Category Archives: learning

Arctic Expedition 2014 – the story of our adventure… part I

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August 4, 2014 · 5:53 pm

How YOU can help change the world

As you may know, from following the posts on my blog, I’ve been completely ensconced in a crowd funding campaign for the past 5 weeks. I’m raising funds to help defer the cost of an arctic expedition this July. Vacation? Nope.  Education.

As a biologist, the environment is really important to me. I don’t have kids and so I could say, “who cares, I don’t have kids, I don’t have to worry about what the next generation will have to deal with”, but that’s just not me. I don’t roll that way. I think everyone has a certain responsibility to the next generation, and the generation after that, and… Let’s face it, it’s my generation, my parents generation, my grandparents generation and to an extent, my great-grandparents generation that has screwed up the environment so badly. Don’t you think we owe it to the next generation to mop up some of the mess we created?

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The past 5 weeks has been revealing for me. I knew it would be a hard, hard slog raising the funds. My campaign is in the education section of the Indiegogo crowd funding website. Strike number one. I know this sounds pathetic, but the vast majority of people who would even consider donating to a crowd funding project don’t give a rats furry bottom about projects in the education or environment section. I’m not trying to be rude. That’s just the way it is. If you have a cool electronic gizmo to develop and sell, you’re golden. Tons of donations come in if you have a half decent campaign. But education and environment have typically been poorly supported. But why? I’m an optimist and a realist, but my experience with crowd funding has allowed a shade of pessimism to creep in. The sad truth is that not many people truly care about the environment or about education. They say they do, but when it comes right down to it, most people would much sooner have a way-cool, cutting age piece of electronics in their pocket, rather than build a school in Africa or support something that helps the environment. And to me, that is really sad.

Yes, there are people out there who think education and the environment are important – thank goodness. And I am SO grateful for those people, regardless of whether they supported my funding campaign with a donation or someone else’s funding campaign. The fact that people care, matters to me a lot. But I still can’t get that bad taste out of my mouth about the lack of support or caring from the general public, about the environment or education. That just has to change if we’re to have future generations that don’t live in a cesspool.

Species like polar bears will go extinct unless we reverse global climate change to a large extent.

Species like polar bears will go extinct unless we reverse global climate change to a large extent.

As a scientists, I do believe that the earth has not yet reached her tipping point. I do believe that we can reverse a lot of the nasty things that we have done to the environment. And I do believe that it is possible for humans to live sustainably. But that means change. And let’s face it, most people hate change! I personally, thrive on it, but I know I’m a rarity. Most people despise change. They like things just the way they are. And so asking people to give something up, to change some aspect of their lifestyle to better the planet, is frankly, asking too much, it seems. At least for my generation. Frankly, I put my money on the next generation. They are the ones with their whole lives ahead. They are the ones that may have to live in the cesspool we leave for them. So they have to care. If they don’t, their lives will be a whole lot less pleasant than mine, or my parent’s, or my grandparent’s for that matter. And I hate that thought. It’s just downright wrong! But how do we get people to care?

I think I have a solution, well, actually, a small step toward a solution. And that’s why I’m fundraising. And it’s why I’m putting $8,000 of my own money (I hear retirement’s way over-rated anyway….) into paying my own way on an arctic expedition. Why? Some people think I’m nuts doing this. After all, I’m not getting paid to run my Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program on an arctic expedition. It’s purely volunteer. And I have to use my precious 2 weeks of annual vacation leave from work for it. But I choose to. Why? Because I care. Because I think each and every one of us, in some way or another, has to do something to reverse the damage our lifestyles have done to the planet.

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I’m a biologist, I’m passionate about nature, the environment. And photography. And so I created the Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program.  This is the program I’ll launch on the arctic expedition. It’s unique. I’ll be teaching 90 high school kids how to take photos and videos of the environment. The goal is for them to document the things they are seeing, the human impacts on it, and then share their thoughts, their concerns, and their hopes for the future, through their own images and videos. The goal is, at the end of the expedition, to have a video containing the student’s images and video and environmental messages. I’m also hoping to organize an exhibition of the student’s images. And I hope to publish some articles about the program and the students as well as an e-book. I want this program and experience to connect students with nature, to combat the ‘nature deficit disorder’ that Louv so adeptly describes. To encourage students to care about their planet and to inspire them to do something about it. That’s my hope. Whether it works or not remains to be seen. But I’m sure going to try.

Help to inspire kids to be the Generation of Positive Change - only they are the ones who can clean up the environmental mess we and the previous generations have created.

Help to inspire kids to be the Generation of Positive Change – only they are the ones who can clean up the environmental mess we and the previous generations have created.

Will I change the entire world with my program? Nope. But change happens one student at a time. Real change happens slowly. And my goal is simply to open up some eyes and some minds, make the students think, and then hand the reins over to them to let them decide what they will and won’t do to make the planet a better place. After all, if I’m lucky, I’ve got 30 or so good years of life left. But the next generation will have to live with the mess a whole lot longer. I wish they didn’t have a mess to clean up. But I’m happy to do my part to try to help and to make amends for my impacts on the environment. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not up on a soapbox. I drive a car. I burn wood in my fireplace. I use Propane to heat my house. My life does have an impact on the environment. I do what I can to lessen it. But society as a whole, has to change. And if I can convince part of society to think about changing the way they live and help them to convince others to do the same, then that will be worth everything that I’m putting into this program.

If you believe that we can and should make the world a better place and you have a few bucks to spare, I would love it if you could make a donation to our Youth Environmental Ambassadors Program. There are only 3 days left in our funding campaign. I’ve revised our goal, from $25,000 (for both me and my co-teacher to go on the expedition) to just me going and me contributing $8,000 of my own retirement money. If you can help get us to our revised goal of $4,500 (we’re less than $1,000 away from it), I would be immensely grateful to you. Donate by clicking on the link below.

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Flowers are in bloom, so grab your camera!

With spring transitioning into summer, many flowers are in bloom, with many more on the way. Whether your home is surrounded by flowers, you live near a botanical garden, or maybe you live in an apartment and don’t have room to grow flowers, but love to have a fresh bouquet on your table, there are plenty of opportunities to photograph flowers.

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There are a variety of approaches and techniques for flower photography – portraits, macros, abstracts and other creative methods for making stunning flower images that you’ll want to hang on your wall.

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Flowers: fine art photography techniques and tips is an e-book jam-packed with easy to follow instructions, lots of example images with descriptions on how they were made, and loaded with inspiration so that you can learn how to shoot your own fine art flower photos.

The new cover for my e-book.

The Details:

Flowers: fine art photography techniques and tips is all about fine art flower photography. It’s a guide that shows you how to create your own beautiful fine art flower images that you’ll want to hang on your wall. Through descriptions of techniques, equipment, and creative approaches, I describe easy to follow instructions on how to create your own beautiful images. I also present many examples showing how I’ve applied these techniques and approaches in making each image shown in the book.

Available as a downloadable pdf e-book that can be read on any device that is capable of reading pdf files (e.g. iPad, Android tablet, Kindle, laptop and desktop computers, etc.), Flowers: fine art photography techniques and tips is a full-colour 109 page e-book available for $8.95.

You can purchase Flowers: fine art photography techniques and tips from my website by clicking HERE or by clicking on the thumbnail below, which will take you to a secure shopping cart for your purchase.

To order a copy of Flowers: fine art photography techniques and tips, please click on the thumbnail above.

To order a copy of Flowers: fine art photography techniques and tips, please click on the thumbnail above.

Flowers: fine art photography techniques and tips is also available for purchase through the Earth & Light Digital Media website, along with other fantastic photography e-books.

Click on the link below to visit Earth & Light Digital Media.

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What’s on the web for photographers? Part I

I recently received a really nice comment from a follower, who said:

Greetings! This is my first comment here so I just wanted
to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading through your articles.
Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects?
Thanks!

This follower’s comment made the think of the photography resources I follow on the internet. There’s a ton of stuff out there and for me, the key is to limit my regular ‘surfing’ to the things I get the most out of or enjoy the most. I wish I had more time because the internet is packed with fabulous resources for photographers. But reality means I only have so much time in a given week to surf for all things photographic. And so, as an answer to my wonderful followers question, I’ve decided to list the top 15 websites, blogs and other resources I follow.

There are lots of others that I follow, some not-so-regularly, but I’m going to limit this to 15 sites – a three part series with 5 sites listed in each post.  This way, you won’t have a honking big blog post to read and you’ll have a chance to visit each of the 5 sites and have a look before the next ones come out. And I’ve tried to keep the descriptions really short and just highlight some of the things I like about the site. The best thing is for you to click on the links and see them for yourselves.

So I hope this helps my kind follower and provides him/her with some great resources to check out. And for everyone else reading this post, maybe some of these will be new to you and offer some great new things to follow.

In no particular order, here are  5 photography websites that I tune in to regularly:

1. Jim Bradenburg’s website and blog

One of my all-time favourite photographers is Jim Brandenburg. He’s been around for a long time, makes incredible images, and has such a connection and passion for nature that I can’t help but like him. His images are stunning. Many of them stir the soul and communicate the deep love of nature that he feels.

Check out Jim’s website. His gallery is full of soul-stirring, inspiring images. You’ll also see Jim’s passion for conservation – he has his own charitable foundation for the preservation of native prairie habitat in southwest Minnesota.

Jim Brandenburg's website

Jim Brandenburg’s website

Jim also has a blog. He doesn’t post frequently, but what he does post is fun reading. I especially liked his posts about the new Nikon D800 camera that Nikon asked him to review prior to its release.  I did my own blog posts on his review, which you can find by clicking HERE.

Check out Jim’s blog:

Brandenburg blog

I can’t let this opportunity pass without mentioning Jim’s iPad app. Definitely check it out! I have it and love it. It’s inspired me to make my own app (it’s in the works…). Click HERE to read my review of Chased By The Light.

2. Art Wolfe’s blog

Here is another master. Like Jim Brandenburg, he’s been around for a long time, but this is why he’s a master at what he does. Art’s images are nothing short of stunning. I love tuning into his blog because it’s always packed with images – some from his adventures, some from the workshops he teaches. He also announces photography contests, print sales and a host of other things.

Check out his blog by clicking on the thumbnail below…

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He also has some short instructional videos in his archive that are definitely worth watching…

Art Wolfe_instruct video

 

3. Photo News

If you haven’t seen this magazine, you definitely need to take a look! It’s a Canadian photography magazine – packed with tons of great info such as gear reviews, latest news in the photo world, photo tutorials,  and a some online photo challenges where you can submit images.  I just like this as a good, all-rounds newsy photo mag. You can subscribe to the magazine for FREE. To subscribe to the online version (saves on trees), all you need to do is type in your email address. Highly recommend you bookmark this site and sign up for the free online version of the magazine. Click HERE to visit the PhotoNews website.

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4. National Geographic Photography website

I almost feel like I don’t even need to write anything about this – NG speaks for itself. What I will say is that their site is more than  a collection of stunning photos – candy for the brain!  I love the video tutorials they have on their site. They are free and offer some great information from the masters themselves. I could easily spend have a day perusing NG’s photo site…..Click HERE to visit the NG Photo website.

Shell's List_NG Photography

5. Outdoor Photographer blog

Outdoor Photographer magazine has a great blog that I tune into. The blog posts are written by well-known photogs who know their craft well –  folks like Jay Goodrich, Ian Plant, Jon Cornforth, and Michael Clark. Some of the posts are instructional ones describing a certain technique such as sharpening your images in Photoshop, others are about a photo shoot  at a specific location, while in other posts, they present an image and talk about what they did to make that shot. Their blog posts are short and sweet and well worth tuning into. Click HERE to visit OP’s blog.

Shell's List_OP Blog

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED……  the next 5 are coming soon!

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Filed under Creative Photography, Digital Photography, equipment, Featured Wildlife Photographer, learning, Nature, nature photography, Opinion, photography, technique, technology, Vision, Wildlife Photography

Earth & Light Digital Media for photographers

Earth & Light is a fabulous new website dedicated to selling digital media resources for photographers. The site has just been launched by acclaimed nature and travel photographer and writer, Richard Bernabe.

Earth & Light has only just been launched but already has 9 photography e-books for sale, with tons more coming!

Some of the e-books at Earth & Light Digital Media

Some of the e-books at Earth & Light Digital Media

 

Book topics range from lighting, composition and other instructional books…

Richard Bernabe's book on composition

Richard Bernabe’s book on composition

 

Ian Plant's book on great lighting for landscape photography

Ian Plant’s book on great lighting for landscape photography

 

 

… to those focused on specific subjects, such as my flower photography book and Justin Reznick’s book on photographing waterfalls and streams.

My fine art flower photography e-book

My fine art flower photography e-book

 

Justin Reznick's book on photography waterfalls and streams

Justin Reznick’s book on photography waterfalls and streams

 

 

There are also books focused on specific locations, such as Richard Bernabe’s books about Iceland, the Great Smokey Mountains, and South Carolina.

Richard Bernabe's book on Iceland

Richard Bernabe’s book on Iceland

 

All books are very well-priced at under $10 U.S. and are great value for the money.

Earth & Light isn’t just about photography e-books, it’s about a variety of digital media resources for photographers. The site has only just been launched, but coming soon are apps, videos, screen savers and tutorials. So check back frequently because a lot of fantastic new products will be added!

 

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I’ll be posting regular updates on the latest additions for sale on the website so check back here regularly. You can also keep on top of what’s new at Earth & Light by tuning in to Richard Bernabe’ blog.

 

We hope you’ll stop by Earth & Light for a look. It’s a great one-stop-shop for digital media resources for photographers.

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Filed under Creative Photography, Digital Photography, equipment, Flowers, Landscape, learning, Macro photography, Nature, nature photography, Opinion, photography, technique, Vision

A new cover for my Flower Photography e-book

I’m happy to say that my e-book, “Flowers: fine art photography techniques and tips, has a new cover! It’s the same great book, but with a zoomier cover. And, not only is it available for purchase on my 44th Parallel Photography website, but it is now available through the fabulous new Earth & Light digital media website.

 

The new cover for my e-book.

The new cover for my e-book.

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Perils aside… let’s talk about passion

My last blog post, a few days ago, was about the perils of following your passion, whatever that may be. In the photography world, many of us would quit our ‘day jobs’ in a heartbeat, to become a full-time photographer. That doesn’t necessarily mean you hate your day job. It just means that you have a greater calling. It just means that there is something you are really, really passionate about and that you wish you could spend all your waking moments doing it.

Like I said before, for me, photography (and the things associated with my photography such as writing, conservation, environmental preservation, and connecting with people) is oxygen. Sure, I find it hard that I can only ‘breathe’ part time. 🙂 But let me tell you, it’s better than not breathing at all!

"You conceive your world in your mind and then create it with your hands" - Chris Widener

“You conceive your world in your mind and then create it with your hands” – Chris Widener

To reiterate what I said in my last blog post, read Malcolm Munro’s article on the perils of following your passion. Then dial that message back one or two turns. I wholeheartedly agree with Malcolm. You NEED to be a realist. But at the same time, don’t give up on your passion. And don’t become disillusioned. Just be realistic about what you can do given your current circumstances.

The key is: find a way to make it work. Might not be the way you first envisioned it. But this is life. We don’t always get what we want, when we want, in the way that we want. So, instead, tweak your expectations. Trim your sail. Refine your course. You WILL get there. It’s just that the path you take may very well be different from what you first envisioned. But that’s ok. It doesn’t make you any less successful at achieving your dreams.

"Dreams express what your soul is telling you, so as crazy as your dream might seem - even to you - I don't care: You have to let that out" - Eleni Gabre-Madhin

“Dreams express what your soul is telling you, so as crazy as your dream might seem – even to you – I don’t care: You have to let that out” – Eleni Gabre-Madhin

Oh, and one more thought…. don’t give a rats fuzzy bottom what anybody else thinks about your passion for photography (or whatever else it may be that you want to do – as long as it’s legal and ethical). You’re following your passion for YOU. Not for them. For you. In doing so, however, just ensure that you meet your responsibilities to yourself and your family. You know, the important stuff like mortgages, food, vehicles, utilities. It’s hard to process images in Photoshop when your electricity has been turned off due to non-payment.

I’m only a part-timer, but I feel like I’ve been around long enough to be developing a pretty healthy view of what the photography world is really like and that, typically, it takes a massive boatload of hard work and long hours to make a living as a photographer, especially in the field of nature or wildlife photography. But don’t let that stop you. Be persistent. Be positive. Be determined.

Here are a few more great quotes – fodder to fuel your drive to fulfill your passion…

"The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't fine them, make them." - George Bernard Shaw

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw

"The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that's bigger than they are - that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth." - Richard Leider

“The most fortunate people on earth are those who have found a calling that’s bigger than they are – that moves them and fills their lives with constant passion, aliveness, and growth.” – Richard Leider

"For the first couple of years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. If you are just starting out or are still in this phase, you gotta know that it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.... It's only be going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions." - Ira Glass

“For the first couple of years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. If you are just starting out or are still in this phase, you gotta know that it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work…. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.” – Ira Glass

"The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can." - Neil Gaiman

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” – Neil Gaiman

"Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." - Steve Jobs

“Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

"To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it." - Kurt Vonnegut

“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” – Kurt Vonnegut

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