Monday, September 29, 2008

Shenandoah National Park: Part 2 + Update (Alex Mody)

Hey everybody,

I'm preparing to leave tomorrow on a ten week photography trip right now! I'll be photographing fall color throughout the Blue Ridge, wildlife (primarily birds) in Texas, and winter scenes throughout Canyon Country. Stay tuned for updates from the field!

Here's another photograph from Shenandoah National Park, to hold you over before the gazillions of autumn foliage photographs I'll have. I just went with a very typical composition with this shot. The stacked ridges looked nice, and so did the sunset color in the sky. I put on my 70-200mm zoom lens, and went with the most natural feeling composition.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Shenandoah National Park (Alex Mody)

I recently traveled to Shenandoah National Park with , a mere 60 miles or so from my house, with two friends: Chris Kayler, and his girlfriend, Kari Post (Both of whom have cool blogs, by the way.) We had the intent of photographing White-Tailed Deer. Bucks, in particular. Unfortunately, none were to be found, and as the sun began to set, we began to focus more on photographing landscape images. There wasn't a whole lot to work with. The skies had some attractive cloud formations, and the sun set over some distant ridges across the Shenandoah Valley. Here's an image from that night that I didn't like at first, but has now began to grow on me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Introduction (Nathanael Gass)

Hello, my name is Nathanael Gass. I am 15 and have been photographing for 3 years. I am home schooled and have been my entire life. I am primarily interested in macro photography and wildlife photography.

I don’t go to exotic places to take my photographs. None of my photographs have been taken outside of America, and nearly none have been taken outside of my home state, North Carolina. I go to Pennsylvania once or twice a year but that’s the farthest I travel. It is rare for me to ride more than 20 min. to a place I’ll be photographing, and I take most of my images in my backyard.

I’m going to tell you how to attract wildlife to your yard and how to take many different (and hopefully great) photos there. I’m also going to tell you about some close-to-home areas where I photograph.

Here's a photo I took at one of my favorite photo locations- the Eno River. I found this northern water snake eating a catfish it caught. I got into the water and started photographing at different angles, being careful to keep my camera dry.

I used a Nikon D-80 with180mm macro lens and tripod. The settings were ISO 320, f/14, 1/200th of a second. It was taken about 5 miles from my house.
Stay tuned for future posts.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Great Falls of the Potomac (Alex Mody)

As I prepare for a lengthy photo trip this fall, which I'll tell more about in a week or two, I've been photographing locally as much as possible. One spot I enjoy in particular is Great Falls National Park. Here's a shot I made last week. It was fairly cloudy and the sunrise came close to being spectacular. This is still pretty nice by my standards, though. A Polarizing filter and a three stop Graduated Neutral Density filter were used to boost saturation and balance the exposure between the sky and the falls below.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Glamour Magazine Awards (Gabby Salazar)

A little over a week ago I flew down to New York City to accept an award as one of Glamour Magazine's Top 10 College Women of the Year. Part of the honor had to do with my work on Nature's Best Photography Students and it was wonderful to share the magazine with so many amazing people. I got to meet the nine other winners and we were whisked around NYC for three days to meals, events and shows.
The first day we visited the United Nations Population Fund and learned about maternal health throughout the world. We learned that the lifetime risk of maternal death (death while giving birth) is 1 in 7300 for developed countries, including the United States and 1 in 26 for Africa. To me this disparity is completely unacceptable and it really opened my eyes to a new issue that affects women, men, families and communities across the world. To me it really hit home how much maternal health is also an environmental issue. We often think of saving charismatic mammals like polar bears, giant pandas, etc as top environmental concerns. I do not disagree at all and am in complete support of money and resources helping to save individual animals. But, humans are part of the ecosystem too and when women die during childbirth they often leave children and torn families behind - as the speaker at the United Nations Population Fund said, "women are the fabric of society." Just an interesting thought to reflect on when you think about what qualifies as an environmental issue.
On a lighter note, we also met with top female professionals from Nickelodeon, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, the NY State Government, and Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center. The speakers were amazing and the other nine girls were very impressive. Here are some of the websites for their organizations:

Gardens for Health:
Lighthouse for Dreams:

Check out a picture of the 10 winners with Amy Dickonson who writes the "Ask Amy" column for the Chicago Tribune.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Threatening Killdeer (Alex Mody)

Here's another photograph from my shorebird trip last month. When I took this photo, there were two Killdeer getting into a quarrel. They weren't happy with how close they were to one another, and they didn't hesitate to make it known. It was really interesting to see both of them take on this "threatening" pose at the same time.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The History of Photography (Gabby Salazar)

After over 10 years of calling myself a "photographer," I'm finally taking a history of photography class at school. This class does not focus on nature photography, in fact it barely brushes over the genre, but it does cover the beginnings of photography and some of the milestones throughout history.

If you've never studied the history of photography, it is fascinating. There is a lot of debate about who actually invented photography - there were a number of men working on the photographic process around the same time in different countries. It didn't start with film as we know it - photographers started out with light, paper and chemicals. Many young photographers have never really shot with film or transparencies making them even farther removed from the roots of photography. Check out this photographer whose work I just saw at the Harvard Museum of Natural History: She uses a process more akin to early photographic processes.

Anyway, if you're interested, study photography. The story of photography inspires me and it also gives me an appreciation for how far we've come. Just a few years ago when I was still using 35mm transparencies, a friend gave me a roll of Kodachrome with an ISO of 25. If you don't know what that is - look it up - if you're a photographer, it's a part of your history.

Shorebirds (Alex Mody)

Photographing shorebirds can be a lot of fun. A few weeks ago I spent the weekend shooting in Conneaut, Ohio. I'd like to share a few shots of mine from the weekend. Laying on my stomach, shooting at eye level with the birds, and going for a clean background was key to making both of these photographs. The first is a Killdeer, and the second is a Semipalmated Sandpiper.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fall is coming! (Alex Mody)

Fall is on the way and I couldn't be more excited! I plan to photograph and travel quite a bit throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it's important to know that great photographs can also be made close to home. I made this image last fall at Scott's Run Nature Preserve, a mere seven miles from my house. It's just something to consider. Since some of you readers may be too young to get out and travel hundreds of miles, I urge you to take a closer look at what's in your immediate area. Just look more carefully, maybe even do some exploring, and who knows what you could find!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Storm Clouds over Delicate Arch (Alex Mody)

Here's a reeeally old one, by my standards, at least. I've had a different shot from this evening on my website for a long time, but I'm beginning to prefer this one more. Maybe I'll switch them out, who knows!

When I shot this scene, the light only hit the arch for a minute or two. The whole sky was overcast, except for a small sliver of sky on the western horizon. The clouds you see in the sky were part of a huge snowstorm and were approaching quickly. I consider myself lucky to have been able to make a few decent images that night. It just goes to show that you should try and get out there even if the forecast is bleak. Sure, you may end up disappointed sometimes, but the rewards can be great!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Moving to School (Gabby Salazar)

I just arrived at school two days ago and have been in a rush to prepare for classes and arrange my room in my first apartment. Photography usually takes a backseat during the school year, but I have made a commitment to take more photos this year. In the past, I have been limited to squirrels and a few pigeons - this year I brought my car along and will have a chance to explore some of the beautiful places in New England.

I am also thinking about accepting some photography assignments for my school newspaper. I'll send an update later in the week when I am in New York.

Here is a photo from a wedding I photographed a few weekends ago. I'm finally getting around to processing all of the images. It was my first time photographing a wedding and whew, what a challenge. I did not sit down for four hours! It was a good experience, but not a career path for me.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Semipalmated Plover (Alex Mody)

I recently photographed shorebirds for a weekend in Conneaut, Ohio. One thing that I learned very quickly was that it's all about perspective. The quality of the images I made when lying on my stomach in the mud are far superior to those from a more "comfortable" angle. Many people, myself included, feel that soft and out of focus backgrounds are often ideal for bird photographs. By getting down to ground level, I was able to render the background out of focus, just as I desired. Don't be afraid to experiment, though, because good photographs are possible from many angles. Remember, there are no rules. As a young photographer, it's even more important to understand that so we don't develop any habits that may restrict our horizons!