Monday, December 21, 2009

Surprising Opportunities

Your yard is filled with MANY amazing and surprising photo opportunities. Just recently, I was surprised by a herd of deer moving through my yard. I live in a suburban area, with enough development that I found their presence surprising. But I got my camera, put on the right lens, and rushed out. I placed myself right in their path and waited. I snapped pictures until a loud truck scared them off. I could have missed the deer had I not been paying attention. I'm glad I was because I got a few amazing moments with some very relaxed deer and some great pictures!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Specials from Hunt's Photo (Gabby)

Hello All -

Check out the following specials from Hunt's Photo and Video for Christams and holiday gifts.
Also, contact Gary Farber at with any special needs or requests for equipment. He'll be sure to help you!
- Gabby

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Dear Readers -

The new issue of Nature's Best Photography Students is up online at Check it out! You can also enter our new online photo contest for FREE. Enter up to 20 images at More soon!

See below for a few new photos from South Africa!

-  Gabby

Monday, December 14, 2009

Curing Photographer's Block (Johan)

Sorry that I haven't posted lately, but I've had photographer's block for a while. :-( It seems that many of us suffer from this at one point or another, but here is a great article at on how to break photographers block. And here are a few other tips to solve this disease.
  • Use the old trick of confining yourself to a 10x10 foot square for an hour.
  • Choose a project and try to make 50, 100, or more (set a goal) good photos of the subject you choose. For example, you could choose lighthouses, elk, spiders, etc. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on your project.
  • Some photographers start a "photo-a-day-for-a-year" blog. You can get started at
Anyway, have fun shooting!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Awesome Camera Sales (Gabby)

Happy Thanksgiving!
Gary Farber of Hunt's Photo has just sent over some Black Friday specials for Thanksgiving. Gary is one of our top supporters and I wanted to send along these deals. There are some incredible specials, so check it out for holiday shopping!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Adventures in the Bush (Gabby)

I have not written in a few weeks, because schoolwork has become both challenging and overwhelming. When we returned from the Western Cape almost two weeks ago we were greeted with independent projects, final exams, insect and plant collections, and final presentations. All of these projects have led to interesting discovery and some events that confirm the often used acronym TIA (This is Africa) to explain away odd and crazy things that happen everyday.

Our independent project consists of five days of field research, two days of planning, and four days of writing. I decided to work on a project dealing with fire in the savanna ecosystem because fire is one of the most important drivers of diversity in this part of the world. While I was not able to light fires, I was able to study the effects of variability in fire regime on structural and floristic diversity of savanna vegetation. The park currently works under the assumption that pyrodiversity begets biodiversity. Basically, a site which burns in regimented increments will be less diverse than a site that burns sporadically and goes for long periods without fire before burning again. This involved 16 100 x 50 m plots and identifying all the trees within them to species and size class. All in all, a group of five identified 5,547 trees in four days. I believe that I personally identified around 2,000 as I was in charge of identification instead of recording. This project, along with the plant collection that I am working has opened me up to the world of botany. While I have previously been ignorant of plants, I now find them fascinating and am considering graduate work in plant life history strategies and competition between species.

Now for the exciting part . . . on our third day in the field we went down a dirt road early in the morning and happened across an abandoned vehicle with the keys still in the ignition. There should not be any empty vehicles in Kruger unless they have research stickers on the side. People should not be out of their cars when lions are out and about. This struck our game guard, Stevie, as odd. He called in the license plate and we continued to our site. When we arrived at the site we heard noises after a few minutes and saw a lion close by that was stalking us. The lion was scared away although we stayed close together. Steve had a rifle, which made us all more comfortable, but we were still looking around for trees to climb at each turn. About 15 minutes later we heard more noises, which Stevie quickly identified as a black rhino. While white rhinos are dangerous, they can be thrown off your course easily. Black rhinos, on the other hand, are like homing pigeons. They lock on you and you are toast. So, we keep an eye out for the rhino as Stevie circles us with the gun and we continue identifying trees. Five minutes after that we see helicopters flying in to the place where the abandoned car was on the road. This struck a note, because while an abandoned cars are a bad sign, the calvary is not usually called in at once.

We survived the black rhino and made our way out to the road to find it swarming with police cars. Stevie drove up to inquire and heard the story in Tsonga, a native language. He laughed along with the police officers after hearing the story and we were confused as to what could be so funny. He translated the following story: the previous night the manager of one of the park picnic sites (who has the keys to the cash register) was kidnapped by two men who stole his car and drove to this spot to leave the car and cross the river to get out the park. The picnic manager was still missing and they were trying to find him. We were welcome to continue our research in the area, but could we please keep an eye out for a body. Stevie then proceeded to joke that his rifle would not hold up against the AK47s of the criminals. We worked on one more field site in the area, did not find a body, and emerged unscathed. It was by far the most exciting fieldwork I have done to date!

In other news, I have had two encounters with wild dogs and pups. They were both brief and it was too dark to get good images, but very neat! Moths and other insects are emerging and the sky is filled with winged termites at night. The bathrooms look like insect graveyards because they are attracted to the lights and meet their death in the night.

I have included an image of a moth that is vibrating its wings and a picture of a chameleon from the Western Cape.

More soon!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Frogs (Gabby)

The rains have started here and the frogs are popping up everywhere! I am in the middle of writing a long research paper and will send an update soon, for now here are some new pictures!

- Gabby

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fynbos and Fish Parasites

We have been staying at De Hoop Nature Reserve for the past week for our last round of Faculty Field Projects (FFPs). De Hoop is in the Western Cape and about 5 hours from Cape Town. We are still in a fynbos habitat where proteas, ericas, and restios abound. Unfortunately, there is very little flowering at the moment, but the species that are flowering are quite spectacular.
For the FFPs, we worked on restoration ecology with Dr. Sue Milton and fish parasitology with two professors from University of Cape Town. The first project focused on the restoration of fynbos and karoo vegetation after alien species invasion. Fynbos is domianted by short shrubs and any trees in this environment are non-native. We looked at sites where non-native trees have been cleared to allow the regrowth of fynbos vegetation and how ant communities and soils differ between undisturbed sites and sites disturbed at different time intervals. My job was to take soil samples and test soil pH. This involved digging under leaf litter to characterize soils and evaluating the density of leaf litter.
For the other project, we went fishing! Using large and small nets we caught 20 indigenous fish and 20 non-native fish. Using a dissection kit and microscopes, we looked on the outside and inside of the fish for different species of parasites. Sometimes parasites can only be seen with a microscope and sometimes large colonies of worms spilled out of organs as we sliced into the fish. One of the more amusing moments came when we caught a few extra fish for dinner on the first day before we proceeded to dissect the fish. After seeing the parasites, most of the students requested a vegetarian dish.
I have been hiking each day across the mountains behind the environmental center where we are staying. There is a colony of Cape vultures that nests on the cliffs and while they are not easy to photograph I can make them out with my binoculars. There are also a number of neat lizard species here with brilliantly colored bellies that they flash during mating displays.
Yesterday we had our day off and ventured to Cape Agulhas, the southermost point of Africa. We climbed out onto the rocks and explored for a few minutes before climbing back into the car and visiting the beach. Tomorrow we return to Cape Town and from there will fly to Johannesburg for the last leg of our trip. Kruger will be green when we return and will be dramatically different from the park that we left. I am looking forward to getting back and seeing all of the baby animals that should arrive as spring progresses.
More soon!

The landscape images are from Cape Point and the second image of ostriches is from the ostrich farms surrounding De Hoop.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Veolia Environnement Wildlife POTY (Johan)

A few days ago, the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest results were announced. This is one of the largest nature photography contests in the world. In the past it's been known as the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and maybe also other names. I think it may have to do with who is sponsoring the competition. Anyway, the images are astounding. Click here to see the youth awards. I hope you'll be inspired to give winning it your best shot--no pun intended. :-)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Desmond Tutu and Other Events

I am in Capetown, South Africa at the moment sitting in a cafĂ© in Long Street, a hip artsy street in this beautiful city. If any of you (or your parents) are thinking of retiring, you should forget Florida and move here. The dollar is strong here and the oceanfront views are stunning. The Western Cape gets more rain than most of South Africa and there are lush landscapes and mountains that sit right against the beach. It is the first city I have visited where I might be able to settle down. Other cities make me want to return to the bush after a few days.
    On Tuesday we spent the morning shopping for Christmas presents and the afternoon at Camps Bay on a beach below Table Mountain. We had a picnic in the afternoon and I walked up and down the beach watching sufers swimmers. Wedensday I went to Kirstenbosch gardens. The botancial gardens are situated below Table Mountain and offer extensive displays of proteas, restios, and ericas, all plant groups that are highly diverse in the fynbos and succulent karoo regions of South Africa. I walked around for seven hours and returned to the city center at night for some jazz.
    Tomorrow we head off to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for over 25 years, and will spend the evening touring the District 6 museum. After than we head out to De Hoop nature reserve, which is in the fynbos, a floral region specific to South Africa. I’ll be in De Hoop for a week and then back to Kruger.
    Before arriving in Capetown, I spent two days in Pretoria and Johannesburg. We visited the Apartheid museum and the Hector Peiterson Museum. The Apartheid Museum was difficult to handle, but incredibly well done and effective. Each time I reflect on Apartheid I am amazed that it has been so short a time since it was broken apart in this country. The resilience of South Africa is incredible overall. To see multi-racial ads in every magazine and billboard and couples holding hands is a far cry from segregated bathrooms and buses 15 years ago.
    On Friday I attended a mass that was led by Desmond Tutu (Archbishop and former Nobel Peace Prize Winner). We heard about it from a man on the metro and showed up an hour early to make sure we had seats. The chapel was empty. Confused and discouraged we left, but asked a priest on the way out about the mass. He said to return at 7:15am. We came back and found a small congregation in a side chapel. Sure enough, Desmond Tutu was presiding (and gave a lovely mass), but it turns out that we crashed a christening of two babies. We were welcomed by the mothers, shook hands with Desmond Tutu, and overall had a wonderful morning.
    For any of you that are interested, I highly recommend the books “Cry the Beloved Country” by Alan Paton and “The Bang-Bang Club”by Greg Marinovich and Jao Silva. The first is a novel about Apartheid and the second is a book about the press photographers who shot violence during Apartheid. It is a must-read for every photographer.
    I am having some problems with Photoshop at the moment and am unable to edit my new pictures, so here is a shot from my time in Kruger right before I left for Capetown.

More soon!
- Gabby

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wasp spiders (Jodie Randall)

Wasp spiders (Argiope bruennichi) were first recorded in Britain in the early 1920s. Today the spider's range has expanded and they can now be found all along the South coast of England. They are rapidly moving inland, having already colonised London and are spreading further North.

The spiders mature into adults in late Summer. At this time the females build their webs. The female spiders exhibit bold black and yellow stripes, but despite their striking appearance the are not venemous to humans. The body of the female can measure up to 2cm in length, while the male is much smaller at only 0.5cm.

This year I was lucky enough to discover a terrific location teeming with wasp spiders. Searching the fields and banks at my riverside spot, the tall rippling grasses mimicked the river's crashing waves in the fierce coastal wind. The black and gold bodies of the wasp spiders swayed violently backwards and forwards on their webs and I found myself wondering if they felt at all sea sick.

One spider became a victim of the strong wind as her delicate web, built among the tendrils of a blackberry bush, broke. I watched in admiration as despite the conditions she began to rebuild her intricate web all over again.

That's A First (Connor Stefanison)

Here's a funny little story (funny to me at least) that happened to me the other day. I was at Burnaby Lake, taking pictures of whatever birds I could find. I noticed some Long-Billed Dowitchers out in the water, and couldnt get close enough to them by just being on the boardwalk. I decided to take it to the next level and walk into the water to get closer to the birds. So I walked into the lake, slowly approaching the Dowitchers. I got fairly close to them, and started shooting. A couple of moments into the shoot, my cell phone rang. The call was from a private number. I answered with a friendly "Hello", and was replied to with fake fart noises. It was two girls from what I could hear by their laughter in the background. They continued to make fart noises, until i said "this is funny cause I'm in the middle of Burnaby Lake taking shots of birds". The two girls started laughing very hard and hung up. Being very close to these birds, I tried not to spook them with my laughter, and only succeeded for a bit. Luckily I was able to come out with a few decent shots.
I thought this was a pretty funny moment for the usual stealthy art of wildlife photography. There's a first for everything I guess.
The above shot was taken right after the phone call, before I spooked the birds.

Connor Stefanison

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A fun exercise (Nathanael Gass)

If you find that you are getting tired of the subjects in your yard, here is a great exercise to try: Find a subject. Any one will do. A flower, a leaf, anything that isn't going to run away and has good light. Get a timer and set it for at least 10 minutes. Challenge yourself to shoot one shot every minute. Make each one totally different from the last, and make it the best you can. If you have trouble, set the timer for 20 or 30 minutes and try to take one shot every 2 or 3 minutes, respectively. If you are feeling really ambitious, try this for a whole hour, taking one shot every 5 minutes. There is always a shot, always. It's just a matter of finding it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Leopards! (Gabby)

This morning I went out at dawn for a game drive and was upset that it was overcast and cloudy. We drove around for one hour and saw our first black rhino (they are quite rare in the park). Already a lucky morning, we relaxed as we were driving back to camp. Ahead in the distance we saw one little car pulled over and suddenly we saw a leopard stalk across the road. Leopards are common in this area of Kruger, but still very difficult to see. As we approached we saw that there were two leopards! As solitary creatures, most leopards travel alone, so I assume that these were younger leopards. We waited as they approached the road and I was able to make a few quick shots. Mostly I was just amazed by the sheer beauty and strength. Image stabilization came in handy!

- Gabby

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Canon 7D (Connor Stefanison)

A week ago I went to a special Canon 7D product launch, here in Vancouver. Most of you have probably read a thing or two about this hot new camera. I was luckily able to purchase a 7D body at this event, and have so far been very impressed with the camera. Some of the features on the 7D include:
18 megapixels
Dual Digic 4 processors
new 3' LCD screen
Live view/Full HD video
8 Frames per second
100% viewfinder
wireless flash capabilities
new wider on board flash
capable of exposing to +-8 stops
The battery is also very long lasting

To name a few...

Last year when people bought the 50D, they complained about unsharp pictures. They soon found out they had to adjust the camera to their lenses. I found that with a 500mm F4 the camera took some time to adjust, and with smaller lenses (24-105, 70-200) the images were pretty sharp out of the box. I've only photographed a football game, and some ducks so far, and i've been very impressed with the 7D.

The image above was taken at Burnaby Lake, and the subject is a male wood duck.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Think Outside the Box! (Johan)

A few days ago, I was out taking pictures trying to make something interesting. So...
This was shot right after it quit raining; the out-of-focus highlights are raindrops on a plexiglas windshield I was shooting through. I used a Canon 50/1.8 lens. Compare to the following photo, taken shortly before with the same lens:
Also, I have a personal blog ( which I update more frequently than this one, and in addition to my nature photos, it also has some portraits and wedding photos. So feel free to stop by and let me know what you think!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Elephants Playing (Gabby)

Two days ago I spent the entire day at a watering hole waiting for animals to come in to see how the prescence of elephants affects feeding habits of other animals. I'm in the middle of exams at the moment so can't write much, but check out these images of two male elephants wrestling in the watering hole at midday. It was incredible - they spent an hour rolling over each other and swimming.

Yesterday I helped with a rhino autopsy and got to watch the entire process of gutting a rhino from start to finish! I'll put pictures up soon. My website has been updated with new pics from South Africa (see the new gallery).

- Gabby

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kruger National Park (Gabby Salazar)

I have been in South Africa for one month and have finally arrived in Kruger National Park. We are staying in one of the staff camps towards the middle of the camp and are required to walk in groups of three because of leopards and lions. There have been two people killed by leopards in this camp in the last 5 years. Yesterday we drove from Hamakuya to the camp through the park. It was essentially a 10 hour game drive. We saw white rhinos, a monitor lizard, hippos, crocodiles, and many species of ungulates. As I am the only photographer, my shots have to be quick and steady as we only pause for a few quick seconds at each stop. We are not allowed to get out of the car and walk in the park without a game guard so most of my photography is confined to a car or game drive vehicle. When we do walk outside we have to do so under the supervision of a guard with a loaded rifle.

The park is very dry at the moment and the first rains should start any day. The rains will bring grasses and baby animals. Yesterday we saw a few baby elephants and young zebra. I am hoping to witness a birth during my time here.

After over a week in the village, the tourist camp is overwhelming. We have not been to a store beyond gas stations in over four weeks. The prospect of ice cream whenever I want it is fantastic.

Tomorrow we start a project on elephants with a professor from Johannesburg. We will be studying elephant age distributions within the park. Elephants are a major point of controversey within the park and South Africa in general. They have very few natural predators so their populations are not controlled. Culling is one option that has been explored in the past but there are many people who are against controlling the population in this way. If there are two many elephants, some scientists believe that there are negative effects on biodiversity and on tree populations within the park. Elephants strip trees of bark and they often push over large trees. Their motivations are unknown.

I will send more updates as research continues. For now I need to finish my project on mopane worm pupae (the pupae of the Emperor Moth). The worm is a common food source here in South Africa and we measured density and distribution within red Kalahari sands. Interestingly, we found a very low density and high mortality among the pupae we found. Further research is necessary to determine natural population levels so that sustainable harvesting levels can be determined. The worms are harvested before the adult moth stage when sexual reproduction takes place so overharvesting could devestate populations. This is just one of the many species about which little is known.

The top image is of a monitor lizard in Kruger National Park.

The next image is a little bee eater.

Venda Village (Gabby)

I am staying in the village of Hamakuya. It is a Venda village in the northeast of South Africa. Venda is one of the many black ethnic groups of South Africa.

I am writing to express how much I have been affected by my stay. Despite my travels to 15 countries, many of which are impoverished, I have never before experienced this level of feeling for the people I have met. I stayed in the home of one Venda family for two nights and am now staying at a camp about 30 minutes from the village center and visiting the village to do research.

Many famillies here live on less than $150 per month and the average family size is 6 people. A middle to upper class family lives on $450 per month for 6 – 8 people. Keep in mind that most items here cost similar amounts to what we pay in the United States. People here are very dependent on natural resources to make ends meet and spend much of their days collecting firewood, edible plants, and water. Everyone still cooks over a fire.

How do I describe this experince? I sat on the dirt floor of a kitchen with a 60 year old matriarch teaching me how to grind peanuts and cook grits. She brought tea to my room and got down on her knees at the doorstep and bowed her head flat to the ground as a sign of respect. I met a woman named Grace who is my age and has a 5-year old child and a husband. She is studying English all the time because she wants to get a job to provide an education for her daughter. I spent time with a boy named Pardon who is 14 and wants to be an engineer – he asked me if the world had only one sun and one moon and yet he speaks English almost fluently and can already build fully working models of play cars out of scraps from the junkyard. These people do not beg .They are proud and independent. They are not starving, although they are malnourished. There is hope here.

After staying with a family and spending time with many of the children, I have decided to help. An ethnomusicologist named Lara Allen has given up her job to start a non-profit here to bring jobs into the area. One of the main problems is the lack of jobs.

What has affected me the most is the number of highly intelligent children who are motivated to suceed. Despite the poor school system, many of them are just grappling for books and English reading material. Sadly, even if they get top marks, they are unlikely to ever get past high school because of financial limitations and because the education system here does not prepare students to compete with kids at top high schools. My educaiton has been such a gift and it is the least I can do to help other kids get even a basic secondary education.

More soon!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

3rd Post from Africa

Photography has taken a backseat to academics in the last few days as we have commenced our first Faculty Field Projects (FFPS). To provide a bit of background, I am spending my last semester of college in South Afica particpating in a field studies program. It is a hands-on biology/ecology program conducted in Kruger National Park and other reserves and parks throughout South Africa.
We are currently working in an arid savanna ecosystem. Winter has just ended here and it is chilly at night but up to 90 degrees Farenheit in the day. My project focuses on mopane worm pupae abundance. Mopane worms are worms that primarily feed on the tree Colophospermum mopane and they are also quite tasty. The Venda communities in South Africa along with other cultural groups use the Mopane worm as a source of protein. The worms are harvested in the spring and summer but very little is known about their biology and how harvesting affects their distribution. We are basically digging holes at the base of mopane trees to check the distribution and abudance of pupae. This turns out to be back-breaking work in the hot South African sun. We dug 10 holes this morning about 1 meter long x 70 cm wide x 40 cm deep.
The nice thing about doing field work is that I can pull out my camera on the way to our work sites and our drivers are very nice about stopping as oryx, giraffe, and zebra run across the road or pause to watch our vehicle. This image of klip springer (I need to check that spelling) was taken on the way to a site).
I will write more soon and I do have email access, so feel free to email with any magazine related questions or photography questions –

Friday, September 11, 2009

Winter in South Africa

Hello all -

These are from the place I am currently staying. Just a taste of South Africa. It is winter here but 80 degrees. Class starts at 7:30 am and we are working on field projects including lizard behavioral studies and savanna fire ecology. So, I am in the field 7 hours per day but as a scientist and not a photographer. We do take game drives every few days and most of my images are taken during those times. The dust is overwhelming here and a real challenge to the cameras.

I will send more soon!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Free Software (Johan)

In the world of photography, where everything seems to be expensive, it is always nice to find free software. Here are some that may be of interest to those of us who are on a budget. :-)
Photomatix Pro
 Picasa 3
I took the photo at the top of this post and the photos in the screenshots on Monday when I climbed the South Sister mountain in Oregon (11.5 mile round-trip hike, 5,000 foot elevation gain). I carried a Canon EOS 10D, Canon EF 16-35/2.8L USM, and Hoya Polarizing filter.

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of free software. Also, I have not used all of these programs. Use at your own risk.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Using a Blind And Perch (Connor Stefanison)

I'm sure a few of you have tried using a blind and perch setup for wildlife images. If not, it's something to think about for the future. You can build your own blind, or buy one. The easiest way to buy a blind is usually from a hunting store. Basically you want something that will hide you from your subject.

For the best results, an interesting looking perch is key. A dead stick is usually not very pleasing. An interesting plant, or moss covered branch are usually fairly nice perches. Also, setting up your perch in a vertical, diagonal, or wavy position is more pleasing to the eye than a horizontal perch.

Many photographs you will see of a "perfect perch and background" are usually set-ups. Putting a bird feeder on the ground, or food on the unvisible side of a perch are some ways to attract your subjects. The idea is to make your image look as natural as possible. One thing to look out for is if your perch matches the subject's environment. For example, it may not be the most "natural" idea to have a tropical plant as a perch for a bird found in the pacific northwest. Using a distant background is also a good idea since you will get a blured background so the focus of the image is on the subject.

For the image above, I used a blind from a hunting store, and put some peanut butter on the back of the perch. For the perch, I just used a branch extending off a dead log. There's a link to the picture for a larger view.

Thanks for reading

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Live interview on Lensflare35 with Gabby

I just want to give everyone a "heads up" on my interview with Lensflare35.  It was posted yesterday.  You can go to the following link and hear the interview.  It is about 30 minutes long, so you can clean your camera and lenses while you are listening. Go to the bottom of the page and click on the Play button.

Having fun in Africa

Monday, August 31, 2009

Beginning My African Adventure

Dear readers -

I am in South Africa right now in Nylvleys Reserve. I have been here one week so far and am studying savanna ecology. This morning we went on a game drive at 5:30 am and saw a zebra and ostrich. This reserve is a nice place to visit first because I am able to explore on foot. There are no predators here so it is safe. Between lectures I dash into the field with my camera.

I will write as I have reception. I hope you have all looked at the new online issue. I have already sent emails to semi-finalists in our most recent photo contest. I will notify finalists at the end of September and will do my best to provide feedback to other entrants.

Keep in touch!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pattern, Shape and Colour (Jodie Randall)

When looking at the work of other photographers I often find that the simplest images are the most striking. Employing clever use of colour, texture, pattern and shape a photographer has the ability to create an image of great impact.
This is something that is always at the forefront of my mind when I take my own photographs. Working with complementary colours (red/green, blue/orange and yellow/purple) and bold combinations such as black and white can be very effective. I find that using one main block colour also works well, especially when illustrating how a creature can blend into its habitat as in the image above.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Art Of Getting Close (Connor Stefanison)

I'm sure all wildlife photographers have had at least one occasion where they've been close to a cool creature, and it fled the scene. This has happened to myself on many occasions, and it's rather annoying. No matter how slow and steady I would walk up to some animals, they would sometimes take off. A recent technique I've been using is to not let the animal see my face. Animals react more to seeing a face than a body. It may look silly, but walking up slowly to animals with your head down, and sometimes even acting like the animals can get you very close.

The image above is of a Lesser Yellowlegs eating a dragonfly. This image was taken near Chetwynd, British Columbia, Canada. I was able to get within 15 feet of this bird by using these techniques. I could have gotten closer, but wanted the whole bird in the frame.

So next time you're out photographing wildlife, give this technique a try if you haven't already.

Happy Shooting,

Connor Stefanison

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Black and White Photography (Nathanael Gass)

If you are feeling a little bored with the subjects in your backyard, try shooting in black and white. With black and white, you can change the world from a chaos of colors to just 2. This is a great benefit, cleaning up busy backgrounds easily, and providing new challenges. It allows you to see often photographed subjects in a whole new light, which can really help creativity flow. Here is a before and after shot from my backyard.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wildlife Safari (Johan)

Finally! My long-promised Wildlife Safari post! :-) Back in April, my family was able to go to the Wildlife Safari in Winston, OR. Kind of like a drive-through zoo, most of the herbivores are in pastures instead of cages. The carnivores are in a type of free-range cage. All the animals can be photographed easily from a car (you are only allowed out of the vehicle on special guided tours). I took about 600-700 pictures in 1.5 hours! Here are a few of them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

National Wildlife Refuges (Gabby)

Hi All -

I just wanted to share my recent discovery about National Wildlife Refuges. I have been writing a column for the National Wildlife Refuge System on tips for young photographers. The NWR website has a great map that I wanted to share with you - if you visit there is a map of all the refuges by state and you can even put in your zip code and find refuges near you.

Check it out!

For now, here is an image I took at a refuge. The orchids were photographed at the Florida Panther NWR.

More soon!

- Gabby

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Local Nuggets (Connor Stefanison)

Hi everyone,
have you found that there are few nature photo opportunities in your area? If you live in an urban environment, this could be true. I live in Vancouver BC, Canada. Vancouver is a very busy city. As I finish my first year of photography right now, I reflect on the areas I've photographed. Of all the areas I photographed, Burnaby Lake has to be one of my favorites. Burnaby Lake is a marshy lake right in the middle of a big city, and it's only a short drive from my home. I have captured some of my best nature images, basically right in the heart of Vancouver. By finding a clump of nature in your city, I'm sure you will find a new love for your area, and a new appreciation for urban nature. These locations offer close to home shooting, that is usually safe and convenient.
To view some of my images from Burnaby Lake, check out my site : and check out my waterfowl album, to view some examples of what a big city has to offer.

Happy Shooting,

Ps. This image is of a female Wood Duck in a tree. This perch is one of the best kept secrets in the area!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

French TV on Children and Animals

Hi Photographers -

I just spoke with a French journalist named Catherine Sebag who is working on a series for TV on the connection between animals and children. She is looking for stories that follow a relationshp between kids that are 6-16 years old and a particular animals or group of animals. The animals could be wild or rehabilitated. If any of you photographers have such a story or know of such a story, you can email Ms. Sebag at

- Gabby

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What is this? (Gabby)

Recently I've been working on developing a series of images of subjects little known and photographed in such a way as to raise questions about what they are. I stumble upon most of these subjects simply by looking. In Peru I found this insect, a moth in fact, that hangs upsidedown in order to confuse predators. The first image shows the moth as I saw it while standing and how many predators would see it. The second image shows the moth from the side and you can see the wings.
- Gabby

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Third World Diary (Nathanael Gass)

One of the other NANPA students that I learned with is in Africa right now, doing some work with ex-child soldiers. He's a great guy who is very mature for his age, and is really passionate about using photography to help conditions in third world countries improve. I know that he will one day be working with National Geographic to help these places through photojournalism. He's not just a great photographer, he's a great person. It would mean a lot to me if you could please support his efforts by visiting his blog:

Thank you.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Call For Stories (Gabby)

Hello Photographers -
I am currently gathering materials for the spring and summer issue of next year and am looking for articles on the following topics:

- Photoshop (Elements or full) tips
- Full Feature Stories - locations, adventures, your home state, etc
- Shooting on National Wildlife Refuges
- Tips and Tricks

Please email me if you have any ideas or suggestions or if you'd like to work on one of the features listed above -

Also, ENTER OUR PHOTO CONTEST ( - the deadline is August 15th and we don't have that many entries yet. The grand prize winner will receive a Sigma Lens of their choice (up to $600).


P.S. The image included in this email was taken in Peru from a 180 foot canopy tower.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

National Geographic Glimpse Writers (Gabby)

Hi Readers -

National Geographic released a new magazine about experiences abroad called Glimpse. They have a great opportunity for young travelers who are spending more than three months abroad (perhas on a school program) and are between 18 and 30 years of age. You can become a correspondent for their website and you receive $600. Check it out:

More soon!

- Gabby

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Home and Editing (Gabby)

I'm finally back in North Carolina after a few more days of travel and some visits in the DC area. I am making the switch to Mac this week after spending my whole life as a PC user. It's time because I need the speed for video editing and I am excited for the MacBook Pro.

I have posted some new images on my website under NEW galleries. For now, here is an image of one of the many orchid species inhabiting the cloud forest. The first two weeks of my trip were spent at this site and I did not have Internet to share images with.

Gabby Salazar

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer insects (Jodie Randall)

Hot, hazy days in the middle of summer always bring an abundance of butterflies and dragonflies and an enthralling assortment of bugs and beetles.

During the summer months the light can be quite harsh, so rising early and being out in the field at dawn produces the best results. At this time of day, not only is the light softer, but most insects are just waking up, proving much easier to approach.

Arriving at one of my favourite locations on a still, dew-covered morning a couple of weeks ago, I began my search for damselflies and dragonflies resting in the long grasses.

Just as I had hoped, four or five bejewelled common damselflies clung to the blades of a tuft of grass - perfectly still. As I took my photographs the sun rose steadily higher in the sky warming the damselflies, some of which began to vibrate their wings sending a flurry of dew falling to the ground.

As the day heated up I moved deeper into the scrubland in search of bugs, beetles, grasshoppers and crickets. Somewhere from a near-by lake I could hear the honking voices of geese, just audible over the din of the grasshoppers around me. I find that concentrating on a very small patch around a square metre in size is the best way to find insects. The more you look, the more you see.

Tips: A small reflector can prove an invaluable tool when photographing insects. I use a home-made reflector, made from a strong sheet of card and a warm gold paper.
Reflectors can be purchased from most photographic stores and are inexpensive. If you do decide to make your own reflector, make sure you crumple the paper well before fixing it to your base so that the light will be reflected evenly.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Machu Picchu (Gabby)

I had to visit Machu Picchu while in Peru and especially while staying in Cusco which is a mere three hours from the "Lost City of the Incas." While I usually avoid tourist locations, this particular draw warranted a visit and it was actually full of suprises. The town outside of Machu Picchu is full of pizza joints and souvenir shops, but if you take just a 5 minute hike outside of the town there is an abundance of montane cloud forest. The area adjacent to the historical sanctuary is thankfully forested and I enjoyed a very successful afternoon of birding on the first day. I saw a female cock-of-the-rock and a number of stunning tanager species.

As for Machu Picchu, we woke up at 4:30am to stand in line for the 5:30am bus which was incredibly crowded. In order to hike up Wayna Picchu for the classic view from above you have to be one of the first 400 visitors in a day. When we arrived at the site they took our tripod because it was "dangerous" and held it for our visit. So, we hiked in to a mist covered stone city without a tripod. While at first annoyed it turned out to be okay because we hiked a very steep mountain to reach the stop of Wayna Picchu. The view was breathtaking and the stonework amazing. While I did take some "typical" shots of the site, I ended up with two I really like - one of the landscape including the peak where Wayna Picchu is located and one of the mountain viscacha hanging out in the ruins.

More soon!

- Gabby

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Macro Workshop & Updates (Johan)

Recently I attended a macro photography class at a tulip farm. Never in my life have I seen so many macro lenses--mostly the 100/105mm ones. Here are some macro photography tips I learned:
  • When photographing flowers, it is good to use the RGB histogram (verses the luminance histogram) to ensure that you don't blow out important color channels. The RGB histogram shows a histogram for each color channel (red, green, and blue) so that you can properly expose that color. For example, when shooting a pink flower, the luminance histogram may show a correct exposure, but the RGB histogram may show that the red channel is drastically over- or under-exposed.
  • Even if you have a macro lens, use extension tubes or diopters to get even closer to your subject. I used a macro lens and extension tubes for the picture below. The flower was backlit with a off-camera Canon 580EX II strobe.
To avoid getting your camera wet, use Op/Tech rainsleeves. When shooting in some rain recently my Canon 580EX (version 1) strobe quit working properly. Canon repaired it, but the cost of fixing it could have been fairy easily avoided. (Yes, the rainsleeves were in my bag) :-(