FIELD TECHNIQUE: Add a Flash of Color, Story and photographs by F.M. Kearney

There are several ways to add more color to your photos. Nowadays, that usually involves any number of amazing things that can be done in post. But if your computer skills are lacking or you’re old school and prefer to create your masterpieces in-camera, there is a quick and easy method for adding a touch of color using flash gels.

Many methods are available to attach gels to a flash head. I use a LumiQuest FXtra Gel Holder that attaches to the head via Velcro strips. There are lots of colors to choose from, but you’ll probably want to use the red gel to get the most realistic results. Also, if you are shooting flowers, look for those that are white or light colored for more impact.

kearney-top-rightkearney-top-leftThese before and after images of Peruvian lilies show what can be done when the red gel is applied lightly. You want to add only a hint of color, not completely change it. Even if your flash is set to “Fill,” dial down its power output to about -0.7. This is very important when using the red gel, which can be overpowering if not kept in check. When just the right amount of color is applied, you will create the illusion of early morning or late afternoon light.

As with most subjects, flowers look best when lit at an angle. This will add more depth and eliminate that direct, flat-light look. Take the flash off-camera and hold it either to the left, right, above or below the subject—whichever position produces the most dynamic result. To maintain TTL-flash capability, use a remote cord, such as the Nikon SC-17. If the winds are calm, try a double exposure and aim the flash at opposite sides outfitted with two different colored gels for each exposure. In the winter, some pretty interesting effects can be created on icicles, and you don’t have to worry too much about the wind.

kearney-bottom-rightkearney-bottom-leftFlash gels can be effective on many other subjects as well. I wanted to add a splash of color to the bare spot on the tree on the right (above). I used a 50mm lens but zoomed the flash to 70mm in order to avoid discoloring the leaves. This created a natural-looking color that balanced nicely with the leaves on the ground.

Both the lilies and the tree were shot in overcast light, which tends to give off a bluish cast. Normally, this is easily resolved by changing your white balance to “cloudy,” which will give the image a warm amber tone. The only problem is that it’s applied to the entire image. The red flash gel is a great way to apply this tone to select portions of the scene.

You don’t need to be a Photoshop guru to add a little more color to your photos. Not only can it be done easily in the camera, but it can be done in a flash!

F.M. Kearney is a fine-art nature photographer specializing in unique floral and landscape images. To see more of his work, visit www.starlitecollection.com

 

From Photography to Filmmaking: Audio Equipment

A simple on-camera stereo microphone is a great starting point to record audio for your videos.

A simple on-camera stereo microphone is a great starting point to record audio for your videos.

In this month’s column From Photography to Filmmaking, we will take our last look at the audio side of filmmaking, something that is totally new to most photographers.  In the last few articles, we have looked at the conceptual side of audio, how to think about using audio to complement your visuals, and even used one of my short films as an example of how I created the adudio for that film.  Today, we will take a brief look at the techincal equipment that I am recommending for someone just starting to record audio for the video projects.

Read the rest of this entry »

NATURE’S VIEW: Caught Between Lunch and a Flock of Snow Geese, Story and photographs by Jim Clark

Expect the unexpected. All nature photographers, regardless of skill level, have had moments when the unexpected happens. Nature provides no script beforehand or studio that we can set up the way we want. What happens is not announced ahead of time. We know from experience that unforeseen and special moments will occur, so we improvise and use what we have to make the best of the situation.

Through our knowledge of the natural world and our willingness to endure whatever challenge is placed before us, nature photographers make it work. We know that going directly from point A to point B rarely happens in nature, and we are blessed for it.

I had planned to photograph a northern harrier frequenting the marshes of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Assateague Island National Seashore in Virginia this past winter. For days, I watched this raptor as it swooped and glided over the salt marsh. Yet, I was never able to get set up in time to photograph it.

One picture-perfect morning I hiked along the bay side of the seashore determined that some feathered creature would not defeat me! My only challenge was that I had to be at a friend’s house for lunch at noon, and he would not appreciate my being late. The day held the promise of fun exploring this side of the coastal barrier island. Then, something unexpected happened.

Geese landing on beach at Assateague Island National Seashore, Virginia.

Geese landing on beach at Assateague Island National Seashore, Virginia.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Photographing the Unseen by Sebastian Kennerknecht

Malayan Porcupine © Sebastian Kennerknecht

Malayan Porcupine (Hystrix brachyura) at night, Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia © Sebastian Kennerknecht

Using SLR Camera Traps to Photograph the Unseen

Text and Images by Sebastian Kennerknecht

How do you photograph an animal so elusive that the biologists studying them have never even seen the species themselves? The answer is simple: SLR camera traps. Photographing wildlife with a camera trap seems easy in concept. Place a camera trap in the wilderness, let it sit there, and have it take amazing pictures while you relax at home. This isn’t quite the case. One of the hardest parts about camera trap photography is getting your set-up to work like you want it to. The camera and flashes have to be ready to take a picture at a moment’s notice, but it also needs to conserve batteries enough to last for an extended period of time. And then everything has to be safe in a serious down drench.  Read the rest of this entry »

HAVASUPAI REBORN, by Kerrick James

 

Havasu Falls and Rainbow

Havasu Falls and Rainbow

The landscape of the Colorado Plateau is ephemeral, a changeling, although to beings with short life spans this land seems immutable, a constant. But in canyon country stunning changes can occur in a single afternoon, altering the course of a stream, stranding a waterfall, even creating a new unheralded cascade. Thus, it has always been in Havasupai, named for the people of the blue-green water.

Havasupai, the mythic side canyon hidden well to the west of the South Rim summer mayhem and adjoining Grand Canyon National Park, has always been near the top of my favorite locations to photograph. I’ve been lucky to shoot this desert Shangri-la a dozen times since the late 70’s, with a progression of cameras from 4×5 to 67 Pentax to a variety of digital formats. For years I blithely assumed that the interwoven terraces of travertine below each of the three great waterfalls, Havasu, Navajo, and Mooney, would always be there to compose as one of the most artistic foregrounds imaginable.

Havasu Falls in autumn

Havasu Falls in autumn.

But in the mid-90s a major flash flood swept the canyon, ripping out the majestic rills of travertine, and though they grew again over the years they never regained their prior perfection. In August of 2008 a nearly catastrophic flood changed the course of Havasu Creek, turning secluded Navajo Falls to dust. But the perennial waters are yet lovely beyond belief, turquoise except during storms, and paradise has slowly been reborn.

My spring 2013 hike to Havasupai was a desire to see how the fabled canyon had recovered, how the familiar waterfalls had fared, and to explore the two new falls gifted us by that epic event, five year’s past. What I found was still pure magic, with scenes both grand and intimate, and wondrous beauty to photograph everywhere you turn. Of course, being an adventure shooter, I had to spice it up, so I brought a kayak. Really.

Havasu Falls in warm spring stormlight

Havasu Falls in spring stormlight.

We all grow as photographers over the years, seeing more acutely and sharpening our technique. But Havasupai seems somehow to offer the gift of extra time. Here the hours feel slower, richer and allow for reflection. In several languid days you can shoot the falls from dawn shadow light throughout the long day into starlight, as I did. And then you can do it again and again, doing variations of exposure (to fine tune the action and detail of the flowing waters) discover new compositions, and so much more.

For example, I had always dreamed of shooting Havasu Falls under the stars, lit by moonlight. But on this trip the tight canyon walls blocked the half moon, so I combined my warm LED light with a standard cool LED wielded by a friend, and over three nights finally made the images that had haunted my dreams. Patience is key with light painting. I liken it to burning and dodging in the darkroom, adding to and withholding light from your canvas of pixels, only you’re playing in real time and space. The exposure equation is complicated by fast diminishing light in the twilight sky above the falls, and by the constant adjustment of both ISO and actual exposure time.

Havasu Falls and starry sky

Havasu Falls at night.

My favorite Havasu Falls star images were shot in the range of 30-45 seconds at f/5.6, at ISO 800, with 12-14mm focal lengths on my Pentax K-3. You can shoot from the trail above the falls or beside the falls, but be wary. When shooting near the falls the spray can precipitate calcium carbonate on your front lens surfaces, and your eyeglasses too. I use older UV filters to protect the delicate lens coatings, and bring a hand towel to wipe off the persistent water blowing your way. An ounce of prevention is worth, well you know the rest! And obviously this requires a quality tripod matched to the combined weight of your camera and lens, plus a release to do long exposures. LED lights and extra batteries complete the kit, and all you need then is a clear night sky to make some magic.

Fern grotto below Mooney Falls.

Fern grotto below Mooney Falls.

Just to the left of old Navajo Falls was a green misty watery groove we called the Grotto. A small but realistic slice of Hawaii concealed in the parched Southwest, it was overwhelming in both beauty and mystery and is now forever gone. Luckily, fate gave us Rock Falls and New Navajo Falls, and these are actually the first waterfalls you’ll see as you hike the dusty trail down from the village of Supai. New Navajo Falls is well off the trail, but has a decided edge in grandeur over Rock Falls, which is more approachable and easier to shoot. Plan to spend a early morning here, catching the warm reflection of the dawn light off the sheer canyon walls on the cool blue waters of Havasu Creek, with intensely green water plants adding to the color palette.

Rock Falls, Havasupai, Arizona

Rock Falls, Havasupai Reservation, Arizona.

After exploring both of the new Navajo Falls and the gem that is Havasu Falls, cinch up for a bit of adventure, the cliff trail down to Mooney Falls. This winding, steep trail descends 200’ through travertine passages and then hold on to the steel cables the last 70’ to terra firma. A mid-size photo backpack will fit through the maze but don’t forget your tripod as you’ll need it for the intense falls experience below. I’ve shot Mooney Falls as a pure scenic many times, so this time I carried down my inflatable kayak, and drafted my friends to paddle the pool below the falls. Not for the faint of heart, but on a hot summer afternoon you’ll never be cooler or more invigorated!

I photograph cities and destinations for many clients, but my heart truly lies in showing friends exploring the natural world, and the challenge I made to myself was to get the wild spirit of the place and the kayaking into some key images. Never have I heard of someone kayaking the waterfalls of Havasupai, and Havasu Creek, and many questions were posed as to where we were going from here. I was tempted to say down the Colorado River to Yuma, but that was too tall a tale to spin, even for me!

Kayakers below Mooney Falls

Kayaking below Mooney Falls.

Truth is, whether you hike, ride the horse or helicopter (yes you can), into the wonderland of Havasupai, plan to stay at least two full days. Four is better, as you won’t want to leave. Bring plenty of camera batteries and memory cards, as there’s nowhere to tank up on electrons unless you stay in the Havasupai Lodge in Supai. It’s a long two miles from the village to Havasu Falls and the campground is well sited as a base to photograph the major falls. For reservations, contact the tribe at http://www.havasupaifalls.net

The water is Havasu Creek is a constant 72 degrees, perfect from mid-spring to mid-autumn, but chilly to cold in the winter. Summer afternoons are warm to hot, but the creek is always there, as it has been for countless millennia, to cool your body, thrill your soul and create future wonders in a faraway canyon in the high desert of the Southwest.


 

Kerrick James has worked as a travel journalist around the Pacific Rim and throughout the American West for 25 years, writing and shooting features for publications like Arizona Highways, Sunset, EnCompass, Natl. Geo Adventure and may others. Although his first love is adventure travel, he’s shot and covered all aspects of destination travel as well. He’s also taught nearly 50 photo workshops for Arizona Highways and his own private label, KJPhotosafaris. View his work at www.kerrickjames.com and www.kjphotosafaris.com.

 

This Birding Life by Budd Titlow

Sage Grouse Males Fighting  © Budd Titlow

Sage Grouse Males Fighting © Budd Titlow

This Birding Life is a new monthly column by NANPA Member Budd Titlow. 

SAGE GROUSE – Happy Hour on the High Plains

Image and Story By Budd Titlow

Sometimes Mother Nature provides a perfect microcosm of human life.

Many years ago, I was invited to observe an annual ritual that had all the elements of happy hour at your favorite neighborhood bar. Totally full of themselves, the males were strutting around in tight circles with their hairless chests puffed out. As they walked, they repeatedly made burping and belching sounds while aggressively posturing toward any other males that came too close to their domains. Meanwhile, all of the females skittered demurely in, out, around, and through all of the absurdly displaying males—acting as if the showboats didn’t exist.

Rather than watching patrons in a dark, after-work bar, I was driving along a Colorado high mountain sagebrush prairie at sunrise next to a “lek,” which is, appropriately enough, the Swedish word for “play.” And the clientele I was observing were chicken-sized wild birds known as sage grouse.

The largest grouse in North America, sage grouse live on the high plains of the American West—at elevations of four thousand to nine thousand feet—including populations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nevada, Utah, eastern California, and western Colorado. Read the rest of this entry »

FIELD TECHNIQUE: Working the Subject, Story and photographs by F.M. Kearney

 

If there was ever a Superbowl for floral photography, it would most likely be held in April. Flowers are blooming almost everywhere you look. Framing these little wonders of nature is usually a straightforward decision of using a vertical or horizontal composition. Occasionally, however, you may come across a subject that refuses to play nice and be placed in a neat little box.

Before you actually begin shooting, it’s a good idea to walk around first and survey the scene for the most promising subjects. This tight cluster of white Easter lilies in a botanical garden eventually caught my attention.

KearneyDL-311 Read the rest of this entry »

The Bio Blitz Concept For Photography by Kevin Fitzpatrick

Bio Blitz © Kevin FitzPatrick

Bio Blitz © Kevin FitzPatrick

Text and Images by Kevin FitzPatrick

A Bio Blitz is a short (usually one-day), intense team effort to discover as many different life forms as possible in one location. This often involves researchers and the general public working together to identify as many species as possible in a 24-hour period. To date, I have photographed over 45 Bio Blitzes from California to Maine and have done four with National Geographic.

For me, the Bio Blitz compasses all that I want to communicate to my audience about conservation and biodiversity and is a wonderful way to communicate with students and their parents about science! Depending on where they live, young people might get a chance to try their hand at species identification, photography, wildlife sketching, writing about nature, or the discovery of the natural history of their area. No two Bio Blitzes will be the same, as each one will be a reflection of the local environment. It is an opportunity for youth to not only enhance their appreciation of the environment through photography, art and exploration, but also to engage in true citizen science. This can be done through the iNaturalist Mobile Application, which makes use of the Encyclopedia of Life’s Species Collections, allowing participants to document species and upload their observations to a collective map that is available freely online. Read the rest of this entry »

NANPA VOLUNTEER: Danita Delimont

VOLUNTEER-Danita Delimont-2-2011Danita Delimont is a photo agent representing worldwide travel, nature and culture from 300 globally based photographers. She is CEO and founder of Danita Delimont Stock Photography. Danita brings more than 25 years of experience in licensing stock images to a broad base of editorial, travel and advertising clients. Owning and evolving a specialist library on her own terms—and being able to make sound decisions based on her experience in the industry—has been a win-win for anyone working with Danita. She received the prestigious Jane Kinne Picture Professional of the Year Award in 2009 by the American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP), and NANPA honored her with a Fellows Award in 2007. Danita has served as a judge in various photo competitions and as a guest instructor at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography and Seattle Central Community College. The agency website is www.DanitaDelimont.com. Read the rest of this entry »

ALIVE Photo by Paul Hassell

PatagoniaYell

Check out this awesome new project from Paul Hassell, a NANPA member and former NANPA College Scholarship Recipient. Have a project you want to share on the blog with NANPA Members? Email publications@nanpa.org. 

 

You can join Pro Photographers in the Field, From Home!

I have a dream. I want to build a bridge connecting the top pros in our industry with everyday hobbyists with cameras. The real goal is to get people outdoors to connect with nature. After more than a year of building our team and working hard behind the scenes, the stars have aligned, the timing is perfect, and the world has said, “WE WANT THIS!” That’s exactly where we are right now with ALIVE Photo on Kickstarter with just 2 days left in the campaign!

 

 

Pledge to reserve your seat in the online classroom before Sunday March 22nd at bit.ly/KickstartALIVEPhoto-NB You can even steal a LIFETIME membership that we’ll NEVER offer again. For less than the price of a weekend photo workshop. 2 days left to act on it!

After seeing the video above you are certainly excited, but you likely want to know more. Please read on.

 

PAUL’S STORY

A decade ago I was brought into the NANPA community as a wide-eyed college student through the life-altering college scholarship program. I was introduced to leading names and top editors in our industry by the program’s selfless leaders like Mark Lukes, Linda Helm, Ronnie Mabou, and Alice Robertson to name a few. I have been mentored by many greats in our industry including my hero and one of this year’s Keynote speakers Dewitt Jones.

With a burning passion for teaching and getting people connected to nature with their cameras, ALIVE Photo has formed. It’s a big effort and there are a couple dozen people working on it. It’s way beyond me at this point.

You might recall seeing our post last year about the interviews discussing WHY these 35 pros do what they do. Well, this business launch on Kickstarter will begin the next phase of teaching HOW they do what they do. Lessons are filmed on location around the world, and brought to your home over the internet in our online classroom where you can interact with other students about each lesson. bit.ly/KickstartALIVEPhoto-NB

 

HOW IT WORKS

I believe you will really enjoy the video below where I explain how it works.

 

 

I urge you to consider backing the project. This will “reserve your seat” for the first year beginning June 2015. Cost is just $110 until Sunday. Double that if you wait until June 2015.

 

BEST DEAL EVER

You can see all of the pledging levels and what your corresponding rewards are on the Kickstarter page. But I will mention that we have a few LIFETIME memberships left at the $450 level. We will never offer that option again. See you over on Kickstarter!

Thanks for making ALIVE Photo a reality and participating in waking the world up the the experience of being ALIVE through nature photography.

Sincerely,

Paul Hassell

© 2013 - North American Nature Photography Association
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