Legacy: Think Like Ansel Adams Today
Tools and aesthetics have changed, but the techniques of the great American landscape master still apply
The legacy of Ansel Adams is a driving creative force that motivates every outdoor photographer. Through his treks to Yosemite Valley and other American landscapes, Adams almost single-handedly created modern nature photography. We know many readers will be ready to list all of the other great early American nature photographers and, to be sure, there were many, but none has the same legacy, the same enduring visual magnetism, as the work of Ansel Adams.
Shoot More, Process Less
Try these simple rules, and you’ll be able to spend less time in front of your computer screen and more time in the field making photographs
In this age of digital cameras, super-computers and image-editing software that requires a PhD to master, it’s all too easy to spend hours under the soft glow of a computer screen endlessly fine-tuning your images. I call it the “postproduction suction.” You spend two hours behind the camera and four hours behind the keyboard editing, correcting and tweaking your shots. This phenomenon can creep into your photographic life, slowly embezzling your time away from the shutter release and into the return key until it dawns on you that you haven’t hit the trail for weeks, maybe even months. This sinking feeling is the realization that you’ve become the dreaded “desk chair photographer.”
Extraordinary wildlife photo opportunities exist on the expansive ranches of Texas and northeastern Mexico
So a wildlife photo safari to Africa or the Pantanal isn’t in your budget. Don’t put away your camera! Several ranches with spectacular wildlife diversity and facilities for photographers await in the Texas Hill Country, the Rio Grande Valley and the state of Tamaulipas in Mexico, with many animals that are almost impossible to photograph anywhere else. Don’t like crowded national parks? Besides staff, you may be the only person on the ranch. Imagine a thousand acres of wildlife habitat all to yourself!
Brave New World
Two new cameras bring HD video capability to the D-SLR and create a new way for nature photographers to see and share the world through imagery
For all of the power of a single frozen moment in time that a photograph represents, sometimes it’s just not enough. We’ve all lamented the still frame’s inability to adequately capture the motion within a scene. Wildlife photographers, in particular, like to have a compact digital video camera handy to record dramatic action in the field. These compact video cameras can fall short on image quality, but they’ve been the best option for a nature photographer who wants to have the motion, but doesn’t want to invest the time and resources into a professional video setup—until now. Two new D-SLRs, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Nikon D90, have changed the playing field, and a new era is dawning.
Gadget Bag: Plug-Ins For Nature Photographers
These specialized software plug-ins give you a lot of power in easy-to-use packages
Ask any group of photographers to name the most important plug-in, and you’re sure to start an argument. That’s because plug-ins have become an essential element of nearly every photographer’s creative process. They’re so diverse in their application—and so effective in their performance—that everyone has at least one favorite. And now that Apple has opened Aperture’s architecture to make use of its own plug-in version, newer and better products are serving an even wider audience.
In Focus: March 2009
If you like to get creative with your wildlife and nature photography, the Olympus E-30 is loaded with features for going beyond the straight shot. Six Art Effect Filters, including Soft Focus, Pop Art, Grainy Film, Pale & Light, Pin Hole and Light Tone, can be activated using the camera’s mode dial, and you can see their effects in real time on the Live View LCD. Like other Olympus D-SLRs, the E-30 incorporates sensor-shift image stabilization that works with all lenses.
Caught In The Act
An unprecedented experiment in time-lapse photography reveals how quickly glaciers are melting around the world
On glaciers across the northern hemisphere, a couple dozen solar-powered cameras are shooting once an hour for every daylight hour, capturing the ice as it melts in real time. This is a phenomenon often discussed but rarely seen, and perhaps never before in this way. When culled together, these hour-to-hour frames compose dramatic time-lapse image sequences showing that glaciers everywhere are disappearing fast.
Bound by two of the world’s highest mountain ranges, the Himalaya to the south and the Karakoram to the north, Ladakh is located in the far northern reaches of India, sitting on the western edge of the Tibetan Plateau at an average altitude of 10,000 feet under crystal-clear skies of the purest azure. The landscape is stark, yet incredibly striking, its dun-colored hills dramatically adorned with whitewashed Buddhist monasteries, many of them ancient.
Lake Superior: Edge Of Forever
The incredible expanse of the midwestern Great Lake is captured in the dramatic black-and-white imagery of Peter Scott Eide
Lake Superior is the most expansive freshwater lake in the world. Largest of the Great Lakes, its massive lake bed contains 10 percent of the world’s fresh surface water, and the shoreline itself is comprised of more than 2,700 miles. There are more than 200 rivers feeding in and out of the region, and some of the islands located within Lake Superior contain lakes themselves. The natural environment of Lake Superior is so immense that the opportunities it provides photographers for exploration can’t be understated.
NANPA Turns 15
The annual Summit is both a gathering of friends and colleagues as well as a wonderful shooting opportunity for attendees
It has been 15 years since a group of nature-photography devotees gathered at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, N.Y., and decided to form the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA). This coming February will mark NANPA’s 15th Annual Summit and Trade Show. The 2009 Summit will be held in Albuquerque, N.M., near some of the best nature-photography subjects in North America.
Traversing The Catskills
Within easy driving distance of major cities like New York and Boston, this Northeast jewel is a photographer’s haven
The Catskills are a hidden gem that offers a combination of geographic, seasonal and lighting diversity. The proximity of the Catskills to the major metropolitan areas of Boston and New York City make this mountain range a perfect day trip for the nature photographer. It’s just an easy two-hour drive out of midtown Manhattan or three hours out of Boston.
Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away
Scanning Kodachrome • Choosing Quality Lenses • Best ƒ-Stop Revisited • Large-Format Printing
Q I’m using a Nikon Coolscan V to digitize some of my film images into versions I can display or market online. I choose good, technically correct slides to convert. Typically, E-6 images (Velvia, Ektachrome VS, Ektachrome G) look fine as .jpg or .tif files with little extra work. But I’m often disappointed with the results of scanned K25 or K64 Kodachrome slides. What should I do?
Marshall, North Carolina
Seek more creative and unique imagery and break free from the past
Yes, indeed, Yosemite is an amazing place to photograph. Living in or next to the park for the past 31 years has given me many blessings and taught me many lessons. When winter comes, I watch the weather patterns and hope to catch a great day with fresh snow, dramatic clouds and lighting that takes your breath away.
Up Close And Remote
Much of what we know about wild chimps comes from studies of forest communities in equatorial Africa, but now a group of savanna chimps living at the edge of this apes’ range in northwest Africa is making us rethink the nature of our closest cousins.
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