Dingman’s Creek, Pennsylvania (Alex Mody)

Back in early Spring, I spent two days photographing the many waterfalls and stream scenes of the Delaware Water Gap NRA. Spring is often a good time of year to photograph scenes with water features. They seem to be flowing highest that time of year.

This photograph in particular was taken just upstream of Deer Leap Falls in George Childs Park, just outside of the NRA. When photographing scenes like this, overcast or soft light is often ideal. A polarizing filter also helps immeasurably with removing glare from the wet rocks and allowing for use of a longer shutter speed. I used a shutter speed of three seconds, to show the motion in the water while still preserving a bit of detail. It’s important to experiment with shutter speed, especially when shooting a scene with moving water. For some subjects, you may find that you like the way a half second exposure looks, but for others, you may prefer fifteen seconds. It’s really up to you.

Just introducing myself (Alex Mody)

Hi everybody, my name is Alex Mody. I’m a seventeen-year-old nature photographer living in Vienna, Virginia. I’ll be posting here a few times a week with field updates, “how-to” posts, and trip reports. I get out and photograph as much as possible, and I hope to share some of my experiences with you though this blog. This fall I will also be going on an extended trip throughout the country, and I plan to blog extensively over the course of my travels.


Here’s a photograph I took in Maine this June. It was taken in Acadia National Park from the summit of the famous Cadillac Mountain. Instead of opting for the “typical” image from the top of the mountain, I set out to find an interesting foreground that would hopefully block out the harbor lights, thus creating an image with a more “natural” feel to it.

Please visit my website at www.alexmody.com to see more of my work.

Panoramas (Gabby Salazar)

I spent five weeks in Badlands National Park earlier this year as an Artist in Residence. Everyday I explored the park with my my camera. It was often very chilly and there were not many people in the park during the winter. While I was shooting I tried to remember to take images that I could stitch together to make panoramic images. My friends kept telling me how easy it is to automate paoramic stitching in Photoshop CS3 and I wanted to try it when I got around to upgrading from CS2 to CS3. I took many series using my tripod and panning to take images in a row, both vertically and horizontally and I overlapped each image by about 1/3 to make sure that Photoshop would have enough information to stitch them together. Finally I’m reviewing images and have gotten around to stitching some of the panoramas. It really is incredibly easy. You simply select the “Photomerge” tool under “Automate” in the “File” dro-down menu, select the images you want to stitch and click OK. Check out some of the results.

Making a Book

I was recently at a friends house and he pulled out a few photography books to share with me. I was suprised to see that they were actually his photos. He put together books through an online software, designed them, and had them printed. They were high quality and very professional. But, they were mostly just really cool. Self-publishing used to be a major undertaking, but he explained the process to me and it seems that it has become easy and an open market for anyone.

So, I decided to try it out. After spending a few hours reseraching companies online, I decided to go with http://www.blurb.com/. I’ve also heard great things about http://www.mypublisher.com/. I was shocked to find that it really is easy! You simply download the free software and use their templates to create your book. You can choose hardcover or softcover, the number of pages, and of course all of the colors, designs and page layouts. Just upload photos from your computer and pop them into the pages. Best of all, when you roll over the picture boxes, the optimal size in pixels shows up for each separate box. In about 15 hours I created a 30-page book of my images with text and captions. After you review the book, you just click order and I couldn’t believe it, but the hardcover books are only $29.99! They print them in 5-6 days.

I’ll let you know how the books look when I receive them, but as of right now, I’m incredibly pleased. They will make the best personalized gifts or photography portfolios! Check it out online.

- Gabby

The Magazine is Online!

The first online issue is now live on our website (www.naturesbeststudents.com)! This took a lot of work over the last week to get things up and running and to make sure the site is fully functional. We are hoping to add more videos over the next few weeks. It is so exciting to create a new product that is accessible to students and teachers all over the world. Hopefully people will begin to pass it around. Now that we are done with basic website updates I’m thinking about updating my personal website (www.gabbysalazar.com). I’ve been researching web templates and have found some nice companies. My favorite is http://www.photobiz.com, but their hosting fees are expensive. 

I’m also in the process of getting together all of the photo contest entries at the moment. The judging will take place in the coming weeks. I’ll post some more pictures soon!
- Gabby

Reporting from the cloud forest

Check out this video from the cloud forest of Ecuador. See below for the photo I took of the waterfall shortly after we made this video.

Saving the Earth(Worms)

This morning I woke up early to go for a run before work. It was difficult to get out of bed, but with the online magazine launch scheduled for Friday I needed an energy boost. While I was doing a few warm up laps around the driveway, I noticed that there were dozens of earthworms attempting to crawl across the gravel drive.

The worms were coated in the gravel dust and many were struggling to move. I continued on my run, hoping to get in 30 minutes before I had to get ready for work. On my way back to the house, I noticed the worms again. It was clear that many would perish – either death by dehydration or by car tires. I decided that being a few minutes late was worth saving a few of the worms by relocating them to a local field of grass. Little gestures are important.

Sorting Through Images and Metadata

After returning from Ecuador, I have thousands of images to process and to sort through. I’m finding this to be a little bit overwhelming. The first step in this process is embedding metadata information into all of my images. I use Adobe Bridge for this process, but you can also use the “File Info” section in Photoshop or Elements or Adobe Lightroom. I’m sure there are many other applications that also add metadata to images. I’ve been spending a lot of time on The Russell Brown Show website http://www.russellbrown.com/tips_tech.html. It is a fantastic resource that has free tutorials and scripts for Adobe products to help with processing and workflow. Check it out.

And, check out a photo from one of the set of images I have sorted through. It is of a caterpillar in the cloud forest!

Adventure in Ecuador

I just returned from 23 days of traveling through Ecuador with a friend. First we visited the cloud forest and then we traveled to the Amazon basin. Now I’m back with thousands of photos that need to be edited and sorted. It is challenging to work in the Amazon because the primary forest has very low light during the day and many creatures are nocturnal. One night we went out on a night walk to search for frogs and were walking back to the station when I spotted a huge snake. I quickly shined the headlamp on it and discovered that it was a six-foot rainbow boa. The snake slithered into a pile of rocks nearby.

There is a herpetologist studying snakes at the research station we were visiting and he was able to catch the snake. He held it over night in order to take blood samples and measurements. In the morning he let us photograph the boa when he released it back into the wild. I took this shot of the boa in a controlled situation with Shawn, the herpetologist, holding onto its tail as we let the snake go. It was a beautiful animal and it is called a rainbow boa because of its iridescent scales. An exciting find! I’ll post more images and stories from the trip in the next few days.

- Gabby

The New Online Magazine

Welcome to the blogspot of Nature’s Best Photography Students. Nature’s Best Photography for Kids is now Nature’s Best Photography Students, an online magazine targeted at teens and young adults. All of the work in the magazine is by students that are 21 years of age and younger. The magazine is a free, bi-monthly, online publication. The first issue will be online August 15th, 2008 at http://www.naturesbeststudents.com/.
You can submit stories, images, features, and ideas. Check out the website for more information on how to upload and send in your work, or send me an email.
I will be posting tips, travel stories, and useful information on internships, scholarship and opportunities around the world. Other young photographers will also be posting their outstanding stories and photos. Check back regularly and subscribe to the blog!

—Gabby Salazar, Editor of NBP Students
gabby@naturesbestphotography.com

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