Shooting Through “Distractions”: Using Natural Elements to Frame Your Subjects

Blue spruce pine needles (200mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/90 sec.)
Blue spruce pine needles (200mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/90 sec.)

Story & photos by F. M. Kearney

Imagine a child’s frustration in trying to see a passing parade while peering through a forest of gargantuan adult legs. I suppose it’s human nature to always want an unobstructed view of whatever it is we’re trying to see. This is especially true of press photographers, and of course… the paparazzi. How many times have you seen them on the evening news jostling and elbowing each other out the way in order to get the “best” shot? In nature, however, the best shot isn’t always necessarily the cleanest shot. If used correctly, certain “distractions” can provide a creative frame or bokeh around your subjects.

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From the President: Come to Asheville in the Springtime

Foothills Sunrise view.
Foothills Sunrise

Story & photos by Tom Haxby

Winter will soon be upon us and while many photographers revel in the unique opportunities for winter photography, I always look forward to spring in the southern Appalachian Mountains with my camera in hand. My annual visits there quite literally put a spring in my step. Birds sing for mates from the newly green trees, waterfalls flow from spring rains, flowers bloom in profusion and it seems that the whole world is new again.

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Get Connected to the Underworld: Discover the Beauty of the Underside of Flowers

Rear of floribunda roses shot from below.
Rear of floribunda roses shot from below.

Story and photos by F. M. Kearney

Flowers are definitely one of the most popular subjects in nature photography. They’ve been photographed with limited depths of field to convey a soft, romantic look. They’ve been photographed with large depths of field to show the abundance of a large group. Sometimes, the sun is included for a more dynamic shot. A vast array of special effects have been employed to produce some truly stunning imagery. Indeed, flowers have been photographed in every conceivable way imaginable. However, the one way in which I hardly ever see is from the rear. I did a Google search of “Creative Flower Photography,” and out of the 100 or so results, only 2 or 3 photos featured the backside. That’s a shame because so many great opportunities are going unrealized.

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Weekly Wow! Week of August 12, 2019

All of this week’s Weekly Wow! images can be seen in the slideshow on the NANPA homepage at nanpa.org.

Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: "Cottonweed," High Ridge Scrub Natural Area, Lake Worth, Florida. © Kevin Barry.

Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: “Cottonweed,” High Ridge Scrub Natural Area, Lake Worth, Florida. © Kevin Barry.

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, August 12, 2019.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2019 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website.  The period for entering your best shots in this year’s Showcase began August 1st and runs  through September 16th.  What are you waiting for?  Let’s get shooting!  Your best shot might be your next one.

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Subtle, But Significant: A Polarizer Filter Isn’t Just For Sunny, Blue-Sky Days

Cumulus clouds over Dickenson Bay St. John's, Antigua West Indies.

Cumulus clouds over Dickenson Bay, St. John’s, Antigua, West Indies.

Story & photos by F. M. Kearney

I’m a late-comer. I didn’t make the switch to digital until 2014. As a film shooter, I relied heavily on filters. Everything from warming to ND grads to a vast array of special effect filters were permanent residents in my camera bag. Nowadays, digital imaging can replicate many of those filter effects – often much easier and with far more control. But, as good as digital technology is, it still can’t duplicate the effects of a polarizer filter. The photo above is a classic beach scene where a polarizer works most of its magic. By filtering out the glare and atmospheric haze, the true color of the sky comes forth revealing puffy, white cumulus clouds as far as the eye can see.

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On Bended Stems: Explore the Beauty of Post-Peak Tulips

Lily-flowered tulips beginning to “show their age”

Lily-flowered tulips beginning to “show their age”

Story & photos by F. M. Kearney

Timing is everything. As nature photographers, we’re constantly trying to schedule our shoots during times when our subjects will be seen at their best. For landscapes, this is generally during the “Magic Hours” of the day – the hour just before sunrise or after sunset. Flowers can benefit from the warm light at this time of day as well, but more important than that is catching them at the peak period in their blooming cycle. It’s an absolute obsession for some photographers. A field of tulips in pristine condition is truly breathtaking. The photo below is one such example.

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Weekly Wow! Week of June 10, 2019

All of this week’s Weekly Wow! images can be seen in the slideshow on the NANPA homepage at nanpa.org.

Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: “Red Pine Tree Trunks in Snow Storm,” near Reno, Nevada, © Susan Dykstra.

Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: “Red Pine Tree Trunks in Snow Storm,” near Reno, Nevada, © Susan Dykstra.

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, June 10, 2019.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2019 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website.  Nature Photography Day is coming up on June 15 so let’s get shooting!  And, the period for entering your best shots in this year’s Showcase starts in August.  What are you waiting for?  Your best shot might be your next one.

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Showcase 2019 Winner Profile – Arabella Dane

Showcase 2019 Altered Reality, Judges' Choice: Flowers Barbados – Tabernaemontana divaricata , Pinwheel Flower © Arabella Dane.

Showcase 2019 Altered Reality, Judges’ Choice: Flowers Barbados – Tabernaemontana divaricata , Pinwheel Flower © Arabella Dane.

Bio:

Arabella Dane is an accredited photography judge, a member of two camera clubs in New England, 2 Photography Society of America study groups ,as well as a serving as an emeritus Garden Club of America photography judge and instructor. She is the founder of the GCA Photography Study Group, and is the coordinator for the photography initiatives of the National Garden Clubs, working with Charlie Burke, PSA past president, to develop online photography programs and competitions for the NGC membership (250,000 members).

She regularly competes in photography competitions and takes courses in photography. She shares with her husband Nat a love for nature, gardening, conservation, fishing, bird shooting, traveling, and photography. Arabella is an avid horticulture student – working most recently on the correlations between our native plants and their pollinators. Her online www.plantipedia.com web site includes more than 150,000 plants and 25,000 plant photographs as well as photos of many of our native butterflies and is a favorite resource for plant huggers.

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Sinking to Their Level: Shoot Spring Flowers From a Different Perspective

Looking up through a tulip bed. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY. (Digitized from film.)

Looking up through a tulip bed. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY.
(Digitized from film.)

Story & photos by F. M. Kearney

If you’ve had your gear packed away since the final vestiges of colorful foliage faded from the landscape last fall, now is the time to dust off the cobwebs. Spring is finally here – bringing an abundance of subject matter. Fresh flowers are popping up everywhere and demanding attention. But, you don’t want to fall into a habit of taking the same types of pictures year after year. A change in perspective is a good way to view an old subject in a new light.

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Weekly Wow! Week of March 25, 2019

All of this week’s Weekly Wow! images can be seen in the slideshow on the NANPA homepage at nanpa.org.

Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: Bluebird Yoga, Beverly Hills, Florida © Ken Dunwoody.

Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: Bluebird Yoga, Beverly Hills, Florida © Ken Dunwoody.

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, March 25, 2019.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2019 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website.

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