NATURE’S VIEW – Isolated Scenics

Story and photograph by Jim Clark

Isolated Scenics

…or, how I learned to stop worrying and love telephoto zooms for landscape photography

Trees in meadow @ sunrise - Canaan Valley NWR WV (c) Jim Clark

Trees in meadow @ sunrise – Canaan Valley NWR WV (c) Jim Clark

Ever look at those images you captured with a wide-angle lens and feel like something was missing? The scene was magnificent and you feel stymied as to why the grandeur did not translate in your final image? It might be because you included too much of the scene in the composition. Continue reading

FIELD TECHNIQUES: Show the Snow by F.M. Kearney

W-300 Story and photograph by F.M. Kearney

This winter has certainly been one for the record books. While most people probably long for the warm days of summer, I personally can never get enough of the cold and everything that comes with it.

There’s nothing better than photographing a freshly snow-covered landscape glistening in bright sunlight. For an added dynamic effect, I sometimes include the sun and position it partially behind a tree branch, to create an eye-catching starburst. Although stunning images like these “after the snow” photos are well-worth capturing, I recently began experimenting with taking pictures during the actual snowfall. Continue reading

Into the Fog by F.M. Kearney

Story and photograph by F.M. Kearney

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New York Botanical Gardens, © F.M. Kearney

Fog is a collection of liquid water droplets suspended in the air at or near the earth’s surface. It forms when the difference between temperature and dew point is less than four degrees Fahrenheit. At least, that’s what it says on the internet. I’m not sure I know what all of that means, but what I do know is that fog can create some pretty compelling—and, sometimes, creepy-looking—images. Continue reading

IN THE FIELD: Christmas Presence

Story and Photographs by F.M. Kearneykearney-PN_21a

A light to moderate snow had fallen the night before, coating the ground with a few inches of powdery goodness. The snow muffled my footsteps as I forged a new trail in the New York Botanical Garden. As an Early Morning Pass holder, I was able to enter the garden several hours before its official opening to the general public—allowing me one of the first unspoiled looks at what nature had delivered overnight. Continue reading

FIELD TECHNIQUES: After the Fall

Story and Photo by F.M. Kearney

The brilliant colors of autumn have faded. Most of the leaves have already fallen; only a handful of stubborn diehards remain clinging to the trees. I used to think that come the end of October, the “show” is over until I started noticing all the little holes in these weather-beaten leaves. If the sun is placed directly behind them, a multitude of interesting sunbursts can be created.

I specifically look for low-hanging leaves with an unobstructed line of sight of the sun in the background. Exposure is best determined manually. Auto exposure will only drive you nuts as the meter bounces from one extreme to another with each subtle movement of the leavesresulting in a series of inconsistent exposures. I simply spot-meter the area of the sky next to the sun and lock it in. Now, no matter how much the leaves want to dance around, the overall exposure will remain the same. For a more dramatic image and to better emphasize the sunbursts, I’ll sometimes slightly underexpose the sky. So as not to underexpose the leaves as well, a flash is a must. Fill-flash isn’t always strong enough in these situations, so I usually turn it off and use the flash at normal power. If necessary, I increase its output by a stop, which restores detail in the leaves as well as any lingering traces of color. Continue reading

NATURE’S VIEW: Getting to Ground Level

by Jim Clark

Oystercatcher_20120429_001(c) Jim ClarkOf 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. Continue reading

NATURE’S VIEW: Know Your Subject


Eastern-Amberwing-Skimmer-07232013-Banshee-Reeks-c-Jim-Clark_51

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! Continue reading