Design your learning events to attract and wow lifelong clients, by Steve Moeller
If you’re offering, or thinking about offering, photographic learning events, let me help you make them profitable and sustainable. First, how would you answer the following questions?
1) How can I design and deliver insanely great photo learning events that instantly attract great clients as soon as they learn about them?
2) How can I create such an amazing experience that my business grows through word-of-mouth marketing and repeat clients? Read the rest of this entry »
Story and photographs by Bob Feldman
In late October, the last of the cabbage white butterflies flutter through the gardens and are gone. With their departure, the ground soon begins to get frosty, and the time to head for the river to look for swans is near.
The Huron River starts in a Michigan swamp, runs through five counties, and empties into Lake Erie. Its course takes it through Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I live. As the fall lengthens into winter and the leaves fall from the trees, large stretches of the river that have been concealed by foliage become visible from a riverside road.
A mute swan takes off on the snow.
I look for swans along the local stretch of the river and its impoundments. Generally, two species of swans are harbored here: introduced mute swans and native trumpeter swans. The mute swan adult is easily distinguished from the trumpeter by its bright orange bill with a black knob. The trumpeter’s bill is black. Both are big birds, with individuals weighing more than 20 pounds each. Read the rest of this entry »
Sun sets over Cinnamon Bay
Story and photographs by Jerry Ginsberg
I constantly marvel at the many wonderful features of our far-flung national parks, especially their diversity. Scenic, geographic, topographic and climactic, this never-ending variety means that every one of our parks has its own personality and offers a unique experience.
This is certainly the case with green, hilly and tropical Virgin Islands National Park located entirely on tiny St. John, one of the three main U.S. Virgin Islands. This small archipelago was purchased by President Woodrow Wilson from Denmark in 1917 as a means of preventing Imperial Germany from threatening the Panama Canal or extending its military influence into the Western Hemisphere at the height of World War I. Read the rest of this entry »
Story and photographs by F.M. Kearney
Harriman State Park landscape shot with a fisheye lens.
A slight departure from my usual fare, this article is less about technique and more about a personal account of my first encounter with “real” wilderness.
Living in New York City, or any large metropolitan area, and choosing to pursue a career in nature photography can sometimes be an uphill battle. Local parks and botanical gardens are fine for floral portraits and intimate landscapes, but if you desire to capture anything resembling true wilderness, a venture beyond the confines of city limits is definitely required.
I’ve always longed to shoot images of unspoiled, snow-covered landscapes. One winter, many years ago, I decided to take a trip to upstate New York after a heavy snowfall. Like most city dwellers, I don’t own a car, so I took an early-morning bus to Harriman State Park. Located just 30 miles north of the city and encompassing more than 46,000 acres, it’s the second largest park in the state. I had been to this park many times in the past, but I always went to the populated Bear Mountain area on the east side. Read the rest of this entry »
My first experience with the apex predator of the far north: Part I—Planning the Trip
Polar bear in the Canadian Arctic, near Churchill, Manitoba. (c) Jim Clark
Somewhere I read that once you gaze into the eyes of a polar bear, it will change your life. Just a couple weeks ago, I did indeed gaze into the eyes of the foremost apex predator of the far north. In fact, for a week I looked into the eyes of several polar bears during my first-ever trip to Churchill, Manitoba. The experience is something that neither I nor my wife Jamie and son Carson will ever forget. Read the rest of this entry »
© Gordon & Cathy Illg
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
by Gordon & Cathy Illg
A seemingly endless supply of uncontrollable factors. Will the weather cooperate with our group of photographers? Are we going to have an aurora? Is a spirit bear going to show up? Will the filling in my right, rear molar last until my next visit to the dentist? The list goes on and on. Why do we worry so much about a future we cannot control? Why is it so hard to simply prepare as best we can, leave the future in the hands of the fates, and sleep as if we had no cares in the world? Sometimes having a big brain is not all it’s cracked up to be.
© Gordon & Cathy Illg
While photographing orcas along British Columbia’s Inside Passage we happened upon a pod of transients. Transient orcas survive by eating other marine mammals, and the pod needs to average one or two kills each day, depending on the size of their prey. Usually transients are always on the move, making them difficult to keep up with and photograph. However, this particular pod was loafing in the same area for the entire morning and early afternoon. These orcas had just made a kill that morning and they were in high spirits, especially the two juveniles. We watched them for almost five hours as they rubbed against each other, spyhopped, taillobbed, breached and rolled on their backs. Sometimes they would approach right up to our boat or to a researcher’s zodiac (a researcher was usually with the whales), and it looked like these intelligent creatures were showing off. Many times they would leap out of the water and then poke their heads up to make sure we had seen what they did. It’s understandable that the orcas were jubilant after having fed well, and were able to keep flesh and spirit together for another day or so. But what about tomorrow? Tomorrow meant another patient stalk in pursuit of seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises and small whales, all of which are wary, hard-to-catch prey. Shouldn’t they be worried about making it through tomorrow…and the day after that, ad infinitum? Or just maybe the orcas have it right, and humans need to learn to lighten up.
© Gordon & Cathy Illg
Granted, as intelligent as they are, killer whales have nowhere near the brain power humans do, and rather than being a handicap, this seems to give them an advantage in the worry-free nights department. It’s another example of humans using their brains for the wrong purposes. A lack of genius has allowed orcas, and by extension every wild thing, to stumble upon the enlightened path, something spiritual humans have been seeking for millennia. The answer we’ve been searching for appears to be the fact that every day on this side of the dirt is a day for celebration. For nature photographers, any day that finds you looking at the natural world through a viewfinder should be greeted with spyhops and breaches. Read the rest of this entry »
Peninsula Ice © Hank Erdmann
Facing the Howling Blizzard with Your Camera by Hank Erdmann
Winter is a wonderful time to pursue the art of nature and outdoor photography. Too many photographers put their cameras away once the leaves have fallen and don’t take them out again until cherry trees blossom. Photographing in winter does however take some dedication or at least enjoyment of the outdoors regardless of the weather. Just as when weather changes and rain begins to fall, some of your best shots will be made when those weather changes start or end. But as with rain, snow and cold weather require some precautions to protect your equipment and yourself.
Hank Erdmann ©
In cold weather you have to get to the subject and safely back. Common sense says if you are cold, wet, shaking and miserable, the quality of your photographs will reflect your mental and physical state. Your comfort zone is a range of temperature that your body can operate effectively in and be relatively unaffected by uncomfortable conditions. That zone is different for all of us, narrower for some and wider for others. If you are not reasonably comfortable, your photography will reflect that fact. Its hard to get tack sharp, correctly exposed images if you are shaking, even with your camera mounted securely on a tripod. It will be impossible to concentrate on exposure and composition if your mind is preoccupied with keeping your body warm. Remember, you are supposed to be enjoying yourself, only those crazy enough to pursue nature photography as a full-time profession actually need to be out taking photographs in the winter. Whether it is for a vacation or occupation it makes sense to spend some time preparing yourself and your gear to stay within your comfort zone in cold weather. Read the rest of this entry »
Sarah attempting to get all wet without rolling on the ground. I took this image at the end of a hike celebrating the last day of summer vacation.
About five years ago, I was taken aback when a female professional wildlife photographer somewhat condescendingly told me she didn’t think it was possible to be a professional nature/wildlife photographer and be a mother of young kids. I’d never met a woman who discouraged other women from following their dreams and trying to make it work, no matter what the obstacles. I was somewhat taken aback. While I can understand and admit that it’s sometimes challenging to get out in the field to photograph, I do not consider having kids a liability to anything I’ve wanted to do. When I met this lady I was near the beginning of my path, seriously following my heart to become a good photographer, and I’m glad I didn’t give up on the idea of being a photographer.
So in honor of the first day of the school year and having the house to myself, I thought I’d share a few ideas on how I’ve been able to mesh the two pursuits and make it work. Read the rest of this entry »
Biscayne Bay on Elliott Key
The bustling, eclectic, urban city of Miami, Florida, with the pulsing rhythms of its day and night life, is not your typical location for a national park. Yet, the southern portion of Miami’s Biscayne Bay is indeed a wonderful tropical wilderness. Read the rest of this entry »
Photographing outdoor holiday decorations is fun. It’s even better if you don’t have to deal with hordes of tourists tripping over your tripod. Probably best of all is when the decorations are in a natural setting that most tourists (and residents) don’t know about.
In addition to the annual, world-famous lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York, there’s also the lighting of a slightly smaller display in Central Park. Each year, a flotilla of 13 trees is launched on a tiny “island” in the less-visited, northern section of the park. When I first saw it years ago, I actually thought it was a real island. I shot it at night and used the usual combo for best quality, i.e., low ISO and small aperture. As you may suspect, the results were less than successful. Although I didn’t detect it at the time, the subtle but constant movement of the artificial island ruined every shot due to the long exposures.
That was in the days of film when you were locked into a single ISO setting for all the pictures on the roll. Thankfully, today’s digital cameras are much more versatile. Not only can you change the ISO at will, but the resulting noise at the higher settings is much less than what you would have gotten with film. Additionally, more detail can be pulled out of the highlights and shadows due to their greater dynamic range capabilities. If the contrast is too strong, however, you may need to turn to HDR software.
ISO 400, f/8
Read the rest of this entry »