Story behind every picture
Chestnut-headed Oropendola

Story behind every picture

Before the Internet, photographers often went a lifetime without their work being recognized. Every so often, a great picture would become known throughout the country, and even the world, but these images were few and far between. They were most often related to significant news events. A few photographers, like Ansel Adams, gained popularity but again, these were few in number. Today, photographers can put up a website and share their work with the world. In a matter of hours, millions of people can have access to a, particularly beautiful image. This can be a good thing in many ways, but it can also create problems.

One of the problems is that a picture may become known while the photographer remains hungry and unrecognized for the work and talent that went into the image. Adding to this problem is the fact that, today, anyone with a smartphone has access to the ability to snap a picture. This makes it difficult for people to realize there is a big difference between a simple snapshot and a piece of photographic art.

Sharing Emotion

If you look at the majority of photographs that get shared the most, they may appear so different. You see cute animals with babies, or beautiful landscapes or an exciting street scene; they all have something in common, however. A great photograph evokes emotion! The photographer takes an object or looks at a view and feels something. It is his goal to share that emotion with those who see the photo. A photographer has taken the time to fully grasp the situation and look for the best way to allow others to feel precisely what she felt. Think about the photos that have withstood the test of time. We all have seen one of the soldier kissing a nurse at the end of WWII. We feel the celebration. The photo of a child screaming in terror as she runs naked from the bomb that just exploded tugs at our hearts, and we feel her terror. In these cases, the photographer got credit. We may not readily be able to credit him, but a quick search and we have a name.

Other photos are as powerful. Consider the one of the homeless man holding his coat tightly around him. At his feet, his faithful dog is covered with a blanket. Most often, we don’t know who took that photo, but we do see the soul of the photographer. We see the photographer’s compassion, the tugging at his heart this scene created. We know it because he waited for the right expression, a ray of sunlight light to fall on the pair. The photographer must have waited long for the perfect moment to share the emotion. Shouldn’t we be able to thank him?

The Photographer’s Reality

Great photographs don’t just happen. A famous photographer was once quoted as saying that for every image he shared with the world, there were 199 that were seen by nobody but himself. This is still true today. For every photograph that captures the heart of millions, there were at least another couple of hundred that the photographer felt weren’t good enough. Maybe the image was a bit blurry, the lighting angle just slightly off, or the feeling not quite what it was meant to be. To some, the rejected images may appear beautiful, but to the photographer, “fine” isn’t an option.

A photographer will silently wait for the right moment, even if it takes hours. She’ll wait for the Sun to be at a position where the combination of shadows and light play out a dance of sorts, making the intended subject come alive. He’ll crouch hidden among jungle foliage, waiting for his subject to come to a watering hole, and will wait even longer for the subject to be in a position where its true beauty is revealed. He’ll fell the frustration and disappointment over and over again when the subject moves or doesn’t cooperate. Yet, he’ll return again tomorrow and do it all over again in the hope that today he’ll get what he seeks.

A photographer will sometimes put himself in physical danger to capture something from an angle that makes it come alive more. She’ll climb mountains, lean over railings, or wander too close to a wild animal. All this is done without thinking about personal danger. What is being considered about is capturing the magnificence he sees to share with others.

A photographer is vulnerable. When you see his final piece, you are gifted with the ability to look at the world from inside his soul. You see life and the world as she sees it. Every photographer puts himself into every image he shares. What more fabulous gift can you present to someone than a little piece of yourself?

Why This Matters

Today, sharing images is easy. When you share an image that has come into existence after hours, or days, of thought, risk, and self-exposure, you tell the photographer his work is great, but he is nothing. You devalue his work and him. You may also be taking from him the ability to live and give more of his work. Many photographers make this their livelihood. If their work doesn’t sell, they don’t eat. Their family doesn’t have a decent home, their kids go hungry. You take from the photographer the very things that you take it for granted every day. Again, you devalue the photographer and all the work that has gone into that image.

What You Can Do

If you find an image that moves you, know that somewhere a photographer has taken time to create that feeling, and by putting it out there, possibly on his own website, he is expressing his wish to share a piece of himself with you. If you would like to share that image, reach out to the photographer and ask. Let her know how much it moved you and why you want to share.

Sometimes the artist may ask for payment. After all, remember he and his family need to eat. Other times, you may be surprised, and the photographer may only ask that you acknowledge her as the one who created the work of art (Yes, photography is an art!). Think about being in the same position. How would you feel if you were the one who created this image? Many photographers have faded from public view because of this. In the end, we all suffer, for we end up losing the chance to see the world from the photographer’s soul.

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Photography and Technology – Too lost in the weeds
Ghost Glass Frog

Photography and Technology – Too lost in the weeds

When it comes to photography, there is a world of options to choose when picking right gears which revolve around Image quality, megapixels, lenses, tripods, memory cards, and various gear brands — no matter what you’re looking for, dozens of options exist.

And, well, that’s overwhelming. Does it really matter if you have the newest camera on the market? Will having three different tripods, sixteen different lenses and three different cameras really make you a great photographer? Don’t get me wrong, I am not an exception; I have been there too! Most often; we just carried away by the technology, comfortless we get out of the new technology and lose the focus on actual intent.

Getting Absorbed in Technology

Every year, new high-end cameras and camera-related tech hit the market, each promising better specs than the gear that came out the year before. It can be extremely tempting for photography aficionados to spring on the latest equipment to ensure their art is always top quality.

But is this really necessary? Though newer cameras can offer better image quality and other improved features, even older cameras or more affordable cameras can do the same work in the hands of a skilled photographer. After all, it doesn’t matter if you can see the nose hairs on your subject; it matters if you can evoke the theme and mood you’re trying to convey.

Photography as a Medium for Art

Rather than focusing on the best technical specs, artists should focus on utilizing photography as a medium through which they create art. The essence of art isn’t something that needs thousands of dollars of photography equipment to capture. Someone with a smartphone or a point-and-shoot camera can capture an artistic image with nothing more than a good idea and a strong understanding of the basics of photography. Though it may be easier to convey what you want with a higher-tech camera you can more readily manipulate to get what you want from a shot, it’s still possible to achieve that with a less advanced camera. Additionally, if you don’t know how to use a more complex camera, that camera could even stand in the way of you and your artistic vision.

Focus on Photography Fundamentals

Cutting-edge photography equipment isn’t a necessity when creating art, so long as you can convey your artistic intentions. A strong grasp of composition, light, shape, form, lines, texture, pattern and color can aid budding artists in capturing their vision without the help of a new camera. By developing a strong sense of the rules of art, a point-and-shoot camera or a smartphone could easily get the job done.

Don’t get bogged down by finding the right camera, lenses or stands when you’re getting ready to do photography. Remember, many of the great artists of the past didn’t need the newest camera to create lasting art, and neither do you. Find a camera and gear that you can work well with, and forget about it — while other people are fiddling with their state-of-the-art equipment, you’ll be out there capturing art.

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What Makes Nature Photography Stand Out as Fine Art?
Driftwood Beach

What Makes Nature Photography Stand Out as Fine Art?

The photography of Ansel Adams is like none other – his renditions of the American West capture much more than the rising moon or the mountains of Yosemite. They represent his sacred vision and mindset; they are works of art. Taking snapshots of the great outdoors is one thing, but rendering photos in a distinctive, creative style is quite another. Here’s a closer look at what makes nature photography stand out as fine art.

Emotional impact

Artistic nature photographs often have a dramatic focal point, like a waterfall or a solitary tree. The imagery is compelling, which is created through stylistic elements such as lighting and the arrangement of space. A soaring eagle set against a luminous open sky, for example, can instill a sense of emotions, such as freedom, transcendence or even loneliness. Black-and-white nature photography can also create a dramatic mood and convey a sense of raw emotion, as can the use of color. Different color shades and saturation can be combined to form a vibrant composition that draws the eye toward the subject of the photograph.

Expresses an idea

An artistically rendered nature photograph is usually set up by the photographer and conveys a message. A close-up shot of a deer gazing into the sunlight, for example, requires effort and timing on the part of the photographer — and this intimacy with wildlife can highlight a sense of reverence for the natural world and the importance of conservation. Of course, fine art photography can occur by happenstance, such as when a bird alights on a backyard tree, the lighting is just right, and the photographer is able to take a series of quick shots. But most likely, nature photography that is a work of art has been created with foresight and intention.

Technique

Fine art nature photography is often manipulated, from setting up a specific camera angle to adjusting the saturation of color during the editing process. Craft is important, whether the photographer is capturing the everyday setting sun or the extraordinary mountains of Yosemite. There are foundational elements of photography and design to understand, such as the use of texture, colors, shapes and lines, as well as knowing how light is altered depending on the weather and the time of day and year. Perspective and the right choice of camera lens must also be considered. To create fine art, talent is essential, but a photographer should also have technical expertise in using a camera as well as creating imagery that stands out as a unified piece of work.

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Always Carry Your Camera With You!
Parker River

Always Carry Your Camera With You!

Only if you had your camera with you!

You are on your way to run a small errand and you witness the most magnificent sunset ever. You instantly take out your smartphone and quickly capture a photo or two but the quality of the photo makes you almost tear up missing your camera! I am sure, we all had this experience. Just when you see the incredible opportunity to capture an incredible moment, you’re at the scene without a camera.  I agree that there are some instances carrying camera looks or feels socially awkward and it is sometimes impractical as well.

However, you can always train yourself to think differently about the situation at hand! Forget about thinking what someone would say about you when they notice you carrying your camera gear with you everywhere you go. It’s not always about you wanting to capture the moment, sometimes you will also get an opportunity to learn.

The most prominent photography institute is always yourself as you will learn more from the mistakes you made than from anyone else. By the way, this is my experience as well, in many occasions, I have left the camera behind thinking that I wouldn’t find anything and sometimes I thought is an odd time of the day to shoot.

Sometimes the elements influence your decisions, e.g., rain or snow. But remember those are the best situations to photograph; most often the worst weather is best for photography.

Let’s talk about some key reasons why you should always carry a camera:

You Start to See the World Differently

When you have a camera with you, you view & grasp everything around differently. Since you have your camera with you, you start thinking that you might as well capture it. This then leads you to perceive even everyday objects and scenes as something meaningful.

You don’t look at the streets you walk daily in the same way as you used to. You never see the same critters, flowers, and trees the way you used to look at them previously. Everything starts to appear new which feels quite refreshing and soothing at the same time. It is not the big and fancy location that makes a good picture, it is always you who make a photo of your world you are living in. You should think of interesting stories or messages of the situation you captured.

At times, we tend to get bored. Most often, this happens because our lives often become so monotonous – using the same mode of transport every day, coming across the same kind of plants and trees, but when you start photographing these things, you begin noticing certain intricacies that they have about them which you haven’t observed before.

At times like these, you ask yourself – “Why didn’t I notice this before!?”

It feels like someone has elevated your sense of sight all of a sudden.

To Practice Your Art

Henry Cartier Bresson, a famous photographer, was right when he said: “Your first 1000 photographs are your worst.” What he means by this quote was that to master your craft (photography), you have to practice it as much as possible.

Although I could ever say I have taken the best photograph as the saying goes, practice makes you perfect. The same applies when it comes to photography. If you want to capture different moments, nothing could be better than carrying your camera with you all the time.

You can find a plethora of unique moments on your way which can boost your photography skills consistently over the period of time. Of course, it could be possible that the first photo you take might not turn out the way you would have expected, but this is the real challenge, you will need to be on it until you have succeeded. Sometimes, opportunities knock your door twice.

A Chance to Capture the Unusual

The world is quite unpredictable. It’s beyond your limited understanding of what might happen next. It’s not in your hands to decide how the world will unfold. Thus, we’re completely ignorant of the fact what might occur or happen the very next moment. Being equipped with a camera can give you a golden opportunity to capture something unique that the world hasn’t seen it before.

Photographing other people’s personal moments is one of those extraordinary experiences that you might not come across on a regular basis. Remember at times, the most unexpected thing happens when you least expect it. Going out and seeing two children laughing their hearts out is a cute moment that you would wish to freeze forever but not having your camera on you can stop you from doing so, making you uneasy all the while!

To turn this disappointment into an opportunity, it is important that you always have your camera with you so that you never have to miss out on capturing rare moments.

Improvise Your Photography Skills

More you do it; you will get better at it. More you spend time outside more you will learn. Also, revisit your old images; helps you to learn from your own mistakes.

For starters, you get better acquainted with your camera. You learn how to shoot in the camera manual mode or aperture priority mode. You figure out what works best in different lighting conditions and capture the mood.

Things get even better! There are some habits that you will eventually let go off in your learning process. One of them is taking shots in an auto mode. You will soon realize how useless it really is. You’d rather prefer taking photos in a manual mode or aperture priority mode. Instead of letting the camera make decisions for you related to the aperture setting, ISO, and the shutter speed – you can take the machine into your own control. Remember, it is not camera taking photos, it is you making the photos, so the camera is your assistant for you, not the other way.

Over the period of time, you will master the camera and the skills would help you to take the perfect shot you have been working on. Having a camera with you every time you go somewhere can give you more opportunities to become a great photographer. It’s not just about capturing moments, it’s also about how you capture them and if you have mastered the art of composition and game of light and shadow, you are not far away from taking the perfect shots!

 
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Photographing in Bad Weather is Not always Bad
Shell on the Sand

Photographing in Bad Weather is Not always Bad

This one is most probably for me; quite often I tell myself that the bad weather is going to be good. But still, I had a hard time convincing myself that it is going to be okay to go out. There were several weekends I just sat inside the home justifying myself that staying back was a right decision. And of course, ended up doing nothing! However, occasionally I ventured out when the weather was not perfect. Although I had some challenges dealing with elements, it was not as bad as I thought.

So does bad weather put you off quite often? Do you find it as a hurdle between you and your plan ? Well, if you think deep fog, thundering rain, and fierce storm can stifle your photography sessions, consider going out.

Bad weather unfolds the drama

I agree that the bad weather is not a good shooting condition; however, the scene you are seeing is much more compulsive. Moody, ominous clouds can make for an excellent backdrop for your photographs. Generally, when the weather is uncooperative, and the wind is bashing you in all direction, it is hard to compose your images, and moreover, light may not be favorable either. But, there is something always static around you, and you just have to figure out your composition. Notably, in landscape photography, you can give a dramatic touch to your photos. However, gusty wind and low light may not be appropriate to photograph flying birds and other fast-moving wildlife; you could shoot amazing and dramatic landscape photography.

Always go with open minded and alternate option (Plan -B)

Not that every visit you make to your favorite location is going to be productive. As a matter of fact, many of my ventures was unproductive. But here is a good part of it; you might have had a nice walk or met a new friend, and you might have exchanged your experience. A couple of months back, I was at the beach with an intent to photograph shorebirds, but the lighting condition was not at all in a favorable condition, and it was dark and cloudy. I had no choice to work with what I had at that time and did some landscape. Although it was not a masterpiece, the picture came out okay to me.

Let the wind blow

Here in East Coast, rain is frequent and always windy. It is frustrating when you are shooting macro, and the wind blows in all direction and challenging to keep the focus sharp. However, the mildly blowing wind could add dramatic color fusion to your art. Although, now I learned this in a hard way I came to an understanding that It is not the weather causes the problem, but it is my thinking process and perspective.
The wind is not always favorable elements depending on the subject you are photographing, we need to wait for the short pause. So, have your composition set and wait for the wind to stop. It may take a while, but it is worth a wait.
Especially in the fall season, wind could help you to capture moving colorful foliage; so set the camera on the tripod, compose your image and wait for the wind.

Shooting after the rain

Although the dreary downpour may not please you that much, the post-downpour may add more color and freshness to your art. As soon as the rain ends, colors become more vibrant and intense; which will bring out the elegance of the elements. Also, after the storm; everything looks fresh and clean, every color in nature just pops out!
After the rain, even wildlife come out of the shelter to catch the meal, and it is the best opportunity for you to capture when critters are busy foraging or hunting. Especially birds try to stay low which even makes easy to shoot at eye level.

Snow Fog, Mist, and Haze – Not bad at all

First of all, I am not a big fan of snow. For a while, I did not venture out at all during the winter season. However, very recently I started stepping out of my comfort zone. Eventually, I got used to it.
There are some critters such as red foxes, owls and some waterfowls like winter season and it is an excellent opportunity to photograph these winter loving critters before winter ends. When food is not abundant critters, do come out to stretch their territory and explore other options. All you have to do is look out for the right location and try to visit the place again and again.
If you still don’t want to go out during the snow and If you leave in a suburb or countryside you may be able to photograph birds and other native animals in your backyard.

But, protect your gears

It is hard to carry around all the protection such as a dry bag, anything waterproof cover, etc., along with your equipment to keep everything safe when you need to hike a bit to get there. Here are some light protection materials I always carry in my pockets.

Ziplocs:

Yes, Ziplocs  are not just meant for Sandwich! Keep a bunch of lightweight plastic storage bags (such as Ziploc) in your camera bag. They come handy when you are in the situation where you don’t have shelter nearby. Always keep your extra batteries and memory cards in Ziploc bags. Ziploc bags are lightweight and flexible, you can stuff in lots of accessories in one Ziploc.

Empty and Clean Trash bags:

Oh yeah! They are very handy and protects from rain very well. Just keep a couple of them in your camera bag. When it rains just cover camera and lens in a simple pull. And of course, don’t throw them away when done; they are reusable trash bags can be re-used for its actual purpose.

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Photographing Shorebirds – Best locations in New York & New Jersey
Common Tern

Photographing Shorebirds – Best locations in New York & New Jersey

If you are on a short trip to New York or New Jersey during spring or summer season, then you might want to make some time to visit one of these beaches – Nickerson Beach (NY), Belmar beach (NJ) and Sandy Hook Beach (NJ).
In the past, I visited these beaches many times, and it is safe to say they are some of the best places to photograph common and uncommon shorebirds. And of course, early to mid-summer is the breeding season, making it totally worth it to go to these beaches for your photography sessions!
For those of us who adore the winged beings would agree that there is an inexpressible pleasure in capturing their birds in motion or photographing multitudes of these creatures.
Whether you’re in New York or New Jersey, we have a few fantastic beaches in mind where you can capture beautiful photographs of shorebirds. Read on to know about our top three locations.

Nickerson Beach (NY)

Common Tern

Nickerson Beach located on the south shore of Long Island, New York in Lido Beach is one of the best places to photograph a large number of nesting shorebirds, some of which are considered to be endangered.
The most common shorebirds, the ones that you can find at this beach include – American Oystercatchers, Least Terns (rare), Common Terns, Black Skimmers, and if you’re really lucky, you might also come across the feathery, sand-colored Piping Plovers and Semipalmated Plover.
These shorebirds bread at Nickerson beach. So, if you’re planning to visit this place, make sure that you come to this beach between April and August. Depending on the month you visit you get to see the nesting, mating or young hatchlings to juveniles. Early April to May is an excellent time to capture piping Plovers and Oystercatchers. On the other hand, early June is an excellent time to photograph young Oystercatcher chicks. The month of June is also an excellent month to capture the common tern mating and nesting. You might as well see some young common tern’s chicks too!
Common Tern’s, Black Skimmer’s and Oystercatcher’s eggs hatch in June-August; they stick around till September and then fly away. However, plovers are exceptional as they are the first to leave and generally don’t wait long, leaving the beach before September.
Here you can find amazing opportunities to capture all kinds of behaviors of these breeding and nesting species – from terrific flight shots to birds carrying their food in their mouths to fighting over their prey – you will find incredible moments for your photographs.
Although your trip to the Nickerson beach will prove to be an incredible one, the traffic congestion may cause some trouble. So, if you don’t want the traffic to mess with your creative process, visit this beach early morning before 8 AM!

Belmar Beach (NJ)

Known for sunny spots and amazing oceanfront, Belmar Beach is a popular destination at the Jersey Shore.
Belmar beach is known for nesting the endangered coastal birds such as the Black Skimmer, Least Terns, and Oystercatchers. But the good thing is due to the dedicated efforts of New Jersey’s wildlife refuge, there has lately been an increase in birds’ population to a certain extent.
The locals love this beach so again, if you really want peaceful time to photograph at low light and beat the crowd, the ideal time to visit this beach would be early in the morning or on weekdays.

 Although it’s not allowed to go near the breeding ground of these species (as it is quite evident by the “do not disturb” signs posted everywhere), you can still photograph these species from a far distance if you have a decent lens such as 200-400mm or just 400 mm.

Least Tern
Least Tern

Sandy Hook (NJ)

Piping Plover
Piping Plover

A part of Middletown Township, Sandy Hook is another great place for shorebirds photography. You can easily visit this beach through a beach shuttle service. You’ll be glad to ditch your car and hours of heavy traffic behind.
Common coastal birds you can find in this place, Piping Plover, Least Terns, Oystercatchers, Sanderling, the Semipalmated Plover and so on.
Grab your camera and get busy clicking photographs showing birds catching insects or worms and feeding them to their young ones.

So when should you visit either of these 3 beaches?
Generally, summer is a great time to come out and visit this place. Most of the shorebirds especially Black skimmers spend their winter in other parts of the region, but as spring or summer arrives, they migrate to Sandy Hook.
Irrespective of the bird you’re photographing, one thing you have to keep in mind is to take photos from a distance. Shorebirds are decreasing in numbers. So, it is vital that you do not disturb them and conduct your photo session with caution. Try photographing unique behaviors of these birds set against breathtaking backdrops provided to you courtesy of the location!

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