NATURE’S VIEW: Photographing Patterns

A retrospective of Gary Braasch

Story and photography by Jim Clark

Today a plethora of information exists on the web about how to photograph nature. Just type your question or topic in the search box and immediately you are presented with hundreds of links that may or may not be of use. It seems as though books about nature photography techniques have gone by the wayside.

Photographing the Patterns of Nature by the late, great photo-naturalist and environmental activist Gary Braasch is surely an exception. This is one book that I continually pull from my bookshelf and read.

Published in 1990, Gary’s techniques are as relevant today as they were when he first started his career as a nature photographer in the sixties. The book is only 144 pages, and it is written in a simple, readable and relaxing style. Gary offers a treasure trove of techniques for photographing nature — techniques that will elevate the skill level and photographic vision of any nature photographer. It’s as if Gary is right beside you, helping you discover the patterns in nature.


Pink salmon spawn in the Indian River, Sitka National Historic Site, Alaska.   ©  Jim Clark

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CHeilman_300dpiCarl Heilman II is an internationally published photographer and author. He has been photographing the Adirondacks since 1975, working to capture the location’s grandeur and his emotional and spiritual connection to it. He started climbing on a pair of handcrafted snowshoes, and he continues to explore and photograph the mountains and lakes of the Adirondack Park. Carl shares his decades of photography experience with others in his photography workshops and tours, coffee table books and how-to photography books. From September 24-27, Carl and Tom Dwyer will be leading a NANPA Regional Event in Adirondack State Park. Go to  for more information.

Carl has had nine books published and did the photography for an additional three. His most recent are 101 Top Tips for Digital Landscape Photography (Ilex Press, May 2014), Photographing the Adirondacks (Countryman Press, June 2013), The Landscape Photography Field Guide (Focal Press / Ilex Press, fall 2011) and Advanced Digital Landscape Photography (Ilex Press 2010). He is currently working on a coffee table book for Rizzoli on the Blue Ridge Mountains from Shenandoah National Park to the Smokies, to be published in spring 2018.

Carl’s website:   He is on Facebook at and On YouTube, go to Continue reading

FIELD TECHNIQUE: Capturing early morning dew . . . all day long

Story and photography by F.M. Kearney

Triumph tulip "Inistress Mystic" Tulipa Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Triumph tulips © F.M. Kearney

If you like shooting flowers, now is the time of year to be out in the field. Whether you live in a rural setting or in the middle of a large metropolitan area, these colorful little jewels of nature should not be too hard to find.

One of the most appealing aspects of flower photography are dew drops. As exposed surface temperatures cool, atmospheric moisture condenses in the form of water droplets. These droplets, commonly referred to as dew, can form on grass, leaves and even inanimate objects like railings and vehicles in the early morning hours. The formation of dew on flowers can turn a generic image into one that is stunning. Continue reading

NATURE’S VIEW: Walking with my telephoto zoom on a backlit type of day

Story and photography by Jim Clark

Like most nature photography instructors, I arrive several days prior to a workshop to scout the area. I check on the condition of the sites where I will be taking my students and search for new ones as well. I take the time to see how the light illuminates a scene at different times of day and determine the best perspective and time for my students to photograph there. These days also afford me time to photograph on my own and to reconnect with and savor nature.

On scouting trips before my workshops along Virginia’s eastern shore, I make time to walk the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge’s wildlife loop drive. The drive is closed to vehicles until after 3 p.m., making it a great opportunity to get my daily steps in while exploring the refuge without worrying about traffic.

The loop is a perfect 3.1 miles in length and winds through major habitat types of the refuge. With a few spur trails leading off from the main loop, there is always a new and different route to explore. Whether I hike the loop in the morning or afternoon, I’m going to find something to photograph — or better yet, experience.

Winged Sumac Leaves Backlit 11162016 Chincoteague NWR VA (c) Jim Clark_6

Backlit winged sumac leaves, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia. © Jim Clark

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Dos and Don’ts for Aviation Photography

by Alton K. Marsh


The author photographed this aerial landscape near Las Vegas from a reasonably clean airliner window. © Alton Marsh

Taking air-to-ground photos has a place in nature photography as do drones and remotely operated cameras. However, should you want to expand your horizons, this article covers some of the Dos and Don’ts of photographing aircraft, air-to-air in particular, which can be more complicated.

There’s no shortage of aerial artists spotting graphic designs and colors on the ground. Adobe Photoshop guru Julieanne Kost spent several years asking for the window seat on her many travels. The result was her beautiful and well-received 2006 book Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking. There’s a Professional Aerial Photographer’s Association where business and professional photographers turn their attention to the beauty they are seeing each year and compete for prizes.

Other artists found in the back of an aircraft, usually with the door removed or a window taped open, take photos of actual aircraft. Well-known “critter” photographer Moose Peterson has in recent years branched into this field.

I was an aviation writer for 25 years at the AOPA Pilot, the monthly membership magazine of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Part of my job was to assist the photographer on the ground and again in the air by using my piloting skills to fly 35 feet from another plane carrying the photographer, enabling him/her to capture air-to-air photos. Continue reading

FIELD TECHNIQUE: Let the sun shine in

Story and photography by F.M. Kearney

Years ago, I opened a box of Kodacolor II film and removed a thin, folded strip of paper. It contained a set of illustrated instructions for basic photography. One illustration, in particular, still sticks out in my mind. It was a photographer standing with his back to the sun while taking a picture of a model.

Indeed, conventional wisdom tells us to always keep the sun at our backs when taking a picture. This is a pretty good rule to follow for most subjects — especially if you don’t want important details lost in deep shadows. Always following conventional wisdom, however, will usually result in conventional-looking photographs. For a change of pace, why not try shooting directly toward the sun on a bright sunny day.

Including the sun in landscape photos is nothing new. But, aside from a few cameos, the sun rarely makes an appearance in photos of flowers. This could be due to a simple matter of logistics. It’s not that easy to compose the sun in the same shot with a subject that’s low to the ground. It’s much easier if you’re shooting at dawn or dusk when the sun is low on the horizon. Personally, I prefer the morning when the ambient light is rising instead of dropping.

Sun rising behind large-cup daffodils (Narcissus) "Manon Lescaut" Amaryllidaceae New York Botanical Garden Bronx, NY

© F.M. Kearney

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NATIONAL PARKS: How do national monuments differ?

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

President Theodore Roosevelt was the original maverick. When he saw a problem, he found a solution, even if he had to bend the rules a bit to create one.

As far back as 1906, this activist president was faced with a need to protect the immense volcanic plug called Devil’s Tower in eastern Wyoming. Characteristically forging his own path, he applied the new Antiquities Act in an unorthodox fashion to create America’s very first national monument. Before he was done, Roosevelt signed 18 national monuments into existence.

Congress had intended the Antiquities Act to protect “objects of historic and scientific interest.” In essence, it was meant to prohibit pot hunters from stripping ancient Native American sites of their treasures. Still, after over a century of precedent, Roosevelt’s creative application of the act has now become settled law, and its continued use is unlikely to be altered going forward.

Certainly not all such monuments come into being in this dramatic fashion. Many wind their way through a bureaucratic process that can take years.

Once a monument is established, it becomes a unit of the National Park Service. Some monuments are administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). No matter how they come into being or who administers them, national monuments do not have national park status, facilities or the number of visitors that frequent national parks.

Of the approximately 130 national monuments presently in existence, 30 have been established in this young century alone. Continue reading

From the President – from March eNews

Clay Bolt

Clay Bolt

In traditional Aboriginal Australian culture, every person, whether young or old, has a special, lifelong connection to an animal. When an Aboriginal mother feels her baby’s first kick, she makes note of that spot. Elders compare this point to traditional songlines — invisible paths that traverse the entire Australian continent — and determine which animal clan the unborn child will be a part of.

Aboriginal playwright Jack Davis once said (paraphrased),

We’ve got wardens today to look after the forests. We’ve got wardens today to try and bring about weed control. But Aboriginal Australians for forty thousand years had their wardens, you know. It’s quite simple. Give every kid at school something to protect of our flora and fauna. OK. You look after the kangaroo, you look after the beetles, you look after the emu. Aboriginal people knew that, so everybody had something to look after as nature provided.

I’ve thought about this a lot over the past few years, and it has occurred to me that in many ways nature photographers walk a similar path. While many of us do enjoy photographing a little bit of everything, I think that it’s fair to say that most of us tend to gravitate toward a special subject that really tugs at our heart strings. I have friends who make mind-blowing landscape photographs, others who shoot dynamic photographs of coyotes and some who love frogs. I even have a good friend who makes the best fly photos I’ve ever seen. In my case, nothing fills my heart with more joy than photographing an amazing bee. When I do, a sense of joy rises up inside me with such potency that I can’t call it anything other than love. Continue reading

The Making of a Children’s Story

Story and photography by Grace Scalzo

Nanpa plovers with pics.pagesLong Island, New York, beaches are important breeding grounds for piping plovers, a species listed as federally threatened. The Atlantic Coast population consists of only about 800 breeding pairs and 200 of them nest in New York.

I have been photographing the plovers on a Long Island Sound Beach near my home for seven years. I have captured their entire breeding cycle from arrival in mid-March to mating, scrape building, brooding, hatching, early flight practice, feeding and departure in the late summer and early fall.

One evening on the beach, a mother and her child approached me to get a better look at what I was photographing. I pointed out the plovers and their scrape (nest). They were taken aback and responded that they thought that birds nested in trees. It had never occurred to me that some people don’t realize why there are signs to stay outside the roped-off areas or keep their dogs off the beach. They just do not know they could be putting a species in harm’s way. Continue reading


nanpa_bio_photoAfter a successful 28-year career in various technology positions with the Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, John Lock launched Relevant Arts Enterprises (RAE) in 1997. He played a critical role in Coca-Cola’s technology planning and direction. Upon starting up RAE, John used his broad experience to bring cost-effective solutions to small businesses and non-profit organizations. John is NANPA’s webmaster. Now entering its twentieth year of operation, RAE ( provides a broad range of services to a diverse client base. John is also a co-founder of the HTML Writers Guild, at one time the largest professional organization of web developers in the world with more than 117,000 members in 150 countries.

Besides technology John enjoys canoeing, hiking, sailing, nature photography, well-made craft beer, visiting Cedar Key, Florida, and he has been known to plunder unsuspecting neighborhoods dressed as a pirate. Continue reading