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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Geena Hill and the NANPA College Scholarship Program

Many northerners like to migrate to Florida in the winter to escape the cold, but few realize that they should stick around until late spring. May/June in central Florida is one of the most beautiful times to visit Florida, mostly because of the wildflowers that bloom en masse along the roadsides. There is an incredibly high diversity of wildflowers that can be seen, but some areas are completely dominated by a native wildflower, Coreopsis, which is also Florida’s state wildflower. © Geena Hill.

Many northerners like to migrate to Florida in the winter to escape the cold, but few realize that they should stick around until late spring. May/June in central Florida is one of the most beautiful times to visit Florida, mostly because of the wildflowers that bloom en masse along the roadsides. There is an incredibly high diversity of wildflowers that can be seen, but some areas are completely dominated by a native wildflower, Coreopsis, which is also Florida’s state wildflower. © Geena Hill.

One of the highlights of NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit & Trade Show was seeing the work of NANPA’s College Scholarship Program participants.  Now that the event is over, it’s a good time to learn a little more about them and their experiences at Summit.  Today, we meet Geena Hill, who recently graduated with her master’s degree from the University of Florida, with a focus in wildlife ecology and conservation.

“My interest in nature, biology, and photography predates my time as a biology student and photographer” says Geena. “As a child exploring in the woods with my sisters in northwest Pennsylvania, I always found myself taking pictures of various animals we found with a disposable camera. I wasn’t sure of the reason why I needed to take a photo of everything, but I felt the persistent urge to document our discoveries. Eventually, I was able to take a photography class in high school and finally fulfilled my aspiration of taking photos by learning the technicalities of film photography. While I did not study photography for my undergraduate degree, the constant impulse to always have my camera in my bag persists to this day.

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From the President: Tom Haxby

Tom Haxby at Olson Falls near Munising, MI.

Tom Haxby at Olson Falls near Munising, MI.

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tom Haxby, and for the next year I will be the President of the Board of Directors of NANPA. I’ve been a member of NANPA for over 10 years and have been on the Board of Directors for the last two. I have always enjoyed photography, but several years ago, after a career of almost 30 years as a natural resource manager, it was time to leave behind the 10 x 10 cubicle, endless meetings, toxic office politics and administrative tedium. So, I dove into nature photography full time and have not regretted for one minute the photographic adventures and time spent behind my camera.  Along the way, there have been a few photos that have made the Showcase top 250 and a few other award winners as well as six weeks as an Artist-in-Residence in 2016 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There have been so many trips to the Smokies, that some thought that I am local to there. Not yet! I currently reside in the Traverse City area of Northern Michigan.

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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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From Lemons to Lemonade in Olympic National Park

Small waterfall in a creek in Olympic National Park.

Small waterfall in a creek in Olympic National Park.

Story & photos by John Pedersen

Sometimes we just have to make lemonade from lemons. We don’t control the weather, the sun or clouds, or even the subjects we like to shoot. There are those occasional days when we show up on location and the variables beyond our control just don’t seem to want to cooperate. So, what do we do? Turn around and go home and wait for better conditions? No! We stay, adjust our expectations and dig into our bag of photographic skills to make the best of the situation, making the best lemonade we can from the lemons that are given to us.

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From the President: Gordon Illg

In the wildflower bloom at Peridot Mesa in Arizona © Cathy Illg.

In the wildflower bloom at Peridot Mesa in Arizona © Cathy Illg.

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.

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Riley Swartzendruber and the NANPA College Scholarship Program

Rax Bolay means "Green Viper" in the indigenous language Q'eqchi. The common name for the snake is Yellow-Blotched Palm Pit Viper. It is a highly endemic species to the area. © Riley Swartzendruber.

Rax Bolay means “Green Viper” in the indigenous language Q’eqchi. The common name for the snake is Yellow-Blotched Palm Pit Viper. It is a highly endemic species to the area. © Riley Swartzendruber.

One of the highlights of NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit & Trade Show was seeing the work of NANPA’s College Scholarship Program participants.  Now that the event is over, it’s a good time to learn a little more about them and their experiences at Summit.  Today, we meet Riley Swartzendruber.

Riley was an undergraduate student majoring in digital media and photography at Eastern Mennonite University when he applied for the 2019 NANPA College Scholarship Program.  “I had an interest in creating videos all through elementary, middle, and high school and knew quickly that I wanted to pursue a career that involved using a camera,” he says.  But the first time he picked up a DSLR camera wasn’t until college, during which he went to Guatemala and Colombia.  “This challenged me in what I could do with my photography.  I found an immense amount of enjoyment experimenting and finding creative ways of telling the story I wanted to tell.”

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The Godmother of Nature Photography Day

Shirley Nuhn, the Godmother of Nature Photography Day.

Shirley Nuhn, the Godmother of Nature Photography Day.

On June 15th, photographers the world over will mark Nature Photography Day with photo walks, camera club outings, photography exhibitions, competitions and a host of other activities. This will bring attention to the enjoyment of nature photography and its role in conservation and protecting our natural world.

But how did that occasion start?  Whose idea was it?  And what’s this about a godmother?

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NANPA’s Birthday: 25 Years of Leadership in Nature Photography

NANPA's year-long 25th birthday celebrations kicked off at the Nature Photography Summit.

NANPA’s year-long 25th birthday celebrations kicked off at the Nature Photography Summit.

The world has changed a lot in the twenty-five years since NANPA was formed.  Back in 1994, the first commercially-successful web browser, Netscape Navigator, was released.  “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web” was renamed Yahoo.  Google was four years away and Facebook wouldn’t launch until 2004.  If you had internet access, it was probably dial-up at 56kbps through Compuserv or AOL. Photoshop 3.0 had just come out and introduced layers.  Microsoft Windows was new but your Pentium computer probably ran MS-DOS and had 4 MB RAM. Mobile phones didn’t have cameras and certainly weren’t smart.

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Nicole Landry and the NANPA College Scholarship Program

There were many bees buzzing around these purple coneflowers on the sunny summer day that I took this photo. After chasing them around for a while, I opted to take a stationary position, frame my shot, and wait for them to come to me. The results were worthwhile and I particularly like how the tight framing brings you into the world of the bee. © Nicole Landry.

There were many bees buzzing around these purple coneflowers on the sunny summer day that I took this photo. After chasing them around for a while, I opted to take a stationary position, frame my shot, and wait for them to come to me. The results were worthwhile and I particularly like how the tight framing brings you into the world of the bee. © Nicole Landry.

One of the highlights of NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit & Trade Show was seeing the work of NANPA’s College Scholarship Program participants.  Now that the event is over, it’s a good time to learn a little more about them and their experience at Summit.  Today, we meet Nicole Landry.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a fourth-year undergraduate at Ryerson University in Toronto, majoring in media production.  Since getting my first camera at about age nine, I’ve seldom been without one. I spent much of my early years chasing everything from butterflies to squirrels; determined to capture the perfect shot.  In high school my life changed forever when I watched the documentary, Sharkwater. It opened my eyes to the plethora of environmental issues facing our planet and I was terrified – but also inspired. In that moment, I realized that media could be used as a catalyst for positive change and I knew that there was nothing else I wanted to dedicate my life to doing

This past year I directed, shot, and am now in the process of editing my first documentary, Saving Barrie’s Lake, about the loss of wetland ecosystems in southern Ontario.  These experiences shaped me into who I am today – an artist, environmentalist, and self-proclaimed adventurer – and I can genuinely not wait to see what opportunities the future has in store.

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