NATURE’S VIEW: Sounds of nature

Story and photography by Jim Clark

Author’s Note: Click on files below the images to hear the sound!

Be still and listen, the earth is singing. — Karen Davis, artist inspired by nature

Oh, the sweet symphony of melodies that is nature. Can you hear it when you are photographing those grand landscapes or that flock of sandhill cranes as they take flight above the marsh? Well, it’s all out there just waiting for you. All you have to do is listen.

Wildlife sounds include hoots, screeches, roars, bleats, tweets, barks, pants, purrs, squawks, buzzes, shrieks, hisses, cracks, belches, chirps, peeps, hums, croaks, trills, clucks and more.

But have you listened to the songs of the weather or of the earth? There’s the patter of rain on a leaf, the wind’s gentle whisper through a loblolly pine forest, the crashing of waves on the shoreline or the clapping resonance of an impending thunderstorm. As George Santayana wrote, The earth has music for those who listen. Continue reading

FIELD TECHNIQUE: The final frames

Story and photography by F.M. Kearney

Azalea garden, © F.M. Kearney

As you are probably aware, this is the final issue of eNEWS. It’s been an honor to write for this publication, and I truly hope that my words and images have inspired you with new techniques and ideas. For a slight change of pace, I’d like to focus more on human interest than technical details in this installment. The following is a small collection of some of my favorite unpublished photos and the stories behind them.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve visited the New York Botanical Garden. But, no matter how often I’ve been there, I never seem to run out of new locations to shoot within its 250 acres. The garden is constantly under renovation, providing endless photo ops.

The azalea garden underwent such a renovation a couple of years ago. I went there on an overcast day to shoot closeups of the azaleas, which were in full bloom at the time. By mid-morning, the weather made an about-face, and the day became completely sunny. The harsh lighting dashed my plans for intimate details. I reluctantly switched gears and decided to concentrate more on the overall area.

I passed by a large, red rhododendron bush several times, because I didn’t think it was worth shooting. It was in the shade, and a few of the leaves were spotted with yellow and black marks. When I finally decided to photograph it, I used an off-camera flash to balance shaded light in the foreground with the brightly-lit background. I removed the dead leaves later in post. I shot many compositions, but I like the one above the most due to the curvature of the footpath on the right and the garden itself. Continue reading

Getting Pictures in a Book

by Wendy Shattil

Do you look at photo books and think “I have pictures as good as these”? You might be right, but how do you get your images from the computer into that book? I’ve been on both sides of this question — as photographer and as photo editor — and I have the answer.

You won’t know if your images are good enough until you try submitting them, and you have to be willing to put in a little time selecting and preparing your images for submission.

Pigeon guillemots, © Ken Archer

I’m currently in a unique position to offer you the opportunity to be included in an upcoming book about the Pacific Flyway. As project manager and photo editor, I am charged with locating and selecting more than 200 images for this photo-driven book, and I’d love to see well-chosen submissions from talented NANPA photographers.

Not only pros get published, but they do have an advantage in knowing how to prepare effective submissions. Pros also recognize their truly competitive images and are willing to put in the effort to get those photos in front of an editor.

Here’s your advantage: I know what I’m looking for and I’m going to tell you how to get my attention with five easy tips. Continue reading

NATIONAL PARKS: Yosemite National Park

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

Without a doubt, one of the crowning jewels of both the national park system and the entire world is Yosemite. Over the eons, millions (billions?) of tons of metamorphic granite have been shaped and sculpted, largely by glaciers, into countless harmonious and visually riveting forms.

After decades of being photographed by the renowned Ansel Adams and the many who came after him, creating original images here is a real challenge — but it is not impossible. There is an absolutely endless variety of compositions in Yosemite even though so many natural features are pretty much a monochromatic gray. John Muir called the Sierra Nevada — home to Yosemite — “the range of light.”

Then it seemed to me that the Sierra should be called, not the Nevada or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light. And after ten years of wandering and wondering in the heart of it, rejoicing in its glorious floods of light, the white beams of the morning streaming through the passes, the noonday radiance on the crystal rocks, the flush of the alpenglow, and the irised spray of countless waterfalls, it still seems above all others the Range of Light.” John Muir from The Yosemite (1912)

To enjoy a productive photo trip to Yosemite, we should first get organized by breaking the park into four distinct regions. These include Yosemite Valley, the High Country, the Glacier Point Road and the Mariposa Grove of giant Sequoia trees. There are many other subjects in-between, but these are the primary areas of this thousand square mile wonder. Continue reading

From the new NANPA President – Don Carter

As I start my term as NANPA president, I would like to thank Clay Bolt for his leadership and guidance over this past year. NANPA has become a better organization with Clay at the helm, and I hope to continue the work that he and all past presidents have accomplished.

I had the pleasure of being one of the leaders during the Yellowstone Regional Event this past May. A wonderful group of members attended, and Yellowstone provided many opportunities for us to make great photographs, especially those of both grizzlies and black bears.

Since that event, one thought keeps circulating in my mind about bear “jams” that occur whenever bears are seen (or, for that matter, when any wildlife is spotted). Our NANPA group got caught up in one of those jams. Continue reading

FIELD TECHNIQUE: Get the white out, creatively

Story and photography by F.M. Kearney

Central Park, New York City, © F.M. Kearney

A featureless white sky is the bane of nature photography. It can take a carefully crafted photograph and reduce it to what looks like a hastily grabbed snapshot destined for the trash heap. Of course, the lighting provided by white skies is highly sought after for capturing rich-toned, evenly lit images. But, aside from a few artistic purposes, white skies themselves are something most photographers try to avoid.

Unfortunately, this is a lot easier said than done. The best way to avoid white skies is to simply exclude them from your shot. If that’s not possible, a graduated neutral density filter might help. But, what if you don’t have a “clean” horizon? Any trees or buildings that jut up into the sky are going to be unnaturally darkened by the filter, thus ruining the effect.

You could try burning the sky in, but that may not work if it’s completely overcast and devoid of any cloud detail. Any attempts to burn in details that don’t actually exist will only result in a series of ugly, dark gray “burn marks.” Continue reading

NATURE’S VIEW: Within striking distance

Story and photography by Jim Clark

For nature photographers, how exhilarating it is to capture that defining moment as a great blue heron strikes the water? Even better is photographing a full sequence of a great egret stalking its prey and then plunging its bill and neck into the water to seize the prize.

Wading birds come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, and each species use specific hunting strategies to gather a bite to eat; ornithologists have even described 35 types of feeding behaviors wading birds use (see a list in a sidebar to this article).

Understanding how each species of wading bird feeds helps the nature photographer to photograph those amazing moments. Combine this knowledge with time in the field, and the photographer will become more and more successful at recording that special “striking” moment.

A great blue heron is about to swallow its prey after tossing and catching it midair. This image was photographed on the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia. ©  Jim Clark

Here are some feeding strategies of a few wading birds I photograph at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia: Continue reading

MEMBER PROFILE: Gary Hart

© Don Smith

Gary Hart is a professional nature photographer, writer and educator who has been exploring, photographing and sharing nature’s beauty for nearly 40 years. Gary is a Sony Artisan of Imagery and a frequent contributor to Outdoor Photographer magazine. His book of images, The Undiscovered Country, was featured exclusively at Barnes & Noble stores across the United States. Gary’s blog is followed by thousands of readers, and his always sold-out photo workshops often fill a year in advance. Visit Gary’s website at www.EloquentImages.com; his blog at www.EloquentNature.com; his prints at www.GaryHartPrints.com. Gary’s Yosemite workshops can be found at www.PhotographYosemite.com Continue reading

NATIONAL PARKS: Grand Teton National Park

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

Grand Tetons © Jerry Ginsberg

Jackson Hole, with its sharply serrated Teton Range, is undoubtedly one of the most dramatic and striking scenes in all of North America. It is a great choice for a photo trip in at least three seasons.

Just south of iconic Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park is too often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor. Rather than making an outing in the Tetons merely an extension of a trip to Yellowstone, we photographers should think of both as being equally worthy of our time. Continue reading

From the President

Clay Bolt

Clay Bolt

Transitions are beautiful:

Darkness turns to dawn. Birdsong breaks the silence of early morning. Wind-folded leaves shimmy before the arrival of a summer thunderstorm. Earthy smells rise up after the deluge has passed. The first spring wildflower breaks through a warming forest floor. Leaves blush into fall. A child is born. A baby’s stumbling first steps. The euphoria of a first crush and the pains of a first heartbreak. All of these moments contain seeds of beauty worth cultivating into art.

Even the passing of a loved one from this life can summon beauty to walk alongside the pain. Photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson famously understood the beauty that exists in moments of transition: the decisive moments that briefly materialize in the space between two passing planes of existence.

If you take a moment to mentally flip through the photos that really move you, I suspect that many of them are of transitional moments. In this regard, photography has an advantage over other forms of media. Film, for example, may be able to document processes in ways that are impossible for the naked eye, but photography can take that single “throw away” moment and make a monument of it.

A photographer who has the patience and discipline to observe, anticipate and capture these moments stands a high probability of creating images that will spellbind audiences and teach us something special about the world around us. The glue that binds two concurrent events together is as important as the events themselves.

Perhaps this is our art form’s greatest gift to the world.

Best Wishes,

Clay Bolt