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.
I have been a NANPA member for a year and a half. Even in that short time, NANPA and its supportive community have influenced me in many meaningful ways. Life seems to be full of wonderful flukes, and my introduction to NANPA was one such instance. One morning in November of 2012, when I was a high school senior, I received word from a fellow photographer of a great photographic opportunity that existed for high school students. Though just three days away from the deadline of NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program application, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I quite honestly remember thinking it looked too good to be true – a chance to spend a week in the field and at the NANPA Annual Summit, all the while learning and being inspired. I wondered to myself a little incredulously, How could I not have heard of NANPA before?It looks awesome!Continue reading →
Nevada is one of the featured keynote 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.
Images and Story by Nevada Wier
Photographing in low light is particularly challenging, but immensely satisfying — if you can overcome the difficulties. However, it is these kinds of situations that stimulate me as a photographer. I know that it is these times when it is more possible to create what I call a “snowflake photo”: one that no one else has in his or her portfolio. So I seek out the difficult light and perspectives. Of course, that also means that the chance of failure is high; I have to work extra hard in these situations. I am on alert, paying attention, anticipating the action and seeking out whatever light is available.
One is definitely constrained by the quality of their equipment. Sorry, an iPhone is not going to be the camera of choice for photographing at night or inside a hut lit by a candle – unless you are going for an abstract with high noise. Many digital camera sensors are not able to produce a relatively noise-free image at an extremely high ISO. Unless you have a top-of-the-line camera that can handle 1600 ISO or more, the highest exploitable ISO for most cameras ranges between 400–1600 ISO. Another limiting factor is the lens. If you are using a zoom lens that has a minimum aperture of f/4.5, it is going to be problematic. Not only will you not have a fast enough shutter speed, the lens will not be able to quickly and accurately focus in dim light. And, it is critical to pay attention to the focusing. During the day in strong light focusing quickly is easy and accurate; it only takes a quick press of the focus button to be accurate (I use the back * button on my Canon for focusing and to set a specific focal point). In low light it is important to squeeze the focus button until you see the focus alert signal in the viewfinder. Sometimes I have to use manual assist. Occasionally I need to shine a flashlight on my subject so I can focus.
Sometimes I use flash but not for a primary source of light, rather to pop color or stop the action with a slow shutter speed. A flash is always a secondary source of light. I usually go to the highest ISO that I am comfortable using and on my Canon 5D MarkIII I rarely go above 1600 ISO; if I can I much prefer to stay at 800 ISO or lower. I photograph primarily on Shutter Priority, but in low light I sometimes switch to Aperture Priority when I want to stay at a wide-open aperture. However, I do like slow shutter speeds (and I’m not afraid to hand-hold at ½ sec. or slower) in combination with flash, either for panning or having a flash stop the action within a blur, so there is sharpness within a sense of motion. I carry a number of different gels for my flash so the flash outputs blends seamlessly with the ambient light. I usually keep my white balance on Daylight unless there is an abundance of red, and then I use Auto (red is a difficult color to desaturate, it tends towards purple).
I make sure my exposure is absolutely perfect; better too light than too dark. I constantly check my histogram. At a high ISO you do not want to have to lighten your image in post processing and expose ugly noise. Honestly, I rarely use a tripod. I don’t like to walk around with them. The photographs I’m showing you on this blog are all hand-held. In fast moving situations it is difficult to use a tripod, and in crowds – forget about it! Knowing how to use flash appropriately is a big key to success.
I mentioned earlier that it is important to anticipate so that one can be in the front of a crowd. I am used to “wiggling” myself into a good location. There is a fine line between being assertive and aggressive, but I don’t want to end up in the back of a huge crowd.
I expect a lot of failures; in fact I mostly have failures in these kinds of situations, as they are technically and often socially difficult. However, all I need is one great image! I try as many shutter speeds as possible; depth of field is not a critical concern to me at these times. I try slow shutter speeds with or without panning, usually with the flash on. I turn the flash off and work with natural light. I try everything! I always say, “If you don’t try, you don’t get”. And, often what one gets is that magical snowflake image.
Nevada Wier is a multiple award-winning photographer specializing in the remote corners of the globe and the cultures that inhabit them. Her journeys have her crisscrossing the world in search of compelling travel experiences and images. To read more about Nevada, view her extraordinary photography and get information about her photo workshops and tours, visit her website at www.nevadawier.com.
Flip Nicklin is one of the featured keynote speakers at the 2015 NANPA Summit taking place in San Diego, California from February 19th – 22nd. Flip will also lead of one of the Pre-Summit Boot Camp sessions. To learn more about the Summit and to register for this exciting and inspirational event, please visit www.naturephotographysummit.com. Early bird registration ends on October 31st!
Forty feet below me she hovers quietly. She’s 45 feet long and 80,000 pounds, and her bulk hides her 15-foot-long calf. The calf makes his way out from under her chin to take a few breaths at the surface. On his way back to his mother, the young humpback spots me near the research boat and gives me a good look. After 35 years of photographing cetaceans professionally, situations like this still bring a smile to my face.
The lives of whales aren’t always serene, though. Only a few days after I spot the mother with her calf, our research team finds a dozen male humpbacks fighting over a female. The battle is brutal; many of the whales have open bloody scrapes on the tops of their bodies. Despite whales’ occasional reputation as “gentle giants,” I would never use the word “gentle” to describe these violent, occasionally fatal encounters in the winter breeding grounds off the coast of Hawaii. Continue reading →
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
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.
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.
“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. Continue reading →
The 2015 NANPA Summit is shaping up to be a great event.
A star-studded group of keynote speakers include
and Dewitt Jones
The breakout speakers vary from familiar names as well as new and emerging talent and plenty of viewpoints.
serious, hard-core Lightroom techniques
preparing work for fine art exhibits (including a look at the “before and after”)
how-to topics galore, such as landscape, birds and multimedia
plus conservation topics and personal projects.
The pre-Summit Boot Camp will be back and filled with how-to and inspiration. For the working professionals, a Pro Day on Sunday will be packed with meaty business topics and discussion. The tradeshow gives a chance to visit vendors offering products, tours and services. More details are being worked out. But for now, put February 19-22, 2015 on your calendar. The 2015 NANPA Summit is an event not to be missed.
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.
From Alaska to North Carolina, Mexico to South Africa, and everywhere in between, government leaders, indigenous peoples, scientists, oceanographers, writers, artists, and youth convened together in Salamanca, Spain for the 10th World Wilderness Congress (WILD10). The conference was held from the 4th – 10th of October and I was lucky enough to attend.
Launched by The Wild Foundation in 1977, the World Wilderness Congress is the world’s longest-running, international public conservation program and forum. Conservationists and environmentalists from around the world come together every four years to educate, train, network and share ideas on how to create a wilder world.
During the last week of May of this year, an interesting question from NANPA appeared on my Facebook timeline asking, “Is anyone interested in a local NANPA Nature Photography Group?” to which I replied as quickly as I could, “Yes, in East Central Florida!” A few hours later, I was asked if I would like to be a NANPA Meetup Organizer for my area. It took me all of three seconds to say yes. Thus, on June 10, 2013, the second NANPA Nature Photography Group was launched here in East Central Florida (aka, The Space Coast).
Over the past year and a half, I experienced two long drives home from NANPA gatherings, first from the Great Smoky Mountains Regional Event and then again from the 2013 NANPA Summit. During both of those drives, the same thought played out in my mind: “Now what?”. It seemed that I would have to wait until NANPA offered another opportunity somewhere across the vast USA to gather and shoot with other NANPA members again. I didn’t know any NANPA Members near my home, or how to easily get in touch with members in my area. The NANPA Meetup Group Program solved this problem. And, the program also presents the valuable opportunity to introduce non-members to NANPA.
Organizing and hosting our nature photography group has been both easy and richly rewarding. Since June, we’ve held seven outings in differing settings and environments, focusing on close-up, landscape, flower, wildlife, and conservation photography. Attending members are enthusiastic and eagerly RSVP yes for upcoming Meetups. And, since our start in June, two of our regular attendees have become new NANPA members. That is really exciting!
Two outings that I particularly enjoyed include a trip to the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, America’s first wildlife refuge established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, and a trip into a section of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Of all of our outings, I most enjoyed leading folks into this special, historic corridor. There, we explored the ranchlands, sod farms, lakes and wildlife management areas that immediately adjoin the eastern boundaries of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Members were introduced to conservation photography, while recognizing and celebrating Florida’s ranchers and sod farmers who are helping to preserve vestiges of wild Florida environments.
A few closing thoughts:
– If you plan to visit central Florida and you’d enjoy participating in one of our outings, please contact me at email@example.com. I’d be pleased to include you as my guest. You can check out the group website here.
– If you have a passion for nature photography, a passion for NANPA, and an interest in connecting with other members (and non-members) in your area, I urge you to become a local NANPA Nature Photography Meetup Group Organizer. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!
Meetup members at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.