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.
From the Editor: An increasing number of photographers are also printing their images in books. While we might know a lot about printing our images, most of us aren’t going to know much about what considerations go into printing books. Friesens, a sponsor of NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit, is Canada’s largest printer of hardcover books. Founded in 1907, Friesens is an employee-owned company that also operates Friesens Press, a self-publishing subsidiary. In this article, Friesens give us a primer on paper choices and high-fidelity art books. Their website and blog contain a lot more information.
We continue to see a growing number of high-fidelity art books, photography books, cookbooks, etc., on uncoated papers. While every job is treated with the same care, expertise, and attention to detail, we do know that certain markets/projects and customers have different needs and expectations.
In general, the term “high-fidelity” colour describes a variety of techniques used to make printed pieces look better. If you are willing to spend extra money on special papers and print techniques, we know that your needs, expectations, and requirements are more than just having colour ink on paper.
The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, April 15, 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 starts in August, so let’s get shooting! Your best shot might be your next one.
For 10 years, I have been traveling to Yellowstone National Park to pursue my love for wildlife photography. Every year the park has given me special scenes to photograph and animals to see in their natural environment.
One of the most coveted species to see in this national park are wolves. I have seen them many times in and around the park but usually it’s at great distances, similar to the above photograph, or on a late night drive. However, this year my guide, Christopher Daniel, and I were able to track them closely for 3 days, until we were gifted with a rare close encounter.
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.
Many photographers tend to shoot from an eye-level perspective. Let’s face it… it’s a comfortable position and the path of least resistance. However, it’s not always the best angle when shooting flowers. To capture more unique compositions, you will need to get on their level – often necessitating getting on your hands and knees (or even lower). Of course, none of us are getting any younger, and if the thought of this conjures up visions to the chiropractor, there are a few things you can do to make your life easier. I always carry a pair of gardening kneepads in my bag. They come with velcro straps, so they’re very easy to put on and take off. They come in very handy when I’m shooting low on rocky surfaces. Not only do they spare my knees, they keep my pants relatively clean and dry in dirty or muddy environments. Other helpful aids are right-angle finders (periscope-like devices that screw onto your viewfinder) and adjustable flip screens. These objects make it easier to view low-angle scenes without having to get too low yourself.
The opening photo of this article is about as low as you can go. I shot it 25 years ago with a film camera and a 16mm fisheye lens. I placed the camera flat on the ground, with the lens pointed skyward, in the middle of a tulip bed. After setting the self-timer, I quickly stepped away. Although I couldn’t see what I was shooting, I wasn’t completely flying blind. I was able to get a fairly good idea of my composition by looking at the reflection on the large lens surface. I didn’t have an autofocus lens back then, but even if I did, I certainly wouldn’t have trusted it in this situation. I used a tape measure to determine the height of the tulips, and then pre-focused the lens.
Daffodils in direct sunlight (left) versus daffodils partially blocking the sun (right).
Low-angle shooting doesn’t need to be that extreme in order to make an impact. Simply shooting at the level of the flowers will make your images stand out, because it’s an angle most people aren’t used to seeing. This angle also makes it easier to include the sun. I shot the two photos above in a field of large-cupped daffodils with a right-angle finder. The inclusion of the sun adds a lot more interest, but it can also raise a few safety concerns. Obviously, this wasn’t a factor in the opening shot because I wasn’t looking through the camera. In this case, I was looking right at the sun, but I was using a 28mm wide angle lens. This kept the sun relatively small in the frame, so I wasn’t too concerned. Nevertheless, I shot the majority of these images with the sun partially hidden behind the flowers (as seen in the shot on the right). That significantly cut down on its intensity and made it much easier to see what was going on in the viewfinder. I did that purely for creative purposes. Had the focal length been longer, I may have done it for safety precautions.
As a former film shooter, I can attest to how difficult it was to shoot high-contrast shots like these years ago. Film just didn’t have the dynamic range (the ability to record details in shadows and highlights) that modern digital cameras have today. High-end models have features that can actually boost the dynamic range to varying degrees. Nikon has Active-D Lighting and Canon has Auto Lighting Optimizer. I shoot with Nikon, so I set the Active-D Lighting to “Extra High.” Although I used a flash to remove the shadows from the flowers in the foreground, the added dynamic range helped to prevent the shadows in the background from blocking up.
Cloudy days can offer many opportunities as well. If you don’t want to include a large expanse of featureless, white sky in the shot, all you need is a longer focal length and a change of composition. I shot the group of triumph tulips below at a low-angle at 200mm – making it easy to exclude the sky.
Triumph tulips shot at level. Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Although the tulips in the foreground stand out, there’s really nothing unique about the shot. Try to look for something different – something a bit out of the ordinary. Tulips are usually planted in tight clusters. Sometimes, a tight shot of their stems can be just as intriguing as the flowers themselves. Below is an example of what you might find when you shoot slightly under the average level of the group. The shorter tulip surrounded by tall stems creates a much more interesting perspective of the scene.
Triumph tulips shot slightly below level.
Shooting flowers in the field is fun, but it can also be very physically tasking. You may find yourself in some pretty uncomfortable and/or unusual positions. Years ago, I had my mother accompany me on one of my flower shoots. At one point, I had to lay flat on the ground to get the shot. She thought it was one of the weirdest and craziest things she had ever seen. For decades afterwards, whenever I told her I was going out to shoot something (no matter what it was or what the season), she would always ask, “Are you gonna lay on the ground with the flowers again?” My mother is no longer here, but that image of me left a lasting impression in her mind. If you take the time and effort to get the shots that many others might deem “too difficult,” the images you create will make a lasting impression as well.
F. M. Kearney began his photography career as a photojournalist for New York City newspapers. His focus soon shifted to capturing the beauty of the natural world. As an award-winning nature photographer, Kearney’s images have been widely published. A slight departure from photography, his recently published horror novel, “They Only Come Out at Night,” about supernatural happenings in the New York City subway (partially inspired by his travels as a photojournalist), is available on Amazon. To see more of Kearney’s work, visit http://www.starlitecollection.com.
Mormon Row Pano: Tamron SP24-70mm G2 – 6 images at 52mm, 1/60 sec, f/16 @ ISO 400
Editors Note: Membership organizations like NANPA are able to keep the costs of membership and conference registration low and to develop new resources thanks to the support of companies like Tamron, a key sponsor of NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit in Las Vegas and long-time NANPA supporter. In addition to its full lineup of lenses and accessories, Tamron also regularly publishes informative articles (like the one below), “how to” tips and other useful information on its website and e-newsletters, and supports a number of photo contests.
Story & photos by Ken Hubbard
Encompassing about 310,000 acres in northwest Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park includes most of the area of Jackson Hole and the Teton Mountain Range. The mountain range got its name from French trappers in the early 19th century, calling them Les Trois tetons. Preservation of the area started in the late 19th century, culminating in the designation of National Park in 1929. The park was named for the tallest peak in the range, Grand Teton, which rises to an elevation of 13,775 feet. With Yellowstone National Park to the north and the John D. Rockefeller Parkway connecting the two, this area is one of the largest mid-latitude temperate ecosystems in the world. Today, Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole and the surrounding areas are a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, from skiing to photography.
The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, April 8, 2019. This is the final Weekly Wow from NANPA’s Showcase competition. 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 starts in August, so let’s get shooting! Your best shot might be your next one.
I am attending the University of Wyoming as a graduate student, majoring in communication/environment and natural resource and working on my thesis, a quantitative study about Instagram’s influence on intent to travel to Yellowstone National Park. I’m extremely interested in the human dimensions of environment and natural resource issues, such as values regarding wildlife and public lands.
Once upon a time, a lot of photographers did very well with film photography. 35mm slides, the old reliable, did a more than adequate job for us and the great majority of book and magazine publishers. We sent out a couple of vinyl pages of 20 mounted 2×2” slides and usually scored a hit.
Then came the digital revolution. And make no mistake; this has been a true technological revolution. Kodak and Nikon may initially have been on the cutting edge of the seismic shift as it pertains to photography, but such subsequent changes as smartphones, social media and cloud computing are all facets of the very same upheaval.
Around 1990, a group of very bright people created Photoshop. Overcoming a few less robust competitors, Photoshop quickly became the standard for processing digitally captured and scanned images in the new world of the digital darkroom.
Adobe’s ancillary program Bridge was born soon after. After several years and great advances in the feature sets, depth and breadth of these software tools, some streamlining seemed to fit a market niche. Enter Lightroom.
Exhibit hall at NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit. Photo by Frank Gallagher
Putting on a great conference, like NANPA’s recent Nature Photography Summit, isn’t easy and the full costs aren’t covered by your registration fees, alone. Keeping the conference affordable to attendees, while providing excellent speakers, technology, facilities and food, requires more. Some of that extra support comes from our exhibitors and sponsors.