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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Give Us Your Opinion on Photo Contests

Photo of manta ray and invitation to help NANPA understand what you value in photo contests.
Here’s your chance to help NANPA understand what you value in photo contests.

Entering a photo contest can be a great way to gain recognition, from fellow photographers as well as the general public.  But there are many other reasons to participate.  Entering can juice up your creativity, make you practice new skills, hone in on photographic perfection, and inspire you to go beyond your comfort zone.  What are your reasons? A NANPA survey wants to know.

NANPA wants nature photographers’ opinions about photo contests.  Why do you enter?  What do you expect to get out of participating?  Win or lose, how do you like to see the winning photos?  (I know I love seeing the top photos, online or in print.  They give me so much inspiration and so many ideas for compositions and potential locations for future photo trips.)

hart with 2017 survey results.  Date from previous surveys have helped NANPA refine its own contests.
Date from previous surveys have helped NANPA refine its own contests.

Your answers will shape NANPA’s approach to photo contests.  The survey’s open to anyone but Friday, December 13th, is the last day.  So, take five minutes to answer a few questions and help NANPA understand your thinking about photo contests.

Share your opinion and help shape the future of photo contests. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NANPAContests

Weekly Wow! Week of December 9, 2019

Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: " Roseate Spoonbill, Alligator Farm, Saint Augustine, Florida " © Dave Hattori.
Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: ” Roseate Spoonbill, Alligator Farm, Saint Augustine, Florida ” © Dave Hattori.

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

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, December 9, 2019.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2019 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website. 

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Weekly Wow! Week of December 2, 2019

Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: " Undertow, Kona Coast, Hawaii " © Geoffrey Schmid.
Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: ” Undertow, Kona Coast, Hawaii ” © Geoffrey Schmid.

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

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, December 2, 2019.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2019 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website. 

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A Nature Photographer’s Thanksgiving, Part 1

A bugling elk in Yellowstone is a favorite subject of photographers.
A bugling elk in Yellowstone is a favorite subject of photographers.

Story & photo by Frank Gallagher

As we approach Thanksgiving, many of us make an inventory of those people and things for which we are grateful. In that list we often find the landscapes and animals and plants that give us such joy when we’re out with our cameras. Not surprisingly, many of the items on our list reside in national parks. But, if we are so grateful for them, what are we doing to protect and preserve them?

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Weekly Wow! Week of November 25, 2019

Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: “Winter Bobcat With Drake Mallard, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming” © Cindy Goeddel Photography, LLC.
Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: “Winter Bobcat With Drake Mallard, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming” © Cindy Goeddel Photography, LLC.

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

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, November 25, 2019.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2019 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website. 

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Check Your Camera Strap!

photo of a camera with strap that has quick release attachments.  Failing to properly fasten these connections can lead to a dropped camera.
I almost lost my camera when the quick release attachments (circled) on my strap were not properly fastened.

Maybe something similar has happened to you.  I was photographing along the Oregon Coast.  My camera was on a tripod, it was windy and my camera strap was bouncing around causing vibrations, so I unclipped it.  So far, so good.  When I was done, I clipped the strap back on and took the camera off the tripod . . . and almost dropped it into the surf because I hadn’t secured the strap clips properly.

November is International Check Your Camera Strap Month, an annual event created by a couple of . . . you guessed it . . . camera strap manufacturers.  But, before you dismiss this as a publicity stunt (which it absolutely is) let’s look at the reasoning behind it.

Surveys of camera manufacturers and camera repair facilities indicate that “impact damage” is the most frequent type of repair.  While not all camera crashes are caused by strap problems, enough are to make this topic worth examining.  I can’t prevent myself from being clumsy but I can do some simple things to protect my gear.  And, one of the simplest is to regularly check my camera strap.

I love the ability to quickly unclip my strap.  It comes in so handy in situations like that windy beach, where the flapping strap could ruin my photo.  But it’s all too easy to clip the strap back in quickly, without thinking and without making sure it’s secure.  It’s also all too easy for camera strap attachments to loosen up over time, especially with all the use (and abuse) we put them through.

So, let’s take advantage of International Check Your Camera Strap Month to cultivate some new habits.  Let’s regularly check our straps and double check the connections every time we reattach the straps. 

There are many kinds of camera straps, which give us tons of flexibility in how we use our gear.  Properly used straps can make carrying our gear much easier and prevent a lot of falling camera accidents.  But only if they are properly attached.

Weekly Wow! Week of November 18, 2019

Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: " I Wanted to Show the Way an Osprey Carries a Fish, Fort Myers Beach, Florida" © Sankha Hota.
Showcase 2019 Top 100 winner: ” I Wanted to Show the Way an Osprey Carries a Fish, Fort Myers Beach, Florida” © Sankha Hota.

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

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, November 18, 2019.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2019 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website. 

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Waterfalls in State Parks in the Northeast and How I Shoot Them

For this shot of Resica Falls, I used an ND filter to block some of the light and allow me to use a slower shutter speed. 1/4 sec. f/3.5 18mm ISO 100.
For this shot of Resica Falls, I used an ND filter to block some of the light and allow me to use a slower shutter speed. 1/4 sec. f/3.5 18mm ISO 100.

Story & Photos by Sastry Karra

Photographing waterfalls is one of the joys many nature photographers have in common. As a hobbyist, I count myself among those who are passionate about waterfall photography. Even though for some people a waterfall is a waterfall, photographers see many different compositions in even the smallest falls.

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Giving Forethought to Foregrounds: Using Foregrounds to Add Visual Interest

Traditional use of foregrounds
Traditional use of foregrounds

Story & photos by F. M. Kearney

The subject matter is intriguing. The light is just right. Everything looks perfect. You’re all set to take the shot, but something seems missing when you look through the viewfinder. It’s the foreground. If the foreground lacks interest, or worse, is non-existent, it can really diminish the aesthetics of a scene. It’s not that the scene is ruined, it’s just significantly less interesting. I’ve foregone photographing many otherwise perfect scenes simply because I could not find an engaging foreground element.

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