Photography, like life, is a non-stop learning experience. While we should not take ourselves too seriously, it is still good to pause and reflect on your journey now and then. Recalling all the mistakes you made, and why you made them, helps you get ready for those still ahead. Often those mistakes start out as myths – received wisdom that ends up working poorly for you. These are some of mine:
1.) The more photos I publish, the better.
You will produce some poor work. Get used to it, but develop a critical eye and ruthlessly bury it.
We all know people who talk too much and tend to say foolish or inappropriate things, and we hope like hell that’s not us. Yes, there are times to speak, but it is wise to first listen and think, and doing that you are more likely to say something meaningful or memorable.
It is no different with your photography. You make your reputation on the images you put out there for people to see, so you want to be very, very careful that what you publish is consistent with the photographer you want to be. The great danger with publishing on the Web – web sites, album sites, social media – is that it is far too easy and tempting to publish way too much and in doing so, publish work that is not your best. Even a small amount of mediocre work in your portfolio is enough to tell people that you are not a judge or producer of great photography. Continue reading →
When most people think of wildlife photography, birds, large mammals, and possibly reptiles come to mind. But in the grand scheme of things, these are a small fraction of the picture. Insects and other arthropods constitute the vast majority of animals, both in numbers of individuals and numbers of species. These small creatures show huge diversity in anatomy and behavior, and make fascinating subjects for nature photographers. What’s more, they’re accessible. With millions of individual arthropods in a typical acre, you don’t have to travel far to find subjects. But photographing them requires different techniques than larger subjects. Here’s how I photographed a live centipede collected from my yard.
When possible, I like to photograph arthropods in their natural environment, unconfined. But that wasn’t going to be practical with this constantly moving specimen. I needed a way to keep it confined in a small area, rather than letting it run to the nearest shelter to hide. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have a helper who can gently stop a subject from running too far. This time I was working alone, and needed a containment device of some sort.
I had a small petri dish over which I could place a large clear photographic filter as a lid, and I put the centipede into this enclosure. Photographing through the optically flat filter gave a clear, undistorted image, and the glass dish let light in from the sides, while the filter was too heavy for the centipede to lift and escape. A ceramic plate made a white background.
Yellowstone is not only America’s first national park, but the very first such preserve in all the world. Brought into existence with the 1872 signature of President Ulysses S. Grant, Yellowstone set the example for the worldwide park and preservation movement. It is the quintessential essence of our park system. Even after almost a century and a half, Yellowstone remains one of the crown jewels of the world.
We discussed a winter trip to Yellowstone in the October 2015 issue of eNews. In this issue, we’ll explore this vast park in warmer weather. Continue reading →
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.
It was my dream come true to have been the Artist in Residence as a photographer in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for six weeks from September through November of 2016. I have been to the park many times and I would never have imagined having this opportunity. My background as a natural resource manager for 26 years along with my passion for photography helped to secure the chance to take photographs for an entire season in one of the most picturesque national parks. For me, it was about more than just taking photos. I wanted to take the time to gain a greater understanding of the park.
Badlands National Park is a terrific destination for landscape and wildlife photographers. It is the location of my June 2017 photo workshop, co-lead by Sandy Zelasko. The park is a convenient hour drive east from Rapid City on Interstate 90. North of the Pinnacles Entrance lies the town of Wall where you can find accommodations and other amenities. Near Cedar Pass, at the eastern end of the park, there are campgrounds, cabins, and a few other places to overnight.Continue reading →
Carl 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 http://www.nanpa.org/events/regionals/adirondack-new-york-2017/ 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.
I admit it…I am spoiled by where I live. Northwest Wyoming, with its easy access to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, is a nature photographer’s paradise. In the summer months I can be in Lamar Valley within two hours. In early winter, an hour’s drive south puts me in range to capture that magnificent moment when two bighorn rams collide with incredible force and in spring I have the joy of photographing young pronghorn and elk literally in my backyard.
But even in this amazing environment, there are those months when the photo doldrums set in and I wonder if I will ever get another opportunity to shoot something that makes my heart beat a little bit faster. That is why, every January 1, I try to come up with a personal photo project instead of the typical New Year’s resolution. I started this practice a couple years ago when I felt the need for a challenge to get me through the long cold months that stretched to spring. Continue reading →