Cherry Esplanade, “Kwanzan” Prunus Serrulata, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, NY
Story & photos by F. M. Kearney
To celebrate the nations’ growing friendship, Japan gifted the United States with a little over 3,000 cherry blossom trees in 1912. Considered the national flower of Japan, these trees were planted in New York City and Washington, DC. Since then, thousands of other trees have been planted in several other cities – delighting millions of admirers in annual Cherry Blossom Festivals across the country.
The enormous continent to our south has a mind boggling array of natural and cultural beauty. Here we can marvel at the wonders of the rugged Andes Mountains, wild Patagonia, towering Iguaçu Falls, the sprawling Amazon basin and several historic Spanish colonial cities spread throughout many nations.
Easily overlooked among the behemoth nations of South America is tiny Uruguay. That is precisely the point. Throughout its two century history since achieving independence from Spain, this small country has perfected the art of hiding in plain sight. Sandwiched between mighty Spanish Argentina and even mightier Portuguese Brazil, little Uruguay, smaller than Missouri, has perfected the art of staying out of the way.
The bustling capital, Montevideo, with a metro population of almost two million, boasts the majority of the country’s three and a half million total souls. This leaves plenty of room for open spaces out in the countryside.
Often overlooked as a tourist destination, today’s Uruguay is still a land of ranches and gauchos, very similar to the pampas of neighboring Argentina, authentic seventeenth century Spanish towns, crashing ocean surf and quaint seaside villages.
Your exploration of Uruguay might well include these highlights:
Uruguay’s imposing capitol showcases a classic symmetrical design.
This modern capital is a really appealing city with some charming architecture. Don’t miss the soft sand beach on the Rio de la Plata, the very imposing Capitol building and the lovely old (vieja) town.
Fine wine ages in huge 100 year old oaken casks in a cool wine cellar.
Uruguayans do love their wines. The country is liberally sprinkled with numerous picturesque vineyards and wineries. Many offer tours and tastings. This can be a fun way to spend a couple of hours on a sunny afternoon when the light is too strong for landscape photography. Keep your eyes open for signs as you drive.
The small fishing fleet of Punta del Este exudes a very laidback attitude for a commercial operation.
Punta del Este
A great little resort town. Poised right on the corner of the Rio de la Plata and Atlantic Ocean, beaches wrap around Punta del Este. Strolling the charming streets, you’ll want to take in the lighthouse, the harbor with its little fishing fleet and sociable harbor seals and the shoreline itself.
Rocha is just one of many lovely protected natural preserves throughout Uruguay.
One of many natural preserves, Laguna Rocha is a tract with a calming, laid back feel and lots of subtle beauty.
Once out in the countryside, ranches and mounted gauchos (paisanos) are common sights.
As the name of both a department (province) and its largest town, Florida is largely a rural area featuring ranches, cattle and horses. With patience you should be able to locate some gauchos (often called ‘paisanos’) working with the livestock. These colorful cowboys on their small and hardy criollo horses make great subjects.
The charming cobblestone streets of the historic neighborhood of Colonia del Sacramento hark back to the days of Spanish colonialism.
Colonia del Sacramento
The historic 17th century colonial Spanish village portion of Colonia is one of my very favorite spots in all of South America. Reminiscent of Colonial Williamsburg, VA, these authentic buildings have been lovingly restored and maintained. Even the cobblestones that now pave the streets arrived here as ballast in the holds of Spanish galleons. Walking this compact neighborhood very early in the morning should allow you to capture the charm and romance without hordes of tourists.
Typical example of the historic buildings found all over the well preserved area of Colonia el Sacramento.
Flights to Montevideo’s international airport are available from several US gateways including Miami and Dallas.
Once in country, you will find a wide variety of accommodations. The cities offer modern hotels ranging from about two to five stars with three often being quite adequate. A buffet breakfast is almost always included.
Out in the countryside staying on a ranch (estancia) is an excellent way to quickly become immersed in the ambiance of the culture. It’s an ideal choice for equestrians!
Uruguayan roads are pretty good so renting a standard passenger car will prove adequate. To reach some of the roadless seaside villages, just hop on one of the shuttle-trucks that make the short run through the sand surrounding these little hamlets.
With its relatively long coastlines, the need for such lighthouses to protect navigation emerged early on.
Note: While it is possible to get along without speaking Spanish, Uruguayans probably speak less English than residents of most other South American countries. Even in Montevideo, the last ATMs that I saw had no option for English instructions. A pocket dictionary or phrase book can be very helpful.
Jerry Ginsberg is a widely published photographer whose landscape, Nature and travel images have graced the covers pages of hundreds of books, magazines and travel catalogs. He is the only person to have photographed each and every one of America’s National Parks with medium format cameras. (Newly created Indiana Dunes N.P. coming soon!) Jerry has been awarded Artist Residencies in several National Parks. This October, he will be in residence in Shenandoah National Park in VA. His works have been exhibited from coast to coast and have received numerous awards in competition. Jerry’s photographic archive spans virtually all of both North and South America.
Cathy and I just returned from our last photo tour, a week of pointing lenses at colorful birds and ancient reptiles in some of Florida’s remaining wetlands. Just about every location we visited was outstanding, so crammed with photographic possibilities it was sometimes difficult to choose which subject to put in the viewfinder. A viewer, judging from the images we came home with, would assume all is right with this sub-tropical environment. What the photos don’t show is that each wonderful site was separated from the others by a couple of hours of driving on some very busy roads. It’s perfectly true that there are still some great venues for those who enjoy photographing wild things and the places they live, but these venues are becoming more and more isolated, islands of biodiversity in a growing sea of concrete, asphalt and golf courses.
As a nature photographer I feel very fortunate to own forestland. I regularly visit one of our properties on the border of the Renous River in Northern New Brunswick, about 35 minutes from where I live. This is quite a wild area, dominated by forest with few people.
There are many nature photo opportunities here, including several species of mammals such as Moose, White-tailed Deer, Coyotes, Black Bear, Red Fox, Weasel, and Bobcat, just to name a few. However, because they often avoid humans, it’s a challenge to get good photos of some of these species.
My small trailcam has allowed me to capture some photos and see what is around, but the quality of the photos is not great, especially when compared to a high-resolution DSLR. That’s when I got the idea of building a DSLR camera trap based on discussions with colleagues and a bit of research.
In the natural world, beneath the surface speaks to what is concealed or goes unnoticed. It bestows a sense of wonder, reverence or deep connection. In photography, it refers to moving in closer and being intimate with a scene. Observing a monarch butterfly emerge from a chrysalis is a transformative experience. Watching a bee extract nectar from the wing petal of a bluebonnet is an exquisite example of the interconnectedness of life. Look closely at the veins of a flower petal. Notice the gentle arc of prairie grass swaying in the late afternoon light.
I’ve been aware of the power of nature since I was a three year old, lying on my back in the gravel driveway of our San Antonio home, watching clouds pass across the sun. I knew with certainty when the daylight changed its tone that it would return with a profusion of light sweeping across the landscape. I didn’t know why, I just knew the light would return. I’ve been watching clouds and light ever since those very early beginnings.
Gilded Flicker and Bees Pollinating Saguaro Cactus Blooms
Story and photo by Wendy Kaveney
The Giant Saguaro Cactus (Cereus giganteus) is indigenous to the Desert Southwest and blooms in the spring. Saguaro flowers bloom for less than 24 hours, allowing only a little time to be pollinated. During the flower’s short life, it provides food for bees and birds during the day, and for bats during the night. They, in turn, pollinate the flowers.
Autumn Trail Creates a Path Into the Forest. (HDR Compilation of 5 images.)
Story & photos by F. M. Kearney
Many methods can be employed in the quest to make photographs more engaging, or to draw more attention to the subjects within. One of the most common techniques is the use of leading lines. In the photo above, I used the lines of the log fence to draw the viewer deeper into this autumn scene in The New York Botanical Garden. It makes you feel as though you’re actually walking along the trail and heading deeper into the woods. However, technically, these aren’t really “leading lines.” They form what is more accurately referred to as a “path.” Often used interchangeably, the distinction between leading lines and paths is quite small. Generally, leading lines are like roadmaps that literally lead your eye to a specific point of interest, whereas, paths usually take you to a faraway vanishing point.
George Lepp reflecting on his career in a keynote at the 2019 Nature Photography Summit.
Last month’s Nature Photography Summit is over. Images from the trip have been processed. Gear and clothes have been cleaned and suitcases put away. Fortunately, there’s always something exciting we can look forward to. So, what’s next on NANPA’s hit parade?
At the Summit, NANPA announced that the next Nature Photography Celebration will be in Asheville, NC, April 19 – 22, 2020. The previous Celebration, in Jackson, WY, in 2018, featured location shoots, workshops, informative presentations, gear demonstrations and much more. Circle the dates on your calendar. More information will be coming.
NANPA celebrates Nature Photography Day on June 15th with a variety of events, from a photo contest to local workshops. This annual event encourages people to explore with a camera the natural world around them, whether that’s their own backyard, a local stream or a national park. Nature Photography Day promotes the enjoyment of nature photography and shows a wider public all over the world how images can be used to advance the conservation and protection of plants, wildlife and landscapes close to home and far away. Stay tuned for more information.
This year’s Showcase Competition kicks off August 1st. Exclusively for NANPA members, Showcase is your opportunity to win prizes, get your photos featured on NANPA’s website, blog and printed in Expressions, NANPA’s annual publication. You can see the top 250 images from last year’s competition, browse back issues of Expressions, or order your copy of this year’s Expressions. Get inspired and get out there shooting!
Throughout the year, NANPA offers several Regional Events, two- to four-day field tours led by outstanding photographers with intimate knowledge of the area and photographic opportunities. Attendance is limited. The June astrophotography in Arches National Park workshop is already sold out but you can still register for October’s workshop in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
NANPA also hosts a webinar series, open to members. The next webinar, VisionQuest Photography presented by Shane McDermott, will be on March 29th. Registration is free. You can also visit the webinar archives and view past recordings that cover a wide array of subjects. Have a nature photography topic you’re passionate about? Maybe you should contact us to present a future webinar!
NANPA’s Ethics Committee recently released guide to Ethical Field Practices. You can download a pdf of the guidelines or request cards pre-printed with the guidelines. In addition to helping us ensure we follow the best ethical practices, these documents make great handouts for camera clubs, Meetup groups and at other opportunities to spread the word about ethical nature photography. NANPA also has statements on Access to Public Lands and Truth in Captioning.
NANPA’s Conservation Committee has been busy, too. They recently launched the NANPA Citizen Science initiative, a database of science and conservation projects that welcome and can use the help of a nature photographer. Check it out. You, too, could be a citizen scientist! Know of a local citizen science project? Let us know so we can add it to the database. Coming soon is a Conservation Handbook.
NANPA sponsors a number of Meetup groups which bring people in the same area together to photograph nature. Check for one in your area and follow NANPA on the social media platforms of your choice.
As you can see, there’s always a lot going on at NANPA, and we haven’t even scratched the surface of NANPA’s member benefits. Are you taking advantage of all NANPA has to offer? One way to be sure is to check the New Member Resource Center, for an up-to-date listing of all the benefits and opportunities that come with your NANPA membership.
The highest peak in the contiguous 48 states, at 14,496 feet, serrated Mt. Whitney rises among the mountains of the Eastern Sierra.
Story and photos by Jerry Ginsberg
When most of us think of the spectacular Sierra Nevada range that forms the spine of east-central California, we tend to visualize the towering gray granite peaks and domes of Yosemite National Park. For a long time, my association was no different. It took several years, but eventually, I discovered the many facets of the Sierras beyond Yosemite.
Running on a north-south axis through the Golden State, the eastern escarpment of the Sierras provides a stunning backdrop to some of the finest photography in the West.
Joel Sartore receives NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award from NANPA President Gordon Illg at the 2019 Nature Photography Summit. Photo by Frank Gallagher.
If you attended NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit and Trade Show in Las Vegas, you had the pleasure of seeing Joel Sartore receive NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and deliver an informative, amusing, inspiring presentation about his life, family and his long-term project, the National Geographic Photo Ark. The Photo Ark seeks to document more than 12,000 species of mammals, insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. With more than half of all species on the path towards extinction during this century, the project could not be timelier. After the Summit, we had a chance to ask Sartore a few questions.