Margaret Gaines is a mom and a jewelry designer in addition to being a nature photographer. She is based in Alaska, and her focus is on Alaska’s nature. Margaret also covers remnants of the state’s history being reclaimed by nature.
Do you have a “day” job? What do you do?
For the past five years my primary day job has been “Mom.” I do the traditional activities of cooking, cleaning, running errands and being there to support my kids when they need me. I maintain my sanity by escaping with my camera whenever I can. I’ve also been working on a master’s degree in biology for just as long with the hope that it will enhance my photography and possibly lead to regular employment when and if the time is right. Continue reading →
Among our 59 national parks, perhaps the one that offers the greatest degree of pure fun is Bryce Canyon in southwestern Utah. Just a 56-square-mile morsel of the vast southwestern red rock country, Bryce Canyon offers deeply eroded red, orange, yellow and ochre amphitheaters, curving natural bridges, ancient bristlecone pines and an iconic Douglas fir so tall that looking at the top might well tax your neck muscles. Continue reading →
The middle of winter can be a little depressing. The five-day forecast might show such a long stream of dull, dreary days that it makes one wonder if the weatherperson forgot to update the map. In the Northeast, it can seem as though the entire world is in hibernation. Everything is lifeless. Nothing is in bloom. On overcast days, you might feel like you’re living in a black-and-white movie. Then, of course, there’s the unforgiving cold. Continue reading →
Birds have always been an important part of my life. At just ten years of age, I could identify birds not only by sight, but also by their songs, calls and even by habitat. There were not many days when I did not have my second edition of the Peterson Field Guide to the Birds within arm’s reach.
So imagine my confusion as a kid, at the beach with my family, hearing adults talking about a flock of sea gulls doing this or a sea gull doing that. Sea gull? I checked my trusty Peterson Field Guide, because I couldn’t remember anything about a species named sea gull.
I quickly learned that there is, in fact, no bird officially named sea gull. Yet, that term persists to this day. If there are sea gulls, then shouldn’t there also be river gulls, lake gulls, parking lot gulls and landfill gulls? There are not.
Like most people, I like to kick off the New Year with a fresh burst of inspiration. My January ritual involves purchasing as many books as possible followed by spending the remainder of my winter mentally running from the Montana cold across pages that take me into warm tropical forests, the minds of the world’s greatest artists, and (hopefully) to a better understanding of the craft of photography. Since I’m too busy reading right now to write a very long president’s letter, I thought I’d share some of my favorite books with you instead. Watch for this post on NANPA’s Facebook page, and share your own favorite reads with the NANPA community.
May 2017 become a year of inspiration and adventure for us all.
Linda Helm has been a partner to Mark Lukes in both life and business. (Mark is the founding NANPA president and lifetime member. See the “Volunteer” article on Mark in December 2016 E-News.) Linda currently serves as vice president of Fine Print Imaging, where she has worked alongside Mark since 1983. Prior to Fine Print, Linda worked in human services in the nonprofit sector. She has a passion for both nature and photography. Member #99, Linda has been with NANPA since the very beginning at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, New York.Continue reading →
Guadalupe Mountains and Carlsbad Caverns national parks are separated by the Texas/New Mexico state line. Still, they are close enough to be combined into a single trip. Taking these two parks together offers a big advantage for photographers, because the light in the two locations is complementary. While the Guadalupe Mountains will benefit from the same use of early and late light, as do most landscapes, subterranean cave photography can be enjoyed during the middle of the day when the light on the surface can be prohibitively harsh. Continue reading →
The groundskeepers were a bit perturbed, but I was ecstatic.
Four inches of snow had fallen the day before. This wouldn’t be particularly noteworthy except it was April 8, 2003. These four inches brought the total amount of snow received in the New York area to just under 50 inches, placing the 2002-03 winter among the top 20 snowiest winters in the city’s recorded history.
Within the North American avian universe, no other bird is like the belted kingfisher. Its look is distinctive. Identifiable by its large bill, chunky body and slate-blue plumage, the belted kingfisher is a common sight along any clear open body of water, whether that be freshwater or tidal.
Comedian David Sedaris is the author of several funny books. A personal favorite of mine is Me Talk Pretty One Day. To be honest, I can’t really remember much about the contents of the book (probably because I never finished reading it), but I can relate to the title. I find it hilarious and, hey, I’d also like to talk pretty one day.
Like most of you, I’ve probably spent way too much time thinking about how to make a good photograph. Me take pretty photo one day is a reasonable, if not somewhat Neanderthalish, mantra that has driven many of us stomping through the woods in search of that El Dorado of imagery: the pretty picture. I’m talking about a photo that you can hold up to your significant other as irrefutable proof that you had no other choice but to spend lots of money on camera gear throughout the year.
Oftentimes when I am loping after that mythical unicorn of photos for too long, my mind wanders. Usually, I start by daydreaming about documenting some rarely seen biological wonder. For you, it might be chasing a blood-red sunset punctured by a perfect “V” of waterfowl heading to their evening roost. Whatever your go-to vision is, you get the picture. I would say pun intended, but that’s just cruel, because we both know that we didn’t “get the picture.” It only exists in our head.
Do you ever wonder what might happen if we could just quiet our minds for a bit longer; push those distracting ideals of what we should be capturing to the side and just be open to the possibilities? Buddhists employ a practice called mindfulness to stay focused on the moment, avoiding unnecessary worry. Sometimes I experience a form of this when I collapse, winded and greedily sucking in air, after chasing after some six-legged critter for too long.
Almost without fail, it is in these moments of surrender when my mind is finally clear that wondrous things are revealed. I begin to take notice of subtle details that soon pull me from a point of frenetic energy to a rapturous examination of the small goings-on within the world around me. The photos that I make during this time surprise and delight me, because they come from a point of give and take.
To stretch a metaphor to its breaking point, it’s in these moments when I’m no longer talking pretty at nature, but rather engaging in a conversation with it. My mind becomes open to feedback and possibilities that I hadn’t entertained before. Perhaps next time I go out with my camera, I should just keep my mouth shut. It has become abundantly clear that the less I talk and think about my work, the better it seems to get.