Tourists have been flocking to national parks, wildlife refuges, and other nature areas in record numbers since the coronavirus pandemic began—which is both a reason to celebrate and potentially a cause for concern. Whether you’re new to these areas, a frequent visitor, or somewhere in between, don’t pack up the car until you read this.
1. We’re thrilled to see you enjoying nature.
The increase in park visitors is obvious to us as nature photographers, in part because we’re sometimes in the field from before sunrise to after sunset and see the crowds, and in part because park efforts to manage those crowds—like timed-entry reservations—have changed the way we do our jobs. But we’re excited to see you here and certainly are willing to share our love for these amazing spaces.
On Nature Photography Day, June 15th, hundreds of photographers joined in a bioblitz, an eleven-day, citizen science event to find, identify, and document as many species as possible in a given area. During the NANPA Nature Photography Day Bioblitz, nearly 10,000 observations of over 3,000 species were made and uploaded to the iNaturalist project. And there were prizes. Did I mention prizes? Gouri Prakash, a hobbyist photographer in Pennsylvania was excited to participate in the bioblitz and thrilled to be recognized with a second-place Most Unique Species Observed award, consisting of a Visa gift card, Wimberly Plamp and Plamp stake.
Collecting Instagram likes and compliments from mom and aunt Betty might feel good, but probably won’t make you a better photographer. You can take a class or go on a workshop, but those can be expensive and you may not get much one-on-one time with an instructor. Instead, one of the best ways to learn where you are and how you can improve is to have a portfolio review. In a review, a professional photographer, editor, or agent examines a selection of your images and provides critique, feedback, and advice. Portfolio reviews are often expensive, though many photo conferences include portfolio reviews as options. You, however, can get one at a very reasonable cost, without the time, travel, and expenses of a conference through the NANPA Foundation.
Many NANPA members look forward each year to the Showcase photography competition. NANPA’s 2022 Showcase competition is open now, with entries accepted until 11 p.m. EDT, September 20, 2021. That’s tonight, if you’re thinking of entering, now’s the time to get busy! You can find all the rules, information, entry forms, and more on the website. But, we also asked some photographers who have received multiple Showcase awards to share some of their best tips for photo contests (see part one here).
Back in June, many photographers joined in the NANPA Nature Photography Day Bioblitz, an eleven-day citizen-science project. A bioblitz is an event created to find and identify as many species as possible in a given area over a limited period of time. All observations are uploaded to an iNaturalist project. During the NANPA event, participants made close to 10,000 observations of over 3,000 species, 97 of which were threatened species. All this data is now available to scientists and researchers. To add a little excitement, several of NANPA’s generous sponsors contributed to prize packages. North Carolina-based nature photographer Sam Ray won the random drawing for a Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD lens.
First, my apologies for this late blog post this month. It seems every year I get to the end of summer and freak out about all the things I didn’t finish on my to-do list or wish list before the leaves start turning gold and orange. This year was no different.
The Nature Photographer episode #19 on Wild & Exposed podcast
Full-time nature photographer Alyce Bender reveals her secret to better wildlife images and to traveling safely alone: be a better naturalist. Hear how observing animal behavior helps Alyce stay aware of her surroundings and anticipate a great action photo. Plus, find out how boredom in the field and a desire to make the best of an imperfect opportunity—like a pronghorn in harsh light—inspire Alyce’s most creative imagery. This expert car camper and military veteran has lived all over the world, including 10 months traveling the U.S. in an RV with her two dogs. Hear about some of her favorite locations, including where she went this summer—logging 12,000 miles in just 11 weeks!
Yosemite, Yellowstone, Arches, Monument Valley. The names alone bring glorious and exciting images to mind. They’ve been published and printed for many decades. The classic shots of Half Dome, Old Faithful, Delicate Arch, and the Mittens; we’ve seen them all. Yet we continue to make pilgrimages to these scenic meccas of America in the hope of capturing the quintessential photograph of some already over exposed mountain or canyon that will distinguish our work from the pack; some fresh perspective that will set our images apart from the cliché.
Is this still possible? With all of the iconic photographs of our premier wilderness areas that have been made and circulated since the days of William Henry Jackson and Ansel Adams pioneered the craft, can we, with our hi-tech zillion megapixel cameras and the compressed schedules of our fast-lane lifestyles, persist in the creation of original interpretations of these well-known places? Clearly, the answer is still “Yes!”
An exceptional group of judges is getting set to evaluate the photos entered in NANPA’s 2022 Showcase nature photography competition. Being chosen for recognition by this panel will be a real mark of distinction, not to mention the prizes and other benefits of entering this competition. Remember, all entries are due no later than 11 p.m. EDT on Monday, September 20, 2021. So, don’t delay! Get your images ready now! Find the rules and full details on NANPA’s Showcase pages.
Each year, I look forward to colorful fall foliage. Autumn is one of my favorite times of year for landscape and nature photography. Temperatures are pleasant, mosquitos and gnats are mostly gone, and trees are a riot of color. If, that is, I time it right. That’s why, for the past few years, I’ve used the Fall Foliage Prediction Map, an interactive map showing the predicted progress of fall color across the United States. I’ve written about it before but, until now, had never looked behind the scenes to see how the map and the predictions are created. Come with me behind the curtain and meet David Angotti, the map’s creator.