Where the Winds and Whales Blow

Photo of the tail of a humpback whale about to go underwater. Humpback Whale Fluke © Diana McPherson
Humpback Whale Fluke © Diana McPherson

By Diana McPherson

Whale watching brings great joy and awe to most spectators. I remember my first time on a whale watching boat, seeing a humpback whale. As it broke the ocean’s surface, the explosive exhalation sprayed water high into the air. Its black back drifted across the water, revealing its knobby dorsal fin. Suddenly its back curved and the massive fluke lifted up into the air, water pouring off the fin, slowly disappearing beneath the ocean surface. I was instantly filled with awe and love.

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How one hobbyist nature photographer found inspiration and learning at NANPA

View of coastal wetlands from the NANPA Foundation Funded Photo Blind in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, © Chris Herig
View from the NANPA Foundation Funded Photo Blind in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Florida © Chris Herig

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

Chris Herig has been interested in photography since age nine when she went away to camp for the first time, but she didn’t “get serious,” she says, until much later in life.

“It wasn’t until both of my parents had passed away and no longer needed me that I truly began traveling for pleasure and then eventually traveling longer distances and visiting the places I had only dreamed of, most especially our national parks,” Herig explained. “I started my national park adventure with Grand Teton and then Yellowstone on my 50th birthday!”

Herig registered for a brown bear workshop led by NANPA member (now President) Dawn Wilson and was inspired by Wilson’s 15-month journey traveling across the U.S. by RV. So she joined NANPA and keeps discovering new things.

A photo blind in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

While participating in a NANPA webinar, Herig mentioned that she frequently photographs at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in northern Florida. The refuge is home to numerous waterfowl, hawks, eagles, bobcat, deer, butterflies, alligators and, well, a lot of wildlife. But Herig didn’t realize it is also home to a photo blind funded by the NANPA Foundation.

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Photographing Pikas: A Life Above the Clouds

Photo of a pika standing up and grabbing leaves from a large plant. An American pika chooses which leaves look the tastiest in his subalpine home. In very cold areas, pika live in the subalpine, where plants are very abundant and much larger than up high. © Deidre Rosenberg
An American pika chooses which leaves look the tastiest in his subalpine home. In very cold areas, pika live in the subalpine, where plants are very abundant and much larger than up high. © Deidre Rosenberg

By Deirdre Rosenberg

There are many wondrous and surreal ecosystems on this planet: landscapes that take your breath away and make you feel small in the best kind of way, areas that we feel called to. For me, it’s all about the alpine environment. As a small child, I was immersed in the land that exists above the clouds and that’s where my heart and soul still reside. My fascination and passion for these harsh places has informed much of my life and career. Today, I am excited to share some information, a few photos, and some of my concerns about one of my very favorite alpine residents: the American pika.

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Photo Contest Tips from Past Showcase Winners, Part 1

Sunrise photo of a mountain with flowers in the foreground. Penstemon and Paintbrush Tapestry, Mt. St. Helens National Monument, Washington, 2018 Showcase, Judges' Choice, Scapes© Geoffrey Schmid
“Penstemon and Paintbrush Tapestry,” Mt. St. Helens National Monument, Washington, 2018 Showcase, Judges’ Choice, Scapes © Geoffrey Schmid

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

NANPA’s 2022 Showcase photography competition is in full swing, with entries accepted right up until 11 p.m. EDT September 20, 2021. It’s one of NANPA’s most popular offerings. Why? Because you get a chance to see how your work measures up to your peers, have your images seen by potential clients, influence people and causes, and maybe win some of the $6,000 in prize money.

Sounds good, right, but where to start? We asked several nature photographers whose images have placed in the Showcase Top 24 in multiple years what are their secrets. How do they approach Showcase? What do they look for in the images they enter? Here’s what they had to say.

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Getting the Most Out of a Regional Field Event

Participants at NANPA's Regional Field Event in Michigan's Upper Peninsula line up to photograph fall foliage. © Tom Haxby
Participants at a previous NANPA Regional Field Event in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. © Tom Haxby

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

One of the top-rated NANPA member benefits is the opportunity to participate in NANPA Regional Field Events. Each year, professional nature photographers, workshop leaders, and educators plan, organize, and lead field workshops in beautiful places at very modest costs. But what are Regional Field Events like? What should you expect? Why are they so popular? We asked several of the pros leading upcoming trips for their thoughts.

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Mark Lukes Receives NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award

Mark Lukes holds up his Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award presented by NANPA at his home in Fort Collins, Colorado. Photo credit: Jeff Lukes
Mark Lukes holds up his Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award presented by NANPA at his home in Fort Collins, Colorado. Photo credit: Jeff Lukes

Mark Lukes received NANPA’s Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography Award on July 17th at a barbeque organized by his wife, Linda, and daughter, Lauren, at his home in Colorado. NANPA President Dawn Wilson presented the award and both Francine Butler and Wendy Shattil spoke before an audience of about 40 of his friends, neighbors, family, and former employees.

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Finding Nature in the City: A Young Photographer’s Quest

Photo of a creek with the water rushing over and around medium-sized boulders. On the banks of the creek, trees are showing the yellows, oranges, and reds of fall. Rock Creek winds through the heart of Washington, DC. © Dhruv Cohen
Rock Creek winds through the heart of Washington, DC. © Dhruv Cohen

Most adults don’t think of young people as nature photographers, or of there being lots of wildlife in a big city. Wrong on both counts! Dhruv Cohen is a high school student who lives in Washington, DC, and is interested in biology and mathematics. He’s also an avid bird photographer. And he has a lot to say about photography, wildlife, and the experience of being out in nature with a camera.

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Blackwater National Wildlife Reserve

Brilliant peach-colored sunrise over water. There are grasses in the foregroun and trees in the distance. Clouds streak across the sky. Sunrise in Blackwater National Wildlife Reserve, Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake, Delmarva, Dorchester County, MD. © Jerry Ginsberg
Sunrise in Blackwater National Wildlife Reserve, Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake, Delmarva, Dorchester County, MD. © Jerry Ginsberg

By Jerry Ginsberg

National Wildlife Reserves

While our National Parks, the crown jewels of federal lands, often receive the lion’s share of our attention, the wonderful creature sanctuaries known as National Wildlife Refuges provide an immeasurable benefit to wildlife in these days of ever-expanding development. This human expansion inevitably results in ever shrinking habitat and more and more pressure on the wild creatures who rely upon that habitat.

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Get Your Story Out There featuring Morgan Heim

The Nature Photographer episode #18 on Wild & Exposed podcast

Image from conservation and adventure film Deer 139 © Morgan Heim

Conservation photographer and filmmaker Morgan Heim knows how to tell a story. It might take climbing 25 feet up the Astoria-Megler Bridge at slack tide to attach two time lapse cameras over the Columbia River—known as “the Graveyard of the Pacific”—or following a mule deer on an 85-mile migratory path over the Wyoming Range and Salt River Range, but getting the story and getting it out into the world are two of Morgan’s specialties. The keys, she tells co-hosts Dawn Wilson, Michael Mauro, Ron Hayes, and Jason Loftus, include finding the collaborators who can do what you can’t and building buy-in for yourself as an individual, not just the product you’re trying to produce. Learn more about her conservation filmmaking class, her “half-assed ideas” notebook, and the double-crested cormorants project that she’s working on now. 

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August Means Showcase!

A compilation of resources to help you create and submit the best photo contest entries

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

If you’re a seasoned NANPA member, you know that August brings warm weather and the beginning of Showcase, NANPA’s annual photography competition. And if you’re new to NANPA or haven’t entered Showcase before, now’s your chance to enter your best shots and compete for $6,000 in prizes, a variety of promotional opportunities to build your brand, and recognition from not just your peers, but also from some of the top names in the business. So, head for your photo catalog and start selecting your best images. One could be a winner, but you’ll never know unless you enter!

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