COVID Sunset Project

Sunset photo of a mostly dry river bed with a small stream of water flowing through it and reflecting the colors in the sky. There are trees in the distance and colorful clouds overhead. Early spring snow leads to, yes,  flowing water in the desert! © David Lovitt
Early spring snow leads to, yes, flowing water in the desert! © David Lovitt

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

During the coronavirus pandemic, when travel was discouraged and most places closed, many photographers turned to personal projects to feed their creative needs. Some photographed backyard birds. Others paid a lot more attention to their own neighborhoods. For Arizona photographer and NANPA member David Lovitt, a friend’s suggestion led to a ten-month project making photos from the same spot at sunset.

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Photographing Hummingbirds: A Pandemic Escape

Hummingbirds getting ready to migrate. (The right front is an adult male Rufous; the other three appear to be Broad bills.) © Debbie McCulliss
Hummingbirds getting ready to migrate. (The right front is an adult male Rufous; the other three appear to be Broad bills.) f/6.3, 250mm, ISO 640, 1/8000 sec. © Debbie McCulliss

By Debbie McCulliss

On the snowy first couple of weeks of this past spring, to lessen pandemic anxiety, I was thinking of migration—movement from one region to another. It was timely. Epic animal migrations take place every spring. Some of the feats that these animals accomplish, crossing oceans, traveling without stopping, are unthinkable. Their destinations are clear and instinctual.

But this spring was different. People all over the globe were migrating, many without a clear destination, back to their home continent, country, or state, not knowing if, when, or how their lives would be permanently or temporarily altered.

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Tips for Leading a Zoom Videoconference

Screen grab of some of the participants on a recent NANPA Zoom call for professional nature photographers.
Some of the participants on a recent NANPA Zoom call for professional nature photographers.

By Teresa Ransdell, NANPA Membership Director

Connecting electronically has become the norm during the past few months. If you owned stock in Zoom prior to the beginning of the pandemic’s various quarantine orders, you’re likely counting your earnings as opposed to reading NANPA’s blog posts.

For those of us who had never heard of and didn’t own stock in Zoom, we’re now having to learn how to best use that or similar platforms in our business to keep us connected with clients, followers, members and fans. During a recent Zoom videoconference with a number of NANPA’s nature photography pros, a suggestion was made to share some tips and best practices to help photographers use the platform more effectively.  So, here we go. (See also Friday’s blog on how to look and sound your professional best on Zoom.)

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Creative Homework: Using Texture to Minimize Distractions

Hibiscus with Texture Effect Applied
Hibiscus with Texture

Story & photos by F. M. Kearney

Another month has come and gone, but unfortunately, things haven’t changed that much. Most of the country is now on full or partial lockdown. Each day tends to blend right into the other. There were many things I had planned to shoot this spring which will now, undoubtedly, have to wait until next year. But, that’s a small price to pay compared to the medical superheroes who are fighting on the front lines every day. With field work indefinitely postponed, I thought it best to remove the batteries from all my equipment to prevent corrosion. Nowadays, I spend most of my time working in Photoshop. In my last article, I touched on adding texture effects to old images. Since so many of us are still confined to our homes, I decided to expand on this technique as another way to take advantage of this unprecedented downtime.

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An Hour With A Flower: A Creative Challenge

California poppy photographed with Tamron 18-400mm at 185mm.
California poppy photographed with Tamron 18-400mm at 185mm.

Story & photos by Alyce Bender

Flowers have long been a subject of study within the art world and many photographers feature them in their images. Landscapers look for floral details to bring pops of color to their grand landscape images. Portrait photographers often use flowers to set the seasonal tone. Wildlife photographers understand that flowers also provide a food source for insects and birds while providing a nice background for their subjects.

But when was the last time you took a flower, in and of itself, as the full subject of your frame? When did you spend time approaching that flower as you would a landscape or animal subject when looking for compositions? When was the last time you took an hour with a flower?

If you can’t easily answer that question, now is the perfect time to try this photography challenge. Not only will it provide you with something to photograph, but it will have you thinking outside the box in ways that can be used with other subjects. If your pre-COVID-19 compositions were mostly wide angle or telephoto images, this exercise can help you focus on seeing all the details.

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Get Busy Close to Home With A Photography Blind

A  photography blind in the field.
Social distancing at its best – a Tragopan V6 photography blind in the field.

Story & photos by Gerrit Vyn

One of the biggest challenges in nature photography is getting close to wildlife. This is especially true in locations outside of parks and refuges where wildlife is often habituated to people. Photography blinds allow you to get into camera range in places that would be impossible to otherwise and allow you to shoot where no one else is shooting – a local woodlot, marsh, or your own backyard bird feeders. Using a photography blind is often the best or only way to photograph a particular species, location, or behavior. A good photography blind is one of the most important tools in a wildlife photographers’ arsenal for getting close. Working from a blind also benefits wildlife. Rather than pursuing and potentially disturbing subjects, the photographer lets subjects come to them. This increases a photographer’s opportunities to shoot natural, undisturbed behavior, and minimizes their impact on wildlife. One of the great things about working from a blind is that if you’ve done your homework and planned well you can be confident you are going to have some unique opportunities for photography.

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How Professional Photographers Are Dealing with the COVID-19 Crisis – Part 1

Mary Louise Ravese (photo by Richard Fain)
Mary Louise Ravese (photo by Richard Fain)

The coronavirus pandemic has hit photographers hard.  Times are tough, but we’re a creative and resilient bunch.  We reached out to some professional photographers to ask how restrictions imposed by cities, states and the federal government have affected their businesses.  We also wanted to know how they were adapting—both their own lives and their businesses—to the challenges of these difficult times. 

The first photographer in this series is Mary Louise Ravese, owner of Bella Vista Photography, a North Carolina-based nature and fine art photographer, teacher and workshop leader.

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Backyard Birdwatching in the Midst of the Pandemic

The author photographing backyard birds from his dining room.
The author photographing backyard birds from his dining room.

Story & photos by Frank W. Baker

Here I am, in Columbia SC, where the weather has taken a turn toward Spring. The azaleas are blooming and the birds outside my windows are quite active.

I’m a big fan of shore and wading birds so, if you’re like me, you’re rather frustrated now that most of the coastline has been placed “off limits” to us as we shelter at home.

Many other bird watching sites are also closed. With nowhere to go, I’m spending more of my time at home. Perhaps, like me, you are taking time to review older images and post some online.

There’s only so much I can do before I need to spend some time away from the computer. A window in my dining room is the perfect spot now because of its unfettered view of my bird feeders.

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Bluebonnets and the Blues

A field of Bluebonnet flowers.

Story & photo by Theresa DiMenno

It’s easy … and understandable … to be sucked into the vortex of fear, anxiety and hopelessness. Numerous issues trouble me of late and not solely the coronavirus, although covid-19 is the darkest force among us.

Spring in Texas is my favorite shooting season. At times lately, my desire to photograph wildflowers is at war with feeling it’s a trivial pursuit. Traveling Texas back roads isn’t viable right now, not in the way I typically roam the landscape. Lodging and dining out has become problematic.

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Learning While Stuck at Home

Image of a bird in flight from Scott Dere’s December 2019 NANPA webinar on Photographing Birds of Prey. Watch a recording in the webinar archive in the Members’ Area of NANPA’s website.
Image from Scott Dere’s December 2019 NANPA webinar on Photographing Birds of Prey. Watch a recording in the webinar archive in the Members’ Area of NANPA’s website.

Nature photographers are used to being outside—hiking, leading tours, teaching classes, seeking new vistas.  Now that the restrictions related to the novel corona virus have most of us stuck at home and confined to the neighborhood, what can we do to scratch our nature photography itch?  One enjoyable and productive way to spend your time is in learning new skills or refining your existing prowess through NANPA webinars, sponsored by Tamron.

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