NANPA News

Photographing Water in Motion by Jennifer Wu

 

Iceland waterfall - vertical

Iceland waterfall: Canon 5D mark II, 24-70 mm lens at 24 mm, f/16, Shutter speed .6, ISO 100. I used a polarizing filter. Smooth effect. © Jennifer Wu

Text and photos © Jennifer Wu

Photographing moving water at varying shutter speeds produces different looks, from a silky effect to frozen detail. When photographing the ocean surf, waterfalls, streams or any moving water, I often bracket the shutter speeds to create a variety of results.

In the vertical waterfall image in Iceland, above, the water appears smooth and gauzy. The horizontal image of the same waterfall, below, presents more detail, permitting more shape with enough blur to endow the shot with a sense of motion. I like both effects, so I vary the shutter speed to get more or less detail. When bracketing the shutter speeds, review each image on view screen to judge the results.  If you see silky water with no detail where it is all white, move to a faster shutter speed. If there is too much detail where the water looks like ice, use a slower shutter to add enough blur for a velvety water effect.

Iceland waterfall - horizontal
Iceland waterfall: Canon 5D mark II, 24-70 mm lens at 24 mm, f/16, Shutter speed 1/10, ISO 100. I used a polarizing filter.
More detail in the water with a faster shutter speed. © Jennifer Wu

 

Shutter Speed Choice:

How fast or slow the water is moving is a factor to help decided shutter speed for the amount of blur or detail. A slow versus fast moving stream will have different effects at the same shutter speed. In addition, wider-angle lenses show less apparent motion compared to a telephoto from the same distance.

Several factors to help decide the shutter speed:

  • The flow rate of the water – slower shutter for more blur with slow moving streams
  • The amount of blur or detail you want – slower shutter for more blur
  • Distance to the subject – the water flow appears faster the closer you are
  • Focal length of the lens – slower shutter for wide-angle lenses for more blur

Waterfalls all fall at the same rate weather they are a faint stream or large waterfall. They gain momentum with the distance. The air resistance is the only factor that will effect the rate of water falling.

I photographed the waterfall in Iceland while leading a photography tour with Jim Martin. In the horizontal image, I used a .6 second shutter speed for a satiny effect, while the vertical image has a 1/10 shutter speed to show more detail.

waterfall detail with rainbow
Yosemite waterfall with rainbow. Using 1/125 of a second or faster with a medium telephoto lens helps stop the action on a waterfall and give it some detail. Photographed with the 70-300mm lens at 244mm, f/11, 1/250 second, ISO 200.
Polarizer used to enhance the rainbow. Be careful as you can make the rainbow disappear when completely polarized. © Jennifer Wu

 

In Yosemite, 1/125 of a second contributed some detail in the fast moving waterfalls. By contrast, I prefer 1/15to 1/30 of a second to smooth the slower moving water on the floor of water the valley.

Use a really fast shutter speed to stop the action of moving water. For waves at the ocean, I use around a 1/1000 of a second to get the detail in the splash.  Each droplet freezes.

In the next examples, the ocean images have a 10 to 13 second exposure to blur the water, transforming the surf into a fog.

Morro Bay rocks and surf, 10 second exposure.
Morro Bay rocks and surf, Canon 5D mark II, 24-70 mm lens at 24 mm, f/16, 10 seconds, ISO 100.
I used a 3-stop neutral density filter and a polarizer to smooth out the ocean surf. © Jennifer Wu

 

Tripod: Using a STURDY tripod will be necessary for the slow shutter speeds. They are still a good idea for higher shutter speeds as they aid in fine-tuning the final composition. Keep in mind it is often windy at the base of a waterfall or around the ocean surf. Weigh down the tripod if necessary to avoid vibration or tipping.

Exposure: when taking a photograph, I decide whether the shutter speed or f/stop is the most important and set that first. Normally, I use manual mode and set the shutter speed first, followed by the f/stop.  Next, I set ISO, ideally the native ISO for the camera, such as ISO 100 for Canon, or 200 for Nikon. Native resolution produces the least noise.  If the shutter speed is too slow, I raise the ISO to the proper exposure.  Finally, I add a filter, as discussed below.

Shutter Speed:  In order to get slow shutter speeds for the satiny effect, try photographing in low light conditions since full sun may demand too fast a shutter speed for slow motion. For example: photograph at low light near sunrise or sunset on sunny days, with the subject catching the first or last rays of light. Exposure it easier when he water is in the shade; be aware that your color temperature will change, shifting toward blue. Overcast conditions work well most of the time.

Filters: Using a polarizer will reduce your shutter speed time by about two f-stops. Turn the polarizer to see the effect on shiny rock surfaces and note how the reduced glare reveals detail and form. However, be careful when using a polarizer so as not to take out desired colorful reflections. Neutral density filters (not graduated neutral density filters), grey in color, will reduce the light to the sensor, allowing for a slower shutter speed.

Morro Bay sunset, 13 second exposure
Morro Bay sunset: Canon 5D mark II, F/16, 13 seconds, ISO 100.
I used a 5-stop neutral density filter to obtain the softness of the waves. © Jennifer Wu

 

Ideas: Water in all its forms is a dynamic subject open to many approaches. I like photographing streams in the shade with green leaves reflected onto streams in the afternoon (Yosemite’s Fern Spring is good for that). Photographing along Yosemite’s Merced River at sunrise provides the opportunity to capture the warm reflections of the mountains in the river. Fall colors, the leaves lit with sun and the water in shade reflect leaves, is a perennial favorite.

Tips for keeping the lens dry:Use a lens hood to keep spray off the lens. Carry a hand towel or pack towel to dry the camera and tripod when you return to the car from the shoot.Use a chamois cloth to wipe the droplets off the lens. Chamois are used to wipe cars dry and it works just as well on the lens. If you are in heavy spray from waterfalls, the ocean or from rain, it is helpful to carry a small sized soft absorbent pack towel to wipe the lens of most of the water, then use the chamois as it will otherwise get soaked too fast and become useless.

Tips for cleaning sea spray: First, use an air blower (not canned air) to remove any bits of sand or dust that might scratch the lens.

Next, wipe down your camera and lenses with a damp cloth to clean off the salt from the sea spray. Do this as soon as possible.

If you do get sea spray on the front element of the lens, use some lens cleaning fluid on a wipe or tissue and use that to remove it. Use lens cleaning solution and do not use abrasive or solvents. Wipe in a circular motion from the center outward. Do not put fluid directly on the lens. If it is very misty, bring the fluid and wipes with you to the ocean.

Another option is using a UV filter when at the ocean to protect the front element of the lens from the salt in the sea spray and you can clean the filter after the shoot in the same way as mentioned above.

Clean the camera eye-piece in the same way if it is needed.

Have fun photographing moving water and creating inspiring images!

Smooth Wave, Morro Bay, 0.4 second exposure

Smooth Wave, Morro Bay, California: Canon 5D mark II, 70-300 mm f/4-5.6 at 135 mm, f/22, 0.4 second, ISO 100. © Jennifer Wu

 

Jennifer Wu, a professional photographer since 1992, is best known for her nature, landscape and night photography. Jennifer was named by Canon USA to the elite group of photographers, The Explorers of Light. View more of her work and check out her book and workshop offerings at www.jenniferwu.com

Jennifer will speak on “Nature’s Elusive Beauty” in one of the breakout sessions at the 2015 NANPA Summit taking place in San Diego, California from February 19th – 22nd. To learn more about the Summit and to register for this exciting and inspirational event, please visit www.naturephotographysummit.com 

Interpretive Nature Photography: Art and Nature

by Jamie Konarski Davidson

Multiple exposure of fern in spin

Ferns – Multiple exposure with spin to highlight patterns and texture.

What does interpretive nature photography mean? Nature is nature, art is art, and never the two shall meet, right? For some, perhaps this is true. But only for those who have never walked in the woods, sat in a flower garden or watched the sun meet the day or settle in for the night. Or for those who have never stopped long enough to explore a dandelion or to watch a butterfly break free of its chrysalis. Nature IS art, in its finest and purest form. Capturing this essence is what nature photographers live for. It is what makes us unable to imagine doing anything else. It is what brings me peace, healing and joy. It is what pushes me as an individual to be present in the moment and to slow down long enough to see and feel and connect.

So, how do we do this and what do the results look like? Most of us begin our photographic journey with our eyes, hands and mind — seeing something, grabbing the camera and figuring out how to set the camera correctly. This is natural, as we need to see our subjects and to learn how to use our equipment to capture the moment. The sticky piece in this equation is “correctly.” True, technical knowledge is necessary. What is missing, and what makes our work express the “art in nature” is vision and heart. When we see and connect at the heart level, our work begins to shine, and what we share with the world resonates at a deeper level than a pretty picture. Read the rest of this entry »

When Color Doesn’t Cut It by Lee Hoy

American Bison by Lee Hoy

American Bison by Lee Hoy

Text and Images by Lee Hoy

As a wildlife and landscape photographer, I am constantly amazed at the plethora of colors that even a tiny damselfly can exhibit. It is capturing the palette of nature’s colors that often lures us out of bed early each morning, but what do we do when color just doesn’t cut it? What about when we are trying to communicate texture, form, grandeur, or movement and color becomes a distraction?

As a young boy, my parents would take me to the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma where I was captivated by a giant woolly beast that embodied the American west. I have photographed the American bison on many occasions and often find color images to be disappointing. It was only after I bought Silver Effex Pro 2.0 and began to learn its capabilities that I realized black-and-white images were the ticket to revealing to others what drew me to bison in the first place. The deep crevices in the shaggy coat, the splintering of the tips of the horns, the soulfulness of the eyes, and the jagged wrinkles in their hindquarters were expertly represented through black-and-white. Read the rest of this entry »

NANPA Issues Statement on Proposed US Forest Service Policies

Dear NANPA Members and Nature Photographers,

As you may know, the United States Forest Service (USFS) has issued proposed policy language pertaining to filming in wilderness areas within the jurisdiction of USFS. (https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-21093)

Those proposed policies, as phrased in the initial proposed policy language and in public comments from USFS officials, raise a number of troubling issues regarding when and why permitting and fees could be required of photographers filming on those lands.

NANPA has long advocated that no photographer should be required to obtain a permit to go anywhere the public may go or to do anything the public in general is allowed to do. Click Here to view NANPA’s 1999 Statement of Public Land Access. NANPA has and will continue to fight for this basic principle with regard to all public lands on behalf of all nature photographers.

Part of NANPA’s mission is to encourage proper stewardship of our nation’s public lands, and NANPA likewise recognizes that there are certain situations in which fees and permits are reasonable, for example, for certain commercial photo shoots and when there may be a high impact to the land itself. But it is not reasonable to impose permits or fees solely because a photographer may in the future license or sell an image taken on those public lands.

The proposed USFS policies do not clearly express these basic principles and need to be clarified. NANPA has actively partnered with other photography associations in communicating a wide variety of concerns to USFS. (You can read a recent letter sent to Chief Tidwell here). The USFS has responded positively to those concerns by letter and recent public statements, but unless and until the proposed policies themselves are clearly revised, photographers could be subjected to very subjective and inconsistent interpretation of those policies by local USFS authorities.

NANPA has drafted an additional and more detailed statement to USFS here (Link to 2nd Statement), which more fully sets out NANPA’s position.

NANPA will continue its direct efforts to influence these proposed policies, but the USFS also needs to hear directly from you, as NANPA members and as dedicated photographers and patrons of the public lands at issue.

How can you help? The public comment periods ends on December 3, 2014, so as soon as possible go to this link and on the right hand side, click Submit a Formal Comment.

Please note that the most effective comments are those that directly address the proposed policies at issue. So while you are free to “vent” broadly, that is not likely to have as much impact as a more specific comment. NANPA does ask that your Comments include the following points (preferably in your own words):

I am a nature photographer and a patron of our nation’s public lands, including USFS wilderness areas. The policies as proposed are overly vague and ambiguous and should be clarified as follows:

1. No permit or fee should be required to photograph in areas where the public in general is allowed.

2. No permit or fee should be required for photographers who use cameras on a speculative basis to photograph or film without an immediate market outlet for their work. Such activities are not a “commercial use or activity.”

3. No permit or fee should be required for news-gathering in general or for journalists on assignment for editorial purposes (See letter from National Press Photographers Association)

4. Permits and/or fees may be required when the photography or filming involves product or service advertisements, the use of models, actors, sets, or props, damage to resources, unacceptable health or safety risks, or significant disruption of normal visitor uses.

5. Overly vague and subjective policy criteria such as those found in 45.1c(5)(a), (b) and (c) should be eliminated from the proposed policies.

Please feel free to encourage other nature photographers to do the same. If you have any additional comments you would like to share with NANPA, please send them to info@nanpa.org.

NANPA appreciates your help on this issue and will keep you posted as we strive to protect the rights of all photographers to enjoy and photograph on our nation’s public lands.

For a Press Release, please see NANPA USFS Press Release.

 

Gabby Salazar

NANPA President

North American Nature Photography Association

618-547-7616 • info@nanpa.org

www.nanpa.org 

Balancing Flash and Ambient Light by Charles Glatzer

Image by Charles Glatzer

Image by Charles Glatzer

Text and photographs by Charles Glatzer

When I hear someone say, “I hate flash images,” it typically tells me they feel uncomfortable or do not fully comprehend how to use flash effectively.  Many people state that they can always tell when flash is used as the images have a “flashed” look to them. By this they mean that the subject appears overly bright and unnaturally lit within the image. By applying varying levels of flash output, we are able control the degree of subject illumination independent of the ambient light. Keeping the flash and ambient exposure separate in your mind will help you better achieve your goal.

The image of the heron on the nest (above) is a good example of how I use flash to balance ambient light. Here are the steps I took to make this image using flash.

1. First, I used my in-camera spot meter to check the yellow background highlight and I set my exposure 1.3 stops above the mid tone (in this case, my exposure was 1/250 sec at f/8 at ISO 200).

2. Next, I focused my lens on the subject and read the distance scale on my lens (in this example, 10 ft). Since my flash was on the camera, the flash-to-subject distance was the same as the lens-to-subject distance (10 ft).

 

Where to check the focusing distance on your lens.

Where to check the focusing distance on your lens.

3. Then, I set my flash to manual mode, which allows me to control the flash output independent of the exposure. I used the Select button on the back of the flash, turning the dial to place the black bar even with the subject distance. (Note: Strobes will vary by manufacturer. Some use buttons, others wheels, or a combination of both to alter the flash output.) Altering the flash output moves the distance scale, and that is what you are concerned with at this point. Do not be concerned if the scale says 1:1 or 1/128. Just make sure the distance appearing on the scale (10 ft in this example) is the same as the focus distance on your lens (10 ft).

 

Where to look for the focusing distance on your flash.

A few examples of where to find the focusing distance on your flash. Flashes set to manual.

TIP: When you zoom to alter your lens focal length, the flash will also zoom to evenly illuminate the field of view. If you take a given quantity of light and squeeze it into a narrower or wider area, the output of the flash (known as the guide number) will vary. Thus, you will need to adjust the flash power each time you change the focal length of your lens. I suggest you manually fix the flash zoom to the widest focal length you plan on using. No worries if you are shooing a fixed lens.

If all other factors remain constant (f/stop. shutter speed, ISO and background illumination), both the background and the subject will be perfectly illuminated.

If you want to get a firm grasp on how to use flash effectively, consider taking Charles (Chas) Glatzer’s STL Tech Series Flash Seminar. Chas’ work has been celebrated internationally with over 40 prestigious awards for superior photographic competence demonstrated through photographic competition, advanced education, and service to the profession. His images are recognized internationally for their lighting, composition, and attention to detail and have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic, Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, National Parks, Discover Diving, Smithsonian, Professional Photographer, Birder’s World, Birding, Nature Photographer, EOS, Digital PhotoPro, and many more.

Visit http://www.shootthelight.com/ to learn more. 

VOLUNTEERS OF NANPA – Don Carter

Don CarterDon Carter is a fine-art nature and wildlife photographer from Illinois. His hope is that his images cause the viewer to wonder about his or her relationship with nature and how the land needs to be shared and the environment protected. Since his retirement from teaching in 2013, Don takes photographs full-time. “My wife and I love to camp,” says Carter. “We are on the road with our springer spaniel several months a year.” Don’s website is www.doncarterphotography.com. Read the rest of this entry »

My First Experience in Multimedia Storytelling by Chris Linder

I made my first leap into multimedia storytelling after following, with considerable interest, the work of MediaStorm, a video production company founded by Brian Storm.  Their videos wove together interviews, music, ambient sounds, and still photographs into artful, dynamic stories.  As I watched them, I realized that hearing the ambient sounds and interviewee’s voice created a stronger emotional connection to the story—it just seemed more real than a photo slideshow with captions.  I wanted to be able to produce my own multimedia video, but I was intimidated…  I had never recorded audio before or used a video editing program.

In the spring of 2009, a client asked me if I would be interested in documenting a month-long undergraduate research experience in the Siberian Arctic.  I immediately jumped at the opportunity, with one requirement: the chance to produce a multimedia video.

Watch the full edit of Chris’s first multimedia video produced at MediaStorm: http://www.chrislinder.com/multimedia_polaris.html

Watch the full edit of Chris’s first multimedia video produced at MediaStorm: http://www.chrislinder.com/multimedia_polaris.html

That July, I found myself in Siberia, wading through knee-deep permafrost goo, battling legions of abnormally large mosquitoes (audio recorder in one hand, DSLR in the other).  At the end of that month, my hard drive brimmed with over 20,000 images and about a hundred pages of interview transcriptions. The thought of the next step nearly overwhelmed me: how to create a coherent, compelling story from this mountain of material.  I decided to enlist the experts at MediaStorm for some one-on-one training.

A month later, I knocked on the brushed-aluminum door of MediaStorm’s office in New York.  Storm introduced me to my mentors for the week: Bob Sacha, an award-winning photographer-turned-multimedia-producer, and Maisie Crow, a talented up-and-coming multimedia journalist. In five short days, we needed to turn my pile of photographs and interviews into a living, breathing, multimedia story.

Sacha quickly introduced me to the MediaStorm process.  First, we poured over the material, starting with the interview transcripts.  The edited interviews, he explained to me, would form the backbone to the story.  Once the interviews were on the timeline, Sacha showed me how to choose music and integrate ambient sound recordings I had collected in the field.  Lastly, we added my photographs and credit slides—it was complete!

Looking back, those five days at MediaStorm really changed my trajectory as a photographer.  From a pragmatic standpoint, my new skills opened up a whole new avenue of funding opportunities, allowing me to keep photographing the stories I love.  Since 2009, I have produced dozens of multimedia stories and worked as the lead cinematographer on an hour-long documentary production.  Some of the videos have simply been a series of images set to music or a voiceover. Others have been more complicated, such as a series of videos on ocean robotics that involved filming interviews in front of a green screen and incorporating historical underwater footage.  An unexpected benefit to my multimedia training is that my photography skills have improved as well.  Now, it’s easier for me to break down a story idea into the elements I need to illustrate with my photographs.  In essence, I have evolved into a better storyteller.

Chris Linder Congo River video

Linder also produced this multimedia video about water quality research in the Congo: http://www.chrislinder.com/multimedia_globalrivers_congo.html

 

At the 2015 NANPA Summit, I will be co-presenting a Breakout Session with fellow photographer and filmmaker Morgan Heim on the lessons we’ve learned producing multimedia.  There you can find out our most critical multimedia storytelling tips, like: whatever you do, don’t forget the…

To see more of our work, visit our websites: www.chrislinder.com and www.morganheim.com.

The 2015 NANPA Summit takes place in San Diego, California from February 19th – 22nd. To learn more about the Summit and to register for this exciting and inspirational event, please visit www.naturephotographysummit.com. Early bird registration ends on October 31st! 


Chris Linder works part-time at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as an Expedition Multimedia Specialist and runs a freelance photography and filmmaking business.  Chris focuses on communicating the stories of scientists working in the field.  In the last ten years, he has documented over 40 scientific expeditions from Antarctica to the Congo.  Chris’s images have appeared in museum exhibits, books, calendars, documentary films, and magazines worldwide.  He is the author of Science on Ice: Four Polar Expeditions.

 

NANPA Member Survey by Eric Bowles, Marketing Chair

Thanks to all of the 400 NANPA members who participated in the recent Member Survey. You provided valuable feedback on NANPA, it’s programs, and your needs as members.

Input from the NANPA board and committee chairs guided my creation of this survey. An overview and detailed report of the results were presented to the NANPA Board in August and shared with all NANPA committee chairs and NANPA staff. Here, we are presenting a partial summary of the results with you. Read the rest of this entry »

PHOTOGRAPHER PROJECT: No Water No Life – Story and photographs by Alison M. Jones

In 2 years the Isle de Jean-Charles, inspiration for the Academy Award-winnning "Beasts of the Southern Wild" will probably be lost to sea-level rise and subsidence.

In 2 years the Isle de Jean-Charles, inspiration for the Academy Award-winnning “Beasts of the Southern Wild” will probably be lost to sea-level rise and subsidence.

I’ve always enjoyed water. I grew up on a small rural stream with frogs, moss, trout, rocks and fog. Years later, copiloting over sub-Sahara Africa, I saw clearly that where there was no water, there was no life. Thus, No Water No Life ® (NWNL) became the title of my quest to combine the powers of photography, science and stakeholder information to raise awareness of the vulnerability of our fresh water resources.

The following are my daily mantras:

African proverb: “You think of water when the well is dry.”

Leonardo da Vinci: “Water is the driver of nature.”

The Dalai Lama: “The first medicine on this planet was water.” Read the rest of this entry »

From Photography to Filmmaking: A New Column by Drew Fulton

My name is Drew Fulton and I am excited to introduce myself and announce a new column here on the blog that focuses on how we as nature photographers can start to make use of the video capabilities that is part of pretty much all modern DSLR and mirrorless cameras. I have spent the last few years focusing more and more on creating moving images in addition to my still photographs and I am excited to share some of my experiences and those of others here on the blog. Each month, this column will bring you articles about how to incorporate filmmaking into your own photography and specifically how that can be used to promote conservation. I will be writing a couple of article and curating guest posts by other individuals.

Read the rest of this entry »

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