The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, September 16, 2019. To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2019 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website. Tonight is the deadline for entering your best shots in this year’s Showcase. What are you waiting for? Let’s get shooting! Your best shot might be your next one.
This is my last blog as NANPA president, the end of a year of maundering over the past, present and future of nature photography. It turns out my fear that the organization would suffer under my leadership, or lack thereof, was unfounded, just as many of my fears are. Not only is NANPA doing well, but its membership has reached a new high point. It’s tempting for me to take credit for our success, but the truth is I’m riding on the coattails of an incredible herd/school/pride/pod of talented and hard-working staff and volunteers. Without them I would have been president of nothing, and I’m extremely grateful for my addiction to nature photography if for no other reason than it introduced me to these wonderful people who have guided and supported me.
Cathy and I just returned from our last photo tour, a week of pointing lenses at colorful birds and ancient reptiles in some of Florida’s remaining wetlands. Just about every location we visited was outstanding, so crammed with photographic possibilities it was sometimes difficult to choose which subject to put in the viewfinder. A viewer, judging from the images we came home with, would assume all is right with this sub-tropical environment. What the photos don’t show is that each wonderful site was separated from the others by a couple of hours of driving on some very busy roads. It’s perfectly true that there are still some great venues for those who enjoy photographing wild things and the places they live, but these venues are becoming more and more isolated, islands of biodiversity in a growing sea of concrete, asphalt and golf courses.
Editor’s Note: As I’ve mentioned before, NANPA is fortunate to have a large archive of blog posts going back several years. Occasionally, we will post one from the past that is important and relevant today. This blog by Chad Anderson was first posted in December 2014, and offers important information that has renewed urgency today. DCL
Vast stretches of azure blue waters thinly vail a dark secret. It’s been happening ever since the melting of the Wisconsin glacier some 12,000 years ago, but now occurs at a hastened pace and with a new cause. Meanwhile, Margaritaville plays, tourists stroll, and wading birds perch on mangrove shores as the slow pace of everyday life in the Florida Keys continues. Scientists, government entities, and even the public are coming to a grim reality. Change is here. It’s not abstract, distant, or easily pushed aside but prevalent, pervasive, and imminent—and the evidence is everywhere. The vast stretches of post card blue waters are a result of recently submerged lands. Even the upland forests here can hardly conceal their ancient marine past. Just millimeters below the leaf litter lies weathered coral reef. One of the oldest permanent tidal monitoring stations in the United States is located in Key West, Florida. Without hyperbole, it states the bare truth. Nearly nine inches of sea level rise has occurred since 1913. That may not sound like much, but for perspective, the average elevation is less than four feet. This effect is amplified by the fact that the slope of the shoreline is near flat, imperceptible to the human eye in most cases. For this reason, a couple of inches of rise can translate to hundreds of feet of land lost. In just a few decades the changes to the ecosystems have been staggering, rapidly shifting as the mangroves march inwards. Ancient buttonwoods stand like tombstones of a once proud forest. At times, mangroves, the most halophytic of all flora, can’t keep up the pace. Continue reading →
The ‘Florida Spring Break Tour’ is a private all inclusive tour for individuals who are looking for a unique experience by boat in the pristine back waters of the Ocala National Forest that can be booked by the day or by the week. This is an annual tour I have been conducting each spring since 2001 at this location. I have been exploring this area since the late 1960’s as my Grandfather lived in Ocala and first showed me the beauty and wonders that the Ocala National Forest has to offer to anyone that appreciates Nature, Wildlife and the excitement of the pristine Florida Wilderness. This is not a tour of a national or state park in a group taking standard pictures at standard locations that are available to anyone. This is an expedition into unspoiled wilderness environments only accessible by boat where not seeing another person all day long is common. I conduct the tour for 5 weeks from a rental house with a private dock on the St Johns River that is our base camp for the duration of your stay.
Do you want to knock your birding and photography socks off without busting your bank account? And—in the process—get to witness a prime example of sustainable water management for wildlife habitat enhancement and climate-change control?
If so, just grab your binoculars and camera gear and head to the Brevard County Wastewater Treatment Plant located in the east-central Florida town of Viera, Florida—just 2.5 miles west of I-95. There you’ll find 200 acres of constructed wetlands that are supported and nourished by advanced treatment outflow from the treatment plant. You’ll also find some of the best and easiest wild birdwatching and photography you’ve ever experienced. It’s called the Viera Wetlands.
Typical view of habitat provided by Viera’s sewage-treatment wetlands.
Establishment of the Viera Wetlands has been a phenomenal success. These created aquatic habitats now provide living spaces for more than 160 species of birds, but—perhaps best of all—the birding and photography access is as easy as pie. A network of 2.4 miles of one-way, 10 mph gravel roads—perched atop the earthen berms—allows superb opportunities for virtually every square foot of the sanctuary. Continue reading →
Longleaf pine forest in Blackwater River State Forest, Florida by Todd Amacker
Images and text by Todd Amacker
One of North America’s most biodiverse forests, the longleaf pine forest of the Southeast, is missing from 97% of its historic range. As a proud Southerner, I’ve spent a great deal of time ambling through pine forests in the Florida panhandle. Recently, I’ve made an effort to use my photography and my words to portray exactly what has disappeared along with the forests themselves.
There are a lot of treasures in longleaf pine forests that make them special, both aesthetically and scientifically. It all starts with the longleaf pine tree itself, Pinus palustris. It’s resistant to fire, and that’s important when frequent fires sweep through the understory and flames lap at the trees’ exteriors. Layers of specially evolved, crusty bark protect its delicate innards. It is actually unhindered fire that gives life to the longleaf ecosystem and contributes to its aesthetic beauty. Because of the fire, the undergrowth is burned away and you can see between trees. (This is quite refreshing for forest enthusiasts, as most forests hamper your ability to enjoy the view.) Continue reading →
Vast stretches of azure blue waters thinly vail a dark secret. It’s been happening ever since the melting of the Wisconsin glacier some 12,000 years ago, but now occurs at a hastened pace and with a new cause. Meanwhile, Margaritaville plays, tourists stroll, and wading birds perch on mangrove shores as the slow pace of everyday life in the Florida Keys continues. Scientists, government entities, and even the public are coming to a grim reality. Change is here. It’s not abstract, distant, or easily pushed aside but prevalent, pervasive, and imminent—and the evidence is everywhere. The vast stretches of post card blue waters are a result of recently submerged lands. Even the upland forests here can hardly conceal their ancient marine past. Just millimeters below the leaf litter lies weathered coral reef. One of the oldest permanent tidal monitoring stations in the United States is located in Key West, Florida. Without hyperbole, it states the bare truth. Nearly nine inches of sea level rise has occurred since 1913. That may not sound like much, but for perspective, the average elevation is less than four feet. This effect is amplified by the fact that the slope of the shoreline is near flat, imperceptible to the human eye in most cases. For this reason, a couple inches of rise can translate to hundreds of feet of land lost. In just a few decades the changes to the ecosystems have been staggering, rapidly shifting as the mangroves march inwards. Ancient buttonwoods stand like tombstones of a once proud forest. At times, mangroves, the most halophytic of all flora, can’t keep up the pace. Continue reading →
Homestead, Florida USA. Burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia floridana) are diurnal birds that make their home in the ground. Photographing these birds was a difficult task. I wanted a close perspective with a wide angle to show their habitat which is rarely showcased in owl photography. I failed many times while trying to find a way to disguise my camera and leave the birds undisturbed. Luckily, their burrows had been marked with road cones. For 6 months I visited the owls and placed my camera inside the cone and using an intervalometer, I took an exposure every 5 seconds. Setting my camera to beep before each exposure ensured the owls would be looking my direction. I used a polarizer to bring out the blues in the sky and soften the light on the grass. Photo by Mac Stone.
Text and Photos by Mac Stone
Many people are calloused by social media and I have to admit that I am too. Our audience is so distracted by the constant onslaught of content from all around the world that the photography market has turned into a fast food drive through line. Images that have taken us months to make are quickly posted, commented on, liked, shared and then forgotten about. It seems like a black hole, but we aren’t the only ones facing this problem and there are lessons to be learned.
Consider National Public Radio (NPR) for a moment. All year, they offer incredible content—some of the best podcasts and radio shows around—for free. In turn, they build a large loyal audience and when the time comes for support or premium content, their audience shows up in droves with money in hand. To me, that sounds like the same model of a photographer’s Facebook page.
The photography market has changed so much in the last ten years. Today, it’s not just the agencies that have access to large markets. With social media, we’re able to reach a very specific or a broad range of demographics, potential customers or future enthusiasts for our work. Continue reading →
During the last week of May of this year, an interesting question from NANPA appeared on my Facebook timeline asking, “Is anyone interested in a local NANPA Nature Photography Group?” to which I replied as quickly as I could, “Yes, in East Central Florida!” A few hours later, I was asked if I would like to be a NANPA Meetup Organizer for my area. It took me all of three seconds to say yes. Thus, on June 10, 2013, the second NANPA Nature Photography Group was launched here in East Central Florida (aka, The Space Coast).
Over the past year and a half, I experienced two long drives home from NANPA gatherings, first from the Great Smoky Mountains Regional Event and then again from the 2013 NANPA Summit. During both of those drives, the same thought played out in my mind: “Now what?”. It seemed that I would have to wait until NANPA offered another opportunity somewhere across the vast USA to gather and shoot with other NANPA members again. I didn’t know any NANPA Members near my home, or how to easily get in touch with members in my area. The NANPA Meetup Group Program solved this problem. And, the program also presents the valuable opportunity to introduce non-members to NANPA.
Organizing and hosting our nature photography group has been both easy and richly rewarding. Since June, we’ve held seven outings in differing settings and environments, focusing on close-up, landscape, flower, wildlife, and conservation photography. Attending members are enthusiastic and eagerly RSVP yes for upcoming Meetups. And, since our start in June, two of our regular attendees have become new NANPA members. That is really exciting!
Two outings that I particularly enjoyed include a trip to the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, America’s first wildlife refuge established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, and a trip into a section of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Of all of our outings, I most enjoyed leading folks into this special, historic corridor. There, we explored the ranchlands, sod farms, lakes and wildlife management areas that immediately adjoin the eastern boundaries of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Members were introduced to conservation photography, while recognizing and celebrating Florida’s ranchers and sod farmers who are helping to preserve vestiges of wild Florida environments.
A few closing thoughts:
– If you plan to visit central Florida and you’d enjoy participating in one of our outings, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be pleased to include you as my guest. You can check out the group website here.
– If you have a passion for nature photography, a passion for NANPA, and an interest in connecting with other members (and non-members) in your area, I urge you to become a local NANPA Nature Photography Meetup Group Organizer. You can email me at email@example.com to learn more!
Meetup members at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.