Excellent opportunity to photograph many beautiful warblers: colors and patterns, as a group, unmatched.
The Eastern Upper Peninsula at and just north of Lake Huron can be spectacular for northern warblers at the time of this trip. 24 species breed in the area and 3 more migrate through at this time. Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, Baltimore Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Blue-headed vireo, and many others join them. Many of the 24 species of warblers have a breeding range extending further north. And many individuals stay around the lake shore after crossing Lake Huron to feed on the super abundant midge hatches. The midges feed the incredible population of spiders, which the warblers also love. There is so much food around for warblers that their territories are often shrunken. On a 1.5 acre lot where I live we have had 7 species of warblers breed for over 15 years! The past few years there has been a Spruce Budworm outbreak along the lake front and in areas we will visit inland. The outbreak will continue this year. Spruce Budworm specialists such as Cape May and Tennessee Warblers are abundant, and many other species such as Blackburnian, Magnolia, Canada and Black-throated Green Warblers have increased their numbers. Last year a Bay-breasted pair attempted to nest.
Here is an animation of migrating birds in the western hemisphere that clearly shows that Michigan funnels migrating birds (especially northern warblers) through the area of this workshop at the time of the workshop: mid-to-late May.
We will strive for images with excellent composition, not just a bird on a stick large in the frame with a clean background. The types of opportunities you will have on this trip can never be found at a migration hotspot such as Magee Marsh or Pt Pelee, where there can be plenty of warblers but you can only hope that a bird might be close enough and land on a unblocked perch with a decent background. At these excellent viewing locations good photographic opportunities are often days apart. But we will have many excellent opportunities most days.
At the time of this trip the aggressive experienced males, which are in their brightest plumage, provide abundant opportunity in their breeding habitat, especially because of all the migrants of the same species around.
As this winter starts to fade I’m thinking about spring photography and, for me, it’s getting out of the deserts of Arizona and into the mountains of Wyoming. I’m remembering last May’s Regional Event in Yellowstone where I was able to photograph seven different bears in a single day. This year I’m going to return with a stop in Jackson for NANPA’s Nature Photography Celebration, May 20 – 22.
Applications are now being accepted for the Janie Moore Greene Scholarship Grant, awarded annually to a student studying photography at a two-year or four-year college, university, art/design or photography school. The deadline for applications is 11:59 p.m. EDT on October 31, 2017.
“For many years, Janie Moore Greene has supported higher education in photography with her gift to the NANPA Foundation, and we are very grateful to her,” said John Nuhn, president of NANPA Foundation. “Her scholarship grant enables us to assist emerging photographers in their career path and uphold the Foundation’s mission of awareness and appreciation of nature through photography.” Continue reading →
When I attended NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program (NHSSP) in 2004 in Portland, my eyes opened to exploring wildlife photography as a medium. I greatly benefited from the one-on-one instruction and support of fellow photographers, both peers and mentors. Before attending this program, I never knew all this support existed; I felt that I was exploring nature and my camera by myself. Being a scholarship winner gave me the opportunity to harness my potential. Being surrounding by world-class photographers that shared their knowledge and experience opened my eyes to the possibilities that awaited me in our magnificent world.
Do you buy from Amazon? If you do – regardless of how often – your purchases can help the NANPA Foundation if you take just 4 easy steps.
First, you may be asking “What is the NANPA Foundation?” The NANPA Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to:
Develop, support and implement nature photography projects jointly with NANPA and other organizations
Initiate, partner, operate and raise/promote funding for respective projects
Advance the awareness of and appreciation for nature through photography
The Foundation provides the funding for several of NANPA’s programs including the high school program, the college student program and the Philip Hyde Grant. We also have our own programs that we manage and fund including the Janie Moore Greene grant for college scholarship and building photo blinds at refuges, wildlife reserves, state/city parks, or other natural areas.
Contributions to the Foundation are tax deductible – so we are a fundraising arm of NANPA, but a completely separate organization.
Back to Amazon & How You Can Help
Now, how can you help the NANPA Foundation while you’re shopping at Amazon?
Amazon is willing to give the NANPA Foundation a percentage of eligible sales made through the AmazonSmile site.
The products are the same as what is on the Amazon site.
The pricing is the same as what is on the Amazon site.
Your same account, cart and other information from the Amazon site is also on the AmazonSmile page – it converts for you!
The AmazonSmile program is just an easier way for Amazon to give back to eligible nonprofits – like NANPA Foundation.
Under “Your Account,” select “Change Your Charity” and search for NANPA.
Click the Select button next to the “NANPA Infinity Foundation” name.
That’s it! NANPA Foundation will be remembered as your charity of choice and a percentage of any eligible purchases you make will be credited to NANPA Foundation anytime you shop on Amazon and go to the AmazonSmile site first – bookmark it!
The NANPA Foundation does not see who makes purchases that support the Foundation and we don’t see what is purchased. We simply get a quarterly payment which is the sum of contributions from eligible purchases made by those who have designated NANPA Foundation as their charity to support.
Students pose for me before we start shooting in the garden.
Teaching teenagers is both challenging and incredibly fulfilling. Challenging because you are competing against their unformed brains, their increased awareness, and the distraction of the opposite sex as well as today’s “must have” electronic devices. If teens aren’t fully engaged in what you are teaching, you can forget about it. I had worked with only adults for the past 30-plus years, so when I started working with teenagers four years ago, I had a lot to learn about teaching. (More on the fulfilling part later.)
One of my favorite workshops to give is photographing the winter holiday lights display at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia. What seems like millions of lights are hung over the entire garden, and each year carries a different theme. What I love about this workshop is that you can throw caution to the wind and just have fun working with color and long exposures to create wild and exciting images that are always a surprise. There is a lot of laughing and sharing, and teenagers and adults alike enjoy the heck out of it.
You may not know that NANPA has a college scholarship program where we pay expenses for 12 college students to come to the Summit where they network, learn, have their portfolios reviewed, and create a conservation project for a client. The NANPA college committee finds a client who would like the students’ help in creating a multimedia presentation about some type of conservation effort. This year, the students will be working with the San Diego Fish and Wildlife Services, documenting their restoration work along the San Diego Bay. The students will take images, shoot video and conduct interviews in the process of creating the multimedia presentation that will be used by FWS to introduce their conservation efforts to the local community. The presentation will also be shown prior to the keynote address on Saturday evening of the summit.
The students arrive on Monday, prior to the summit to start their planning and create their shooting schedule. They will work with the San Diego FWS personnel to document the ongoing projects. Canon supports the NANPA scholars by providing the equipment for the students to use during the week; they will be providing the new 7D Mk IIs and 1Dx cameras and lenses from 800 mm to 17 mm tilt shift.
This year’s group has seven graduate students and five undergraduates; six biology majors, most of the others are science majors (ecology, wildlife management, etc.), and one photography major. Ten come from all over the US and two students will be coming from Canada.
I have been a NANPA member for a year and a half. Even in that short time, NANPA and its supportive community have influenced me in many meaningful ways. Life seems to be full of wonderful flukes, and my introduction to NANPA was one such instance. One morning in November of 2012, when I was a high school senior, I received word from a fellow photographer of a great photographic opportunity that existed for high school students. Though just three days away from the deadline of NANPA’s High School Scholarship Program application, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I quite honestly remember thinking it looked too good to be true – a chance to spend a week in the field and at the NANPA Annual Summit, all the while learning and being inspired. I wondered to myself a little incredulously, How could I not have heard of NANPA before?It looks awesome!Continue reading →
Nevada is one of the featured keynote speakers at the 2015 NANPA Summit taking place in San Diego, California from February 19th – 22nd. To learn more about the Summit and to register for this exciting and inspirational event, please visit www.naturephotographysummit.com.
Images and Story by Nevada Wier
Photographing in low light is particularly challenging, but immensely satisfying — if you can overcome the difficulties. However, it is these kinds of situations that stimulate me as a photographer. I know that it is these times when it is more possible to create what I call a “snowflake photo”: one that no one else has in his or her portfolio. So I seek out the difficult light and perspectives. Of course, that also means that the chance of failure is high; I have to work extra hard in these situations. I am on alert, paying attention, anticipating the action and seeking out whatever light is available.
One is definitely constrained by the quality of their equipment. Sorry, an iPhone is not going to be the camera of choice for photographing at night or inside a hut lit by a candle – unless you are going for an abstract with high noise. Many digital camera sensors are not able to produce a relatively noise-free image at an extremely high ISO. Unless you have a top-of-the-line camera that can handle 1600 ISO or more, the highest exploitable ISO for most cameras ranges between 400–1600 ISO. Another limiting factor is the lens. If you are using a zoom lens that has a minimum aperture of f/4.5, it is going to be problematic. Not only will you not have a fast enough shutter speed, the lens will not be able to quickly and accurately focus in dim light. And, it is critical to pay attention to the focusing. During the day in strong light focusing quickly is easy and accurate; it only takes a quick press of the focus button to be accurate (I use the back * button on my Canon for focusing and to set a specific focal point). In low light it is important to squeeze the focus button until you see the focus alert signal in the viewfinder. Sometimes I have to use manual assist. Occasionally I need to shine a flashlight on my subject so I can focus.
Sometimes I use flash but not for a primary source of light, rather to pop color or stop the action with a slow shutter speed. A flash is always a secondary source of light. I usually go to the highest ISO that I am comfortable using and on my Canon 5D MarkIII I rarely go above 1600 ISO; if I can I much prefer to stay at 800 ISO or lower. I photograph primarily on Shutter Priority, but in low light I sometimes switch to Aperture Priority when I want to stay at a wide-open aperture. However, I do like slow shutter speeds (and I’m not afraid to hand-hold at ½ sec. or slower) in combination with flash, either for panning or having a flash stop the action within a blur, so there is sharpness within a sense of motion. I carry a number of different gels for my flash so the flash outputs blends seamlessly with the ambient light. I usually keep my white balance on Daylight unless there is an abundance of red, and then I use Auto (red is a difficult color to desaturate, it tends towards purple).
I make sure my exposure is absolutely perfect; better too light than too dark. I constantly check my histogram. At a high ISO you do not want to have to lighten your image in post processing and expose ugly noise. Honestly, I rarely use a tripod. I don’t like to walk around with them. The photographs I’m showing you on this blog are all hand-held. In fast moving situations it is difficult to use a tripod, and in crowds – forget about it! Knowing how to use flash appropriately is a big key to success.
I mentioned earlier that it is important to anticipate so that one can be in the front of a crowd. I am used to “wiggling” myself into a good location. There is a fine line between being assertive and aggressive, but I don’t want to end up in the back of a huge crowd.
I expect a lot of failures; in fact I mostly have failures in these kinds of situations, as they are technically and often socially difficult. However, all I need is one great image! I try as many shutter speeds as possible; depth of field is not a critical concern to me at these times. I try slow shutter speeds with or without panning, usually with the flash on. I turn the flash off and work with natural light. I try everything! I always say, “If you don’t try, you don’t get”. And, often what one gets is that magical snowflake image.
Nevada Wier is a multiple award-winning photographer specializing in the remote corners of the globe and the cultures that inhabit them. Her journeys have her crisscrossing the world in search of compelling travel experiences and images. To read more about Nevada, view her extraordinary photography and get information about her photo workshops and tours, visit her website at www.nevadawier.com.