NATURE’S VIEW – Embracing Out-of-focus Photography, Story and photographs by Jim Clark

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.

Autumn Forest, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, West Virginia. © Jim Clark

Autumn Forest, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, West Virginia. © Jim Clark

Read the rest of this entry »

Photography With a Purpose by David DesRochers

Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon.  © David DesRochers

Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon. © David DesRochers

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 »

Expedition Photography: Building on a Legacy by Gaelin Rosenwaks

© Gaelin Rosenwaks

Image © Gaelin Rosenwaks

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.

© Image by Gaelin Rosenwaks

Image © Gaelin Rosenwaks

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.

 

About Gaelin: 

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

 

Image © Gaelin Rosenwaks

Image © Gaelin Rosenwaks

 

 

© Image by Gaelin Rosenwaks

Image © Gaelin Rosenwaks

Image © Gaelin Rosenwaks

Image © Gaelin Rosenwaks

This Birding Life by Budd Titlow

© Budd Titlow

© Budd Titlow

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

WHITE-TAILED PTARMIGAN: Making the Snow Come Alive!

Images and Story by Budd Titlow

I’ll never forget the day the snow came alive beneath my feet.

It was a Sunday morning in February just after sunrise and I was heading up into the mountains for a day of cross-country skiing. The previous day’s blizzard had dumped more than a foot of snow on Colorado’s high country. But the morning air was surprisingly pleasant—almost balmy—considering it was midwinter and the nearby sign read: Guanella Pass Summit—Elevation 11,699 Feet.

I left the parking lot and started schussing toward a rock-lined ridge about a mile away. The blinding white glare made it difficult to look anywhere but straight down. The wind-whipped ripples of fresh snow squeaked cleanly as I poled along. A few hundred yards in, I paused to check my compass heading.

Suddenly there was a dance of movement all around my skis. Clumps of snow darted away from me in every direction. I knew it wasn’t an avalanche—the ground was barely sloping and, besides, these snow clumps all had orange eyelids, black beaks, and feathered feet.

Even in the harsh glare of the brilliant sun, the frenzy of white was no illusion. Within seconds, bright white, chicken-like birds were skittering everywhere across the snowfield in front of me. After I gathered my wits and realized that I was not about to fall into some deep crevasse or be eaten alive by prehistoric snow monsters, I understood that I had just invaded the snow-laden world of the white-tailed ptarmigan. It was difficult to say who was the more surprised, the birds or me.

Wild animals in Colorado have developed a variety of methods for coping with the rigors of a high-country winter. Many birds just avoid the cold altogether by migrating southward. But the white-tailed ptarmigan sticks around, surviving through some amazing adaptations. By the time the snow starts to pile up above timberline, the ptarmigan’s feathers have morphed from mottled brown to pure white, making these football-sized birds practically invisible to predators during the long Colorado winters. Feeding on twigs and buds of dwarf willows that poke above the wind-blown snowline, ptarmigan have fully feathered feet that keep them warm and allow them to walk on top of snowdrifts.

Ptarmigan also keep warm by digging deep into fresh snowdrifts until they are totally covered by the white powder. Which—as I experienced—makes it possible to be standing smack in the middle of a large flock without even knowing the birds are there. Strangely, these birds have a curious habit of belying their excellent natural camouflage when something stops moving. It’s as if they don’t believe their cryptic coloration actually works. So my compass-check was a lucky one, yielding the unforgettable experience of seeing the snow burst into life right before my eyes.

 

A Professional Wetland Scientist (Emeritus) and Wildlife Biologist, Budd Titlow is also an international/national award-winning nature photographer and a widely-published writer/author. Throughout his career, Budd has shared his love of photography and nature by presenting seminars, workshops, and field trips Nationwide. He has also authored four books: BIRD BRAINS – Inside the Strange Minds of Our Fine Feathered Friends (ISBN 978-0-7627-8755-5), SEASHELLS – Jewels from the Ocean (ISBN 978-0-7603-2593-3), ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK- Beyond Trail Ridge (ISBN 0-942394-22-4), and ENVIRONMENTAL SUPERHEROES: Now Climate Change Needs A New One (In Press). Budd’s work is featured on his web site (www.buddtitlow.com).

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

Hidden Lake and Bearhat Mountain h1

Hidden Lake and Bearhat Mountain

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

High voltage direct current transmission lines in Hebron, New Hampshire.

High voltage direct current transmission lines in Hebron, New Hampshire.

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 »

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 »

© 2013 - North American Nature Photography Association
Wordpress Themes