Join in the Celebration: Spring event offers something for every nature photographer

View of Smokey Mountains from Foothills Parkway
Foothills Parkway

Story and photos by Tom Haxby, NANPA Board President

In my opinion there is nothing more wonderful for a nature photographer than to welcome spring in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Local and migrating birds are singing, blooming wildflowers are everywhere, waterfalls abound, and night skies on the Blue Ridge Parkway are amazing.

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Carefully Selected “Field Trips” Make Celebration Unique

Blue-gray Tanager photographed in the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica.  © Kathy Adams Clark.
Blue-gray Tanager photographed in the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica. © Kathy Adams Clark.

Story by Kathy Adams Clark

An unprecedented number of field events—combined with the kind of classroom sessions and vendor demonstrations you’ve come to expect of NANPA’s big signature events—are what make the 2020 Nature Photography Celebration in Asheville, North Carolina, special. 

As you may already know, this year’s Celebration features six distinct educational tracks: night photography, birds, landscapes/scenics, flowers, fine art, and conservation. You can attend all of the workshops and field events in one track for deeper understanding of that area, or mix and mingle between tracks for a broader, more general experience of nature photography. 

But what I’m most excited about is the field trips. If you’re like me and learn best when the camera’s actually in your hands, then Celebration is for you. 

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True Affects: Using Special Effects to Realistically Affect Reality

Daylilies with Radial blur filter (spin method) applied
Daylilies with Radial Blur filter (spin method) applied

Story and Photos by F. M. Kearney

A friend of mine once showed me a movie trailer on Youtube for a foreign-made film called “B-14.” It’s about rival drug gangs, featuring an assassin with superhuman powers. To say that the special effects are ridiculously over-the-top would be an extreme understatement! This movie wasn’t meant to be funny, but I laughed more during this 1-minute trailer than I have during some 2-hour actual comedies. It seemed as though the producers just discovered special effects the night before and were determined to use all of them in this film – no matter how poorly executed, or whether the scene called for them or not.

Personally, I think special effects work best when they enhance existing attributes within a photo. If you can discern a distinctive pattern within a subject’s color or shape, or the overall composition of the scene, chances are there’s an effect that will accentuate it. 

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Photographing Roses in Colonial Park

A single rose with water droplets.
Rudolf W. van der Goot Rose Garden, Colonial Park, Somerset, NJ.

Story and photos by Sastry Karra

The rose garden inside the Colonial Park in Somerset, New Jersey, is named in honor of Rudolf W. van der Goot, the first horticulturist with the County Park Commission, as a tribute to his efforts in designing and developing the garden. It is only one acre in size but contains more than 3,000 roses covering 325 varieties. From late spring through fall, these roses present an unending variety of colors, fragrances and, above all, appearances.

Photographing roses also presents unending opportunities, especially after a rainy night or while it is drizzling. The park being very close to my home, I visit often.  Recently, I went once while it was drizzling and again on a bright sunny day.

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Shooting Through “Distractions”: Using Natural Elements to Frame Your Subjects

Blue spruce pine needles (200mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/90 sec.)
Blue spruce pine needles (200mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/90 sec.)

Story & photos by F. M. Kearney

Imagine a child’s frustration in trying to see a passing parade while peering through a forest of gargantuan adult legs. I suppose it’s human nature to always want an unobstructed view of whatever it is we’re trying to see. This is especially true of press photographers, and of course… the paparazzi. How many times have you seen them on the evening news jostling and elbowing each other out the way in order to get the “best” shot? In nature, however, the best shot isn’t always necessarily the cleanest shot. If used correctly, certain “distractions” can provide a creative frame or bokeh around your subjects.

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From the President: Come to Asheville in the Springtime

Foothills Sunrise view.
Foothills Sunrise

Story & photos by Tom Haxby

Winter will soon be upon us and while many photographers revel in the unique opportunities for winter photography, I always look forward to spring in the southern Appalachian Mountains with my camera in hand. My annual visits there quite literally put a spring in my step. Birds sing for mates from the newly green trees, waterfalls flow from spring rains, flowers bloom in profusion and it seems that the whole world is new again.

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Get Connected to the Underworld: Discover the Beauty of the Underside of Flowers

Rear of floribunda roses shot from below.
Rear of floribunda roses shot from below.

Story and photos by F. M. Kearney

Flowers are definitely one of the most popular subjects in nature photography. They’ve been photographed with limited depths of field to convey a soft, romantic look. They’ve been photographed with large depths of field to show the abundance of a large group. Sometimes, the sun is included for a more dynamic shot. A vast array of special effects have been employed to produce some truly stunning imagery. Indeed, flowers have been photographed in every conceivable way imaginable. However, the one way in which I hardly ever see is from the rear. I did a Google search of “Creative Flower Photography,” and out of the 100 or so results, only 2 or 3 photos featured the backside. That’s a shame because so many great opportunities are going unrealized.

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Weekly Wow! Week of August 12, 2019

All of this week’s Weekly Wow! images can be seen in the slideshow on the NANPA homepage at nanpa.org.

Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: "Cottonweed," High Ridge Scrub Natural Area, Lake Worth, Florida. © Kevin Barry.

Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: “Cottonweed,” High Ridge Scrub Natural Area, Lake Worth, Florida. © Kevin Barry.

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, August 12, 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 began August 1st and runs  through September 16th.  What are you waiting for?  Let’s get shooting!  Your best shot might be your next one.

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Subtle, But Significant: A Polarizer Filter Isn’t Just For Sunny, Blue-Sky Days

Cumulus clouds over Dickenson Bay St. John's, Antigua West Indies.

Cumulus clouds over Dickenson Bay, St. John’s, Antigua, West Indies.

Story & photos by F. M. Kearney

I’m a late-comer. I didn’t make the switch to digital until 2014. As a film shooter, I relied heavily on filters. Everything from warming to ND grads to a vast array of special effect filters were permanent residents in my camera bag. Nowadays, digital imaging can replicate many of those filter effects – often much easier and with far more control. But, as good as digital technology is, it still can’t duplicate the effects of a polarizer filter. The photo above is a classic beach scene where a polarizer works most of its magic. By filtering out the glare and atmospheric haze, the true color of the sky comes forth revealing puffy, white cumulus clouds as far as the eye can see.

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On Bended Stems: Explore the Beauty of Post-Peak Tulips

Lily-flowered tulips beginning to “show their age”

Lily-flowered tulips beginning to “show their age”

Story & photos by F. M. Kearney

Timing is everything. As nature photographers, we’re constantly trying to schedule our shoots during times when our subjects will be seen at their best. For landscapes, this is generally during the “Magic Hours” of the day – the hour just before sunrise or after sunset. Flowers can benefit from the warm light at this time of day as well, but more important than that is catching them at the peak period in their blooming cycle. It’s an absolute obsession for some photographers. A field of tulips in pristine condition is truly breathtaking. The photo below is one such example.

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