Every so often, NANPA surveys its members to find out more about who you are and what’s important to you. The answers you give inform NANPA board discussions, policies, programs and many other aspects of the association. So, who are you? Who are the members of North America’s preeminent nature photography association?
While the COVID-19 pandemic has upended most people’s lives, it has especially impacted travel and gatherings of groups. Camera clubs had to switch to zoom meetings. Meetup groups canceled events. Opportunities to go out and shoot with a bunch of fellow photographers were virtually nonexistent. This is the story of how one nature photography club learned to live with COVID: what has changed, what has worked, and how we have managed successful group gatherings over the summer. It appears that we will be dealing with the pandemic well into 2021, so this is also a road map of how we will proceed in the coming months.
As most of you—hopefully—did as well, I read the latest NANPA handbooks, Bird Photography and Contest Secrets, this past month.
In Contest Secrets, Karen Schuenemann makes a valid point in her article “Getting from No to Yes.” Ms. Schuenemann said, “If you sit back and don’t put in the effort, you already have a NO. If you don’t try something that you dream about doing, you already have a NO. If you don’t attempt to do anything at all, you already have a NO.”
This is a twist on something I frequently say to people: “If you don’t ask for a yes, you already have a no.”
A day in the great outdoors has become increasingly attractive during the coronavirus pandemic. With many entertainment, sporting, and recreational activities constrained by safety precautions, people are flooding into national and local parks and recreation areas, as well as some previously little-known places. The crowds, congestion and litter have now forced a new set of restrictions. Some parks are limiting the number of visitors and some lesser-known locations are closing. If you’re headed out to a park or natural area, avoid disappointment by checking for the latest information before you head out the door.
A time-tested piece of travel advice is to check the status of things at your destination before you depart. The last thing you want to encounter is a key location in your once-in-a-lifetime trip that is CLOSED. That’s happening now, as various national parks and points of interest are in varying stages of reopening during a pandemic. But a virus isn’t the only thing that can impact availability. Today you’ll find roads, campgrounds and entire sites that are closed or open only for limited hours almost anywhere you want to travel. It pays to know before you go.
At the time of this writing, every state in the country has now either partially or completely reopened. Although we are far from being out of the woods with the COVID-19 crisis, more and more people are starting to venture out to enjoy what’s left of this summer. After last winter and the extended lockdown, I’m sure some photographers haven’t touched their cameras in months. I had originally planned to run this article at the beginning of spring, but I postponed it due to the lockdowns – and the unlikelihood that many people would be able to enjoy the outdoors. With things slowly beginning to return to a “new-normal,” I figured now would be a much better time for an article about photographing flowers outdoors.
This has been a very difficult year for all of us. Just as the stay-at-home restrictions of COVID-19 were beginning to lift around the US and overseas, protests following the death of George Floyd put many places under curfew and left many Americans reeling and emotionally drained. It’s no wonder that we photographers look forward to getting back out into nature and experiencing, once again, the sense of calm, peace and wonder that the natural world provides. Perhaps we will appreciate the healing effects of nature even more for having missed it so much lately. In this respect, Nature Photography Day (NPD), June 15th, couldn’t be better timed.
Each of us is drawn to nature photography for our own personal reasons. Some for commercial reasons — to make money. Others because they enjoy sitting in the peace and quiet of nature, waiting for beautiful light. Still others who perhaps enjoy the thrill of capturing animal behavior in front of their very eyes. For me, at the beginning, it was all of the above but, as I spent more time in the field and grew older, it became more about being a champion for innocent and beautiful creatures who needed protecting from, ironically, humans like me. In the midst of a pandemic, it’s easy to see the effects of the COVID-19 virus on humans, but it is also significantly affecting the animal kingdom.
Another month has come and gone, but unfortunately, things haven’t changed that much. Most of the country is now on full or partial lockdown. Each day tends to blend right into the other. There were many things I had planned to shoot this spring which will now, undoubtedly, have to wait until next year. But, that’s a small price to pay compared to the medical superheroes who are fighting on the front lines every day. With field work indefinitely postponed, I thought it best to remove the batteries from all my equipment to prevent corrosion. Nowadays, I spend most of my time working in Photoshop. In my last article, I touched on adding texture effects to old images. Since so many of us are still confined to our homes, I decided to expand on this technique as another way to take advantage of this unprecedented downtime.
Flowers have long been a subject of study within the art world and many photographers feature them in their images. Landscapers look for floral details to bring pops of color to their grand landscape images. Portrait photographers often use flowers to set the seasonal tone. Wildlife photographers understand that flowers also provide a food source for insects and birds while providing a nice background for their subjects.
But when was the last time you took a flower, in and of itself, as the full subject of your frame? When did you spend time approaching that flower as you would a landscape or animal subject when looking for compositions? When was the last time you took an hour with a flower?
If you can’t easily answer that question, now is the perfect time to try this photography challenge. Not only will it provide you with something to photograph, but it will have you thinking outside the box in ways that can be used with other subjects. If your pre-COVID-19 compositions were mostly wide angle or telephoto images, this exercise can help you focus on seeing all the details.