Shenandoah National Park: Part 2 + Update (Alex Mody)

Hey everybody,

I’m preparing to leave tomorrow on a ten week photography trip right now! I’ll be photographing fall color throughout the Blue Ridge, wildlife (primarily birds) in Texas, and winter scenes throughout Canyon Country. Stay tuned for updates from the field!

Here’s another photograph from Shenandoah National Park, to hold you over before the gazillions of autumn foliage photographs I’ll have. I just went with a very typical composition with this shot. The stacked ridges looked nice, and so did the sunset color in the sky. I put on my 70-200mm zoom lens, and went with the most natural feeling composition.

Shenandoah National Park (Alex Mody)


I recently traveled to Shenandoah National Park with , a mere 60 miles or so from my house, with two friends: Chris Kayler, and his girlfriend, Kari Post (Both of whom have cool blogs, by the way.) We had the intent of photographing White-Tailed Deer. Bucks, in particular. Unfortunately, none were to be found, and as the sun began to set, we began to focus more on photographing landscape images. There wasn’t a whole lot to work with. The skies had some attractive cloud formations, and the sun set over some distant ridges across the Shenandoah Valley. Here’s an image from that night that I didn’t like at first, but has now began to grow on me.

Introduction (Nathanael Gass)


Hello, my name is Nathanael Gass. I am 15 and have been photographing for 3 years. I am home schooled and have been my entire life. I am primarily interested in macro photography and wildlife photography.

I don’t go to exotic places to take my photographs. None of my photographs have been taken outside of America, and nearly none have been taken outside of my home state, North Carolina. I go to Pennsylvania once or twice a year but that’s the farthest I travel. It is rare for me to ride more than 20 min. to a place I’ll be photographing, and I take most of my images in my backyard.

I’m going to tell you how to attract wildlife to your yard and how to take many different (and hopefully great) photos there. I’m also going to tell you about some close-to-home areas where I photograph.

Here’s a photo I took at one of my favorite photo locations- the Eno River. I found this northern water snake eating a catfish it caught. I got into the water and started photographing at different angles, being careful to keep my camera dry.

I used a Nikon D-80 with180mm macro lens and tripod. The settings were ISO 320, f/14, 1/200th of a second. It was taken about 5 miles from my house.
Stay tuned for future posts.

Great Falls of the Potomac (Alex Mody)

As I prepare for a lengthy photo trip this fall, which I’ll tell more about in a week or two, I’ve been photographing locally as much as possible. One spot I enjoy in particular is Great Falls National Park. Here’s a shot I made last week. It was fairly cloudy and the sunrise came close to being spectacular. This is still pretty nice by my standards, though. A Polarizing filter and a three stop Graduated Neutral Density filter were used to boost saturation and balance the exposure between the sky and the falls below.

Glamour Magazine Awards (Gabby Salazar)

A little over a week ago I flew down to New York City to accept an award as one of Glamour Magazine’s Top 10 College Women of the Year. Part of the honor had to do with my work on Nature’s Best Photography Students and it was wonderful to share the magazine with so many amazing people. I got to meet the nine other winners and we were whisked around NYC for three days to meals, events and shows.
The first day we visited the United Nations Population Fund and learned about maternal health throughout the world. We learned that the lifetime risk of maternal death (death while giving birth) is 1 in 7300 for developed countries, including the United States and 1 in 26 for Africa. To me this disparity is completely unacceptable and it really opened my eyes to a new issue that affects women, men, families and communities across the world. To me it really hit home how much maternal health is also an environmental issue. We often think of saving charismatic mammals like polar bears, giant pandas, etc as top environmental concerns. I do not disagree at all and am in complete support of money and resources helping to save individual animals. But, humans are part of the ecosystem too and when women die during childbirth they often leave children and torn families behind – as the speaker at the United Nations Population Fund said, “women are the fabric of society.” Just an interesting thought to reflect on when you think about what qualifies as an environmental issue.
On a lighter note, we also met with top female professionals from Nickelodeon, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, the NY State Government, and Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center. The speakers were amazing and the other nine girls were very impressive. Here are some of the websites for their organizations:

Gardens for Health: http://www.gardensforhealth.org/index.php
Lighthouse for Dreams: http://lighthousefordreams.org/

Check out a picture of the 10 winners with Amy Dickonson who writes the “Ask Amy” column for the Chicago Tribune.

Threatening Killdeer (Alex Mody)

Here’s another photograph from my shorebird trip last month. When I took this photo, there were two Killdeer getting into a quarrel. They weren’t happy with how close they were to one another, and they didn’t hesitate to make it known. It was really interesting to see both of them take on this “threatening” pose at the same time.

The History of Photography (Gabby Salazar)

After over 10 years of calling myself a “photographer,” I’m finally taking a history of photography class at school. This class does not focus on nature photography, in fact it barely brushes over the genre, but it does cover the beginnings of photography and some of the milestones throughout history.

If you’ve never studied the history of photography, it is fascinating. There is a lot of debate about who actually invented photography – there were a number of men working on the photographic process around the same time in different countries. It didn’t start with film as we know it – photographers started out with light, paper and chemicals. Many young photographers have never really shot with film or transparencies making them even farther removed from the roots of photography. Check out this photographer whose work I just saw at the Harvard Museum of Natural History: http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2008/05.15/09-leaves.html She uses a process more akin to early photographic processes.

Anyway, if you’re interested, study photography. The story of photography inspires me and it also gives me an appreciation for how far we’ve come. Just a few years ago when I was still using 35mm transparencies, a friend gave me a roll of Kodachrome with an ISO of 25. If you don’t know what that is – look it up – if you’re a photographer, it’s a part of your history.

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