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

Powell Point Sunset

Powell Point Sunset

First explored by John Wesley Powell soon after the Civil War, Grand Canyon National Park is a geologic layer cake displaying more than two billion years of history. “Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it,” heralded pioneering conservationist President Theodore Roosevelt, “The great sight that every American should see.” Read the rest of this entry »

NANPA College Scholarship Program

© Mark Larson

© Mark Larson

NANPA College Scholarship Program

Text By Don Carter and Photos by Mark Larson

You may not know that NANPA has a college scholarship program where we pay expenses for 12 college students to come to the Summit where they network, learn, have their portfolios reviewed, and create a conservation project for a client. The NANPA college committee finds a client who would like the students’ help in creating a multimedia presentation about some type of conservation effort. This year, the students will be working with the San Diego Fish and Wildlife Services, documenting their restoration work along the San Diego Bay. The students will take images, shoot video and conduct interviews in the process of creating the multimedia presentation that will be used by FWS to introduce their conservation efforts to the local community. The presentation will also be shown prior to the keynote address on Saturday evening of the summit.

The students arrive on Monday, prior to the summit to start their planning and create their shooting schedule. They will work with the San Diego FWS personnel to document the ongoing projects. Canon supports the NANPA scholars by providing the equipment for the students to use during the week; they will be providing the new 7D Mk IIs and 1Dx cameras and lenses from 800 mm to 17 mm tilt shift.

This year’s group has seven graduate students and five undergraduates; six biology majors, most of the others are science majors (ecology, wildlife management, etc.), and one photography major. Ten come from all over the US and two students will be coming from Canada.

If you are attending the NANPA Summit in February, please say hello and introduce yourself to the scholars!

To learn more about the program, please visit: http://www.nanpa.org/students/app_process_co.php

If you’d like to support this program, please consider donating to the NANPA Foundation, a 501(c)-3 non-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.

 

© Mark Larson

© Mark Larson

© Mark Larson

© Mark Larson

© Mark Larson

© Mark Larson

 

NATURE’S VIEW – A visit with the eloquent denizen of the cypress swamp, Story and photographs by Jim Clark

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

The charm of its haunts and the beauty of its plumage combine to render the prothonotary warbler among the most attractive members of the family.—Frank Chapman, ornithologist, 1907

Many nature photographers have locations or subjects that have been a desire or challenge to photograph. It may take years—sometimes, a lifetime—for a photographer to achieve a certain photographic goal. Indeed, it may never happen. The charm is that the photographer never gives up.

For years I wanted to photograph the prothonotary warbler, a beautiful yellow and orange warbler of the bottomland wetlands and cypress swamps. In the spring of 2013, that goal became a reality. It was a matter of being a naturalist first and photographer second. Knowing about the subject and using my skills at anticipating a moment and chasing one all played a part. Steadfast determination and persistence had something to do with it as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Let the Games Begin! by Gordon and Cathy Illg

Orb weaver spider in dew-covered web, Jefferson County, CO by © Gordon and Cathy Illg

Orb weaver spider in dew-covered web, Jefferson County, CO. Image © Gordon and Cathy Illg

Text and Images by Gordon and Cathy Illg

I’ve known photographers who were totally oblivious of this fact, and I’ve lost sight of it myself from time to time: nature photography is not a contest. This can be a difficult thing to keep in mind, and it was another photographer–thank you Valerie Millett–who recently reminded me. Nature photography is not a game in which the person who visits the most locations or the most exotic sites wins.

I have fleeting moments when I think it might be nice if it was a game, at least for a little while, but those thoughts are generated by a desire for financial security. Speaking as a photo tour leader, it would be great if everyone was in a competition to see all the places we want to take them. However, for good or bad, it is not a contest, and it makes no difference if you’re photographing in Alaska or your own backyard, as long as you’re out there shooting.

The miracle that compels us to push the shutter button is not something that is only present in far away climes. The beauty and the life and death struggles that we want so desperately to capture happen in our own gardens, just as they do in the rainforest. This orb weaver spider laid her trap right beside our front door, and the fact that we didn’t need to travel to the far corners of the globe did not detract from the engineering marvel that was her web. From our house, we observed the evolutionary miracle that her stronger-than-steel gossamer strands represents and we witnessed the deadliness of her attack.

Orb weaver spider with prey, Jefferson County, CO. Image © Gordon and Cathy Illg

Orb weaver spider with prey, Jefferson County, CO. Image © Gordon and Cathy Illg

The poetic naturalist, Annie Dillard, once wrote, “Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly; insects, it seems, gotta do one horrible thing after another. I never ask why of a vulture or a shark, but I ask why of almost every insect I see.” And the same applies to spiders. You see, spiders do not simply eat their victims. They inject a witch’s brew of poison and enzymes that paralyzes the prey and reduces its muscles and organs to a protein shake. Then it can be sucked out. Don’t you get hungry just thinking about it?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to photograph exotic locations or to search for the Shangri-Las of nature photography. There, you can find magnificent scenery, charismatic megafauna, and colorful birds. Our business depends upon some of these destinations, and even though Cathy and I have been lucky enough to visit a good number of these places, there are many more that are still on our list. This desire to see new places often has little to do with the quality of the photos we come home with, and a photo of an iceberg or a grizzly bear or a lion cub is not inherently better than one of a flower, a bug or a squirrel. When we judge photography competitions, we’ve found that the most ordinary and pedestrian images are often the ones with the most exciting subjects. It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking the image is exciting just because the subject is. Some of the most extraordinary images are composed of ordinary subjects. I’m not sure if the ones I’ve included with this blog illustrate this fact adequately, but you get the idea.

Personally, I think that nature photography is a contest, the winner is the one who gets to spend the most time immersed in the mystery and majesty that we are a part of.

You can see more images by Gordon and Cathy Illg and learn about their photo tours at http://www.advenphoto.com

Image by © Gordon and Cathy Illg

Image by © Gordon and Cathy Illg

NANPA VOLUNTEER: Rob Sheppard

RobSheppardMany people know Rob Sheppard as the long-time editor of Outdoor Photographer. While still associated with that magazine as a contributing editor, Rob is also a photographer, author, naturalist and nature photographer, speaker, workshop leader, editor and videographer. He has worked to hone his craft to best present the natural world he loves to others. That world includes everything from a bee in his native plants garden to a visit to a national park. Rob has written and photographed a lot of books and magazine articles. What is most important to him about these projects is knowing that he has helped people become better photographers and gain an improved connection to nature. Rob has received a NANPA Fellow award. A short list of some of the books Rob has authored: Landscape Photography: From Snapshot to Great Shot, Magic of Digital Landscape Photography, The Magic of Digital Nature Photography, National Geographic Field Guide to Digital Photography, The Power of Black-and-White in Nature Photography and Reports from the Field (an iBook). See more on Rob at his website, www.robsheppardphoto.com and his blogs, www.natureandphotography.com and www.mirrorlessnature.com. Read the rest of this entry »

Multi-flash Hummingbird Photography by Nate Chappell

A Sword-billed Hummingbird (left) and a Chestnut-breasted Coronet battle over a hummingbird feeder. © Nate Chappell

A Sword-billed Hummingbird (left) and a Chestnut-breasted Coronet battle over a hummingbird feeder. © Nate Chappell

Images and Text by Nate Chappell

Photographing hummingbirds in flight in countries like Ecuador and Costa Rica with natural light or with just one flash can be very difficult. The reason – most of these birds live in the cloud forest where there isn’t much light due to both shade from trees and cloud cover. One solution for this, which creates beautiful flight shots, is a multi-flash hummingbird setup. By setting up several slave flashes set to 1/32 or 1/16 power around a hummingbird feeder or flower you can produce stunning images of hummingbirds in flight. The reason is that the flashes are actually synching at speeds of 1/8000 to 1/12,000 of a second changing the effective shutter speed from what is on your camera – let’s say 1/200 sec to the lightning fast speed of the flashes synching. The key to this is having the flashes produce all of the light, otherwise you will be mixing ambient light and flash lighting. In that case the 1/200 sec shutter speed will affect the image by causing blurring in parts of it. So you need to have your camera’s exposure set to at least -3 or -4 stops below the ambient lighting.Another helpful component is to have an artificial background – often a large printed photograph held a few yards behind the mutli-flash setup. Read the rest of this entry »

From Photography to Filmmaking: Crafting an Auditory Experience

Green Heron (Butorides virescens) on Cypress knee. Big Cypress National Preserve.

Green Heron (Butorides virescens) on Cypress knee.

In last month’s column in From Photography to Filmmaking, we started to think about sound and how sound can help to shape and craft our story. Today, I’d like to expand on that a bit more and walk you through how I put together the audio for my latest short film from my project Filming Florida.

I spent the first few weeks of the year filming and photographing in south Florida and spent four or five mornings working in Sweetwater Strand in Big Cypress National Preserve. My latest short film explores the transition from night to dawn in the swamp. When I was filming this particular piece, I went about things a little differently since I was also using this as an opportunity to test out a bunch of new equipment. With all the testing of a new camera, I was not focused on recording audio. As a result, two days before the planned release of the film, I had a fully edited film, but it didn’t have any audio to go with the visuals. This afforded me a very interesting exercise–setting out specifically to record audio that matched the visuals for the film. I’m not saying that this is the best way to do it, and in fact I’d much rather capture high quality audio while I am filming, but it was a valuable experience. Take a moment to watch the film and then I’ll walk you through my approach.

Read the rest of this entry »

FIELD TECHNIQUE – The Perfect Storm, Story and photographs by F.M. Kearney

W-93Some members of my family were trying to decide between turkey or roast beef. Others were already thinking about dessert. My only concern was how long the perfect conditions outside were going to remain that way.

It was December 25, 2002, and I was enjoying Christmas dinner. It had been snowing for most of the day, and a couple of inches of thick, heavy snow had coated everything it touched. This was the first official “White Christmas” New York City had experienced in several years. Throughout the evening, I found myself constantly leaving the holiday festivities to look outside. I hoped that the magical conditions would hold out until I could get out and photograph. I was not disappointed. Read the rest of this entry »

So You Want to Publish a Book?

by Fred Perrin

A montage of the books that Friesens has published

Compared to challenges nature photographers often face and embrace in their work, creating and publishing a quality book has never been easier. You have the images, likely enough to publish a hundred coffee table books, so what’s next?

This article summarizes what you should know when considering, designing and publishing a photography book.

Before we get to that, let’s review a common book printing question today. Should I print my book digitally or through a traditional offset press? Which is best for me?

“Best” is relative to many technical, artistic and personal variables. Years ago, for professional image quality, digital cameras fell short, yet today they deliver outstanding results. Similarly, the print world has seen impressive advancements in digital press technology. Which is best? Depends. With higher quantity book runs, traditional offset printing remains an “ultimate quality, more options, and lower cost per book” home run. At the same time, print craftspeople using the newest digital presses can print lower book quantities with outstanding quality. Do your homework. If you aspire to deliver trade publishers’ coffee table book quality, does your intended printer print these books? If not, have you reviewed samples of their work? Be careful and inquisitive. There are printers printing books on digital devices much like an office copier, charging as much or more than some book printers printing books on million dollar digital offset presses. There is a quality difference. If you’re unsure of final book quantity (and most book publishers are), ask your book printer to quote multiple book quantities (e.g. 100/250/500/750/1000+) comparing traditional offset and digital prices, and provide samples of both. Depending on your book quantity range and the printer’s press options, you will quickly learn where digitally printed or traditionally offset printed book quantities are attractively or unattractively priced. You must also consider quality bookbinding, but we’ll reserve that for a follow-up article.

book on display stand

Labyrinth Sublime: The Inside Passage, by photographers Pat and Rosemarie Keough. This book opens to almost three feet!*

What’s next?

Do:

  • Have a book concept. Tell a compelling story – don’t just show photographs.
  • Showcase unique images – avoid repetition.
  • Are you a photographer or a graphic designer? If you’re a photographer, hire a professional graphic designer.
  • Hire a professional editor.
  • If you choose to personally design your book:
    • Review and compare published books similar to your concept.
    • Consider and compare font sizes and page layouts before beginning design. Design only when you have fine-tuned your intended layout(s) to your (and more importantly your intended audience’s) satisfaction.
    • Calibrate your monitor. Printers can provide kits that help measure a monitor’s accuracy at which point you may need to calibrate your monitor using a colorimeter (prices start around $100).
    • Ask your printer for a cover design template (based on your book specs).
    • You can work in RGB (Red/Green/Blue) up until you select your printer at which point you should convert RGB files into CMYK (Cyan/Magenta/Yellow/Black). Printer profiles for printing on coated paper are available for this (example: GRACoL2006 Coated1v2). Note: When color images are printed on paper the effect of the paper causes the images to look slightly darker because a computer screen emits light rather than paper which reflects light. Converting images to the GRACoL profile on its own does not simulate this effect. You can use the Proof Colors option in Photoshop to simulate this effect when printing on coated paper.
  • Review and understand book manufacturing formats, options and material specifications. Once you have an idea of book size and format, page count, paper, cover, and quantity range, request a quote. Don’t worry about future quote revisions based on changing specs and/or trying to hit a price point. This is part of the business.
  • If you are personally scanning slides, make sure your scans are of the highest quality. Send test scans to your printer for review and proofing to avoid discovering at press that your images are not at their best.
  • Send hard copy proofs as a guide to your printer especially if you will not be present at the press when the job is run (called a Press Check). You should also request proofs to see and compare to what is expected at press.
  • Sewn binding provides higher book quality and longevity.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread (and not just by you). Errors are easy to miss – even for big publishing houses – but, once printed, impossible to erase.
  • Consider crowd funding to help pay for your book.

Don’t:

  • Design in RGB (can cause issues at press which prints CMYK)
  • Personally scan images unless you have a high quality scanner (by printing industry standards), you know what you’re doing, and you’ve tested your scans through your intended printer.

Good luck with your book! I hope this article is helpful. If you have any book production or publishing questions, please contact me anytime by email at fredp@friesens.com.

Fred will be one of the featured Breakout session speakers 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 


Fred Perrin began his career as a Kodak Technical Sales Representative for Professional Photographers. Fred has received honors from The Professional Photographers of Canada as Craftsman of Photographic Arts (Scenic/Nature Photography) and his lithographs have been presented to sixty world leaders by the Government of the United States. Fred is now VP of Marketing & Business Development for Friesens, North America’s premier book manufacturer. Friesens customers include many of North America’s most prominent museums, art galleries, publishers and photographers. Company Website: books.friesens.com

*Pat and Rosemarie Keough detail their experience in printing and binding their beautiful book on their website at http://keough-art.com/tome_passion.php.

PHOTOGRAPHER PROJECT: South Fork of Peachtree Creek, Story and photographs by Eric Bowles

Peachtree Creek South Fork

South Fork of Peachtree Creek

Many people know Peachtree Street is in the center of Atlanta—both figuratively and literally. But even residents are largely unaware of Peachtree Creek, an urban waterway that runs through local neighborhoods into the Chattahoochee River. The watershed includes 2,000-year-old ruins of an Indian village, Civil War battlements, Atlanta’s busiest interstate highway, Emory University, the Center for Disease Control, affluent neighborhoods of Buckhead and Morningside and diverse communities.

Peachtree Creek South Fork

South Fork of Peachtree Creek

Unfortunately, like many urban waterways, the Peachtree Creek watershed has been under appreciated by residents and suffers from years of misuse. Stream banks are covered with invasive species of plants such as privet and English ivy. Trash is gathered by rainwater and flushed into the stream. And communities have lost their connection with the water.

The South Fork Conservancy was formed in 2008 to protect the South Fork waterways and lead development of a pedestrian-friendly nature corridor encompassing 25 miles of winding streams and natural areas. The conservancy has mobilized community and governmental organizations with long-term vision and a series of projects. Read the rest of this entry »

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