Just Another Nature Enthusiast

JANE’s Images & Thoughts 🌲 Inspired by the Pacific Northwest & places I wander

Nature and Landscape Coursework Completion

Nature and Landscape  Coursework Completion

February 2022 – Submitted final assignment to graduate from New York Institute of Photography

California Ground Squirrel

Spot metering

Nikon D-500

Manual settings

RAW format/ post processed with Lightroom CC

Tamron G2 150-600mm lens- hand held with image stabilization enabled

This image was taken on a trail in a Pacific coast rain forested area at Fort Stevens State Park. California ground squirrels live in burrows, which they excavate themselves. Some burrows are occupied communally, but each squirrel has its own entrance. They tend not to wander too far away from these burrows, which explains why they can disappear rather quickly! I scoped out an area where this one lived among fallen snags and ferns. That helped with camera selection and setup: long telephoto lens on my cropped sensor Nikon D500. My decisive moment was waiting for a ground squirrel to pose on this log that was nicely lighted with morning sun sifting through a mature coniferous forest. I selected this angle to be low with the squirrel and to catch light in the eye as well as illumination of the wonderfully dappled colors in the fur. My selected depth of field does a pleasing job of framing the subject- don’t you think?

Douglas Tree Squirrel

Pattern metering

Nikon D500

Manual settings

RAW format/ post processed with Lightroom CC

Tamron G2 150-600mm lens- hand held with image stabilization enabled

Much of my practice has been from home since the onset of the pandemic. I am fortunate to have a forest on one property line and wetland on another. This gives me a lot of opportunity explore creative techniques and learn the habits of the forest mammals. Douglas Squirrels tend to be very cautious and so it took many days of me simply watching to discover his routine path from forest to wetland. Over that time, he become more used to seeing me, and actually paused while descending a tree for me to catch a few close-ups on this particular evening.  With me closer, and the 150-600 in hand, I’m blown away by how intimate this shoot appears to be. The higher ISO permitted enough light to give a soft glow to the perimeter of his body and to illuminate little tiny water droplets from the soft drizzly weather.

In post processing, I cropped to accentuate the pensive pause the Douglas Squirrel took as he seemed to be as interested in me as I was in him. I’ve long been impressed by the bokeh produced by my beloved “Tammy…” this shot is no exception.

Mother Raccoon and her Kit

Spot metering

Nikon D500

Manual settings

RAW format/ post processed with Lightroom CC

Tamron G2 70-200mm f/2.8 lens- hand held with image stabilization enabled

This image was also captured at home. There were a number of “decisive moments” on this particular evening. This mother raccoon had her young kits out of the forest on, what I believed to be, their first outing. She actively showed how to dig in the grass for seed or insects; then she showed how to climb up and navigate branches in a tall Cherry tree. Her young ones were fine with all of mother’s teachings until it came time to climb down from the tree. Two kits scampered out of the tree with no trouble. Not true for the third. After MUCH coaxing, the last kit was out of the tree. I chose this image from a rather large number of shots because it was a perfect conclusion. The sun was getting low as the kit stayed by mother’s side and headed back to the forest. I’m pleased with the placement of the tails, hind foot that suggests mother raccoon’s steady gait, body placement, and black humpy frame created by the outline of the fur. A trade-off in getting low with this camera angle was the blurred grass blades in the foreground. I hope this will not adversely affect the critique of this photo and, rather, be seen as getting the “raccoon’s eye” view.

In post processing in Lightroom CC, I added a bit of dark vignette to further emphasize the bond of this pair of animals.

Barred Owl with Townsend’s Chipmunk prey

Pattern metering

Nikon D850

Aperture priority

RAW format/ post processed with Lightroom CC

Tamron G2 70-200mm f/2.8 lens- hand held with image stabilization enabled

Universal theme: Survival

This photo truly is one that fits Chris Carradino’s observation that in order for a photo to represent a universal theme, it must be… thought provoking.

Witnessing the Barred Owl wait, capture, and consume a chipmunk was a very humbling experience for me to observe. In all honesty, my first reaction… when I knew the chipmunk would be caught… was absolute horror. (Chipmunks are so cute… my little garden pets.) But, once my anthropomorphic thoughts faded into the mind of a naturalist, I was fascinated by watching ecology in action. My respect and awe of Nature ever deepens.

My camera recorded every movement the owl made in its quest for a meal. I think I took well over 70 shots as this story unfolded. The image selected for this assignment was actually fairly early in the process, and happened after the chipmunk had been held captured on the ground for a short time. Once up on the tree limb, a very focused process unfolded as the owl applied steady grip in its talons until death occurred… one organism dying for the survival of another. It was in this moment that I could feel my horror actually turn into a deepened feeling of respect for Nature.

Seeing survival as it pertains to Nature in the trophic cycle instills awareness about life and death in very practical terms… something we lose sight of as organisms that feed from grocery stores.

Resource-

The trophic level of an organism is the position it occupies in a food web. A food chain is a succession of organisms that eat other organisms and may, in turn, be eaten themselves. The trophic level of an organism is the number of steps it is from the start of the chain. A food web starts at trophic level 1 with primary producers such as plants, can move to herbivores at level 2, carnivores at level 3 or higher, and typically finish with apex predators at level 4 or 5. The path along the chain can form either a one-way flow or a food “web”. Ecological communities with higher biodiversity form more complex trophic paths.(02-03-2022, cut from Wikipedia.)

Bee on the Bright side
Describe your process for taking this photo, discuss why it is an excellent photo, and explain how it fulfills all of the requirements of the assignment. Pattern metering Nikon D850 Manual settings Tamron G2 150-600mm lens- hand held with image stabilization enabled   This is an excellent photo in terms of the use of the photography processes: Color theory- complimentary colors red/green communicate my feelings about photography… warm regards and energetic about being an active photographer/naturalist.Elements of composition- I think line, shape, and texture are particularly effective in this photoEmphasis- through placement, contrastPatience- visualizing the shots I want to takeLearning/testing my Tools- using manual mode to train myself to think about how shutter speed, aperture, and ISO work together for pleasing use of lightPost Production- I made the decision to crop the sunflower almost in half to create a less “pat” representation of this often-photographed floral favorite.  
Describe your visual signature and compare it to other photographer’s visual styles.   I tend to look for aspects of Nature that capture my attention, catch me off guard, puzzle me, or simply are so intriguing that I simply want to stand still and absorb those Nature moments or discover where they might lead.   I find that the majority of my compositions are shorter in depth of field, or lean towards macro. I think this is because I am a person who has always been interested in details, and looking closely at things.   I prefer subject matter to be in sharp focus with pleasing bokeh in the background. As an Oregon Master Naturalist, I see my role as a nature photographer in terms of research and exchange of knowledge about the natural sciences. I suppose this a good compliment to my education as a Master’s degree level educator.   The measures that I have used for about the last 5-6 years to compare my work with other photographer’s visual styles has been through my WordPress blog and Instagram accounts. I think having the niche of wildlife photography has been an enriching way to follow and be followed in informal ways to grow as a photographer.  
What makes yours different from other photographers’ visual styles? My goals for photography do not include making money, and so I am not concerned about being “different.”  However, I do strive to be consistent in the quality and message tied into my images. I see value in representing photos related to the Natural Sciences in as realistic a portrayal as possible to bridge awareness and understanding of Nature in those who view my work.
Are there certain themes or ideas that you are attracted to?   Yes, I am very interested in sustainability, ecology, and conservation as themes and foundations for photography ideas.  
Are there certain styles of light that dominate your work? I tend to enjoy working with diffused, natural lighting. Much of my work, especially for this coursework, has been done: 1- in the morning 2- later in afternoon, evening 3- on overcast, cloudy, or even rainy days  
Is there a certain type of setting that repeats through these photos? The setting for my photography is primarily outdoors in the natural areas of the Pacific Northwest.
Are there certain types of compositional emphasis that you use more than others? Flora, fauna, and fungi are the categories that constitute compositional subject matter for the majority of my photographic pursuits. I generally use color, texture, contrast, and movement in these photos. However, I am always excited to break out of this mold when we take road trips. Then landscapes, seascapes, and the stars are categories for planning, and that has created the foundation for many exciting photography fieldtrips. Those are the moments for me to put the details into the big picture… right? These are also situations where larger-scale composition and the following have much more opportunity for me to employ: lines, shapes and forms, space, repetition, and balance.

Curious by nature?

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