Story and photography by Tom Horton
Photography, like life, is a non-stop learning experience. While we should not take ourselves too seriously, it is still good to pause and reflect on your journey now and then. Recalling all the mistakes you made, and why you made them, helps you get ready for those still ahead. Often those mistakes start out as myths – received wisdom that ends up working poorly for you. These are some of mine:
1.) The more photos I publish, the better.
We all know people who talk too much and tend to say foolish or inappropriate things, and we hope like hell that’s not us. Yes, there are times to speak, but it is wise to first listen and think, and doing that you are more likely to say something meaningful or memorable.
It is no different with your photography. You make your reputation on the images you put out there for people to see, so you want to be very, very careful that what you publish is consistent with the photographer you want to be. The great danger with publishing on the Web – web sites, album sites, social media – is that it is far too easy and tempting to publish way too much and in doing so, publish work that is not your best. Even a small amount of mediocre work in your portfolio is enough to tell people that you are not a judge or producer of great photography. Continue reading
Story and photography by Bill Tyler
When most people think of wildlife photography, birds, large mammals, and possibly reptiles come to mind. But in the grand scheme of things, these are a small fraction of the picture. Insects and other arthropods constitute the vast majority of animals, both in numbers of individuals and numbers of species. These small creatures show huge diversity in anatomy and behavior, and make fascinating subjects for nature photographers. What’s more, they’re accessible. With millions of individual arthropods in a typical acre, you don’t have to travel far to find subjects. But photographing them requires different techniques than larger subjects. Here’s how I photographed a live centipede collected from my yard.
When possible, I like to photograph arthropods in their natural environment, unconfined. But that wasn’t going to be practical with this constantly moving specimen. I needed a way to keep it confined in a small area, rather than letting it run to the nearest shelter to hide. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have a helper who can gently stop a subject from running too far. This time I was working alone, and needed a containment device of some sort.
I had a small petri dish over which I could place a large clear photographic filter as a lid, and I put the centipede into this enclosure. Photographing through the optically flat filter gave a clear, undistorted image, and the glass dish let light in from the sides, while the filter was too heavy for the centipede to lift and escape. A ceramic plate made a white background.
Story and Photography by Irene Hinke-Sacilotto
A Scenic and Wildlife Photography Paradise
Badlands National Park is a terrific destination for landscape and wildlife photographers. It is the location of my June 2017 photo workshop, co-lead by Sandy Zelasko. The park is a convenient hour drive east from Rapid City on Interstate 90. North of the Pinnacles Entrance lies the town of Wall where you can find accommodations and other amenities. Near Cedar Pass, at the eastern end of the park, there are campgrounds, cabins, and a few other places to overnight. Continue reading
Story and photography by Jim Clark
Like most nature photography instructors, I arrive several days prior to a workshop to scout the area. I check on the condition of the sites where I will be taking my students and search for new ones as well. I take the time to see how the light illuminates a scene at different times of day and determine the best perspective and time for my students to photograph there. These days also afford me time to photograph on my own and to reconnect with and savor nature.
On scouting trips before my workshops along Virginia’s eastern shore, I make time to walk the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge’s wildlife loop drive. The drive is closed to vehicles until after 3 p.m., making it a great opportunity to get my daily steps in while exploring the refuge without worrying about traffic.
The loop is a perfect 3.1 miles in length and winds through major habitat types of the refuge. With a few spur trails leading off from the main loop, there is always a new and different route to explore. Whether I hike the loop in the morning or afternoon, I’m going to find something to photograph — or better yet, experience.
An excerpt from The Photographer’s Black and White Handbook: Making and Processing Stunning Digital Black and White Photos by Harold Davis, published by The Monacelli Press, 2017.
Photography is applied design, and according to classical design theory the principal building blocks of two-dimensional design are:
- Making the best use of both external and internal boundaries
- Acknowledging and working with the underlying shape in the image
- Constructing and depicting exciting and dynamic forms
As opposed to color photography, the boundaries in a photo are not obscured by an attractive color palette that can distract the viewer’s eye. This means that getting your composition right is even more important with black and white photography than with color. Continue reading
by Alton K. Marsh
Taking air-to-ground photos has a place in nature photography as do drones and remotely operated cameras. However, should you want to expand your horizons, this article covers some of the Dos and Don’ts of photographing aircraft, air-to-air in particular, which can be more complicated.
There’s no shortage of aerial artists spotting graphic designs and colors on the ground. Adobe Photoshop guru Julieanne Kost spent several years asking for the window seat on her many travels. The result was her beautiful and well-received 2006 book Window Seat: The Art of Digital Photography and Creative Thinking. There’s a Professional Aerial Photographer’s Association where business and professional photographers turn their attention to the beauty they are seeing each year and compete for prizes.
Other artists found in the back of an aircraft, usually with the door removed or a window taped open, take photos of actual aircraft. Well-known “critter” photographer Moose Peterson has in recent years branched into this field.
I was an aviation writer for 25 years at the AOPA Pilot, the monthly membership magazine of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Part of my job was to assist the photographer on the ground and again in the air by using my piloting skills to fly 35 feet from another plane carrying the photographer, enabling him/her to capture air-to-air photos. Continue reading
Story and photography by F.M. Kearney
Years ago, I opened a box of Kodacolor II film and removed a thin, folded strip of paper. It contained a set of illustrated instructions for basic photography. One illustration, in particular, still sticks out in my mind. It was a photographer standing with his back to the sun while taking a picture of a model.
Indeed, conventional wisdom tells us to always keep the sun at our backs when taking a picture. This is a pretty good rule to follow for most subjects — especially if you don’t want important details lost in deep shadows. Always following conventional wisdom, however, will usually result in conventional-looking photographs. For a change of pace, why not try shooting directly toward the sun on a bright sunny day.
Including the sun in landscape photos is nothing new. But, aside from a few cameos, the sun rarely makes an appearance in photos of flowers. This could be due to a simple matter of logistics. It’s not that easy to compose the sun in the same shot with a subject that’s low to the ground. It’s much easier if you’re shooting at dawn or dusk when the sun is low on the horizon. Personally, I prefer the morning when the ambient light is rising instead of dropping.