One subject I always look forward to photographing during the summer months is the water lily. Native to the temperate and tropical parts of the world, there are over 50 species of these freshwater plants. However, it isn’t always easy to shoot them creatively. Unless you have access to a natural lake or pond (and are willing to get very wet), you will most likely have to shoot from the sidelines of a reflecting pool in a local park or botanical garden. A long lens will allow you to zoom in for a tight close-up, but you certainly won’t have any options to create those dramatic macro or wide-angle perspectives that are commonly used on other types of more accessible flowers.
It’s time to think about which images you’ll enter in NANPA’s 2019 Showcase Competition. The window for entries opened August 1st and closes on September 17th at 11 PM Eastern Time. There are some great prize packages and plenty of opportunities for recognition.
Aurora borealis over Turnagain Arm in Chugach National Forest, Alaska, in mid-March.
From the Editor: Award-winning landscape and nature photographer Carl Johnson has been living in Alaska for almost 20 years and is an expert on shooting auroras. On Friday, August 17th, at 2 PM EDT, he will present a NANPA Webinar, “Chasing & Photographing the Aurora Borealis.” This webinar covers the science behind the aurora, the tools available to predict and plan for it (including websites and apps that provide real-time and forecasting information), tips on when and where to photograph it, and what gear and techniques to use. For more information or to sign up, click here.
Editor’s note: On October 31 the photo gallery founded by Galen Rowell and lovingly managed by his wife Barbara Rowell called Mountain Light will close. The Rowells died 15 years ago in a plane crash near their hometown of Bishop, California, while returning from a photography workshop in Alaska. Author Gary Crabbe’s first real job was as a manager of Rowell’s 400,000-photo library for nine years. Now a successful photographer living near San Francisco, he offers five things he learned from Rowell that helped boost his career from amateur to professional.
It was 15 years ago last August that internationally renowned photographer Galen Rowell and his wife, Barbara, perished in a plane crash near their hometown in Bishop, California. They were on the very last leg of a long return voyage home after teaching a workshop in the Arctic. In a moment, we lost one of the best-known photographers who helped pioneer the genres of climbing and adventure travel photography and helped to elevate the genre of landscape photography with what he called the “dynamic landscape.” Continue reading →
Ever wonder which of our 59 national parks is really the biggest? No, it’s not mighty Yellowstone or even sprawling Death Valley. Measuring a vast 13,200,000 acres, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, tucked into the southeast corner of Alaska, is far and away the biggest national park around, equal to six Yellowstones! It is larger than Massachusetts and New Hampshire combined, and includes two entire mountain ranges – the Wrangells and the St. Elias. Together with contiguous Kluane National Park across the border in Canada, the combined cross-border tract totals more than a whopping 25,000,000 acres and is the biggest wilderness area in the world.
While size does indeed matter, there is more to this sprawling wilderness than volume. Stunning peaks such as Sanford, Drum, Blackburn, Wrangell, St. Elias and others fill this rugged park. Continue reading →
Photography, like life, is a non-stop learning experience. While we should not take ourselves too seriously, it is still good to pause and reflect on your journey now and then. Recalling all the mistakes you made, and why you made them, helps you get ready for those still ahead. Often those mistakes start out as myths – received wisdom that ends up working poorly for you. These are some of mine:
1.) The more photos I publish, the better.
You will produce some poor work. Get used to it, but develop a critical eye and ruthlessly bury it.
We all know people who talk too much and tend to say foolish or inappropriate things, and we hope like hell that’s not us. Yes, there are times to speak, but it is wise to first listen and think, and doing that you are more likely to say something meaningful or memorable.
It is no different with your photography. You make your reputation on the images you put out there for people to see, so you want to be very, very careful that what you publish is consistent with the photographer you want to be. The great danger with publishing on the Web – web sites, album sites, social media – is that it is far too easy and tempting to publish way too much and in doing so, publish work that is not your best. Even a small amount of mediocre work in your portfolio is enough to tell people that you are not a judge or producer of great photography. Continue reading →
In past Showcase competitions, we asked the judges for insights and tips on image selection and preparation to help future participants produce winning photos. Here are some of their responses. Continue reading →
If you’ve ever tried to shoot nature photos within an urban environment, you’ve undoubtedly asked yourself questions like these at one time or another. I often write about the difficulties of pursuing a career as a nature photographer in a large metropolitan city. It’s not always economically or logistically possible to escape city limits and venture into the wild to capture true nature. You sometimes have no choice but to shoot nature wherever you can find it—amidst all the inherent distractions of a concrete jungle.
I used to go to great lengths to avoid any man-made objects in my nature photos, believing that any hint of urban artifacts would lessen the impact of the natural subject. This would be true if the objects were only in the shot due to careless oversight. However, it’s an entirely different story if their inclusion is deliberate and done for creative purposes.
Cities come alive with color in the spring. You probably won’t have to go far to find a beautiful flower display. Instead of attempting to isolate it from its surroundings, try to incorporate the natural and the artificial worlds.
Looking down Park Avenue
In New York, colorful tulips adorn the median of Park Avenue for several miles. With the traffic zooming by just a few feet away, it’s amazing that they survive. Yet, not only do they survive in this inhospitable environment, they flourish. And for a couple of weeks during the season, they really put the “park” in Park Avenue. Countless tourists photograph these flowers each year, but very few hang around until twilight. That’s too bad (well, it’s great for me since I practically have the whole place to myself), because the city and traffic lights add a lot of vitality to the scene. Instead of waiting for the traffic to clear out of the shot in the photo above, I waited for it to enter. I wanted to use the light trails from passing vehicles as a dynamic framing element for the tulips, as well as a way to help draw the viewer’s eye into the shot. I chose this particular spot in between two glass towers for more symmetry and more colorful light reflecting off the windows. Lastly, I used a 16mm fisheye lens to emphasize the “tunnel” effect of the scene. Continue reading →
Experience has taught me to exploit compositional techniques that help my nature images take on a more compelling story-telling quality. One such technique that I employ frequently is juxtaposition. This fancy word is formed by joining the Latin root “juxta”, which translates to “next to”, to the word “position”. Compositionally speaking, this means placing the subject next to some object in order to set the stage for a compare-and-contrast scenario. In some cases it is the similarity of the subject to the secondary object, whereas in other cases it may be the difference between the two that is stressed. More often than not, what results is a more inviting look and feel to the final image. In this article, I will delve into more detail about juxtaposition and highlight some examples from my own images. Continue reading →