

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, January 27, 2020.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2020 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website. The 2020 edition of Expressions contains all of the top 250 photos from the Showcase competition as well as interesting and insightful articles. Order your copy here!

Read mor

How NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program Impacted Me: A Turning Point

Owl on alert in the forest.

Owl on alert in the forest.

Story and photos by Ashleigh Scully

I was a participant in the 2017 NANPA High School Scholarship Program and spent a week in the Great Smoky Mountains working with some incredible mentors, broadening my interests in photography and learning from some very talented kids my age as well. This program was a turning point for me–it showed me just how much I want to inspire the younger generation to learn more about conservation and photography. Working with and learning from 9 other students from across the country was not what I expected it to be. I had assumed we would all stick to the certain aspects of photography we were comfortable with, but instead we all motivated each other to try a little bit of everything. During that week in the Smokies, I got to experiment with flash and night photography and use some of the cameras, lenses, and flashes that Canon sent to as loaners. I now have knowledge of the settings to use for star and night photography, something that will definitely come in handy for me in the future. We also hiked out to a waterfall and attempted slow motion waterfall photos to capture the blur of the water. Using the loaner flashes, we also found little salamanders and toads and used white backgrounds for the “Meet Your Neighbors” technique that  Andrew Snyder, one of the mentors, taught us. Some of the kids were so in love with this new technique, it was all they did!

Do you know a talented young nature photographer? NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program is seeking 10 high school student photographers to attend a five-day field event where they can learn from the industry’s top shooters. Apply now for this immersive, hands-on education program to be held in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park July 6–11, 2020. Combining classroom and field-based instruction, students will have the chance to improve their nature photography skills, learn about NANPA, meet industry professionals, and gain an appreciation of the Smoky Mountains’ rich natural history. The NANPA Foundation funds this and other educational programs. January 31, 2020 is the last day to apply, so don’t wait. Apply now! This article was originally published in January, 2019.

Continue reading

A Day of Service

Volunteers cleaning a beach. Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash.
Volunteers cleaning a beach. Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash.

The next time you’re out in the wild, enjoying our parks and state and federal lands, spend a moment in gratitude for the often unseen and unglamorous work that makes your visit possible. And it might just be one of your friends or neighbors you have to thank for the smooth trails you walk or the trash-free landscape you photograph. The National Park Service, with an unfunded maintenance backlog of almost $12 billion, relies on a lot of volunteers to maintain trails and help make visitors’ experience pleasant. Many state and local parks are also chronically underfunded and reliant on volunteers.

Continue reading

Chasing Spring Warblers

Magnolia Warbler

Story and photos by Bill Palmer

Most of us are pretty adroit at photographing eagles, hawks, pelicans, ducks and other large birds, but what about photographing small, hyperactive, secretive birds such as warblers? Adding to the challenge, when you do get a chance to see one, it may only be visible for a few seconds and is often in dark shadows. From basic bird biology, to techniques, to equipment, here are some field-tested hints to photographing these challenging species.

Continue reading

Weekly Wow! Week of January 20, 2020

Showcase 2020 Top 100 winner: " Atlantic Puffin Working in the Rain, Scotland, UK " © Sunil Gopalan.
Showcase 2020 Top 100 winner: ” Atlantic Puffin Working in the Rain, Scotland, UK ” © Sunil Gopalan.

All of this week’s Weekly Wow! images can be seen in the slideshow on the NANPA homepage at nanpa.org.

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, January 20, 2020.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2020 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website. The 2020 edition of Expressions contains all of the top 250 photos from the Showcase competition as well as interesting and insightful articles. Order your copy here!

Read mor

Getting the Most From Your Long Lens: A NANPA Webinar

Sandhill Cranes flying together © Bob Coates.
Sandhill Cranes © Bob Coates.

You have a long telephoto lens or you’re lusting after one. There’s nothing like that long reach to zoom in on birds and wildlife. But telephotos are not the easiest things to use and the longer the reach the more precise you have to be. Are you using your long glass to its full potential? Find out how you can squeeze all the possibilities (and then some) out of you long lenses in a NANPA webinar presented by Bob Coates on Thursday, February 13, at 6:00pm EST.

Continue reading

Finding Color in a Black & White World: Ways to Liven-Up Drab Winter Photos

A waterfall is a great place to find color… even in the winter.
A waterfall is a great place to find color… even in the winter.

Story and photos by F. M. Kearney

Winter – nature’s bleakest season. Or is it? It seems so, considering the scarcity of photographers in the field at this time of year. Where you would normally have to fight for the best position, you will undoubtedly now have the entire place all to yourself. In addition, you don’t have to worry too much about anyone wandering into your shot. Yes, winter doesn’t get much love when it comes to photography. Perhaps, it’s the inconvenience of dealing with frigid temperatures, and all the precautions needed to properly protect yourself and your equipment. Or, perhaps it’s the belief that there just isn’t anything worthwhile to shoot. Let’s face it, outside of a majestic, winter wonderland captured at the break of dawn or late in the day, most winter scenes are pretty bland. The fact that winter follows autumn – the most colorful of all seasons – you might feel as though you’re now shooting in black and white. But that doesn’t mean there’s absolutely no color to be found at all. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look and employing a few simple techniques.

Continue reading

Finding Community in NANPA

Sunset over water. Photo by Mark Kreider.
Photo by Mark Kreider.

Story and photos by Mark Kreider

I have been a NANPA member for a year and a half. Even in that short time, NANPA and its supportive community have influenced me in many meaningful ways. Life seems to be full of wonderful flukes, and my introduction to NANPA was one such instance. One morning in November of 2012, when I was a high school senior, I received word from a fellow photographer of a great photographic opportunity that existed for high school students. Though just three days away from the deadline of NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program application, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I quite honestly remember thinking it looked too good to be true – a chance to spend a week in the field and at the NANPA Annual Summit, all the while learning and being inspired. I wondered to myself a little incredulously, How could I not have heard of NANPA before? It looks awesome!

Continue reading