Posts tagged ‘inspiration’

PHOTOGRAPHER PROJECT: Mountaintop Removal – Story and photographs by Carl Galie

Eight billion gallons

Eight billion gallons

I thought I knew all there was to know about strip mining, since I grew up in coal country in a mining family and even spent some time selling truck parts to the mining industry early in my career. Then in 2009, I was invited by members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and St. Vincent’s Mission to go on a tour of a mountaintop removal (MTR) site in Floyd County, Kentucky, with a group of students from Berea College. I was not prepared for what I saw that morning.

Yes, it was a strip mine. But it was a strip mine on steroids. It went on for miles. At the end of the tour, I was asked by Sister Kathleen Weigand from St Vincent’s Mission if I would consider doing a book on MTR, and I immediately said yes.

New River 1

New River 1

Approximately 500 mountains and more than 2,000 miles of streams already had been destroyed by MTR throughout the southern Appalachians. My research revealed that MTR was not an isolated problem in Kentucky. It had affected all of coal country. Furthermore, legislation passed to accommodate the coal industry had the potential to affect water quality across the United States, making MTR a national problem.

A number of scientific papers were published in 2009 on the impact MTR was having on the waters of Appalachia and public health. President Obama had just taken office, and I expected that the EPA would finally be allowed to do its job and put an end to this mining practice. I was wrong, and six years later, MTR is still going strong.

Since the purpose of my project was to raise awareness and educate the public about MTR, I decided that a book—added to several books and powerful documentaries I knew were already in production—might not be the best way for me to get the story out. I decided to take my project in a slightly different direction: a fine art exhibit that would focus on the beauty of the region and what could be lost.

I reasoned that a traveling art exhibit could reach a different and broader audience and have a better chance to be viewed—not only by those against MTR, but also by those supportive of the mining industry. I partnered with Appalachian Voices and The New River Conservancy, two organizations working to protect the region, and with SouthWings—an NGO (nongovernmental organization) located in Asheville, North Carolina, which provided my flights. Funding for the exhibit came from grants provided by Art for Conservation and The Blessings Project Foundation.

Lost on the road to oblivion

Lost on the road to oblivion

In 2013, the exhibit, “Lost on the Road to Oblivion, the Vanishing Beauty of Coal Country,”opened at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University. I collaborated with then-poet laureate of North Carolina, Joseph Bathanti, and the exhibit included 13 of Joseph’s poems in addition to 59 of my prints.

Joseph’s and my collaboration continues, and he has agreed to write poems about more of the prints in the exhibit. We are currently working on exhibit scheduling for 2015-2016. Oh, and remember the book that got the project going? We’re revisiting that idea as well.

Carl Galie is a North Carolina photographer who has worked on conservation issues for the past 19 years. Carl was awarded the first Art for Conservation Grant in August 2010 for his project “Lost on the Road to Oblivion, The Vanishing Beauty of Coal Country.” In March 2014, Carl received Wild South’s Roosevelt-Ashe conservation award for journalism for his work documenting mountaintop removal of coal in the Appalachians.

Vision and Craftsmanship by Ron Rosenstock

by Ron Rosenstock

 

“There are no rules for Technique, only solutions. Today’s Darkrooms may soon be replaced with electronic consoles. Yet after thirty years, Steiglitz’s advice to me remains constant: ‘The only thing that matters is the finished photograph.’ “

Arnold Newman, 1965

 

As a teacher of photography, I often quote Arnold Newman because he is speaking about the essence of creating a meaningful photograph.

My background is in the traditional, large-format, black and white school of photography of Edward Weston in the 1920s, and later of Ansel Adams. I worked with a camera similar to that used by Weston and Adams, an 8”x10” view camera, so called so because the film was 8×10 inches. My camera, ten film holders, and tripod together weighed 40 pounds. Cumbersome equipment, but that was just the way it was if you wanted to make high quality images. Back in the 60’s and 70’s it was called fine art photography.

Many years have passed but the basic principals are the same. In the dark room we could crop the image, increase or decrease exposure, increase or decrease contrast, burn and dodge areas to lighten or darken those areas selectively. We can do all this and more now with more ease than ever before. 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 »

Field Technique: Nature . . . in a most unusual place, Story and photo by F.M. Kearney

WF-72Kearney8-14New York is a city known for its attractions: the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Bronx Zoo, the Brooklyn Bridge Waterfall. Waterfall? Yes, for a brief period during the summer of 2008, there was a waterfall at the Brooklyn Bridge, thanks to the imagination of artist Olafur Eliasson.

The Brooklyn Bridge Waterfall was part of a public art project consisting of four artificial waterfalls situated along the East River and the New York Harbor. They were created by pumping river water up and over 100-foot-tall scaffoldings. The Brooklyn Bridge Waterfall was placed under the bridge’s tower. Of the four waterfalls, it was the most picturesque.

Like a typical New Yorker, I suppose, I never really paid much attention to public art installations. One in particular, installed a few years earlier in Central Park, left me more puzzled than anything else. It was known as The Gates–a winding, 23-mile-long row of saffron-colored fabric sheets strewn along the park’s pathways. Personally, I didn’t get it and I didn’t see the fascination. However, a waterfall flowing under the Brooklyn Bridge is something else. There aren’t alot of waterfalls to shoot in New York City, so even though it was artificial, I didn’t want to miss it. Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate Nature Photography Day on June 15th

June 15, Nature Photography Day:
A Weekend for You!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo by Eric Bowles.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo by Eric Bowles.

Here’s a weekend that’s hard to beat!

Sunday, June 15th, is Father’s Day. And it’s Nature Photography Day, celebrating nine years of discovery.

How to enjoy? Time and your imagination can be the best gifts for your Dad. Take your family to a gallery or museum exhibit of nature photographs. Or start a gallery at home—by displaying your images of plants, animals, and natural scenes.

Invite your Dad to experiment with photographs. Pick something in nature that you’ve never photographed before. Then capture that scene on Nature Photography Day.

Chances are you’ll find lots of ways to be creative—especially close to your home. The beach, a trail, or a garden might be just the right spot to photograph. Make it so memorable that you will want to bring your camera to the same place same time, every June 15th.

Remember to look for the Nature Photography Day Member Event on NANPA’s website—and our page on Facebook! Take images on June 15 and upload one for the event section.

For details, click here.

There’s more! Spread the news at your local library. Ask librarians to display the sign from our web page.

You can make a difference on Nature Photography Day—and bring value to your world!

Mark Your Calendars: NANPA Nature Photography Summit in California, February 19-22, 2015. Speakers and registration details will be coming soon, so watch your emails for more information.

 

NATURE’S VIEW: Lessons from the Lake, Part Two, by Jim Clark

Beach @ Sunset 3 Assateague Island Nat Seashore VA (c) Jim Clark

PART TWO: Exploring with an open mind
Story and photographs by Jim Clark©

When you have seen one ant, one bird, one tree, you have not seen them all.
—Edward O. Wilson

Harvard professor emeritus Edward O. Wilson is one of my conservation heroes, and this is one of my favorite quotes. All nature photographers can probably relate to it. There is nature to be seen everywhere and all kinds of wildlife behavior to record.

The little mountain lake in West Virginia that I introduced you to in the May 2014 issue of NANPA eNews taught me a few lessons that reinforce the meaning of that quote. Read the rest of this entry »

NATURE’S VIEW: Lessons from the Lake – story and photos © Jim Clark

Part I: Going Beyond F/stops &  Shutter Speeds

“There is no place like springtime in the marsh. I like to just sit back and let it tell me all its stories.”—Karen Hollingsworth

Karen is a fellow NANPA member and nature photographer, and I’ve often repeated her words to my workshop students to emphasize the value of savoring the experience. I have learned that an outstanding image takes more than technical skills. The more you are into the moment, the more your images stand out.

Northern Parula Warbler  (c) Jim Clark

Northern Parula Warbler © Jim Clark

A few weeks ago, I drove to my childhood home in the remote coalfield region of southern West Virginia. Much has changed since I grew up there, but one constant remains: a small mountain lake that has served as my secret location to explore and photograph nature. There is nothing fancy about this lake, but it has provided me with countless hours of enjoyment. Read the rest of this entry »

The Grass is Always Greener by Steve Gettle

S.Gettle05364scan

Opossum photographed in my backyard.

Story and photographs by Steve Gettle

No doubt about it, most outdoor photographers love to travel to new and exciting locations to capture the subjects they love. But, the truth of the matter is that most of us can’t be jetting all over the globe whenever we want. Most outdoor photographers I know are able to take one, two, or maybe three major trips a year. Sadly, I also know many photographers that only use their cameras when they are on one of these major trips.

I would argue that those same photographers are missing one of the greatest locations available to them… their own backyard. Most of us live within a short drive of a local park or a piece of undeveloped land where we could practice our craft. There are many benefits to working an area near your home. One of the greatest benefits is simply being out there working, it is impossible to make great pictures if you are not in the field. Another important benefit of working close to home is the ability to go out on a moment’s notice – when the lighting is really nice, or during unique weather conditions. You can also get to know a smaller piece of land and its inhabitants more intimately. You can make sure you are there when the cardinals nest in that bush, or when that patch of wildflowers are at their peak.

A Cold Winters Morn

Northern cardinal in my backyard.

Consider developing the area to suit your needs. Try getting permission to put up some feeders and birdhouses to attract birds to the area. You can often obtain permission from a developer to rescue wildflowers from an area that is going to be developed into another subdivision or strip mall. Take these rescued flowers and transplant them onto suitable habitat where you will be able to shoot them. Sure, this is a long term prospect, but you will find these small steps payoff over the long haul with huge photographic dividends.

We all need to look at our own backyards with fresh eyes – with the eyes of a traveler. Remember that your backyard is very often someone else’s hot travel destination. Try to look at things with the eyes of a visitor and you will often be surprised by what you see.

To see more of Steve’s work, check out www.stevegettle.com and www.facebook.com/steve.gettle

Cloudless sulphur in my backyard.

Cloudless sulphur in my backyard.

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