Out to Oklahoma (Alex Mody)

Hey everybody,

I left the Blue Ridge yesterday and made the 15 hour drive to Lawton, Oklahoma! I’m out here photographing on the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. They have Bison, Elk, Deer, Prairie Dogs, and tons of Birds. I plan to spend the better part of a week shooting here, before I go down to Texas.

Here’s a photograph of a Black Tailed Prairie Dog. I came across the Prairie Dog town as I was driving through the refuge just before sunrise this morning. When I stopped my car, every single one of them retreated into their “homes.” I had to set up my gear, sit down, and wait 15 minutes before they began popping their heads out to get a better look at me. Eventually they got comfortable with me around, and I began photographing them. This shot here is one of my favorites from the morning, and this was my first time photographing Prairie Dogs!

Update from the Smokies (Alex Mody)

Hey everybody,

I’m currently in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, just outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The fall foliage has not been too ideal, and I’m having a bit of a hard time photographing it. Just about all the trees above 5,000 feet elevation have gone past peak and dropped their leaves. Most areas of medium elevation (3k-5k) have dropped a good portion of their leaves, and have failed to produce very much color, and finally, areas between 1k-3k are still mostly green down here! Also, most of the trees surrounding the Smokies’ many photogenic streams have dropped lots of leaves and are not allowing for much photographic opportunity. With that said, I’m still thrilled to be down here. It’s simply beautiful. I just find myself having to look a bit harder, and to work a bit harder to make the images I’m after.

Here’s a photograph from a few days ago at Mingo Falls, located on the Qualla Indian Reservation, just outside of the Park boundaries. This waterfall has been published to be at heights between 120′ and 200′. I really like the look of the fallen leaves on the wet rocks, and for this reason I make a point of trying to photograph waterfalls after peak foliage, or after a good portion of the leaves have dropped. I plan to shoot this waterfall again in a few days, and I’m hoping more leaves have fallen since this visit.

Camping Trip

If you have not noticed already, the new issue is officially up! Check it out at http://www.naturesbeststudents.com/.

In other news, after over a month of schoolwork, I finally got away with a few friends last weekend for a camping trip. It was a lot of fun. We packed up the car, went to the grocery store and drove up to Massachusetts to check out the fall colors. We arrived just as the sun was setting and the trees were lit up in late evening light around a beautiful lake. I actually forgot to bring my camera in the rush of packing! Luckily, my friend Julia had a camera with her and I was able to take some pictures.

It was so refreshing to be behind the camera for a few minutes and I am going to attempt to go out more often before winter completely sets in up here. New England in the fall is unbelievable if you hit it at the right time.

Art Wolfe Creative Sessions (Nathanael Gass)

Last weekend, I went to a photography workshop held by Art Wolfe. He talked about his experiences photographing and how he composes an image. It was a great weekend and I learned a lot. If you have the chance to hear him speak, I would recommend you do so.

His main point was that the longer the viewer looks at the image, the more interesting, and therefore better, the photo is. By adding mystery to the photo, the photographer can pique the viewer’s interest and make him look at the photo longer. He frequently uses texture to highlight his subject and add interest.

I was particularly interested in his discussion on texture because I had already begun to experiment with texture in my photos. For example, in this photo, I chose to use the opposing textures of the tortoise’s shell and leg to add interest to the composition. I also moved in close to give the viewer fewer clues at what they were looking at to add mystery.

Metadata: f/5 at 1/20th of a second at ISO 100
Tripod, Nikon D-80 with 180mm macro lens

Off to the Blue Ridge! (Alex Mody)

Hey everybody,

I’ve come from West Virginia down to Boone, North Carolina, where I am now. I had planned to shoot for a day or so around Breaks Interstate Park, which is interestingly in Virginia and Kentucky, but the weather conditions and foliage were not ideal. So, I made my way south towards the Linville Gorge, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and I photographed Linville Falls this afternoon. I’ll have a photo from Linville ready in my next blog entry.

Here’s a photograph I made yesterday on Lost Land Run in western Maryland. This is a small section of a much larger set of cascades. I was able to compose this scene by getting super close with my 12-24mm zoom lens.

Drop by the Nature’s Best Students website and check out the new magazine!

Get Involved!

Hey Photographer!

Photojournalism Tip #1: Get Involved!
Pick up your camera and stop by your local or school newspaper, and ask how you can get involved. See if you can become an intern at your local paper because this would give you an opportunity to work with a professional who makes their living taking photographs. Find out how to join the photography staff at your school newspaper because your photographs will very likely get published and you will get the experience of working on assignments and taking photographs that tell a story. You don’t have to have professional equipment or an awesome portfolio to get started and these first steps will give you a chance to see if photojournalism is something you are interested in. Generally local photographers are generous about acting as mentors for people just starting out and school newspapers always need more photographs to work with so don’t hide behind your lens …. Get involved!!!
The way I started was through an internship at my local newspaper. I got my position because I had an Junior High social studies assignment to job shadow someone in my community and I asked at the end of the day if they had interns. My job was to photograph the happenings in my town, and pay special attention to school news. I was a High School intern for The Herald from Freshman to Senior year and had to be creative in taking photos of the drama club, new teachers and spaghetti fundraising suppers- I learned a lot and you will too.

Six years later a few of my assignments are a bit more exciting. I thought I would share a photograph I took this past week for The Chronicle. I traveled with one of the writers to Greensville, NC to go to a speech by Sarah Palin, Republican Vice Presidential Candidate. I had a lot of fun taking these photographs and using my lens to document the circus of Palin supporters, this assignment reminded me how much I love photojournalism! And learning how to work an angle at all those school assemblies helped.

Get Involved!

New Magazine Online (Gabby)

The new magazine is now on the website at www.naturesbeststudents.com for those of you that are searching. We are working out a few glitches and updates so that it directly links to the homepage. For now, access the last issue through the homepage and click on the folder button found on the bar under the magazine viewer (to the left)- this is the archives section. You can access Issue II through that folder. I’ll post another update as soon as everything is running smoothly.

– Gabby

Another update from West Virginia (Alex Mody)


I’m still here in West Virginia, shooting away. I’ve got to keep this one brief, because I’m a bit pressed for time. The color is phenomenal, and conditions have been great. I’ve been camping and shooting the whole time and it’s great. I plan to stick around here for about another week, because of how good conditions are here, and then I’m off to the Smokies/Blue Ridge Parkway!

Here’s a photograph I made in the fog, off US Rt. 219 near Benbush, WV. I absolutely love shooting in the fog because of the eerie and dramatic results one can obtain. I do have to mention that it’s not entirely safe to shoot from the side of the road due to the low visibility in fog.

I’d also like to say that Gabby’s new site is awesome, and that if you haven’t checked it out yet, you should. You can read all about it in the post right under this one.

My New Website (Gabby)

Fall color is starting to paint the forests up here in the Northeast and I’m stuck inside doing homework. Hopefully I will have a chance to get up to New Hampshire this weekend to photograph the leaves. In my spare time, I’ve been working on launching my new website. Check out www.gabbysalazar.com. And, please post your websites in the comments sections if I don’t already know about them – it’s great to find new photographers.

I used Photobiz.com for my website and it was a pretty good deal to suit my needs. It is $15 per month for hosting and a one-time $125.00 fee for template use. The online software is simple and easy to use and the provide instruction and support. While this is out of the budget for many young photographers, it is a good option if you want to create a professional website now or in the future.

Happy Shooting!
– Gabby

Photojournalism and Introduction!

Hey Nature’s Best Student Photographers!
I’m Maya Robinson, the Assistant Editor to Nature’s Best Photography Students. I’ll be posting about photojournalism.

A little bit about my background I grew up in Vermont where I was surrounded by the natural world! I’m currently a sophomore at Duke University in North Carolina, studying Visual Arts and Sociology. Along with classes, I’m the Photo Editor of The Chronicle Duke’s daily newspaper. Before coming to Duke, I had a four year internship with my local newspaper and I’ve worked with Nature’s Best for two years.

I explored another form of photojournalism during a yearlong exchange in Amravati India and curated traveling and gallery exhibit of my experiences. One of those photographs was included in the 2007 Windland Smith Rice International Photography exhibit at the Smithsonian of Natural History.

Part of my job as Photo Editor of a daily college newspaper is to teach new staff photographers how to use and care for the equipment, , how to approach a news assignment, how to keep the important principals of photography in mind and how to follow the etiquette of photojournalism. The Chronicle has 5 different departments, News, Sports, Online, Recess (an art and entertainment weekly supplement), and Towerview (a monthly magazine). Here is the link to The Chronicle: http://www.dukechronicle.com/.

I’ll be posting weekly about the ever changing excitement and frustrations inherent in photojournalism, and how you can get involved!


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