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Photographing Snowy Owls: Getting The Shot

By: David G Hemmings

Getting the shot, that’s what it is all about for the avid bird in flight photographer.

The thrill of the moment when all the stars are aligned, the lighting and conditions are just right and it all comes together for that magical moment when the shutter clicks and you just know that you captured a remarkable image of a bird in flight.

There are few species that capture the imagination for bird and nature photographers more than the Snowy owl. This is one of nature’s most magnificent raptors and a real favorite subject of mine.

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Sean Heavey Captures A Once-In-A-Lifetime Photo

All photographers search for that once in a lifetime shot. Something guaranteed to be a one-of-a-kind image that will reap windfall sales and global exposure. For some the pursuit of that ‘career image’ is realized and for others the search continues.

But for a lucky few it happens from being at the right place at the right time.

That is the case for Montana photographer Sean Heavey who joined some ‘storm chaser’ friends when they came across a developing super cell storm near Glasgow Montana. What Sean captured was nothing short of breathtaking and the image was shown in the 2010 National Geographic Photo Contest and has essentially gone viral across the globe. We caught up with Sean to ask about the image and the experience capturing it.

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Sacred Headwaters, Sacred Journey: A Conservation Project by Paul Colangelo

Photography is a powerful medium! We all photograph for our own reasons and purposes. From the  simple joy of the outdoors to creating imagery for a photography business, our motivation and purpose is unique to each and every one of us.

There is also unique group of conservation photographers whose purpose and motivation to photograph goes beyond simple self interest and who instead dedicate their energy and photography to important and worthy causes. Paul Colangelo is one!

Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, his Sacred Headwaters, Sacred Journey conservation project aims to protect a vast region in Northern British Columbia wildlands that is under threat of energy development. Paul’s project was awarded the NANPA Foundation 2010 Philip Hyde Grant and Mountainfilm’s inaugural Commitment Grant.

In addition, this November, The Big Wild is offering an extra $10,000 worth of grants to three worthy Canadian conservation projects. Paul’s Sacred Headwaters, Sacred Journey conservation photography project is among the finalists, and they are asking the public (that’s you) to vote. Please vote for North West Watch – Sacred Headwaters to help secure funding for this important project! http://www.thebigwild.org/bucks

To learn more about Sacred Headwaters, Sacred Journey, read Niki Barrie’s (editor of Currents magazine) article about Paul and his project, originally published in the Summer 2010 issue, after the jump.

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Photographing The Elusive African Leopard

by Manus Van Dyk

Ask most wildlife photographers where in the world they would choose to go to photograph leopards and the answer will nearly always be the same – Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve in South Africa.   Part of the Greater Kruger Park, but not open to the general public, Sabi Sands is rightly known as an exclusive destination. And that means an exclusive game viewing experience where guests are few but game is plentiful.

Unfenced boundaries allow wildlife to roam freely  – across the private lodges that make up the Sabi Sands reserve as well as the adjacent Kruger – giving the photographer ample opportunities to capture the majestic leopard on film. Off road drives mean you can get up close to these beautiful animals and be mesmerised by sightings of all aspects of a leopard’s life – with a kill, maybe with cubs and sometimes, just maybe with a mate. Sabi Sands prides itself on its high leopard population: in short, there is no better place to track and photograph leopards.  For that very reason it’s where we run our photography courses.

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After the Forest Fire: Photographing as Nature Heals

Personal photography projects are important! If you are a busy photographer, maybe on assignment or working on projects for someone else, this often leaves little time for your own personal photography.

This has been my case in what seems forever. When summer arrives and the flowers are abundant, alpine areas are freeing of snow, and the forests are lush with new growth, I am busy, often to busy.

Personal projects have no limits on your creativity allowing you to experiment with new techniques and this is how we grow as photographers.

Here it is, almost the end of July and for me that means summer is close to half over. Where did it go? June, July, August, and usually September are the best months. But early July to mid-August are the best in the local mountains for the flowers and water.

I am always on the lookout for a project but that ‘always busy’ part gets in the way. With business on the slower side this year an opportunityfinally presented itself. A forest fire near my home!

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Snow Birds by Dan Walters

By Dan Walters

Most species that live above tree line have either turned in for the winter or retreated to lower elevations, except for one; the White-tailed Ptarmigan (Lagopus leucurus). This very hardy bird makes for a great subject to photograph.

First a little natural history about Ptarmigans: The smallest of the North American Grouse, Ptarmigan turn pure white in the winter and blend in perfectly with their environment. They prefer walking to flying in order to conserve energy, and they also grow feathers on their feet in order to conserve even more body heat. During the coldest temperatures, they will often dig snow burrows or huddle in close groups. They also have feathers around their nostrils to help warm the air.

In the winter, Ptarmigans diet consists mainly of willows and during really bad winters, they will travel to lower elevations to find more food. In the summer, they will feed on leaves, buds and insects.

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Todd Kaplan Scores a Multi Page Spread in Big Sky Journal

Todd Kaplan is an adventure and nature photographer based in Sun Valley Idaho. He has been photographing professionally for almost 15 years. He has many publishing credits to his name including: SKI Magazine, Delta Airlines, Outdoor Photographer, National Geographic Traveler, Readers Digest, Fly Fisherman, Backpacker, Sunset Magazine, Smithsonian, United Airlines (Hemispheres), Field and Stream,  Outdoor Life, Time Inc., and many more

As today’s nature and outdoor photographers face smaller markets these days, the pressure to find other ways to market photography moves to the front burner. Todd has been doing that for years, researching ideas and generating proposals before submitting them to editors and it has resulted in an impressive list of publishing credits.

This month’s issue of Big Sky Journal features an impressive photo essay of Todd’s photography about protected rivers in the Northern Rockies.

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Photographing Nature by Ralph Clevenger

Ralph Clevenger has just published a new book: Photographing Nature: A Photo Workshop from Brooks Institutes Top Nature Photography Instructor.

A photographer for close to 30 years, Ralph has trotted across the globe on-assignment for a wide variety of clientele. He has also been an instructor at Brooks Institute for over 20 years where he leads the nature photography program.

His new book is illustrated beautifully with a stunning collection of his photography captured over many years. He starts the book right off with an insightful perspective on how we as nature photographers should act and treat the environment with respect to plants and animals. He follows by encouraging nature photographers to give back to nature by using their photography in anyway they can.

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