Tag Archives: Nature Photography

Photo Resource – Free guide to Selling Nature Photography from Photoshelter

If you want some tips for getting your nature photos out there, sign up for a free PDF guide Selling Nature Photography. The guide has been compiled by Photoshelter in partnership with Outdoor Photographer and offers tips to grow your nature photography business with interviews from leading photographers like Art Wolfe, Jerry Monkman and Martin Bailey. It also include insights from experienced photo buyers, including the Senior Photo Editor at National Geographic.

  • Six questions to ask yourself before pitching editorial clients
  • Seven tips to get your nature photography featured in public spaces
  • How to turn your passion into a thriving business
  • Why storytelling and nature photography go hand and hand
  • Why being persistent in your business and protecting your interests is a must.

Filed under: Photographers, Photography Products Tagged: free photo guide, nature photography, Outdoor Photographer, PhotoShelter, Selling Nature Photography

Iceland: Living with Volcanoes

Before the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, which grounded air traffic in Europe for weeks, few people were probably aware that Iceland averages an eruption once every four years. But while the spewing of hot lava is a frequent event, that doesn’t mean it’s a common one. “When we have eruptions, it’s all over the news,” photographer Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson tells TIME. “Most Icelanders try and go and see the eruptions. We are very excited about it.”

The cover of Magma: Icelandic Volcanoes (2012)
© Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson—Arctic Images

Sigurdsson has spent much of his career photographing Iceland’s volcanic eruptions. As he explained to TIME in 2011, within minutes of an eruption, he’s in a plane to photograph the event from above. “If there would be an eruption right now, I would immediately jump into an airplane to get pictures,” he says. “Then I would go take my trusted Jeep and drive up there with my tripod and stay there. I like much better taking pictures on the ground than in the air. They are more powerful and more exciting.”

After years of recording Iceland’s volcanoes up close, Sigurdsson undertook his latest project, to collect and preserve as many photographs of Icelandic volcanoes as he could find. Along with geophysicist Ari Trausti Gudmundsson, his friend for 25 years, Sigurdsson pored over archives, scanning and preserving hundreds of photos of eruptions on the small Nordic island. They are collected in the recently published book Magma: Icelandic Volcanoes.

Many of the photos in the collection are exactly what you think a volcano should look like: searing reds and oranges spewing from the ground; black soot careening into the sky. But the book also includes old black and white photos that are equally powerful, classic depictions of geologic explosions that can pack as much power as an atomic bomb. “I’m quite fond of black and white myself,” Sigurdsson says. “Black and white volcano pictures are, maybe not all the time as powerful as the orange ones. If you have a lot of orange and blue colors, it’s a great contrast, the scenes and strong colors.”

Now that he has preserved the history of Iceland’s volcanoes, Sigurdsson is readying for the next eruption. When photographing a volcano, “you have to make decisions on the fly when you have the scene in front of you,” he says. Do you need slow shutter speed, long exposures, or do you need to freeze the action or all of the above? “You have to try everything and use all your knowledge—the key to success is you’re never done,” he says. “I was done when all of my batteries were dead. And I can’t wait for the next eruption.” Given the frequency of the country’s volcanoes, he might not have to wait long to try it out.

Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson has worked as a photographer since age 16. His work is available through Arctic Images. MAGMA: Icelandic Volcanoes is available directly from the publisher.

Take Refuge: Humanity’s Struggle With Nature

Why do humans want to be in nature, and why are we trying to conquer it constantly? Photographer Kevin Cooley’s new exhibition, “Take Refuge,” is an exploration of those questions, which he has been contemplating for more than three years. “The whole history of humanity could be framed within our relationship with nature,” says Cooley on the subject of his show. Now on display at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles, “Take Refuge,” features 10 large-scale photographs, as well as video work, taken by Cooley in New York, California and Spitsbergen island in the Arctic. His gorgeous landscape images show everything from snow-covered mountain tops to burning bushes, each picture a representation of the forces of nature.

Cooley made some of the show’s most captivating images while participating in the Arctic Circle Expeditionary Residency last September and October. There, he was joined by fellow artists, directors and even a scientist as a sail boat took them around Spitsbergen island and into its natural harbors. “Part of the reason I was drawn to the Arctic is because it’s sort of the end of the earth—an uninhabited place. It’s places like that where you’re directly confronted with this epic idea of nature.” And as for where he’s headed next, Cooley says, “Maybe somewhere warm.”

Kevin Cooley is a New York based photographer and artist. See more of his work here. Take Refuge is on display at the Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles through Feb. 11.

Feifei Sun is an associate editor at TIME. Follow her on Twitter at @feifei_sun.

Errol Morris on Photography: Believing Is Seeing

In his new book, the filmmaker investigates the mysteries behind some of photography’s most famous news images. Here, Morris walks TIME through five of his fascinating case studies:

TIME: In your first case study, the Crimean cannonball photos (slides 9 and 10), you write about how we can often make certain assumptions about a photographer’s intent that can misdirect us from the truth. How did that play out in these two pictures?

First off I want to say that I don’t think photographs are true or false. I always associate truth and falsity with language, rather than images, photographic and otherwise. People become endlessly confused because they think that some photographs are more true or less true than others, and they get trapped in a strange set of arguments that I believe lead nowhere. If one photograph is more true than another, then you ask yourself, are there things I can do to guarantee the truth of a photograph or to make it more truthful.

Your question was about the intent of a photographer. One of the things that people are most concerned about is the intention to deceive, to trick us, to lead us astray. Well, this pair of photographs, taken in 1855 by Roger Fention, is one of the very first war photographs. A barren landscape bisected by a road littered with cannonballs. The photographs are identical except that in one there are cannonballs on the road and in the other, there are not.

And it leads people to speculate, without even knowing they were speculating, about the order of the photographs, why there are cannonballs on the road in one and not in the other. And I used this as a way to examine our attitudes towards photographs, how we often read things into them things which weren’t there in the first place.

And at one point I even suggest that by thinking about this pair of photographs, we are really examining the nature of photography in general. So I ask a reader to go on an excursion with me. I like to think of them as little mysteries. To try to look at photographs, to try to think about what our assumptions are about them and to accompany me on an investigation into what we’re really looking at.

TIME: In writing about documentary photographs, you say that, in essence, every shot is posed because the photographer always chooses what and what not to include in the frame. I don’t think the average viewer—whether they are seeing a picture in a newspaper or a magazine or a museum exhibition—ever thinks about the fact that each photograph involved a decision of what not to include as much as it did what do include.

Photography is in part how I make my living, and I think about photography and photographs all the time. When you’re creating an image—and most of the images I create are in truth aren’t still images but motion picture images—but when you create an image, I often think about what I’m not including as well as what I am including. Images in part derive their power from the fact that we are excluding so much of the world. They’re focusing our attention in a way they it might not be focused otherwise. I can’t remember my exact wording, but somewhere in the book I talk about how photographs are ripped from the fabric of reality. I like the idea that they are torn out of reality. And we look at them and we don’t see above or below or to the left or to the right, we just see what’s inside the frame. And that’s easy to forget about.

TIME: Something that was apparent to me in your next case study was that sometimes the people who should be skeptical about photographs aren’t. I’m talking about the hooded man photo. The New York Times ran a story that identified a man as the person in that famous photo (slide 8), but it wasn’t him.

It’s probably the iconic photograph of the Iraq war. Photographs become iconic because they resonate with people for all kinds of reasons. And that photograph has been seen by hundreds of millions of people. A number of people said to me, “Well why do you care who’s under the hood? Does it really make any difference? After all, the photograph is not about who’s under the hood, it’s about torture, or it’s about these crimes committed at Abu Ghraib in 2003. Why do you care about the specific details of who it was?” And I would say that I care about both. I care about how photographs are received and viewed by people, but I also really care about their connection to the underlying world. It’s part of the mystery for me. What is it that I’m looking at? Yes, there are well-received beliefs about this photograph, but what really are we looking at? And usually you can’t determine that from just looking at the photograph itself. Usually you have to investigate. Usually you have to look further. And part of what interested me about the Abu Ghraib photographs is that a lot of people were aware of them in this country and abroad, people had views about them, and they made people very very angry for many different reasons, but no one had seemingly bothered to actually try to contextualize them, to try to investigate what it was that we were looking at, as if it was obvious.

And I have an expression that I’m fond of, which is that nothing is so obvious that it’s obvious. It’s usually when we think things are obvious that it’s time to actually look further and to try to look at our underlying assumptions. And by the way, you can investigate and you can come up short. You’re not guaranteed to solve every mystery that you set out to solve. We tried so very very hard to find the guy, the real guy, and came up short.

TIME: With the Sabrina Harmon photos (slides 6 and 7), we first saw them and saw her smiling over this dead body and that smile implied guilt even though it turns out she didn’t do anything—she didn’t abuse the prisoner, she didn’t kill him and she’s not genuinely smiling. But we automatically think that this woman helped beat this guy up and kill him.

We have problems with ambiguity and unresolved mysteries. We also have problems with complexity. Often there’s a need to see people as heroes or as villains rather than in some gray area in between. It’s easier to navigate through life that way. I was criticized for defending Sabrina Harmon. After all, what these bad apples did was terrible. A disgrace. And I am seemingly an apologist for what they did at Abu Ghraib. And I would beg to differ. Take this photograph of Sabrina Harmon and the corpse of Al Jamadi—I was trying to contextualize that image, to put it back into history, and I learned some very surprising things.

In the case of Sabrina. She took a whole range of photographs of that corpse, many of which were to document what she thought was a crime. This man had been beaten to death, presumably by a CIA operative. She had not been involved in any way. She had merely recorded the aftermath of this crime. And she, as indicated in her letters to her girlfriend she felt there was a cover-up going on and that she was going to expose it.

So we look at the photograph and think we’re seeing perhaps a murderer gloating over their crime. And, in fact, what we’re see is something very different.

TIME: At one point, you write the following: “While the technology may have changed, the underlying issues remain constant: When does a photograph document reality? When is it propaganda? When is it art? Can a single photograph be all three? That’s you writing about the Rothstein cow skull photo (slides 1-3). What’s the story there?

The Roosevelt administration had created the FSA, the Farm Security Administration, and they in turn hired photographers who were to become the most famous in history—Walker Evans, Arthur Rothstein, Dorothea Lange. These are among the great American photographers of Depression-era America. And they took literally thousands of photographs under the auspices of the government. And Rothstein was sent to the Dakotas to document the drought. And he took a photograph of a cow skull in what looked like to be a close to desert landscape. And this photograph was published in newspapers around the country as an example of how bad the drought had become in the Dakotas.

Well Rothstein did something—you could call it a mistake—he did something that created almost instant controversy when they found out about it. He had moved the cow skull to five or six different locations and photographed it. Now when people became aware there was more than one cow skull photograph and that he had moved them, for artistic purposes is what he argued, he was trying to get a really good shot with the right shadows of the cow skull. Then people say, “Well why that picture and not this one, and what were you doing, were you moving the cow skull? Were you manipulating the photograph to trick people?”

Well here’s the central irony. Here’s one of the ironies. You look at the photographs and you think, ooh, there was a drought. And guess what? There was a drought! Did the fact that he moved the cow skull suddenly invalidate that photograph? Well, you have to know something about the circumstances under which it was taken. And I did try to investigate that issue.

TIME: Finally, let’s talk about these Mickey Mouse in Palestine photos. You have a wire photographer, you have this picture of Mickey outside a bombed out apartment complex in Lebanon (slides 11 and 12). There are questions of agenda, of whether the photographer moved the mouse there, of whether the selection alone implied a bias.

These toy photographs, there was a whole collection of them that came out of Lebanon. And the claim was that pro-Palestinian, pro-Hamas photographers are, the way I imagined it, was that they were appearing in the war zone with a big bag of toys and distributing them and taking pictures of them with the intention of misleading people. One way to look at it is that Israelis are killing Palestinian children.

One of the well-known photographs of a toy taken in Lebanon, in southern Lebanon was taken by this Associated Press photographer Ben Curtis. Another irony. That we think we know how that photograph is going to be used, but it was used in just the opposite way in a newspaper than I would have thought, in an anti-Palestinian op-ed. It shows how photographs can, the meaning of them, or what we take to be the meaning of them, can be so easily changed by the context that we place around them, the new story we place around them—the caption that we put under them can change everything.

Believing is Seeing was published by Penguin Press

Gilbert Cruz is a senior editor at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @gilbertcruz. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

21st Editions Releases Second Book in Prism Series by Mitch Dobrowner

21st Editions released Mitch Dobrowner’s first publication from the Prism series earlier this month. The book is limited to 280 copies with only 200 for sale. The unique deluxe book, The Prophecies of William Blake, contains 12 platinum prints of Mitch Dobrowner, the collector can customize their book in choosing which 3 of the 12 they want as free-standing and which nine they want bound in the book. Each book comes with one of four signed 16″ x 20″ contact silver-gelatin prints, the only ever offered by Dobrowner. Bound by Twinrocker paper, it contains 144 pages with 64 full bleed duotone images measuring 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2.”

Mitch Dobrowner takes the fine art of landscape and nature photography to another level with the use of technology such as weather satellites, the meteorological forecasts of the National Weather Service, the use of small airplanes with brave and willing pilots, cars, and fearless guides. There is no stopping for this adventurous, storm chasing photographer, who is willing to take risks with high tech tools to give us unseen visions of nature.

Dobrowner grew up in Long Island and eventually made his way to the southwest, settling in California to pursue a career in photography. He took a break from photography to open a design studio with his wife and came back, into the photography scene in 2005 and has been unstoppable since. He has won numerous awards since in the International Photography Awards and Px3 competitions for his fine art images of nature and landscapes.

The four silver-gelatin prints can be seen here

Books are available through 21st Editions or by email: [email protected] or by calling 508-398-3000.

Prism Series, Book Number 2 by Mitch Dobrowner

Aperture Gallery Presents: Fieldwork: Sanna Kannisto

 

Aperture Foundation is proud to present Fieldwork photographs by Sanna Kannisto, exploring the dialectics of nature and culture in both artistic and scientific contexts. Since 1997, Kannisto has spent several months per year living alongside biologists in the rainforests of Latin America. Adopting elements of her companions’ scientific methods, she developed her own form of visual research, extending her depictions of flora and fauna beyond the confines of the natural sciences. A new book of the same title by Aperture accompanies the exhibition.

A portfolio of images titled Sanna Kannisto: Act of Flying is now also available.

Breaking away from the conventions of nature photography, which typically presents specimens in isolation, devoid of context, Kannisto’s work addresses the acts of staging and image-making. Her photographs, with their biologically correct titles, show not only the breathtaking beauty of her subjects, but also the tools used to achieve the would-be image at center—the black drapes, the difficult “neutral” lighting rig, the seamless white background. Signs of a scientifically standardized process—graph paper, rulers, and test field markings—are also included, appearing strangely out of place amid the lush green foliage of the rainforest.

The core practice of the natural sciences is to collect in order to inspect closely in the service of public knowledge. Collecting implies taming and containment, traits shared to some extent by photography. With her gentle humor, Kannisto recognizes and utilizes the constraints of science and art alike, investigating the concept of truth in photography to challenge how we view and “know” the natural world.

An artist talk and book signing will take place on Monday, April 25, 6:30 pm.

Fieldwork was made possible, in part, with generous support from the Finnish National Council for Photographic Art. Additional support for the exhibition was provided by FRAME (Finnish Fund for Art Exchange) and the Consulate General of Finland.

 

Thursday, April 21, 2011
6:00–8:00 pm

FREE

Aperture Gallery
547 West 27th Street
4th Floor
New York, New York

Wild vision. Wayne Ford on the art and craft of wildlife photography

In 1884, Ottmar Anschütz made his now famous studies of storks, writes Wayne Ford. The following year, R. B. Lodge successfully recorded a brooding Lapwing, while in 1899, brothers Cherry and Richard Kearton, who had travelled the width and breadth of the United Kingdom in search of their subjects, published With Nature and a Camera (Cassell & Co). The work of these early pioneers, and others, would form the basis of what today we term wildlife and nature photography.

Top: Flight of the butterflies. © Ingo Arndt / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2007.

While the popularity of wildlife and nature photography grew over the following decades, it wasn’t until the late 1930s that we would see the emergence of the modern wildlife photographer – people such as Eric Hosking, who would devote themselves full time to the genre. And with the technological advances made throughout the 1950s and 60s – smaller cameras, longer and faster lenses and more sophisticated lighting – the popularity of wildlife photography continued to grow.

Below: Beech in the mist. © Luca Fontani and Danilo Porta / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2005.

Beech in the mist by Luca Fontani & Danilo Porta

Along with the technical and artistic skills of the photographer, the art of the wildlife photographer involves a high level of field craft and knowledge of the all-too frequently elusive subject, and its all-important environment. And it is this art and craft that the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition has sought to celebrate annually over the last four decades. In doing so it has become the most prestigious wildlife photography award in the world.

Over the years, the competition has, through its various categories, exposed an audience to the full spectrum of our natural world, from an abstract image of leaf-cutter ants in the Costa Rican rainforest, by Bence Máté; to a male lion, captured in high-contrast black and white, by Britta Jaschinski; the eerie, and icy underwater world of the Weddel seals by Norbert Wu, to the environmental catastrophe that affected the Yellow-legged frog population in the remote reaches of California by Joel Sartore. Each image is united through the excellence and skill of the wildlife photographer.

The call for entries for the 2011 Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition closes on 18 March 2011, and images can be entered online at www.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop. For a taste of no. 78, see Eye before you buy on Issuu.