NANPA Weekly Wow: July 25-31

Starry Night in trees, Shenandoah NP © Joyce Harman

Starry Night in trees, Shenandoah NP © Joyce Harman

Each week www.nanpa.org highlights 7 images from the top 100 submissions of the 2016 NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by:

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Shenandoah National Park

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

In addition to my usual narrative on a particular park, this month I would like to make a special mention of the centennial celebration of the National Park Service. (See https://www.nps.gov/subjects/centennial/index.htm.) There is no time like the present to get out and spend some time in one of America’s most special places. So pack your gear and visit a national park! Or, two.

Hawksbill Summit

Hawksbill Summit © Jerry Ginsberg

Now let’s jump into Shenandoah National Park.

Among the premier drives located east of the Mississippi, the 105-mile-long Skyline Drive is certainly one of them. This great road runs across the top of the Blue Ridge above the Shenandoah Valley. The views along its route are so majestic that many folks would be drawn here just for the ride, even if this were not Shenandoah National Park.

The northern end of the drive begins at Front Royal, Virginia, near the junction of Interstates 66 and 81. Its southern terminus connects with the north end of the famed 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway. In between are several entrances to the park and many scenic stops and trailheads. Continue reading

Urban Nature

Story and photography by F.M. Kearney

How can I crop out the edge of that building?

Has the traffic completely cleared the scene yet?

Are those tourists ever going to move?

If you’ve ever tried to shoot nature photos within an urban environment, you’ve undoubtedly asked yourself questions like these at one time or another. I often write about the difficulties of pursuing a career as a nature photographer in a large metropolitan city. It’s not always economically or logistically possible to escape city limits and venture into the wild to capture true nature. You sometimes have no choice but to shoot nature wherever you can find it—amidst all the inherent distractions of a concrete jungle.

I used to go to great lengths to avoid any man-made objects in my nature photos, believing that any hint of urban artifacts would lessen the impact of the natural subject. This would be true if the objects were only in the shot due to careless oversight. However, it’s an entirely different story if their inclusion is deliberate and done for creative purposes.

Cities come alive with color in the spring. You probably won’t have to go far to find a beautiful flower display. Instead of attempting to isolate it from its surroundings, try to incorporate the natural and the artificial worlds.

Looking down Park Avenue

Looking down Park Avenue

In New York, colorful tulips adorn the median of Park Avenue for several miles. With the traffic zooming by just a few feet away, it’s amazing that they survive. Yet, not only do they survive in this inhospitable environment, they flourish. And for a couple of weeks during the season, they really put the “park” in Park Avenue. Countless tourists photograph these flowers each year, but very few hang around until twilight. That’s too bad (well, it’s great for me since I practically have the whole place to myself), because the city and traffic lights add a lot of vitality to the scene. Instead of waiting for the traffic to clear out of the shot in the photo above, I waited for it to enter. I wanted to use the light trails from passing vehicles as a dynamic framing element for the tulips, as well as a way to help draw the viewer’s eye into the shot. I chose this particular spot in between two glass towers for more symmetry and more colorful light reflecting off the windows. Lastly, I used a 16mm fisheye lens to emphasize the “tunnel” effect of the scene. Continue reading

NANPA Weekly Wow: July 18-25

Great Blue with Snake, Green Cay, Palm Beach County, FL © Michael Cohen

Great Blue with Snake, Green Cay, Palm Beach County, FL © Michael Cohen

Each week www.nanpa.org highlights 7 images from the top 100 submissions of the NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by:

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The True Value of Your Photography

Story and photography by Jim Clark

Pencils in Mason Jar (c) Jim Clark_01

Two pencils © Jim Clark

A few years ago I was invited by the Wood County Reading Association in West Virginia to speak at several elementary and middle-schools in the county. I jumped at the opportunity to speak to these young folks, especially since I’m a native son of West Virginia.

From the moment I arrived, I was treated like royalty, even being chauffeured from school to school. I visited eight schools, spoke to more than 1,000 kids, and although the facilities varied from school to school, we made it work each time. I also gave a program to the local community on my first night. While that was fun and well-attended, my time at the schools touched my heart. Continue reading

FROM THE NEW NANPA PRESIDENT

cbolt_portrait_jan2014One of the great joys that comes from time spent photographing nature is a kind of record of our discoveries: a visual diary of the moments that took our breath away or an account of those precious glimpses into the lives of species who share this great planet with us.

For me, joy doesn’t come just from making images. It also comes through the process of reflecting on how fortunate I’ve been to be present in the face of so much awe-inspiring beauty. There are times when I am filled with so much wonder that I feel I might explode. Through my work as a natural history and conservation photographer, I’ve made it my mission to share this passion with others so that it might result in more people coming together to cherish and protect the natural world. Continue reading

NANPA Weekly Wow

Giant Clam Detail, Banda Sea, Indonesia © Peter Hartlove

Giant Clam Detail, Banda Sea, Indonesia © Peter Hartlove

Each week www.nanpa.org highlights 7 images from the top 100 submissions of the NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by:

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THIS BIRDING LIFE: A Winslow Homer Painting Comes Alive

Story and photos by Budd Titlow

Monhegan Island is the real thing – an active lobstering village! © Budd Titlow

Monhegan Island is the real thing – an active lobstering village! © Budd Titlow

When spring/summer rolls around, I always start to think about the songbird migration – especially my experiences with warblers on Monhegan Island, Maine. The first time I set foot on Monhegan Island, I needed a pinch to make sure I hadn’t died and gone to heaven. Walking up the hill from the ferry into the village was like going back fifty years in time: dirt roads, handmade signs, and wooden buildings. It was like a Winslow Homer painting had suddenly sprung to life before my eyes. If this wasn’t enough—flocks of colorful songbirds flitted about all over the place, perching on trees, rooftops, fences, anything that was standing upright. The only things for visitors to do on the island are paint (Monhegan supports a summer art colony, including many famous artists like Jamie Wyeth), photograph (every well-known bird photographer visits Monhegan from time to time), and watch birds—lots and lots of birds! Continue reading

NANPA Weekly Wow

A red fox (Vulpes vulpes) stops for a portrait in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming © Dawn Wilson

A red fox (Vulpes vulpes) stops for a portrait in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming © Dawn Wilson

Each week www.nanpa.org highlights 7 images from the top 100 submissions of the NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by:

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UAVs and Aerial Photography: Tools and Techniques

Story and photography by Ralph Bendjebar

ralplh-b-boat-under-bridge

Frame grab from Ralph Bendjebar’s video, “Gitche Gumee,” which can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZ35-ZTsiSg

UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/drones) capable of recording unique and memorable images and high-quality videos are becoming ever more ubiquitous and affordable. Their capabilities in terms of stability, camera control and image quality have multiplied at a dizzying pace over the last few years. There are a great many choices in terms of equipment, and it is outside the scope of this article to attempt to cover them all. What I will do, however, is provide some helpful tips that will ensure that your photography and videography will produce successful results.

I currently use the DJI Inspire and Phantom 4 UAVs to obtain both video and still images. They are far and away the most widely used UAVs, and while there are many other capable drones on the market, I will limit my discussion to how these two have distinct roles in my UAV toolbag. Continue reading