Mary Ann and Joe McDonald are professional wildlife photographers who, together, lead photography tours around the world and teach photo workshops at their home, Hoot Hollow, in central Pennsylvania. Their images appear in many national and international nature magazines, calendars and books. Mary Ann is the author of 29 natural history children’s books. She has gone to many elementary schools as a visiting author and has written a coffee table book on the Amish. Joe is the author of six how-to photography books. He is co-author of a book on digital nature photography with Mary Ann and fellow photographer Rick Holt, and he and Mary Ann have written a book and produced a video for Photographing on Safari. Joe has written several coffee table books on jaguars and tigers and is currently writing books on Indian wildlife, creatures of the night, world’s deadliest creatures and camouflage in nature. Mary Ann’s photography awards include two first-place awards and several other awards in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, first place in the Nature’s Best Photography competition and first place in the old AGFA competition in South Africa. Joe has won first place in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition as well as several second and third places. This will be Mary Ann and Joe’s 28th year leading photo safaris to East Africa, and next year they will celebrate 100 treks to Rwanda to photograph the mountain gorillas. (Note: The following questions were answered by Mary Ann.) Read the rest of this entry »
Story by Andy Johnson; Photos by Gerrit Vyn
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Multimedia Production team has spent the past three years producing an hour-long documentary about the iconic sagebrush steppe of the American west. On May 20th, at 8/7c, The Sagebrush Sea aired nationally on PBS, as part of the award-winning series, NATURE. Check your local PBS station for future viewing times. You can also stream the film online for free on the PBS / Nature website.
Gerrit Vyn, photographer and producer at the Cornell Lab and iLCP fellow, has spent much of the past few years documenting the sagebrush steppe for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The Sagebrush Project included a magazine article in Living Bird, educational web interactives, and an hour-long documentary for PBS / Nature, The Sagebrush Sea. In today’s shifting media landscape, increasingly rooted in web and multimedia, conservation itself (in turn, rooted in communication and education) is also expanding its media toolbox.
I recently sat down with Gerrit to discuss how the intersection of conservation photography with filmmaking and web production can benefit a core message.
Vacations are a great way to get away and de-stress. However, I often find myself stressing even more. While I try to be mindful of the fact that I’m on vacation and not on assignment, I can’t seem to leave home without my camera gear.
With only a limited amount of time, I worry about getting the shot. Where are the best locations? When and where does the sun set and/or rise? How can I best secure my equipment in the hotel room?
On a recent trip to Antigua, West Indies, I was focusing on a bevy of tropical treats that don’t normally grace my lens. It’s easy to get sloppy and fall into the “tourist trap.” You want to shoot everything, but end up shooting not much of anything worthwhile at all. Slowing down and actually seeing your subjects, as opposed to simply looking at them, can make all the difference in the world.
If you look at a satellite photo taken at night of the United States, you’ll see a recognizable shape. The coastlines are outlined in light. Major cities are clearly defined. Yet, out in far West Texas, there is a dark area void of major manmade lighting.
This huge dark area is being preserved thanks to a major dark sky preservation movement by local entities. Read the rest of this entry »
I tend to get stuck in my ways for photographing landscapes: sharp and focused. But I’ve started experimenting with another technique that I refer to as ambient light painting.
Ambient light painting may not be what you think. It is not using artificial light sources at night to paint light on a tree, old barn or other subject. Instead, ambient light painting uses both natural light and slow camera movements to create abstract compositions. The results can be something resembling a Monet painting.
When I discovered how much my students embraced this technique, I decided to include it in my workshop resources to help them develop their own vision of nature. Turns out, ambient light painting is fun for them, and that fits right in with my goal to get folks to love nature through their photography.
Text and images by David DesRochers
When I started getting serious about photography my goal was simple. Take pictures that my friends and family would ooh and aah over. We all want people to respond positively to our work and there are a number of photo critiquing web sites that cater to this desire. Camera clubs around the world hold photo competitions and there is no shortage of major competitions such as NANPA’s Showcase and Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International. Displaying our photos on our web site or photo site like flickr is another way of putting our work in the public eye. Many of us display our work in local galleries and others try to gain recognition (and maybe a few dollars) through microstock agencies such as Dreamstime. Read the rest of this entry »
Text and Images by Gaelin Rosenwaks
Storytelling and the ability to share one’s expeditions and discoveries are key elements to exploration. During the expeditions of early explorers, like Columbus and James Cook, paintings and drawings captured moments of discovery and hardships. An expedition artist was always brought along to document the journey. Once photography was invented, expedition photographers were brought to photograph these moments of discovery along with the daily life during the journey.
When I think of the seminal work of an expedition photographer, I recall Frank Hurley’s images from Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition in 1914. Through his images, one can get a sense of the desolation of being trapped in the ice and feel the cramped living quarters of the ship during the day-to-day operation. These images bring the story to life and allow for a deeper connection than words alone. Once trapped in the ice, the images become more compelling as he continued to photograph the ship being crushed by the ice and life on the ice once the ship went down. Photographs, like the early paintings, capture the intangible while bringing you into the moment.
Fortunately, I have not photographed the aforementioned hardships, but I have been able to document oceanographic research expeditions around the world, particularly in the Arctic. Photography has come a long way and is now accessible to everyone and, for that reason, plays an even more important role in our expeditions and storytelling. As an explorer and expedition photographer, I am acutely aware that followers of my expeditions expect to see compelling images.
We now have the ability to bring people sitting on their couches along on the journey in real time. Through blogging and social media, viewers can experience expeditions in the most remote corners of the world through both still images and video, getting a sense of place as exploration happens. Because of this technology, we end up with an unedited version that captures moments and raw emotions rather than, as the explorer and photographer, we remember it once we are home. I think this is extremely powerful.
As a photographer, my camera is always with me on an expedition to catch that unexpected moment, but also to capture the everyday. Moments from an icicle hanging from a ship railing, to the first glimpse of sea ice when steaming north in the Arctic Ocean, to the science being conducted on board. All are documented in an effort to record the journey and share these precious moments from remote corners of the world.
The expedition artists and photographers of the past set the bar high for present day expedition photographers. Their compelling images have inspired me to document cutting-edge research expeditions of the present in an effort to share what science is doing to understand questions like climate change, ocean acidification and overfishing.
Gaelin Rosenwaks is a marine scientist, photographer and filmmaker. She founded her company, Global Ocean Exploration, to share her passion for ocean exploration, the marine world and its conservation through film, photography and writing. She now participates and conducts expeditions in every ocean to alert the public not only to the challenges facing the oceans, but also to what science is doing to understand these changes.
Gaelin is a US Coast Guard Licensed Captain, and a Fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers Club where she serves on the Conservation Committee. Gaelin has published articles in scientific journals, newspapers and magazines. She has also appeared as a scientific consultant and angler on the National Geographic Channel Series, Fish Warrior. More of Gaelin’s work can be found at www.globaloceanexploration.com
And to follow the latest, her twitter and instagram @gaelinGOExplore
A wonderful mix of sharply chiseled mountains, glistening lakes and sparkling waterfalls can be found in Glacier National Park in northern Montana. The spectacular scenery of this sprawling million-acre park is a landscape photographer’s paradise. Add in the black bears, grizzlies, mountain bighorn sheep and snow-white mountain goats that make Glacier their home, and you have all the ingredients for a great photo trip. Read the rest of this entry »
PHOTOGRAPHER PROJECT: The Power of Place, Story and photographs by Jerry and Marcy Monkman, EcoPhotography
In 2011, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests asked me to produce a series of short advocacy videos that they could use in their opposition to the Northern Pass. The Northern Pass is a newly proposed high-voltage electricity transmission line project. New Hampshire’s Democratic governor touted the Northern Pass, http://www.northernpass.us/index.htm, as a project that would bring low-cost green energy to the region and more than 1,000 jobs to the state.
Residents living along the proposed route, however, were concerned about the visual impact of 180 miles of steel towers on New Hampshire’s rural landscape. There were also questions about whether or not the power to be carried on the new lines was even needed. Our videos helped give voice to the opposition and delay the transmission line project as the Northern Pass sought a new route. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
These 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.
Flash 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