The Milky Way “season” is generally considered to run from April through October. By that we mean that the galactic core, or center, of the Milky Way galaxy is visible in the Northern Hemisphere and astrophotographers have the best chances of capturing, well, stellar images. But there’s a lot more to successful Milky Way photography than that. This article excerpts some tips from a NANPA webinar I did a while back. The complete webinar is available in the Members’ Area of the NANPA website.
Well, for most people it should be. As I type this blog post, it is snowing again here in Colorado. The snow is a welcome weather occurrence as we desperately need the moisture, but it does do a number on those flowers people plant before the recommended planting date of Mother’s Day in Colorado. Much of Colorado, like the West, is still under severe drought conditions, bringing with it the fear of yet another difficult wildfire season. Fingers crossed that is not the case.
I have recently been learning more about meditation and am fascinated by the many ways one can choose to meditate. One ancient form of meditation is to focus on a mandala image. Mandalas, or circles, are a sacred form of meditation that allows the individual to focus on the image and in clinical trials has been shown to promote healthy living. With this image, I tried to combine an image of nature, which is naturally calming to me, with the idea of mandala art. This image reminds me of a warm tropical sunset with the color, trees, and circular motion. When looking at it, I can almost feel the warm sun, hear the waves and feel the salty air on my face, and it sends me into a relaxed state.
Going on safari in Africa is on many photographers’ bucket list. It is an unforgettable experience, and very different from other photo tours or workshops you might have attended. What should you expect? What do you need to know? Here are a few of the key things I learned on photography trips in South Africa and Botswana.
You will see things that literally astound you. Just sit back for the adventure of a lifetime. Take my word for it, you may want to stay longer or not even want to board the plane for home. You might even feel a kinship, after all, it is the Cradle of Civilization. If you go once, you will be going again and again, as it is a life altering experience. I plan to be back in Africa this October, assuming pandemic travel restrictions are lifted.
Joe and Mary Ann McDonald live in central Pennsylvania where the run their photography business. At NANPA’s 2021 Nature Photography Virtual Summit, they will be recognized with NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award in recognition to their contributions to the profession. They will also be keynote speakers. With 50 years of photography experience, Joe was a founding member of NANPA and has served on the board of directors. He’s written seven books and hundreds of articles. Mary Ann brings 30 years of experience and is the author or many children’s books on wildlife as well as being a Visiting Author in several programs. Their images have place 15 times in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. They’ve led more than 100 photo tours to see mountain gorillas and were given the honor of giving a name to a baby gorilla in Rwanda’s “Kwitza Inza” ceremony, the highest honor one can achieve in mountain gorilla conservation. Previously, they have received NANPA Fellows Awards (Joe 2002, Mary Ann in 2010) and NANPA’s Outstanding Service Awards (2002).
Through my photography I try to portray the character or spirit of a bird. Often that involves capturing behavior that represents some distinctive aspect of that particular bird’s lifestyle. It’s extra rewarding if I can achieve that vision in a unique or artistic way as with this black skimmer in flight. We see the astonishing blade-like bill with which it skims the water’s surface to capture fish, a bill so thin in cross-section that, seen from the front, almost disappears from view. The unusual head-on view, the symmetry and verticality of the wings, the shallow depth of field drawing attention to the bird’s eyes—factors that all came together to produce a compelling image. Framing a bird flying toward you at close range can be extremely difficult, but I love a challenge and in this case the reward totally outweighed the effort.
Susan McElhinney is the photography editor for Ranger Rick magazine, published by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and for NWF children’s publications and projects. And, during NANPA’s 2021 Nature Photography Virtual Summit, April 29 – 30, she’ll receive a NANPA Fellows Award. The award recognizes McElhinney’s career in publishing, in supporting professional nature photographers, and in using images to promote children’s connection to nature and educate them about conservation issues.
Tucson-based nature and conservation photographer Jack Dykinga will receive a NANPA Fellow Award during the 2021 Nature Photography Virtual Summit, April 29-30. Dykinga began his career as a photojournalist in Chicago, working for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, where he won the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. After moving to Arizona and working at the Arizona Daily Star, he began working on a book about the Sonoran Desert, which launched his career in a new direction. Dykinga is a Founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and his work regularly appears in National Geographic and Arizona Highways magazines. He’s taught at the University of Arizona and Pima Community College and has received NANPA’s 2011 Outstanding Photographer of the Year and 2017 Lifetime Achievement Awards. Dykinga’s latest book, A Photographer’s Life: A Journey from Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photojournalist to Celebrated Nature Photographer (Rocky Nook), was published in 2017.
I feel at home on the coast, with a shutter release in my hand, and nowhere more so than the rugged coastline of the Basque Country around Barrika, which includes these stunning spine-like rock formations, known as flysch formations. “Chasing the Dragon” absolutely evokes features which motivate me creatively – energy, shape, perspective, and a little bit of drama. It’s a privilege to stand alone in near-complete darkness, senses heightened, with only the sound of waves, and see those components come to life in your viewfinder.