Thursday, October 25, 2012

Get Low

"Edge of the World" - Florida Bay - Everglades National Park
It's easy to get stuck in a rut with photography. After your 500,000th image, it might feel like you've done it all before. Luckily though, it's often just as easy to break out and explore new possibilities by simply changing your perspective. I get inspiration from other photographers all the time. In fact, it's part of my daily routine to research other artists and see what they're doing. One photographer in particular, John Spohrer, based out of Apalachicola, Florida would create these arrestingly dramatic images by shooting a low angle on water. Simple, right?  This isn't necessarily an Einstein moment but this technique is often overlooked by photographers. When applied in the right situations, it can completely alter the depth and feel of your images.

Take this scene for example. To me, this is a standard one-dimensional view of a summer squall in Florida Bay. You have some water, you have some storm clouds, all of which seem to appear on the same visual plane. While this image might be good for an advertisement or calendar, to me, I'm not moved to feel anything when I look at it. 

Holding my camera just above the water's edge over the boat with a wide angle lens (Canon 16-35mm) and employing fast shutter speeds by means of high ISO I made a series of images without looking through the viewfinder. Only an inch above the water, this proved a little dangerous as a rogue wave lapped the base of my camera. Not good. Still, I was able to make a few frames from this new perspective. What resulted was this very multi-dimensional image which gives a turbulent and almost apocalyptic aura. The way the water eliminates the horizon creates a sense of impending doom, like Columbus must have imagined when sailing towards the edge of the Earth. All I had to do was hold my camera close to the water. 

Here are a few more dualities so you can see the benefit of simply changing your perspective. To me, the lower angles just have a way of filling the space more efficiently. Take note how your eyes want to linger a little more. Who knows though, maybe you'll like the standard images better. I'm curious to hear what you think. 

With the low angle, you get much more action and interesting patterns in the water from reflected light. This way, the water doesn't just become empty space, but instead helps define and draw your eye into the subject.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

NANPA High School Scholarship Program

A year ago I wrote about the NANPA High School Scholarship Program which was held in McAllen, Texas where ten students were chosen from all around the country to attend one of the most prestigious photography summits in the US. If you missed it, you can read about it here.

In February of next year, 10 more lucky students will have the chance to attend NANPA's fourteenth high school scholarship program for a chance to learn from the industry's top shooters and photography publishers. I'm extremely excited to announce that I will be taking over as chair of this program and will be joined by instructors Ray Pfortner, David Moynahan, and Marina Scarr in Jacksonville, Florida. Only ten years ago, I was one of the fortunate few selected for this program in Albuquerque  New Mexico and I can't begin to count the ways it has shaped my life. Now, here I am about to take lead on cultivating the next generation of nature photographers in my home state!

We are seeking talent from all over, so if you know of any high schoolers or students 14-18 years old with a passion for photography please send them this invitation. You never know how it might shape their lives.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pretty in Pink

The spoonbill saga continues. I just went down to the Keys for a week to train the new head of spoonbill research at the Tavernier Science Center. When I walked in the office, Dr. Jerry Lorenz handed me a book from Bearport Publishing. I completely forgot I submitted images nearly 6 months ago on this project and here it was, printed, bound, and ready for distribution.

The author, Stephen Person, contacted me early this year to help collaborate on a children's book about the roseate spoonbill and the work we did with National Audubon and the Tavernier Science Center. Jerry helped with the text and while it has the illustrative feel and design of a children's book, it's actually incredibly informative about the Everglades ecosystem and the lives of these beautiful birds. If you have a child who needs a good book this Christmas, give this one a shot. You can tell them you know one of the photographers!

You can find it here on Amazon: Roseate Spoonbill, Pretty in Pink