A Block Island Thanksgiving (Gabby)

I decided not to venture home to North Carolina for Thanksgiving this year because winter break is right around the corner. Instead, I spent Thanksgiving with my friend Gillian at her house on Block Island, a small island 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. This was my first trip out to Block Island. I have been in school in the Northeast for four years, but have not had access to a car, so I have only started exploring the area this year.

Block Island has very few tall trees but is covered with bushes and red winterberry at this time of year. The cliffs overlooking the ocean are steep and jagged – offering spectacular views of the sunset and the surrounding shoreline. While I was pretty busy eating and visiting with Gillian’s friends and family, I snuck off with my camera for a few moments.

On Thursday, I noticed that the sky was darkening and that gaps in the clouds were allowing the sun to peak through on occasion. I walked out to a surrounding overlook and waited for a while as the sun began to play on the shoreline. Finally, I took this shot with my 28-135mm lens at 28mm. The colors were beautiful and while it is not a very artistic shot, it captures the mood of the island on a fall day.

Next weekend, I will be going out to Plum Island in MA to look for Snowy Owls – hopefully I will have pictures to share!

- Gabby

Submit to Picture of the Week (Gabby)

Please submit to picture of the week through our website at www.naturesbeststudents.com/takeaction/. I’d love to see more work, and if your image is selected (new winners are selected each Sunday) you will receive a free subscription to Nature’s Best Photography Magazine.

Thanks!
- Gabby Salazar

Bosque del Apache NWR (Alex Mody)

Hey everybody,

I have now passed the halfway point of the three-month trip I am currently on. I apologize for the lack of recent updates, as internet access has been limited, and I have been really busy. Anyway, I’m now in Socorro, New Mexico photographing at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Due to the 37,000 Snow Geese and 4,700 Sandhill Cranes that the Park Rangers counted recently, I’ve been making tons of photographs out here and have had no problem keeping busy.

Here’s a photograph of a Sandhill Crane in flight. I really liked being able to shoot birds in flight with something other than blue sky as the background.

Sunflower (Nathanael Gass)


Back in August, I took my annual trip to Pennsylvania for a week. Not far from where I was staying, there was a church surrounded by a cheerful field of sunflowers. Not only were there many sunflowers to photograph, there were also plenty of insects. I tried taking macro photos with both my macro lens and my wide-angle lens. I tried many techniques and got some great images. It was really fun, and I can’t wait to go back next year.
Metadata: ISO 320, f/9, 1/640th of a second
Nikon D-80 with 180mm macro lens

Fall Colors (Nathanael Gass)


As summer turns to fall, the trees change color, and I set out to capture the vibrant hues with my camera. Most photographers choose to shoot wide-angle landscape images. However, I prefer to shoot macro shots, including only a few leaves at a time. I especially enjoy photographing dogwood buds and leaves. With pastel colors and soft textures, the buds provide a focused center for my image, while the leaves add colors and designs to the image.
The dogwood I photograph is about 100 ft. from my front door. You don’t have to go to the mountains to capture the beautiful colors of fall.
Metadata: Nikon D-80 with 180mm macro lens. ISO 1600, f/13, 1/60th of a second.

South Texas Birds (Alex Mody)

Hey everybody,

I’ve now made it down to the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, and am photographing birds and wildlife out here. This area definitely has the greatest biodiversity of anywhere I’ve ever visited. I see something new every day. I anticipate being able to put together a longer and more thoughtful post in the next few days, but I don’t have enough time for that right now.

Here are two photographs I made at John and Audrey Martin’s “Javelina Ranch.” They are very kind and generous people who have made my stay down here much better than I had expected.

This first photograph is a Plain Chachalaca, which the locals call a “Mexican Pheasant.” They’re very interesting and noisy birds, and I felt fortunate to have photographed them perching up on branches, as they usually remain low in the brush.

This second shot is of a Sharp-Shinned Hawk. It came in and landed on this perch that I had set up just outside of a photo blind on the Javelina Ranch. It stayed on this branch for all of 10 seconds before moving on to another. I almost didn’t get to make this shot. My autofocus worked just in the nick of time. I suspect the hawk came in to the feeder setup looking to grab a snack, but all of the songbirds were long gone by the time he landed.

Photojournalism Tip #2: Get to Know Your Camera’s Exposure Settings (Maya Robinson)

Before you can confidently go on an assignment it is really important to understand your camera’s exposure settings. They control how much light strikes the image sensor and whether you have an image that can be published. The three most important things to know how to change are the aperture, f/stop, and ISO and then to understand how they are interconnected.

No matter the type of camera you have, all cameras have these settings. I started my photography with a simple Olympus where there were minimum features and I could focus on making the correct exposure choices. You don’t need an expensive camera to take great photographs!

Once you know how to change these settings you’ll be able to take better photographs. The best way to get to understand these settings is to take lots of pictures, experiment with those exposure settings and study your results. In photojournalism you need to know how to make exposure decisions quickly and confidently because news or sports happen fast.

~Maya

Great Images and More to Come (Gabby Salazar)

Hey Everyone -

I’m sad that I don’t have any beautiful new pictures to share like Alex and Nathanael (great stuff!). I’ve been writing essays for school and trying to get outside to take walks everyday. The fall colors are fading here, but still beautiful, especially in the evening light.

Just wanted to share the following gallery with you. The BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition just put its winners up online: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/temporary-exhibitions/wpy/ There are some outstanding images among this year’s selection.

And, in the next month, the winners of Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice International Awards will be online at http://www.naturesbestphotography.com/ and on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Check out both competitions and remember to enter the Nature’s Best Awards for next year – there is a youth category!

- Gabby

Just checking in (Alex Mody)

Hey everyone,

I’m going to be out here in OK until the 5th. The Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge is a gem that is just waiting to be discovered by other photographers. The diversity of wildlife in combination with the great scenery makes for a place any photographer could easily spend a week at. I’ve been shooting wildlife when the sky is clear, and shooting landscapes when there are clouds.

So, the night before last, a few hours before sunset, I saw my first cloud in the sky for the entire time I’ve been here. I made my way up to the top of Mt. Scott and found a beautiful spot with potholes and peak fall foliage. The clouds stuck around, and it was quite the show. I shot some shots with the sun in them, and some of just the potholes and foliage, but I feel like this photograph is the most complete, and the most well composed of them all.

I will be shooting today, tomorrow, and the next morning before meeting up with my dad and making the drive down to South Texas.

Flying Squirrel (Nathanael Gass)


About a year ago, I bought a bluebird box in an attempt to lure more bluebirds to my yard. I frequently watched it, but I never saw any kind of bird try to make a nest in it. Recently, I went out to check on it, and opened the side. Much to my surprise, I saw a nest in it. I suspected it was a flying squirrel nest, since I hadn’t seen any birds carrying nesting material. A little while later, my mom came to see, and accidentally scared out a Southern Flying Squirrel. While it was out, I decided to photograph this infrequently seen species.
Southern Flying Squirrels are quite common in the southeatern U.S., but because of their nocturnal habits, they are rarely seen. If you ever get the chance to photograph one, use a fast shutter speed. They breathe really rapidly, causing motion blur. Here is one of my many pictures.
Metadata: ISO 200, f/5.6 1/20th of a second
180mm macro lens, tripod, Nikon D-80

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