NANPA News

I Am Social Media (and So Can You) by Mac Stone

Homestead, Florida USA. Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia floridana) are diurnal birds that make their home in the ground. Photographing these birds was a difficult task. I wanted a close perspective with a wide angle to show their habitat which is rarely showcased in owl photography. I failed many times while trying to find a way to disguise my camera and leave the birds undisturbed. Luckily, their burrows had been marked with road cones. For 6 months I visited the owls and placed my camera inside the cone and using an intervalometer, I took an exposure every 5 seconds. Setting my camera to beep before each exposure ensured the owls would be looking my direction. I used a polarizer to bring out the blues in the sky and soften the light on the grass.

Homestead, Florida USA. Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia floridana) are diurnal birds that make their home in the ground. Photographing these birds was a difficult task. I wanted a close perspective with a wide angle to show their habitat which is rarely showcased in owl photography. I failed many times while trying to find a way to disguise my camera and leave the birds undisturbed. Luckily, their burrows had been marked with road cones. For 6 months I visited the owls and placed my camera inside the cone and using an intervalometer, I took an exposure every 5 seconds. Setting my camera to beep before each exposure ensured the owls would be looking my direction. I used a polarizer to bring out the blues in the sky and soften the light on the grass. Photo by Mac Stone.

Text and Photos by Mac Stone

Many people are calloused by social media and I have to admit that I am too. Our audience is so distracted by the constant onslaught of content from all around the world that the photography market has turned into a fast food drive through line. Images that have taken us months to make are quickly posted, commented on, liked, shared and then forgotten about. It seems like a black hole, but we aren’t the only ones facing this problem and there are lessons to be learned.

Consider National Public Radio (NPR) for a moment. All year, they offer incredible content—some of the best podcasts and radio shows around—for free. In turn, they build a large loyal audience and when the time comes for support or premium content, their audience shows up in droves with money in hand. To me, that sounds like the same model of a photographer’s Facebook page.

The photography market has changed so much in the last ten years. Today, it’s not just the agencies that have access to large markets. With social media, we’re able to reach a very specific or a broad range of demographics, potential customers or future enthusiasts for our work. Read the rest of this entry »

VOLUNTEERS OF NANPA: Jeffrey R. Botkin

Jeff-BotkinWhat is your “day” job?

I am on the faculty of the School of Medicine at the University of Utah, where I chair the Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities. I am a pediatrician by training, although I no longer see patients.

Much of my time is devoted to ethical issues in medicine, particularly in human genetics, in pediatric medicine and in the conduct of biomedical research. Nature photography has been a long-standing interest of mine, and it has been fun to be involved in the many ethical issues in nature photography through NANPA. Read the rest of this entry »

NANPA Roadshow: What Makes Indelible Images? (Hawaii)

Pahoehoe Kahena

Pahoehoe Kahena by Scott Mead

As a professional nature photographer, one of the things I truly enjoy is fielding questions at my weekly shows and photo workshops. Of all the questions I receive (including email and social media), the two most frequent are:

“How do you create iconic images?” and “How do you choose the right paper to print your images on?”

While these two subjects may seem to lie at opposite ends of the process spectrum, they are actually intertwined: How the image is created has a direct effect on how it’s best presented, and how you present it can make or break the image.

In judging photography competitions, I’ve often seen good images with fatal flaws that kept them from being great – their creators may not have understood the critical nuances of light or may have been heavy-handed in their processing or printing on (gasp) copier paper. In nearly all cases, a subtle tweak or a different perspective would have taken the image from ordinary to extraordinary.

With that in mind, I’ll be hosting a North American Nature Photography (NANPA) Road Show on Saturday, October 11, 2014, at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in the heart of Maui. The class is sponsored by Hahnemühle FineArt and Canon Image PROGRAF. I’ll be teaching the tools and techniques of crafting indelible images, editing for emphasis, choosing the right Hahnemühle papers to present them with the most impact, and finishing options that add drama, value and maximize your profit. At the end of this full-day event, you’ll leave with the knowledge to help you create your own iconic images.

Read the rest of this entry »

PHOTOGRAPHER PROJECT: And the Best Camera Is? Photos and text by Suzan Chiacchio Brand

The rivalry burns on. Which is better: Canon or Nikon? Or, these days, Fuji, Sony or Pentax? Before you get ready to argue the virtues of your beloved brand, hear me out. No matter where your allegiance lies, isn’t the best camera the one you have with you?

The one I always have with me these days is the HTC One M8. Yes, HTC of cell phone fame. And my new favorite medium for sharing photography is Instagram. The purists out there have probably stopped reading at this point—after all, what artistically viable photography could come from a cell phone, be posted on a frivolous social media platform and have any real merit? Read the rest of this entry »

The Apathetic Photographer by Daniel Stainer

Tao of the Turtle

Tao of the Turtle

Photos and Text by Daniel Stainer

At some point in our photographic lives, we all experience apathy. This demotivating condition can best be described as a state of indifference; the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation or passion. Like any other psychological ailment, photographic apathy manifests itself in varying degrees of severity.

Taking some creative license in my definition, I view the opposite (or antonym) of photographic apathy to be inspiration – to be inspired in both action and thought.

When we’re inspired in action, we proactively seek out interesting subjects to photograph or personal projects to tackle; we get off that proverbial creative couch, never letting excuses like bad weather or lack of time get in the way of our passion or goals. When we’re inspired in action, we are driven to photograph – and are excited to do so, no matter what form this activity might take.

When we’re inspired in thought, creativity comes as a revelation and we are transported to a place where our ideas resonate freely with one another in our mind. To be inspired in thought is to see subjects in unique ways; to find that still point in ourselves where we’re photographing in the moment, allowing the essence of our subject to reveal itself to us in all its glory.

When I talk about apathy, I’m not necessarily talking about the lack of photographic activity that may occur during dreary winter months, for example. I think we can all agree that there’s a difference between seasonal inactivity and negative thinking. Everyone has an apathetic (or lazy) moment from time to time, but this doesn’t mean that we’ve reached the stage where this negative thought has become debilitating to our artistic growth.

Apathy is not a one-size-fits-all disorder, and will manifest itself in different ways depending on where we are in our photographic evolution. For the seasoned pro, apathy may be the result of photography becoming too much like work, and therefore, our once unwavering love of the craft has started to wane.  Read the rest of this entry »

FIELD TECHNIQUE: Watch your Back…Background that is! Story and photographs by F.M. Kearney

Daylily "Silken Touch" Hemerocallis (Hemerocallidaceae) New York Botanical Garden

Daylily
“Silken Touch” Hemerocallis (Hemerocallidaceae)
New York Botanical Garden

I was setting up atop a small hill when I heard the sound of quick footsteps. Seconds later, they stopped. I heard a click, and the footsteps sounded again followed by another stop and another click. This pattern repeated several times. With my curiosity stirred, I finally looked up and saw a man briskly walking through a cluster of daffodils. He would stop just for a moment to take a quick photo, then walk a few feet away and take another. That kind of “rapid-fire photography” usually results in mediocre snapshots. Creative photographs take time. Often, deciding what to do with your background can make the difference between a mediocre shot and a creative one. Read the rest of this entry »

Take It All In And Give It All Back by Dewitt Jones

Dewitt_97A3277 copy_01

by Dewitt Jones

I took the podium and looked out over the room: seven hundred men and women, some of the finest nature photographers in the world. This was the North American Nature Photographer’s Association’s (NANPA) Second Annual Forum and it was my job to bring it to a close.

That morning, I had holed up in my hotel room trying to come up with what I would say. My mind wandered back over my own career as a photographer — not so much the photographs but rather the experiences and the lessons I had learned.

I thought about the natural cycles I had so often witnessed while photographing – the seasons, the tides, the rising and setting of the sun. How many thousands of times I had I watched them? Like watching the smooth muscle of the planet — the things our little orb can’t help but do. Like watching the earth breathe.  

Read the rest of this entry »

NATIONAL PARKS: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Story and photographs by Jerry Ginsberg

Lovely Bridalveil Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.

Bridalveil Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Now that our long languorous summer is beginning to wane, particularly in the northern states, it is time to start thinking about fall photography. Let’s try something a little different.

Cuyahoga Valley, wedged between the urban areas of Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, is not your typical national park. Carved out of multiple semi-urban areas, several great tracts of land are now protected within the boundary of this relatively compact 33,000 acre park. Just two of the many highlights included here are wonderfully restored stretches of the historic Ohio & Erie Canal and the Cuyahoga River, once so badly polluted by chemical waste that it regularly caught fire.

Having been cobbled together from several disparate elements, when this park was established in 2000 it was part of an effort to bring the national park experience to more people. Located within a day’s drive of perhaps 40% of the American population, Cuyahoga Valley offers a wide variety of fun and great photography. This is particularly true around early-mid October when the woods are ablaze with brilliant autumn color. Read the rest of this entry »

Documenting Diversity: the Madrean Archipelago Biodiversity Assessment

by Charles Hedgcock

 

During the revolution Martín Luis Guzmán rode the train through Navojoa and looked over at the sierra and felt what we all do when we see its green folds rising up off the desert. We all wonder what is up there and in some part of us, that rich part where our mind plays beyond our commands, we all dread and lust for what is up there.

-Charles Bowden, The Secret Forest

 

In 2009 the Tucson based environmental group “Sky Island Alliance” launched a visionary initiative to explore, document and protect one of the world’s premier biodiversity hotspots, the Madrean Archipelago of the North American continent. This 70,000 square-mile region of sky-island mountain ranges, surrounded by “seas” of desertscrub and grasslands, straddles the borderlands of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

Commonly referred to as the Sky Islands, the Madrean Archipelago is a globally unique region where several major biogeographic provinces overlap, creating a region of biological richness found nowhere else on Earth.  This richness caused Conservation International to name the region one of the world’s Biodiversity Hotspots in 2004.  Despite its proximity to the U.S. border, the Mexican portion of this remote and rugged area has received little biological study; thus the Madrean Archipelago Biodiversity Assessment (MABA) was born, an international effort to study a globally important region.

Arizona Walking Stick

Arizona Walking Stick. © Charles Hedgcock

With support from U.S. and Mexican experts in the fields of botany, entomology, ornithology, herpetology, mammalogy, and other disciplines, MABA expeditions are truly international and provide an opportunity to collect critical biodiversity data, foster graduate and undergraduate research, raise awareness about conservation in the region and develop important relationships with landowners, and land managers, on both sides of the border.

I have had the good fortune of being invited to participate in the MABA expeditions as the lead photographer since its inception. I often accompany a herpetologist into the field and provide photographic vouchers of the reptiles and amphibians we encounter. In addition, I document habitat types and capture images of the biologist at work.

After a day in the field, I continue to photograph herpetological, botanical, and entomological specimens brought back to camp by other teams of biologists. These animals must all be photographed that evening so that they may be returned, unharmed, to their point of capture the next morning. My images not only help document the diversity of life found in these remote mountain ranges, but also help to tell the story of this amazing project, its expeditions, and the many people involved.

Major findings from MABA expeditions include the discovery ofseveral new plant species as well as documenting many plant species previously unknown to the state of Sonora. MABA entomologists continue to make new discoveries, documenting more than 10 species of invertebrates that are new to science. Range extensions for a variety of species are frequently recorded.

Green Ratsnake

Green Ratsnake; Sonora, Mexico. © Charles Hedgcock

One of the greatest achievements of the Madrean Archipelago Biodiversity Assessment has been the development of a growing, online database of biodiversity. It is a remarkable natural history tool that provides access to the region’s foremost collection of specimen records and species observations for anyone seeking to learn more about the Sky Islands. This database currently contains nearly 78,000 animal records and almost 35,000 plant records for the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Sonora, and Chihuahua.  These data represent the products of MABA research expeditions as well as data from herbaria, museum collections, agencies and scientific literature. The database (www.madrean.org) is freely accessible to all.

 

Charles Hedgcock will share his experiences working with the MABA project and discuss some of the techiques he uses to document the amazing diversity of life found during the numerous MABA expeditions 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 program and others like it, please visit www.naturephotographysummit.com

Volunteers of NANPA: Mac Stone

MacStone©Eric Zamora-0026

Mac Stone © Eric Zamora

What is your “day” job?

I run a non-profit conservation organization called Naturaland Trust, www.naturalandtrust.org. We protect ecologically important areas in Upstate South Carolina through land conservation.

What NANPA committees have you served on, when and what positions?

I currently serve on the High School Scholarship Committee as the chair.

What was it about this committee that interested you?

My first introduction to NANPA was through the scholarship program. I was an 18-year-old student, and it forever changed my career goals. Now, leading the committee, I’m able to develop a program that leverages the knowledge of its members and gives the students an experience they’ll never forget. I love teaching, and this is a perfect outlet.

What are the responsibilities you assumed?

We develop a week-long program for students at the NANPA summit.

What are your greatest accomplishments or the highlights thus far of what you have done for NANPA?

Leading the last High School Scholarship Program in Jacksonville was probably my most notable accomplishment.

Also, while teaching photography to kids in Honduras, I was able to help one of my students come to the 2008 NANPA Summit in Destin, Florida, where I served as his translator. Still today, he talks of this trip as a major milestone in his life.

How long have you been a NANPA member?

Twelve years.

Do you have a goal as it pertains to the High School Scholarship Committee?

My goal is to train the next generation of photographers and provide them with the same network and skills that have contributed to my professional career.

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