NATURE’S VIEW: Taking a dive

Story and photography by Jim Clark

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.

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Female belted kingfisher at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia. © Jim Clark

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NANPA Weekly Wow: Dec 12-18

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Crystal Cathedral – ice caves, Grand Island Ice Caves on Lake Superior © Todd Reed

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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Winter in Yellowstone

Story and Photography by D. Robert Franz

Steam and trees on Minerva Terraces in Yellowstone National Park at below zero

Steam and trees on Minerva Terraces in Yellowstone National Park at below zero © D. Robert Franz

Winter in Yellowstone National Park is a magical destination for nature and wildlife photographers. Yellowstone is a surreal world of snow, ice, steam, frost and fog. Winter is a time of solitude and tranquility. Summer crowds are long gone leaving the amazing scenic wonders and dramatic wildlife of the park accessible for serious and studied nature photography. I would assert Yellowstone during winter an absolute bucket list location for all nature photographers. Continue reading

FROM THE PRESIDENT OF NANPA

cbolt_portrait_jan2014Comedian 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.

Best Wishes,

Clay Bolt

NANPA Weekly Wow: Dec 5-11

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Early morning light at Borax Hot Springs., Borax Hot Springs, Alvord Desert, Oregon © Scott Smorra

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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NANPA Weekly Wow: Nov 28 – Dec 4

An endangered Haleakala Silversword under stars., Haleakala National Park - Maui, Hawaii © Scott Reither

An endangered Haleakala Silversword under stars., Haleakala National Park – Maui, Hawaii © Scott Reither

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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VOLUNTEER: Mark Lukes

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© Linda Helm

NANPA founding president and lifetime member Mark Lukes was also founding chair of the NANPA Foundation and the Center for Fine Art Photography. He is currently president of Art for Conservation and recently completed his tenure as the first board chair of the International League of Conservation Photographers. Mark’s company, Fine Print Imaging, has long been considered the top printer for fine art photographers and artists across North America. He is also a photographer. Be sure to read Mark’s answer to the last question in this interview for insight into NANPA’s beginnings. — The Editors

Do you have a “day” job? What do you do?

I am the founder and president of Fine Print Imaging, a fine art printing studio that has been printing for serious photographers and artists for more than 40 years. Many of our customers are NANPA members. Interesting fact: the company employs 11 professionals who represent over 230 years of work experience at Fine Print Imaging!

How long have you been a NANPA member?

Since it began in 1994. Continue reading