How to Chase and Shoot the Aurora

Aurora borealis over Turnagain Arm in Chugach National Forest, Alaska, in mid-March.

Aurora borealis over Turnagain Arm in Chugach National Forest, Alaska, in mid-March.

From the Editor:  Award-winning landscape and nature photographer Carl Johnson has been living in Alaska for almost 20 years and is an expert on shooting auroras.  On Friday, August 17th, at 2 PM EDT, he will present a NANPA Webinar, “Chasing & Photographing the Aurora Borealis. This webinar covers the science behind the aurora, the tools available to predict and plan for it (including websites and apps that provide real-time and forecasting information), tips on when and where to photograph it, and what gear and techniques to use. For more information or to sign up, click here.

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From the Archives — In Our Yard

Editor’s Note:  While spring 2018 is struggling to make its appearance through much of the United States, we can already look in our backyards and see the early signs that it’s on the way.  Our backyards are always one of the best places to look for flowers, birds, and occasionally, something larger.  This post by Amy Shutt appeared in 2014, and what she describes sounds like the ultimate back, front, and side yards for observing wildlife.

Story and Photography by Amy Shutt

Alstroemeria psittacina 'Parrot Lily'

Alstroemeria psittacina ‘Parrot Lily’ © Amy Shutt

 

We live on 7.5 acres of land in a little town in Louisiana. Although I’ve only been here for a few years, my husband, an ornithologist, has been living here for quite some time. It’s 95% woods. He gardens the area around the house exclusively for hummingbirds and the rest is untouched. Yep, we are the eccentric neighbors with the overgrown yard with signs designating the ditch in the front as a ‘Wildflower Area’ so the city won’t cut or spray.

I see swamp rabbits almost daily. We have deer…and deer ticks. I have heard foxes in the darkness just off the driveway in the woods. We have enjoyed listening to coyotes howling in unison. Barred owls belt out their crazy calls nightly. Prothonotary Warblers nest in boxes we make for them around the house and in the woods.  Point is, it’s pretty cool out here and we share this land with a lot of critters and plants.  Continue reading

What is the NANPA Foundation?

Story by Mary Jane Gibson, NANPA Foundation Vice President

February 21, 2015. San Diego, CA. NANPA's 19th Nature Photography Summit. The College Scholarship students, sponsored by the NANPA Foundation, gather on stage after presenting their multimedia production of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. The video was photographed and produced during the summit and donated to the refuge for educational purposes. © Mark A. Larson

February 21, 2015. San Diego, CA. NANPA’s 19th Nature Photography Summit. The College Scholarship students, sponsored by the NANPA Foundation, gather on stage after presenting their multimedia production of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. The video was photographed and produced during the summit and donated to the refuge for educational purposes. © Mark A. Larson

Whether new to NANPA or an original charter member, you probably have little understanding of the NANPA Foundation – what it does, why it exists, and why it is asking for money. Continue reading

Showcase Images

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Each week www.nanpa.org highlights 7 images from the top 100 submissions of the NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by: Jeff Vanuga, Tony Frank, Judith Malloch, Todd Reed, Curtis Gibbens, Wendy Kaveney, Grace Scalzo. Continue reading

Use Flash to Light the Landscape

Story and photos by John Gerlach

Devil’s Garden near Escalante © John Gerlach

Landscape photographers are exhilarated when a prominent portion of the landscape becomes illuminated with golden sunshine, especially when the sky directly behind it is a stormy dark gray. Unfortunately, these incredible displays of spectacular light are unpredictable and usually fleeting.   Fifteen years ago I decided to use my Canon Speedlite to provide the blast of light I needed to light a rock ten meters across a raging river. My first flash attempts were futile since the Speedlite didn’t add any additional light to the rock. I pondered the situation for a while and finally realized I had “murdered” my Speedlite. Using ISO 100, a polarizer, stopping down the lens to f/22, and allowing the camera to set the zoom on the Speedlite’s flash head to 24mm to match the lens being used all conspired to make it impossible to light an object only ten yards away. Continue reading

Showcase Images

 

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Each week www.nanpa.org highlights images from the top 100 submissions of the NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by: Peter Ismert, Scott Reither, Robert Strickland, David Francis, Marco Crupi, Bob Oswald, Scott Smorra.

 

Showcase Images

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Each week www.nanpa.org highlights images from the top 100 submissions of the NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by: Eric Bowles, Betty Sederquist, Hector Astorga, Lance Warley, Ken Archer, Diana Rebman, Douglas James.

 

THIS BIRDING LIFE: Sandhill Cranes Blanketing the Sky & Land

Story and photo by Budd Titlow

A pair of Sandhill cranes feeding in a marshy wetland. © Budd Titlow

A pair of sandhill cranes feeding in a marshy wetland. © Budd Titlow

The brisk spring air was punctuated by a gusty wind as I stood in breathless anticipation beside the main gates. Once inside, we stealthily crept up the steps of the permanent wooden blind where we could see silhouettes of thousands of birds blanketing the riverbed’s shallow channels and naked sandbars.

The world’s oldest surviving bird species, the sandhill crane still appears curiously archaic. With legs dangling and bent in an awkward landing posture, and neck and wings extended, it is reminiscent of the ancient pterodactyl, the extinct flying reptile. Fossilized remains of the sandhill have been found in Nebraska sediments dating from the Lower Pliocene, some nine million years ago. This has led scientists to theorize that today’s sandhill crane has remained unchanged since that long-ago epoch. Continue reading

Showcase Images

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Each week www.nanpa.org highlights images from the top 100 submissions of the NANPA Showcase competition. This week’s images are by: Tony Frank, F.M. Kearney, Mark Lagrange, Gabby Salazar, Nancy Hoyt Belcher, Ian Frazier, Matthew Hyner.

 

The Flint Hills by Scott Bean

Out in the Flint Hills by Scott Bean

Out in the Flint Hills by Scott Bean

Text and Images by Scott Bean

Talk about landscapes in Kansas and a lot of people are going to think of the stereotypical image of Kansas – one big flat wheat field. Kansas certainly does have some flat regions, especially in the western half of the state. Kansas also has a lot of wheat fields – which are beautiful in their own right. However, Kansas has a number of unique landscapes that may surprise a lot of people. The Flint Hills are one of the unique physiographic regions of Kansas. They are an especially interesting area as they contain some of the last large contiguous areas of tallgrass prairie. The interesting topography of the Flint Hills and the flora of the tall grass prairie combine to make for wonderful photographic opportunities.

Wide open views and gently sloping hills are characteristic of the Flint Hills. I like to use a wide angle lens to try and capture the sense of space and the unique shapes that can be found out in the prairies, but short to medium telephoto lenses are also useful to bring in details of the hills and focus attention on the lines and textures of the region. Magic hour light can really bring out the contours and shapes of the hills, and sunrises and sunsets are often full of amazing colors.  Continue reading