Marsh Landscape, Fishing Bay Wildlife Management Area, Maryland
Or, why I never get to take an afternoon nap during my photo shoots
In the film days of yore, I always counted on an afternoon nap during my photo shoots on nice sunny days. The high contrast of a sunny afternoon proved too much for film to capture details in both the highlights and shadows. Since I didn’t want to shoot under those conditions, what else was I to do but check the inside of my eyelids?
Thanks to digital technology those napping times are over, but I can’t complain about this new digital stuff. The one advancement I love that has raised the playing field in nature photography is high dynamic range (HDR). Read the rest of this entry »
What the Pros Don’t Want you to Know
With the professional bird photographers hot on my trail, I’m going to reveal, right now, the top secrets of bird photography. I’m ready to sacrifice myself for the betterment of every one of you who want to photograph birds. All are welcome, but if anyone asks, I had nothing to do with this.
Jim Clark, uh, I mean Ansel Wolfe Lepp.
P.S. You never heard this from me.
Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
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 © 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 »
With neutral density filter (c) Jim Clark
Variable Neutral Density Filters Expand Horizons for Landscape Photography
Story and photographs by Jim Clark
For years I was a devoted citizen of the basic rules of landscape photography. Images were sharp and focused throughout, and I photographed only during early morning, late afternoon or during days with overcast skies. I wouldn’t have dared to photograph during the mid-day hours when there were clear skies. I did not step outside this zone of comfort fearing somewhere in some international doctrine of nature photography I would be prosecuted to the fullest extent. Yet, I wanted to add a bit more spark to my images. Read the rest of this entry »
Sea Otter 08212013 Southeast AK (c) Jim Clark
Story and photograph by Jim Clark
In the last issue of eNews (Part I), I wrote about a private cruise along the Alaskan Coast where I was invited to teach photography. In that piece, I emphasized the importance of keeping your equipment and yourself safe and weatherproof when photographing from a small boat. Now that we are warm and cozy, and our equipment is protected from the fickle elements of the weather, let’s explore some shooting techniques.
Unless you are photographing from a ship (remember, a boat fits on a ship, but a ship cannot fit on a boat), a tripod is not going to be useful. There is too much wave action and other vibration-causing variables, such as boat motors, breaching whales, splashing seals and such. Handholding your equipment is the way to go on a small skiff. Having the luxury of great technology today is helpful in achieving sharp images when handholding gear. Read the rest of this entry »
by Jim Clark
Of all the genres of nature photography, my most challenging one is wildlife photography.
Challenge one: the primary subject is mobile and doesn’t tend to stay in place very long unless sleeping, resting or nesting. Challenge two: the primary subject is more wary than a landscape, flower or inanimate abstract subject. Challenge three: The primary subject has eyes. It may very well be watching your every move.
The first inclination of many aspiring nature photographers is to remain standing to photograph a critter that is much smaller than they are. While I, too, will stand to photograph a smaller animal the first time I encounter it, I then make an effort to change my perspective and get lower. Read the rest of this entry »
by Jim Clark
Welcome. What an honor it is to share with other NANPA members my love for nature and nature photography through this column. As the title attests, my columns will focus on techniques you can use in the field to capture images that convey a true sense of place. After all, the joy of nature photography begins with our time in the field. Without nature, there is no nature photography.
What makes nature photographers unique in the world of photography? It boils down to three words: knowledge of nature. The more you know and understand nature, the better you become as a nature photographer. I guarantee it! Read the rest of this entry »