People get into nature photography for a variety of reasons. Some of us are high-minded enough to do it with conservation in mind, but for most, and that includes me, it comes down to the fact we want to share the wonder of what we’ve seen with others. There might even be some bragging involved. Ha ha! Look where I’ve been. See what I photographed. We may do it partially to remind ourselves of exceptional experiences. I know my memory is not what it used to be, and sometimes it takes a photo or two to bring back the memory of the places I’ve been, the things I’ve seen. But then I’ve been doing this for more than half my life. That’s a lot of photos under the bridge.
“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though we pass them by today,
Tomorrow we may come this way
And take the hidden paths that run
Towards the Moon or to the Sun.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien The Fellowship of the Ring
When we think of outstanding sites for nature photography, most of us tend to think of places like Tanzania, the Pantanal, Costa Rica…you know, places that cost a fortune to visit. And these locations do indeed have wonderful photo opportunities, but some of the best images are captured by people who never wander far from home. Yes, there are wild things right in our neighborhoods, hiding secrets that are just begging to be photographed. Keep in mind my livelihood is dependent upon photographers traveling to distant destinations, but I feel it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that there is beauty everywhere. Even without money to travel, there are photographable worlds available to you.
No rain, no flowers. I guess it was too much to hope for to have two years of wonderful flower photography in the desert southwest. Even with the dry conditions, the desert is a photographer’s paradise, the “sky islands” offer such a unique environment. In southwest Arizona, the desert floor sits at 2400 feet, but you can hike (or drive) to over 9000 feet. The valley floor is surrounded by small clusters of mountains, or islands, which provide the adventurous photographers a cornucopia of opportunities. In the valley, you can see quail, roadrunners, javelina, deer, pronghorn, snakes, of course, and also the beautiful saguaro cactus. The peaks provide cover for bear, ringtail, coati, and some of the best birding in the world.
One of the great things that I get to do as president of NANPA is work with our High School and College Scholarship Program students. During the Summit event, college students work with a client on a multimedia project; they also meet NANPA members and participate in Summit activities. Over the past several years they have produced projects for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the North Florida Land Trust.
During the summer NANPA brings the high school students to the Great Smoky Mountain Institute at Tremont. This past year all of the NANPA instructors for the high school group were themselves past college participants.
These students are the future of NANPA; they will be our Board of Directors, committee chairs and volunteers. One of these past scholarship winners serves on the current Board. The NANPA Foundation raises the funds for these two programs and the majority of the donations come from our members. We all have lots of activities to attend with families and friends over the holidays but I hope each of you can donate $5.00 to the Foundation. These donations will help NANPA introduce these young photographers to all of the things we hold in high regard–nature photography, education, and being an ethical photographer in the field.
Susan Day, our executive director, wrote about the coming Nature Celebration in Jackson, WY, May 20 – 22, 2018 in her last newsletter column. I want to remind everyone about the presence of Canon, Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic, Sigma, and Tamron at the Celebration and that they will be lending the participants gear to be used out in the field. It’s not often we will have access to so many cameras and lenses to use especially in such a beautiful location. Our presentations will be held at the Jackson Center for the Arts, a 500-seat theater located just off the center of downtown Jackson. We have a great line-up of speakers who will be making “Ted Talk” style presentations. I’m really excited about hearing the presentation by Dennis Jorgensen titled “Buffalo-People: The Path Back for Bison and Plains Tribes,” and Jenny Nichols’ presentation, “The Power of Multi-Disciplinary Projects” among others. Check the schedule to see a listing of all the other wonderful presentations at this event.
If you’re looking for a warm place to photograph this winter, NANPA has one event that still has space available in January—at Lake Hodges in southern California. Registration deadline is December 28th.
During the upcoming year NANPA will be offering several new locations for regional events and workshops. The committee is exploring possible locations along the Oregon coast, Moab, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Madera Canyon in Arizona. We’ll update you as soon as more information is available.
Wishing you and yours a Festive and Peaceful Holiday Season.
Don Carter, NANPA President