Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Blog (Gabby)

Hi Photographers and Readers -

We have just switched to a new blog - join us at!!!

- Gabby

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Some Interesting Websites (Connor Stefanison)

Hey everyone,

I was shown the following websites by a friend at mine at my camera club. Both website authors are her friends. The sites have a lot to do with conservation on the north coast of BC, Canada. Theres also some excellent images to browse through too. Please have a look through and support their causes if you wish!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Winter Beauty (Tyler)

If you are a morning person, then you will be sure to recognize these wintery scenes.  Waking up early one morning last week, I was excited to witness the uncommon hoar frost.  Skipping my first class (for the sake of the future of photography of course), I headed out with camera in hand, hoping to capture the beauty before the sun melted it all away.  I was very happy with the results. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

$6,000 Sigma Scholarship for High School Seniors (DEADLINE: FEB 15) (Gabby)

Deadline approaching for Sigma Corporation of America Scholarship entries

High school seniors pursuing photo-related careers can apply for scholarship through Feb. 15

Ronkonkoma, NY, Feb. 10, 2010 – Sigma Corporation of America (, a leading researcher, developer, manufacturer and service provider of some of the world's most impressive lines of lenses, cameras and flashes, is accepting entries for the company’s first-ever scholarship contest through Feb. 15, 2010.

Applicants are invited to visit the Sigma Corporation of America Web site for more details and to complete an application form, which includes a brief essay and the submission of up to five thematically-tied photographs.

The Sigma Corporation of America Scholarship will award a cash gift of $5,000 and $1,000 in Sigma products to one talented high school senior to advance his or her education and goals toward obtaining a career in a photo-related field. Students pursuing higher education in industries such as photography, photojournalism, graphic arts and design, visual arts and art history are eligible to apply.

The entire package will be judged based on creativity of subject selection, overall technique and, most importantly, image quality. Students are not required to use Sigma equipment to shoot the photographs they submit.

Applications via the Sigma Corporation of America Web site at Once the submission process closes, the public will be invited to vote online for the top three students of their choice from Feb. 16, 2010 to April 23, 2010. Sigma Corporation of America executives will select a winner from the top three public vote-getters and announce the scholarship recipient on May 3, 2010.
For information about the Sigma Corporation of America Scholarship, eligibility, the application process, material submissions and a formal list of contest rules, visit

Monday, February 8, 2010

Footprints in the snow (Jodie Randall)

European Blackbird
European rabbit footprints

I realize that I have been absent from this blog for a while now (my last post was in October 09), so my apologies. During the last few months I have been out in the field as much as possible, but I seem to have spent an awful lot more time than I'd have liked on the computer. Spending time outside surrounded by nature taking photographs is the fun part, while sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end is something I find extremely tedious. Unfortunately in the digital age there cannot really be one without the other.

At the beginning of January the UK experienced freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall. For a couple of weeks I managed to go out shooting nearly every day, rising early in-order to be out before sunrise. The light was fantastic. The low winter sun peaked over the top of ominous-looking clouds of deep blue and gray illuminating the brilliant white landscape. Waking up and looking out of the window to discover such familiar surroundings completely transformed is something that I find just as thrilling now as I did when I was a small child. Instead of the chance to build snowmen, snow now brings the promise of beautiful light and hopefully some good images.

The surrounding landscape looked stunning. Personally, I have never possessed the eye of a landscape photographer, and deciding that I was unable to do it justice, I went searching for the smaller details instead. Walking through woodland and across many fields leaving a scattered trail of footprints behind me, I could not help being captivated by the tracks left by more graceful creatures than myself. Snaking their way across the landscape, criss-crossing and weaving in all directions were the numerous trails of red foxes interspersed with the distinctive patterns left behind by rabbits. I followed the tracks of squirrels and stoats and in patches where the snow lay less deep, birds such as woodpigeons, blackbirds and house sparrows filled the once blank canvas with hundreds of three-toed footprints.

Climbing over a style, I emerged into an open field surrounded by woodland. Two fox tracks led from opposite corners of the field, one to my left, and the other to my right. As I continued walking, I discovered the spot, marked by a light depression in the snow, where the two animals had met, and then continued on their way, each leaving the story of their meeting behind them.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Goodbye 7D, Hello 1Dmk3 (Connor Stefanison)

Back in October I made a post about my newly purchased Canon 7D. With all the great features it had, I was super stoked to have gotten it. The 7D is one of the nicest cameras I've used. The video's great, buttons are big enough for gloves, quick AF, 100% vf, 8 fps! How could you go wrong?
The answer is SHARPNESS. (pretty much the most important thing).

Since I bought the camera I've been unable to get tack sharp shots. I always used a tripod, Canon L-lenses, high shutter speeds, "sharp" f-stops, and I tried multiple test shots on every AF microadjustment. It was getting pretty frustrating going on shoots and getting some of my best shots, but not being able to use them because the shots are so soft. All my shots on my website with the 7D may look somewhat sharp, but that's because they're over-sharpened.

I then googled some 7D reviews, and found that lots of people were finding the same thing.
I found this article by Darwin Wigget, For those of you that don't know, Darwin isn't some random guy. He's quite an accomplished photographer, and even had one of his landscapes in last years Natures Best. After reading this review and agreeing with it completely (I too find that my canon rebel takes way sharper shots), I decided it was time to ditch the 7D. So I basically traded it for a Canon 1D mark 3 about a week ago.

The 1D is great, the low-res shots above are from my first shoot with it today at Burnaby Lake.

Now, some people do say they like their 7D bodies, so don't just take my word for it. Some may be good, but I believe that mine and the three that Darwin tested were either "duds' or whatever. Overall, the 7D is a fantastic camera, but a failure for image quality, (In my opinion). So if you're planning on buying one, I suggest trying it out first and seeing how the shots are before purchase.

Have a good one,

Connor Stefanison

Winter Color (Tyler)

I made a short posting on my personal blog yesterday on the few photos I took using my Lensbaby (  I headed out the the local park called Wintergarden Park in Bowling Green, Ohio in hopes of capturing some color in the midst of this gray winter weather. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cure for Cabin-Fever (Tyler)

While the weather here in Ohio isn't the best hiking weather (at least not up in NW Ohio where the wind makes a walk outside painful) I decided to go to the Toledo Zoo two weeks ago to try my hand at aquarium photography.  It was extremely peaceful as I was the only person in the aquarium although there were several challenges I had to overcome.  One difficulty was to pay attention to the subject being photographed as well as keeping an eye on the reflections on the glass surface.  Then I had to overcome the obstacle of photographing fast moving subjects in a low-light situation... nothing my Canon EOS 5D couldn't handle.  Here's my favorite photograph taken in the aquarium.  I am interested in the bubbles that seem to suspend the fish.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Getting Acquainted (Tyler)

Hello Everybody!
I just thought since I was new to the Nature's Best Student blogger team that I would introduce myself. My name is Tyler Brown but I prefer to go by Tyler Benjamin (my middle name). I am 19 years old and have grown up in the "flat lands" of northwest Ohio. Even though most of this region is farmland, I have always had a passion to find nature. In fact my love for photography grew from my personal studies and field trips around the local preserves and parks searching for a glimpse of salamanders, deer, wild flowers, etc. After I began saving all my money for trips across the nation to see the most beautiful landscapes, I realized I had been given a gift. Through my camera lens I am able to bring an awareness to a world that many people only see on television. My hopes are that people will see my work and want to explore these natural environments themselves. If we really want to preserve these pristine places we must show the world why its worth saving. So that's a little of my personal philosophy that I am sure I share with many of you readers. I look forward to posting images and sharing stories from my adventures in the future with Nature's Best Photography: Students Blog!


Tyler Benjamin

P.S.-The image of myself that I have included was taken two years ago at my favorite location in the entire world: Olympic National Park, Washington. I daydream to this day about the drenched Hoh Rain Forest and the sea-stacks that tower over the Pacific coastline.

Star Trails (Gabby Salazar)

While in Africa, I spent a few nights playing with star trails. In the Hamakuya region, I was so far away from cities that the sky was filled with stars. I'd never played with star trails using digital and was curious to see how it turned out. The nice thing about digital is that it is easy to change ISO and to experiment with different settings in the field. It is difficult to make exposures without a lot of grain/noise. In order to do star trails with complete circles, I needed extra equipment. I  only had cable release, so I was able to get bright pinpoints. I composed the image with a Venda hut in the foreground to show the setting and finally came up with this exposure - 30 seconds at f/9 at ISO 1250. Next time you are out at night, experiment with different exposures and ISOs to see what you can achieve. Use flashlights to paint foreground objects so you have a point of interest. In this case, the lights added definition to the house, but in other situations, you can paint plants, trees, or rocks with light.

More soon!

- Gabby

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Literature for Photographers (Johan)

"Christmas Cactus Flower"

Hi everyone! I hope you are all having a great and creative new year. There is lots of great literature available for photographers, so I decided to give you a rundown of my favorites.
  • First, of course, is NBP:Students.
  • Nature's Best Photography Magazine is the "parent" publication of NBP:Students, and it shows. NBP isn't the cheapest magazine available, but it has page after page of the most stunning nature photos imaginable. This is the one case where the bad logic of "it's too expensive, but it's worth it" is valid. :-) This is my favorite publication.
  • Another good magazine is Outdoor Photographer, featuring lots of how-to articles and gear guides. Of course, there is lots of great nature photography too.
  • The Arthur Morris Birds as Art email bulletins are free and packed with good information and stunning photos. Click on the link above to sign up.
  • Also free is the Ask Tim Grey (previously Digital Darkroom Questions/DDQ) e-newsletter.
  • Last but not least, "The Digital Photography Book" (vol. 1-3) by Scott Kelby. Although they are not nature-specific, they are the books to have, covering everything from landscapes and wildlife to studio lighting and weddings.
Enjoy reading! :-)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Starting 2010 With Success

Hey everyone, happy new year to you all. I've been pretty slack on my postings lately, that's mostly due to school and lots of rain here in Vancouver. Anyways, I started the new year off pretty exciting photo-wise. A couple days ago my friend ( and I went out in search of an rare visitor to the Vancouver area. This visitor happens to be a Great Gray Owl (they only come here around every 5-6 years). Unfortunately, I had to leave just before dusk, and Jess stayed. The owl came out shortly after I left and Jess had a field day with the owl.

The next day we set out again. We arrived at the spot to find a handfull of "Big Lens" bird enthusiasts. Most of them we knew, so it was ok. But sometimes you have to be careful with how you approach owls if sensitive birders are around. Jess' dad had spotted the owl deep in the woods earlier. It was quite impressive he was able to find it. We waited until the sun went down, when it has usually been coming out. It finally flew out about 10 minutes past it's expected time. We were lucky it perched on a fairly decent spot. They're very tolerant of humans, so as long as you're respectful, it's very easy to get close. Shooting in the low-light conditions made tripods very necessary. I was typically on ISO 3200, F4.5, 1/160 sec, to give you an idea.

Shooting the great gray was one of the most memorable photo experiences of my life. These owls are like the wolves of the bird kingdom. Needless to say it was very majestic.

It's nice to start the new year off with such a fine photo experience.

Hope you all have a great new year of nature photography!

Connor Stefanison