Pizza-Eating Squirrel In Castro Valley: Photo







© Sarah Simon


CASTRO VALLEY, CA — Sarah Simon captured this fun photo in Castro Valley of a squirrel eating a slice of pizza loaded with toppings. Sarah told Patch in an email, “I found it very interesting to watch. This was a shy one (she/he turned to face a different direction when I tried to take a picture).”

Thank you for sharing your photo, Sarah!

If you have an awesome photo of nature, breath-taking scenery, kids caught being kids, a pet doing something funny, or something unusual you happen to catch with your camera, we’d love to feature it on Patch.

We’re looking for high-resolution images that reflect the beauty and fun that is Northern California, and that show off your unique talents.

Email it to bea.karnes@patch.com.

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The article Pizza-Eating Squirrel In Castro Valley: Photo appeared first on Castro Valley Patch.

An alternative approach for controlling bacterial pathogens in liquid and solid poultry waste using Calcium hypochlorite Ca(OCl)2 disinfectant-based silver nanoparticles


Poultry waste is one of the utmost imperative pollutants if not correctly disposed of. To increase the nutritional value of poultry feather wastes that can be utilized as animal feed, it is possible to chemically or biologically treatment of chicken feathers. If correctly handled to minimize negative consequences, poultry waste can be effectively used to create a variety of value-added products, such as fertilizer, biofuel, and animal feed3.

The obtained data from the structured questionnaire during the survey

The main poultry operations are widely distributed in the investigated areas (deep litter and battery cage system). The number of birds reared in a deep litter system was exceeded by 20,000 birds/cycle compared to a battery cage system of 4000 birds/cycle. Twenty-eight deep litter farms (70.0%) reported having shed locked in order to segregate and/or isolate their premises for disease control, whereas five battery cage systems (50.0%) only have a locked gate around the building as shown in Table 1. Maduka et al.25 exhibited that the main components of biosecurity practices included fences around buildings, gates, and all in all out management represented about 80–90%. Furthermore, Mustafa26 recorded that the primary outlines of protection against any disease transmission are a closed gate and fence around it. Besides that, fence was not available for most farms in both semi-modern and conventional systems.

Table 1 The obtained data of structured questionnaire disseminated to the investigated poultry farms.

Furthermore, at the entry gate of the building, application of footbath dip is presented at 70% in the battery cage system compared to 23 out of 40 (57.5%) in the poultry farms of the deep litter system in this study. Haftom et al.27, found that at the gate, footbaths were used by 80% of the broiler poultry farms, while 88% of the farms practiced washing and disinfecting their buildings and equipment. Ali et al.28 indicated that a high level of biosecurity was applied in the closed system than in the open system, whereas 84.6% was used in the footbath dip at the entrance of the shed. On the contrary, the isolation rate of sick birds in separated areas was similarly high in both investigated systems, at 77.5 and 80%, respectively, to avoid dissemination of highly pathogenic diseases. Sudarnika et al.29 found that twenty-four poultry farmers segregated sick birds from healthy birds at 96% and disposed of them by burning or burying them. Meanwhile, just two poultry farms left dead birds thrown away at 4.4%. Furthermore, Mohammed and Helal30 found that most respondents pointed out that they isolated the diseased chicks in a chosen area by using the same building as the rest of the flock. In addition, hygiene stations were rarely present in some poultry premises, and the absence of biosecurity plans employed on-farm was concerning.

In a deep litter system, the litter types that used were sawdust and wood shavings at 37.5 and 62.5%, respectively. For litter disposal during the cycle, some broiler poultry farms clear all litter (15.0%), while 85.0% of these farms remove 10 cm from the top layer and add another. On the other hand, in a battery cage, manure is disposed of during cycle 100% in a tray that is far away from the birds and then collected in manure areas. The frequency of litter change in deep litter was 67.5% once/week while other farms were at 32.5% every month. The methods of disposal of poultry mortalities were incineration followed by disposal in landfill and burial, especially in deep litter (40.0, 25.0 and 20.0%), while in battery cages, incineration and burial were the most applied methods of mortality disposal (50.0 and 30.0%, respectively). Mohammed and Helal30 stated that participants in each poultry operation system clarified lack of capital and sufficient space for applying hygienic measures of disposal of dead birds that involve burning or burial. Besides, poultry producers did not apply composting as a safe method to dispose of dead birds. Furthermore, the risk of environmental degradation and disease transmission is increased when poultry carcasses are dumped in waterways or on a road where dogs might find them and scavenge. Moreover, Muduli et al.3 reported that strict monitoring of the burial of dead birds and/or mortalities on the farm is required to avoid contamination of groundwater sources; additionally, composting could be used to reduce bacterial pathogens and then recycled as soil fertilizer. In the current text, mortalities disposed in waterways were 20% in battery cages as compared to 15.0% in deep litter systems. Disinfection in between cycles was available in both systems, whereas 77.5% in the deep litter system and 70% of the battery cage applied. Finally, the poultry producers reported that the mortality rate/cycle was significantly greater in deep litter (12.0%) than in battery cage (10%) at P 0.005 as presented in (Table 1). Turkson and Okike31 mentioned that to prevent and control highly pathogenic diseases such as HPAI H5N1, the application of biosecurity measures is a critical point. Additionally, the majority of small-scale broiler chicken farms employ minimal or no biosecurity controls, which may raise the likelihood of disease transmission between poultry farms, mortality rates, and the danger of exposing people to potential health risks32.

The distribution pattern of pathogenic bacteria from liquid and solid waste

The frequent distribution of pathogenic microbes arising from investigated farms in Table 2 clarified that 87.62% (184/210) of the total examined samples positively contained highly pathogenic bacteria. The most predominant bacterial isolates from waste were E. coli (33.69%, 62/184), Salmonella spp. (26.09%, 48/184), followed by K. pneumonae (15.22%, 28/184), and L. monocytogenes (14.13%, 26/184). Meanwhile, Shigella flexneri was detected in the least percentage (10.87%, 20/184). The highest percentage of E. coli was isolated from chicks dropping (46.43%, 13/28), manure collected area (40%, 12/30), and wastewater (37.04%, 10/27) followed by mortalities collected area (32.14%, 9/28) and chicks’ litter (30%, 9/30). Oppositely, Salmonella spp. was recorded in the highest percentage in wastewater (37.04, 10/27) and chicks dropping (28.57%, 8/28) followed by mortalities collected area (25%, 7/28) whilst K. pneumonae was isolated at a higher rate from mortalities collected area (21.43%, 6/28) followed by both chicks’ litter and manure collected area (16.67%, 5/30 each). Furthermore, L. monocytogenes was highly isolated from waste feed (27.78%, 5/18) and feathers (17.39%, 4/23). Besides, Shigella flexneri was also detected in feathers (21.74%, 5/23) and chicks’ litter (13.33%, 4/30). These findings support those of Sahoo et al.33 who showed that managing poultry litter had a significant impact on the health of birds. Keeping the chicks’ litter dry is another essential aspect of managing chicken farms. In the presence of elevated litter pH and moisture content, Soliman et al.34 explained that chicks’ litter is a favorable medium for bacterial growth and transmissions like S. Typhimurium. Additionally, Tiweri et al.35 noted that L. monocytogenes was frequently found in the vicinity of animals and persisted for an extended period of time in animal waste, soil, water, and feed. According to Abdel-Latef and Mohammed36, contamination of the poultry environment by highly pathogenic bacteria is the main reason for greater death rates and large economic losses in these farms. Environmental contamination may be caused by bird fecal droppings reflecting less stringent hygiene practices in poultry farms.

Table 2 Frequent distribution of pathogenic bacteria isolated from liquid and solid waste arising from investigated farms.

The total bacterial count and indicator microorganisms isolated from liquid and solid waste

The total viable count and indicator bacteria that were identified from liquid and solid waste that the deep litter system produced were displayed in Table 3. It was discovered that the TVCs in both mortalities and manure collected areas were significantly greater (8.21 × 107 ± 1.2 × 105 and 7.32 × 107 ± 2.3 × 10 CFU/100gm) followed by chicks’ litter (6.71 × 107 ± 3.5 × 10 CFU/gm) and wastewater (3.56 × 107 ± 1.1 × 105 CFU/mL) compared with its count in feathers and waste feed (2.34 × 104 ± 1.1 × 10 and 2.34 × 105 ± 1.1 × 105 CFU/gm, respectively). In addition, TCCs were isolated at the highest rates in chicks’ litter and manure collected areas (900 ± 1.1 and 900.0 ± 4.8 CFU/100gm), whilst in waste feed it was 110.0 ± 6.2 CFU/100gm. As well, FCCs were significantly high in both chicks’ litter and manure collected areas (350.0 ± 4.1 and 350.0 ± 3.0 CFU/100gm, respectively) followed by chicks dropping (220.0 ± 1.2 CFU/100 gm) and wastewater (220.0 ± 2.2 CFU/100 mL). Meanwhile, FCCs in feathers and waste feed did not exceed 60.0 ± 3.6 and 90.0 ± 1.1 CFU/100 gm, respectively. Abd El-Salam et al.37 found that the wastewater contains 1600 colonies of total coliform. Hartel et al.38 pointed out that the possible source of fecal coliforms is fresh poultry litter, and the composting process of litter can principally eradicate these bacteria. Nevers et al.39 clarified that fecal contaminations including livestock, poultry, and other fecal wastes are potential sources of bacterial pathogens with human health risks in recreational waters. Zhuang et al.40 noted that chicken farms are a crucial source of fecal pollution in the environment as poultry excrement contains bacteria that are harmful to the environment and humans.

Table 3 Total viable count, total and fecal coliform count in liquid and solid waste arising from investigated farms.

Characterization of Ag NPs and Ca(OCl)2-Ag NPs using TEM and FT-IR

TEM of Ag NPs showed the morphological shape (spherical and elliptical) and the size of nano-silver particles ranged between 19.07–34.47 nm (Fig. 1a,b). TEM photography of Ca(OCl)2-AgNPs revealed the spherical and elongated morphological shape of the composite’s nanoparticles (NPs). Besides, the diameter of the NPs ranged from 4.94 to 33.62 nm (Fig. 2a,b). Ag NPs (Fig. 3a) showed specific peaks at 3272.18, 1638.07, 919.01 and 604.61 cm−1. Furthermore, FT-IR of Ca(OCl)2-AgNPs (Fig. 3b) showed characteristic peaks at 3273.57, 2132.25, 1638.21 and 602.51 cm−1, confirming the successful loading of Ca(OCl)2 on the Ag NPs. Roy et al.41 pointed out that the FT-IR spectra of nano-silver particles exhibited the characteristic peak of Ag NPs that is located at 1638 cm−1. In addition, Mohammed16 displayed FT-IR of Ca(OCl)2 loaded on Ag NPs whereas a specific peak appeared at 2480 cm−1, approving the loading in a successive way.

Figure 1

TEM photography of nano-silver particles (Ag NPs). The morphological shape (a) showed the fine spherical and elliptical particles of nano-silver besides the diameter of NPs (b) was ranged from 19.07- 34.47 nm.

Figure 2

TEM photography of Ca(OCl)2 loaded on Ag NPs (ab). The morphological shape displayed the spherical and elongated nanoparticles (NPs) of composite (a). Besides, the diameter of the NPs (b) ranged from 4.94 to 33.62 nm.

Figure 3

FT-IR spectrum of Ag NPs (a) and Ca(OCl)2-AgNPs (b).

The antimicrobial activity of disinfection compounds, Ag NPs and Ca(OCl)2-Ag NPs

Pathogenic bacteria were isolated from several waste types and their susceptibility to the disinfection products, Ag NPs and Ca(OCl)2-Ag NPs (Table 4) revealed that the susceptibility of all isolated bacteria to VIRKON S was not greater than 70% at the highest concentration of 2% after 24 h of exposure when compared to the lowest concentration, whereas their susceptibility was between 30–60%. As well, the susceptibility of isolates to quaternary ammonium compounds was not exceeded by 80%, except that L. monocytogene was highly sensitive at 100% at a concentration of 1.5 mg/L. Møretrø et al.42 clarified that due to the presence of resistance genes, L. monocytogenes was tolerant to sub-lethal concentrations of QAC.

Table 4 Biocidal efficacy of tested disinfectants product and nanocomposite against isolated bacteria from waste types.

Ortiz et al.43 clarified that there is a positive association between frequent use of a QAC disinfectant and the existence of L. monocytogene resistant to it which might be attributed to the presence of resistance genes to QAC disinfectants44. In this context, L. monocytogene was significantly more sensitive to Ca(OCl)2 (100%), followed by K. pneumonae, Salmonella spp., and Shigella flexneri, which were 90% sensitive at 1.5 mg/L (P ≤ 0.05). Yim et al.45 discovered that Ca(OCl)2 and QAC were more effective than sodium hypochlorite at completely eliminating vegetative cells and spores. Oppositely, in this study, all bacteria exhibited resistance profiles to Ag NPs that exceeded 30% at concentrations of 5.0 mg/L at 24 h of exposure times compared to the highest concentration of 15 mg/L where the susceptibility of isolates was exceeded 80% for L. monocytogene and k. pneumonae. Furthermore, Shigella flexneri was 100% sensitive. Belluco et al.46 concluded that the overdue effect of Ag NPs on the pathogenic bacteria might have been caused by the slow release of silver ions from the Ag NPs. The effectiveness of Ca(OCl)2-Ag NPs against pathogenic bacterial isolates was investigated in the current study, which found that bacterial isolates (E. coli, K. Pneumonae, Shigella Flexneri, and L. monocytogene) from various waste types were highly sensitive (100%) to Ca(OCl)2-AgNPs at a concentration of 1.0 mg/L after 24 h of exposure. Salmonella spp. were 90% sensitive to Ca(OCl)2-AgNPs at the lowest concentration of 0.5 mg/L.

Silver ions’ ability to bind to Ca(OCl)2, penetrate bacterial cell membranes, and improve membrane permeability may be responsible for this action, confirming that the biocidal activity demonstrated by Ca(OCl)2-Ag NPs is synergistic. These results are consistent with those reported by Morones et al.47 and Sondi and Salopek-Sondi48, who found that employing Ag NPs to treat water increased cell membrane permeability and leakage of the cytoplasm of E. coli. Additionally, Ag NPs have been shown to have an antimicrobial effect is credited with the release of Ag ions from the Ag NPs surface and binding on thiol groups in membrane proteins, resulting in bacterial enzymatic systems are inhibited and DNA aggregation49,50. Mohammed16 found that the microbial effect of Ag NPs against E. coli and S. aureus was exceeded by 80%, whilst it has a lethal effect against K. pneumoniae (100%) at the highest concentration (5.0 mg/L) after exposure time (180 min).This could be due to Ag ions’ ability to bind to and infiltrate the microbial cell membrane. Furthermore, Dilarri et al.51 demonstrated that the Ca(OCl)2 mechanism of action targets the microorganism’s cytoplasmic membrane, which may be responsible for cell death.

The pros and cons of drop-in filters for mirrorless


March 14, 2022

Landscape and nature photographer Guy Edwardes mulls over the pros and cons of drop-in filters for mirrorless cameras


Late last year, I finally made the decision to buy a mirrorless camera in the form of a Canon EOS R5, but not for the reasons you might think. For me to consider upgrading to any new camera it would have to offer a significant advantage over my current set-up. The Canon EOS R5 alone didn’t seem to offer a particularly compelling reason to switch. However, a few months ago I noticed a ‘feature’ that did catch my eye.

In order to use EF lenses with the Canon R-series bodies, it’s necessary to use an EF-EOS R adapter. Canon offers three versions of this adapter and one of them incorporates a drop-in filter. Initially, there were only three compatible filters on offer from Canon (clear, polariser and variable neutral density), so it wasn’t until a few other companies began offering a range of compatible drop-in filters that it really got my attention.

Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland. Canon EOS R5, Canon EF11-24mm f4L, 2 secs at f/16, ISO 100, tripod, Kolari 3-stop ND drop-filter used to achieve 2-second exposure time

I regularly use various strengths of neutral-density filter and a polarising filter for my landscape photography. I don’t use graduated filters, so currently they are all 82mm Heliopan glass screw-in filters (with a stepping ring to fit lenses with 77mm threads). Although these offer great image quality, there is no denying that they can be fiddly to put on and take off. It’s easy to cross the threads or worse, drop the filter! Stacking filters also results in vignetting when using wideangle lenses. It seemed to me that a drop-in filter system could eliminate most of these issues while also providing several other benefits.

Perhaps the most significant advantage and the main reason for me investing in the Canon EOS R5 is that the drop-in filter adapter finally allows me to very easily use neutral-density filters with ultra-wideangle lenses like Canon’s 11-24mm and 8-15mm fisheye. Previously, the use of filters with these lenses had only been possible with either very fiddly or cumbersome solutions. Canon UK, Breakthrough Photography and Kolari kindly sent me several samples of their drop-in filters to test with my Canon EOS R5.

A filter of some sort has to be in the adapter as it forms part of the optical pathway and is required for the focusing to work properly. Currently I’m using Canon’s own clear filter and also its polariser.

Inserting Breakthrough Filters’ 10-stop ND into Canon EF-EOS R adapter on EOS R5 with EF11-24mm f4L attached

Hit the slots

I’ve never been a fan of variable neutral-density filters (VNDs). In theory they sound great, but in reality, due to the way they work, I have never been able to guarantee an even effect across the frame. However, the drop-in VND from Breakthrough Filters is by far the best I have used to date. I think possibly due to its smaller size and its position at the rear of the lens, any uneven effect is reduced.

Care has to be taken when to use it and with which lenses, but good results are consistent enough for me to confidently use it on a regular basis. One of the great things about the 1.5-11 stop VND filter is that you can use it to shoot a bracketed set of exposures without changing the camera settings – very useful if shooting long exposures with moving water, as each exposure will show a very similar water effect, making it much easier to blend exposures seamlessly in software. This is a technique I have used frequently in the past, but it’s not easy when you have to screw traditional filters on and off the front of the lens without moving anything!

Kolari EF-EOS R adapter with 3-stop ND filter

I store my drop-in filters in a small pouch on my belt, so they’re always easily accessible. They can be ‘slotted-in’ far more quickly than screwing a traditional filter onto the front of the lens. I can now use two filters without vignetting when using lenses as wide as 16mm (one drop-in and one screw-on). An advantage over alternative body-mounted clip-in filter systems is that filters can be added without removing the lens, minimising the chances of moisture and dust causing issues. Drop-in filters have significantly sped up my workflow in the field and have already allowed me to achieve images with extreme wideangle lenses that were previously impossible.

This shows how drop-in filters can be obstructed when shooting in vertical format with certain tripod heads. Here, the filter cannot be inserted or withdrawn without removing the camera from the tripod head


Advantages of drop-in filters

+ Quicker and easier to use
+ Enables filter use with extreme wideangle and fisheye lenses
+ One set of filters works for all lenses
+ Reduced risk of vignetting when using multiple filters
+ Eliminates risk of cross-threading or stuck filters
+ More usable variable neutral-density filter
+ Reduced size and weight of filter kit
+ Easier to exposure-bracket using neutral density filters

Negatives of drop-in filters

– Currently only an option when using Canon EF lenses on RF bodies
– Costly clear filter has to be in place when no filtration required
– Access to filter slot may be difficult when shooting in vertical format on a tripod

Portreath Harbour, Cornwall. Canon EOS R5, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II, 1/2sec at f/11, ISO 100, tripod, Breakthrough VND used to achieve precise 1/2sec exposure time


Exposure bracketing with drop-in ND Filters

1. Find your composition and mount your camera on a sturdy tripod. Switch to manual exposure mode and bring up the live histogram. Determine correct exposure settings, including the correct aperture for the required depth of field and exposure time to achieve the desired effect in moving water. These settings will remain the same for all exposures.

2. Insert an ND filter that will give you the correct exposure for the highlights in the image. Replace that filter with a lighter ND to expose for the mid-tones. The number of filters used will depend upon the amount of contrast in the scene, but your final exposure may be with the clear filter to expose for the darkest shadow areas.

3. The resulting set of exposure-bracketed images can then be blended in software (such as Merge to HDR in Adobe Lightroom, or by using layers and masks in Adobe Photoshop) to create a final image that captures the full dynamic range of the scene. If using a variable ND filter, simply rotate the filter to change the brightness of the image for each exposure.

Bracketing allows you to arrive at the perfect final exposure


Drop-in filter reviews

Canon

Canon’s own clear filter and polariser work perfectly well. Image sharpness is unaffected compared to using the standard EF-EOS R adapter. Its VND filter on the other hand has a strong blue colour cast, so I cannot recommend it.

Breakthrough Filters

Breakthrough Filters offer an extensive range of drop-in filters. Their design has been very well thought through. They click into place very positively, but also with the lightest touch (so no chance of moving the camera when using them). They are optically excellent with minimal colour casts. Their VND filter is particularly good with a fairly uniform effect across the image at all settings, but with a slightly warm tone. These filters can be used in the Canon adapter or Breakthrough’s own adapter. Currently available for pre-order direct from breakthrough.photography.

Kolari

Kolari also offers a broad range of drop-in filter options right up to a 20-stop ND. Optically they are very good with excellent sharpness and minimal colour casts. Their design makes them slightly less easy to use as you have to push the filter quite firmly into the adapter, so there’s a chance of moving the camera if using ND filters for exposure bracketing. On the other hand, they won’t accidentally fall out. These filters only work in Kolari’s own high-quality drop-in adapter. Available now from kolarivision.com.


Related Articles:

How to use filters for better landscapes

Lens filters – how to use them properly



The Magic of Telluride Colorado


Fall is a common time for Americans to travel, whether they’re gearing up for spending the holidays with family and friends, or they simply want to take some time to get out of the house. If you’re thinking about traveling during Autumn to beat the heat and take in the views of the changing leaves, you’re not alone. Plenty of people have the same idea and during their time planning a trip, they often look for popular, but not crowded places to see.

If that sounds ideal, you might want to set your destination to Telluride, Colorado. There’s quite a long list of things that make this place one-of-a-kind, and we’ll cover a few of them here.

Read on to learn more about Telluride to determine whether it’s the right place for you to take your next vacation.

The first light of day kisses the snow covered peaks of the Rocky Mountains outside Telluride, Colorado on a cool autumn morning. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

History of Telluride, Colorado

Telluride, Colorado was not always a quaint spot for visitors looking to take advantage of unique fall landscapes. It used to be frequented both by the Ute Native American tribe and prospectors looking for silver and gold back in the 1700s. In fact, it wasn’t always called Telluride. Back when the location was a summer camp, it was called Columbia, but upon becoming a town in 1878, the name changed to Telluride.

The town continued to flourish once the railroad came about in the late 1800s, but after silver prices crashed and WWI started, the town’s focus on mining deteriorated. It was down to only a couple hundred residents until the 1970s, when Telluride attempted to draw visitors in by promoting other attractions, like the ski resort that opened in 1972. In time, Telluride became a rich tourist destination due to its festivals, shows, skiing opportunities, and natural beauty.

Now, Telluride citizens strive to preserve the aesthetics and historical significance of their hometown, and to add to it, the little mountain town was designated as a National Historic Landmark District. Much of the old mining look and feel still exists in Telluride, so if you’re interested in immersing yourself in a piece of US history, this is a fantastic place to visit.

Because of its significant role in the history of the American West, Telluride was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964. Colorful Victorian-era homes, clapboard storefronts and historic buildings now mix with boutiques, art galleries, gourmet restaurants and Telluride’s luxury hotels.

Towering Aspen and Silver Birch trees intertwine to create a wall of autumn splendor on Last Dollar Road between Telluride and Ridgway in Colorado. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Telluride Colorado Geology

Telluride is located on the Western flank of the San Juan Mountains at an elevation of 8,750 feet. San Juan Mountains, segment of the southern Rockies, extending southeastward for 150 mi (240 km) from Ouray, in southwestern Colorado, U.S., along the course of the Rio Grande to the Chama River, in northern New Mexico. Many peaks in the northern section exceed 14,000 ft (4,300 m), including Mts. Eolus, Sneffels, Handies, Sunshine, Wetterhorn, Redcloud, San Luis, and Windom, with Uncompahgre Peak (14,309 ft) being the highest.

Much of the appeal of Telluride comes from its rich mining history, even today. Plenty of visitors stop by to explore nearby landmarks which include the San Juan Mountains, take in beautiful landscapes, and perhaps, try to locate remnants of the gold and silver that put Telluride on the map so long ago.

In addition, for geology fans, the area around Telluride is composed of sedimentary rock, igneous rock, and volcanic rock. As such, there’s always something to look at and so many interesting contrasts between the naturally-occurring rock types in the area.

Like a ghost ship floating on a sea of gold, an empty rowboat drifts across a pond near Telluride, Colorado at the peak of autumn. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Autumn In Colorado

If Autumn isn’t your favorite season of the year then I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Ok, ok, I guess sunshine is nice and I know a lot of you enjoy skiing and everything but nothing beats the visual splendor that is Autumn.

Scores of people visit the Telluride area to take advantage of the scenery that takes on unique changes during the Autumn season. Like other highly-frequented Autumn locations, Telluride offers some breathtaking visuals once the area’s trees begin to change from green leaves to palettes of red, orange, and yellow shades.

On top of exploring the small town itself, there are several natural attractions in the area that present one-of-a-kind scenes that take flight as soon as the plant life starts resembling a non-destructive fire.

If you’re one of the traveling types who hope to make the most out of the views you’ll have when you visit a new area, Autumn in Telluride certainly won’t disappoint.

A stand of quaking aspens bend and twist towards the sky, transforming the clonal grove into an array of alien tendrils. The scar of past avalanches, the trees’ strange stature is testament to the harshness of the alpine climate. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Peak Fall Color in Telluride

Travelers like to plan their visits to the Telluride area based on the changing of the leaves on the surrounding trees. Part of taking in the scenery includes taking advantage of the best fall colors so it’s easy to understand why one of the most common questions from potential visitors has to do with when the leaves are going to become their most vibrant fall colors.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy answer to provide. Telluride usually starts seeing their local leaves change color around the middle of September, but the timeline can vary somewhat from year to year.

The peak time to take in the fall scenery is usually right around the last week of September, and the colors fade away as the days roll into October.

Of course, nobody wants to be too early or too late for the main attraction they’re visiting for. To provide a little more help when it comes to scheduling your visit as accurately as possible, check-in and read Telluride’s official blog or take a look at their landscape webcams to get a better idea of the timeline you should plan for.

Fall aspens, like Grecian columns, reach towards transient puffs of cloud in a brilliant blue sky. When the days grow chill, groves of clonal aspen turn hillsides like this one near Aspen, Colorado into cascades of rippling gold. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Telluride Colorado Art Galleries

Telluride, Colo., isn’t all that different from Aspen. It’s a high-end resort town that attracts ski bums, wealthy business executives and celebrities. Where there is tourism combined with cold hard cash there will be art galleries and Telluride is no exception. Some of the art galleries that can be found here include the Elinoff Gallery, Gold Mountain Gallery and the Tony Newlin Gallery among many others. Spend a day wondering the town and taking in the arts!

There is no question why they call it colorful Colorado as dappled light and dreamy clouds drift over the top of the San Juan Mountains outside Ridgway, Colorado. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Things To Do and Places To See In Telluride

Whether you enjoy taking photos or you just want to take in fascinating landscapes for your own benefit, there are several ways to view unique scenes throughout the Telluride area during the Autumn season.

Hiking up and down some of Telluride’s popular trails is a great place to start. You might choose to visit the Bear Creek Trail, Bridal Trail Falls, or the Lizard Head Wilderness. Each of these sites offers unique perspectives, varying challenge levels, and vantage points that make for some amazing image captures.

Further, if hiking isn’t your favorite, there are a couple of other ways to view the Telluride scenery. You might opt for one of the 4×4 tours that plenty of visitors find enjoyable, or ride the gondola that takes you above the horizon for a 13-minute trip around the mountain area.

While you’re in the Telluride area, don’t miss out on the other sites that this historic location has to offer.

Golden light from the early morning sun illuminates a forest of beautiful aspen trees at the peak of autumn in Telluride, Colorado. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Last Dollar Road Telluride

The Last Dollar Road is somewhat of a hidden gem in the Telluride area. Instead of taking the highway to get from Telluride to Ridgeway, take a trip into the unbeaten path and travel down the same bumpy dirt road that so many others did in the past.

The road stretches through one of Colorado’s many valley areas, and throughout the trip, the scenery changes significantly. During one section, you’ll see soft, nearly flat terrain. In another section, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful trees lining the path, and finally, you’ll proceed through grassy fields with the San Juan Mountain views off in the distance.

On top of the changing landscapes, this trail offers fantastic views of Wilson Peak, one of Colorado’s treasured mountain areas.

Dappled light kisses the peaks of the Rocky Mountains and illuminates the autumn leaves of an Aspen grove like matchsticks in the wind near Ridgway, Colorado. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Telluride Ski Resort

As the name suggests, the Telluride Ski Resort is primarily a place that allows visitors to enjoy skiing through the nearby mountains. However, there’s more to the location than skiing alone. Telluride’s ski resort plays host to events, fine dining, and other ways to let guests form long-lasting memories.

If skiing isn’t something you want to take part in, visit the resort for the fine dining experience, or stay for a couple of days to relax in luxurious accommodations.

Telluride Weather

Like many of the mountain towns of Colorado, Telluride’s weather can be quite cold in the winter, with mild summer and spring temperatures. The town itself is typically warmer than the sites to see in higher elevations, but between early fall and early spring, you can expect relatively low temperatures.

In mid-November, the forecast shows temperatures in the high 20s to middle 30s for the high and anywhere from the low 20s to single-digit numbers for the low.

If you’re planning to visit Telluride during the cooler months, pay close attention to the weather forecast and embark on your trip prepared (bring warm clothing and any equipment you might need in order to ensure your safety and convenience).

Visit Telluride

Hopefully, you’re as excited about the idea of visiting Telluride as the area deserves. Words hardly do the scenery justice when you arrive at just the right time to see all of the incredible fall colors that nature presents for such a short time. There are plenty of places across the country with breathtaking Autumn views, but there’s only one Telluride. If you haven’t seen it in person, you’re in for a real treat.

Branches like arteries stretch in every direction providing the nutrients of life to the leaves of this Aspen tree in Ridgway, Colorado. Fine Art Limited Edition of 50.

Natural Landscape Photography Awards 2022: beautiful scenes with minimal editing


American photographer Brent Clark has been crowned the winner of the 2nd annual Natural Landscape Photography Awards 2022. The award was created to celebrate authentic, realistic landscapes with minimal edits ensuring that the landscapes featured are ones people can trust.

Brent Clark impressed the panel of international judges with a selection of images that showed of different styles of photographers. From hyperrealistic photos of sand dunes in the desert to more art-inspired close-ups of patterns in nature. His bold use of colors and a keen eye for detail landed him the top spot and the grand prize consisting of $5,000 in cash, a Canon EOS R5 (opens in new tab), a camera backpack, a tripod and a year’s membership to Nature photographers Network. 

• Discover the best cameras for landscape photography and start shooting stunning scenery

On winning the competition, Brent Clark said, “I am honored and stunned to receive the distinction of the Natural Landscape Photography Award’s Natural Landscape Photographer of the Year! Last year’s NLPA was the first photography competition I had ever entered because most competitions seem to reward a style of image I prefer not to create and a mindset I do not have.”

(Image credit: Antonio Fernandez)

Antonio Fernandez was awarded second place for a series of images focussing on abstract patterns in nature. These aerial shots show the beauty of our land and seas from above, capturing expansive riverways, snow-covered trees and areas on the ground that look like mars. 

Third place went to Denver-based photographer Alfredo Mora who also submitted a selection of close-ups of trees and recurring patterns in nature. Other category winners include Daniel Mirela for Project of the Year for his photos of the virgin forests spread through the Carpathian Mountains in Romania and the award for photograph of the year was a tie between Phillipp Jakesch and Jim Lamont for two very different but equally striking images. 

Forestis (Image credit: Daniel Mirlea)

Despite only being in its second year, the competition received more than 10,700 entries from 55 countries and a total of 1,179 photographers. Judging the competition is a selection of eight leading world-class photographers from the US, Europe and Canada who adhere to an agreed judging process to ensure transparency. 

To see the full list of winning images, find out who judges the competition and see how you can enter next year, head to the Natural Landscape Awards website.

A shadow falls on the Lowell Glacier (Image credit: Jim Lamont)

Check out the best tripods (opens in new tab) and the best lenses for landscape photography (opens in new tab)

Noémie Goudal’s Photo and Video Collages Trick the Eye. But They’re All About Revealing, Not Concealing, Her Process


The French artist Noémie Goudal is an illusionist. But unlike a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, Goudal provides the viewer with enough clues to understand her creative process. Her photographs and videos of palm trees and burning vegetation derive from the creation of printed décor, like stage sets, which clearly differentiates her art from the work of a documentary photographer. 

Several images on the stand of Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire at Paris Photo in the Grand Palais Éphémère this past weekend, conveyed Goudal’s preoccupations with nature and her working method. 

For Mountain III (2021), Goudal erected jagged pieces of cardboard in front of a partially snow-capped landscape. In order not to deceive the viewer about her intervention, she left the edges of the cardboard visible in the ensuing work.

For Phoenix V (2021), she sliced her own photographs of a palm tree into vertical and horizontal strips, which she installed in the same landscape in order to make another picture. The overlapping layers of strips conjure a deconstructed image. Black spaces in between the branches and the artificial light illuminating some of the leaves denote how the original conditions were nocturnal. Meanwhile, the visibility of the clips and cables communicates the work’s artifice.

Noémie Goudal, Mountain III (2021). Courtesy Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire.

 

“What I try to instill in the image is all the artisanal side, so you can find the gesture of fabricating the image within the image itself,” Goudal told Artnet News. “For me, it’s very important to involve the viewer so that they can live a bit of the [image-making] experience.”

To capture the palm trees, Goudal and her team of assistants drove to southern Spain, taking along equipment like cameras, computers, a printer and lighting. “We made a kind of deconstruction of the landscape and the result of this performance is represented in the photos,” she said.

Born in Paris, Goudal, 38, studied graphic design at Central Saint Martins in London before attaining a MA in Photography from the Royal College of Art. “There’s better and more varied teaching in England; the schools have a good reputation and the students are very free,” Goudal said about her decision to study abroad. 

From the beginning of her practice, Goudal has been interested in the hovering interface between fictional images and reality. To make her early works, she would install a photograph of a landscape somewhere very different—such as capturing a print of a misty, tropical road inside a dusty barn. 

In the last few years, Goudal’s work has become increasingly ambitious in scale and media. She has had exhibitions at the Photographer’s Gallery in London, the Finnish Museum of Photography, and Foam Photography Museum in Amsterdam, among other venues. Notably, her works have entered the collections of the Centre Pompidou, the CNAP – France’s visual arts collection, and Germany’s Fotomuseum Winterthur.

Noémie Goudal, Phoenix V (2021). Courtesy Galerie Les Filles Filles du Calvaire.

As part of this summer’s Rencontres d’Arles photography festival in the south of France, Goudal had an exhibition, “Phoenix,” in a deconsecrated gothic church called Église des Trinitaires. On view in the chapel’s nave were two captivating videos evincing her fascination with representation, installation, and performance. 

Inhale Exhale (2021) opens with a verdant, tropical landscape, like a postcard cliché. But the palm trees are soon revealed to be printed on placards, which begin to emerge and move, eventually collapsing in the rain. Then an identically constructed jungle appears, only to meet the same drowned fate. The piece was filmed in the wood of Vincennes, near Paris, wherein the décor was placed. 

The second video, Below the Deep South, (2021), is more terrifying, showing lush vegetation being set ablaze. The edges of the sheets of images lick with flames, burn and vanish. Then another, and yet another, layer of images catches fire in a perpetual cycle of repetition and destruction. Eventually, the ravaging flames stop flickering and embers amass on the floor of an industrial site. This ‘making of’ ending indicates that this is where the sheets of images were installed. Clarity is given to the mastered fakery, the poetic illusion is rendered comprehensible.

One immediately wonders if the dystopian vision is a reflection on the fires in the Amazon rainforest during Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency of Brazil. But Goudal replied that this was not the starting point. Rather, it was researching deep time and paleoclimatology, the study of the climate history of the earth and how a better understanding of the earth’s climate in the past relates to its present and future climate. 

Noémie Goudal. Film still from Below the Deep South (2021). Courtesy of Les Filles du Calvaire gallery and the artist.

“What interests me through these videos is trying to see the metamorphoses of the earth in a much broader sense than during man’s era, and looking at the destruction of fire but also at how it is a very important force of energy,” Goudal said. “When we speak to paleoclimatologists, we realize to what extent the earth was subjected to metamorphoses, like blasts and volcanoes, which allowed man to exist, and it’s this balance that we’re trying to save now.”

It is this transversal quality of Goudal’s practice—working across techniques and media, and exploring the earth’s different geological epochs—that makes it distinguishing, according to Stéphane Magnan, co-founder of Galeries Les Filles du Calvaire. The gallery sells her photographs, in an edition of five, priced between  €18,500 and €28,000 ($18,330-$27,740), depending on the format. Videos, also in an edition of five, are priced at €20,000 ($19,810).

“This artist proposes a very subtle work that destabilizes the viewer by deconstructing the landscape,” Magnan said. “This very particular, offbeat vision triggers fundamental issues about the earth’s transformation and proposes an aesthetic recomposition of our world.”

The theme of destruction is treated slightly differently in the black-and-white video, Untitled (Study on Matters and Fire), 2022. Commissioned for the group exhibition, “L’horizon des événements,” at Château d’Oiron in western France this summer, it shows a bleak, actual wasteland located beyond the periphery of Paris. 

One quickly perceives that the austere image is a composition of different elements, centered by a large circle whose edges become aflame. As the billowing, blackened paper tumbles, the fire devours the landscape. Through a system of photographic anamorphosis, the destruction gives way to the real, unravaged landscape behind.

Noémie Goudal, Untitled (Study on Matters and Fire) (2022). Exhibition view Château d’Oiron. Photo: Anna Sansom.

 

“The contract with Jean-Luc Meslet, director of the Château d’Oiron, was to produce works in situ, in or near the château, and we looked with Noémie for a forest that could be filmed in May but this turned out to be impossible so we couldn’t respect this contractual clause,” the exhibition’s curator Patrice Joly explained. “I find this new film even more powerful – it totally finds its place in the château’s grandiose setting, the sound fills the large room under the eaves […] and makes us feel the power and magnetism of fire – it’s a magnificent piece.”

Goudal, who cites Christopher Williams, Wolfgang Tillmans, Andreas Gursky and Zoe Leonard as references, has also ventured into interdisciplinary projects. At the Festival d’Avignon, south of France, this summer, she collaborated with stage director Maëlle Poésy on a performance piece, Anima. Next to a landscape-metamorphosis video, a dancer performed on a metallic, gridded structure of the same dimensions as the video screen. 

Goudal has also made a foray into sculpture. At her exhibition, “Post Atlantica,” at Edel Assanti in London earlier this year, several spherical, kinetic sculptures were on display alongside photographs and videos. 

Indeed, Goudal aspires for her conceptual work to defy classification and be appreciated beyond the confines of photography. “It’s still complicated to show photographic work in a contemporary art context,” Goudal lamented. “As there are fairs dedicated to photography, a gallery will think of showing their trending photographer at Paris Photo rather than at Paris+ [par Art Basel]. I understand but it’s just classifying [artists who work with photography] even more. I suffer a lot from this.”

Besides, Goudal is hardly a photographer in the traditional sense. “Photographers who make documentary and more classical work don’t see mine as classical photography,” Goudal added. 

Certainly, what drives Goudal is developing a multifarious practice, rich in intellectual exploration. “It’s very natural for me to use all these different media,” she said. “What interests me is studying the image from lots of different viewpoints and, above all, the experience of creating the image.”

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33 Essential Spring Photo Tips


March 20, 2022

Spring is here! Five top landscape and nature photographers share their essential tips for getting the best Spring photos


Finally, the March Equinox has arrived and Spring is here! The countryside looks its prettiest, the trees are beginning to blossom, and all in all you couldn’t ask for better conditions for some great landscape photography. Of course, seasons come and go before you know it, and that’s why it’s important to make the most of them. With that in mind, we asked five top landscape and nature photographers to share their top Spring photo tips to get the best results.

33 Spring photo tips

Mark Bauer

Mark Bauer has been a full-time landscape photographer for more than ten years. He is based in Dorset and takes his inspiration from the beauty of the surrounding landscapes. He is the author of four books and has won numerous awards. www.markbauerphotography.com

1. Use flowers for foreground interest

Most wideangle landscapes benefit from having some foreground interest, and with flowers coming into bloom at this time of year there’s plenty of choice. Get in close and fill the bottom of the frame with flowers.

Mark Bauer

It’s important to keep everything sharp from foreground to background, so choose a small aperture such as f/11 or f/16 and focus about a third of the way into the scene. For greater accuracy, set the hyperfocal distance for the focal length/aperture combination you’re using. To help calculate this, make a chart to keep in your camera bag or use a smartphone app.

Six tips for photographing spring flowers

2. Spring showers are great for landscape photography

It may be tempting to stay indoors on rainy days, but you’ll be missing out on some amazing landscape photography opportunities. When showers clear, the light is often dramatic: dark stormy clouds above, spotlighting on the landscape below, and incredible clarity, as all the particles have been washed out of the atmosphere. If a rainbow appears, use a polariser to enhance the colours.

For the best shots, you’ll need to be in position, ready for when the rain stops and the sun bursts through the clouds. You’ll be standing around getting wet for a while, but the results are worth it.

3. Check the forecast for misty mornings

Mist simplifies the landscape, hiding unwanted detail and clutter, and gives the scene a romantic atmosphere. The most photogenic type of mist is ‘radiation fog’, which lies low on the ground, often in valleys, and looks great when shot from above, with the tops of hills, trees and other features above it.

Mark Bauer

Spring is a great time for finding these conditions. Head out early after a clear, still night when the temperature has dropped a little. A gentle south-westerly breeze first thing can encourage the development of mist.

4. Use a polariser

We associate spring with colour: fresh greens, bright wildflowers, fields of yellow oilseed rape and so on. Sometimes these colours look a little washed out in a photograph, as they can be dulled by haze in the air or glare on the surface of the flowers. A polarising filter cuts out polarised light, reducing surface reflections and glare. It therefore has the effect of cutting through haze and restoring natural colour saturation. Using a polariser is easy: just rotate the filter while looking through the viewfinder until you see the effect you want.

5. Shoot bluebell woods with backlighting

When we think of spring, we often think of bluebells. They look their best in mature woodland, so try to find a thick carpet on the forest floor without too much clutter. If you shoot them backlit at the beginning or end of the day, shadows from the tree trunks will race towards the camera, creating a sense of drama, and the flowers and foliage will be given a saturation boost.

Partially screening the sun behind trunks helps to reduce problems with contrast and flare, and if you choose a small aperture, such as f/16 or f/22, diffraction can create a ‘starburst effect’.

Mark Bauer

6. Shoot woodland on overcast days

Overcast skies are not the landscape photographer’s favourite conditions, but they are very good for shooting in woodland. The level of contrast is low and manageable, and as a result the colours of the foliage and plants are enriched, which can be enhanced by the use of a polariser. By contrast, although dappled lighting looks attractive to the eye, the contrast often exceeds the dynamic range of the camera’s sensor, which means it doesn’t photograph well.

7. Use longer lenses to compress carpets of flowers

When you see a large carpet of flowers, the natural tendency is to get in close with a wideangle lens. However, this approach doesn’t always do the scene justice as it can exaggerate the gaps between the flowers. Instead, try shooting from further back with a longer lens, which will have the effect of compressing the gaps and making the flowers look densely packed.

Colin Roberts

A specialist in landscapes and nature, Colin Roberts turned professional in 2005. He has received a number of awards for his nature images, including International Garden Photographer of the Year and the Royal Horticultural Society’s Photographer of the Year. To see more of his images visit his website at www.colinrobertsphotography.com

8. Capture the transforming landscape

Spring is a season of transition and a great time to explore the countryside as trees come into leaf, fields turn green and hedgerows thicken. Many landscapes look their best at this time of year when foliage is fresh and pristine, and the harsh woody outlines of trees become softened by lush spring growth.

Colin Roberts

Make the most of footpaths and byways to access the more unusual viewpoints, and look beyond embankments and tall hedges to find views that would otherwise be missed. The real atmosphere of spring is often seen at dawn, when a touch of brilliant light shows the landscape awakening – in more ways than one.

9. Visit beechwoods

Beech is one of our most photogenic native trees, and its appearance in spring is no exception. Its newly unfolded leaves create a translucent canopy of vivid green, making deciduous woods look stunning at this time of year. The leaves emerge from April onwards, so be sure to take advantage of the spectacle while it lasts. Within a few weeks the leaves mature and the pale colour darkens and loses its brilliance.

Shoot in soft, overcast light for best results and choose calm conditions, because even the slightest breath of wind can cause foliage to blur. In terms of composition, one option is to use a wide lens and shoot directly upwards for a dramatic view of the tree trunks converging skywards.

Alternatively, try moving in close to frame a small cluster of leaves, softly backlit to show their fine detail.

10. Capture colour on the clifftops

Spring flowers aren’t restricted to woodlands and hedgerows – the coast sees some fine displays too. Among others, pink sea thrift and white scurvy grass are found along many parts of the British coastline. Growing in tight clusters, usually along clifftops and headlands, they make excellent foreground subjects that add colour and interest to wider shots of the coast.

Colin Roberts

Sea pinks look particularly impressive when caught in the golden rays of a rising or setting sun. They can also be seen sprouting from rocky crevices, where they make an eye-catching focal point and a strong natural contrast with the stony environment. Both species look pristine when they emerge in April and May, with the best of their colour over by summer.

11. Search for tree seedlings

Among the flurry of spring growth, keep a watch for tree seedlings emerging from the forest floor. They are always something to marvel at, especially when seen growing beneath the towering structure of a mature tree. As a foreground subject they put the woody landscape into context, or make a fascinating study in their own right. But look carefully because their first leaves are often very different from those of the parent trees – for example, beech seedlings emerge with a semi-circular leaf, while those of sycamore produce tapered leaves.

12. Visit parks and gardens

Whether formal or semi-wild, parklands and gardens are a notable and accessible source for spring subjects. For blossoms, early flowers or trees coming into leaf, there are few other locations that offer so much variety in one setting. Good structural features like trees, fountains or topiary add scope for composition, while good lines of sight are often crucial for showing depth – so look for pathways, avenues, stone steps or boardwalks.

The versatility of zoom lenses makes them an ideal option for smaller gardens where space is confined and plant beds often restrict your movement. Hone in on seasonal details like fern fronds unfurling, or the colourful reflections of waterside blossoms.

13. Plan ahead

Forward planning will ensure you’re prepared this eventful and inspiring season.

To me, spring means the British landscape at its best – I never go abroad in April or May for fear of missing it. So start by making a hit-list of locations for spring landscapes, wildflowers and trees based on your local knowledge and a bit of online research.  It’s worth remembering that all prolific spring flowers are perennial, meaning they live for many years, so you can rely on them being in the same place year in, year out.

Also bear in mind crop rotations. If you have a location in mind for oilseed rape, for example, you’re unlikely to see it in the same field more than once in three years – sometimes longer. And don’t forget the change to British Summer Time (29 March this year), which briefly makes those early starts a bit easier as sunrise will be an hour earlier.

Niall Benvie

Niall Benvie has worked in environmental communications for 22 years as a photographer, writer, designer and guide. He is co-founder of the international Meet Your Neighbours initiative and lives in Angus with his family. www.niallbenvie.com

14. The lowdown

There are many good reasons for shooting wildlife from a low angle. Aesthetic: when you portray the animal from its own perspective rather than a human one, a quality of intimacy is introduced. Technical: long telephotos are supported on a tripod at only one point. There’s a lot of overhang fore and aft, and once the shutter speed drops below 1/60sec camera shake creeps in, no matter how hefty the tripod.

Niall Benvie

Putting the camera and lens on a beanbag on the ground offers the best stability. As an extra benefit, the background just behind your subject that would be rendered quite sharp from a high viewpoint is hidden and only the distant, very blurry background can be seen.

An angle finder makes viewing more comfortable if your camera doesn’t have an articulated rear screen.

15. What to shoot when it’s wet and windy

Spring is noted for its showers, often accompanied by strong winds. If it is wet and windy, fit a macro lens (or close-focusing zoom) and look at mosses and lichens. Regardless of the weather, you can make intriguing close-ups of these colourful subjects that are actually enhanced by a spring shower. And even in a gale, they won’t move around.

Since you are often working at quite a high magnification, find where your camera’s mirror lock-up function is and use it, along with an electronic release.

It really makes a big difference to sharpness, especially with longer lenses. Normally you’ll want to render as much detail as possible, so identify the principal plane through the subject and shoot parallel to that to make the most of the limited depth of field.

Niall Benvie

16. Colourful backgrounds

Viewers may do a double-take when their expectations of what is ‘normal’ in a photograph are challenged. We expect to see the subject in the light, the background in shade, the subject colourful and the background muted. If you reverse these relationships you’re sure to catch the viewer’s eye.

Among nature photographers, this style came out of Scandinavia in the late 1980s and typically features plants in shade photographed against a hillside, or a lake reflecting early morning or late evening light.

The success of these pictures relies on preventing the subject from becoming a silhouette (so the sunlight on the background must be weak), to set up tension between the ‘cool’ subject and the ‘warm’ background. And because you need to isolate only a small part of the background, your longest telephoto, perhaps with an extension tube, is your best ally.

Niall Benvie

17. Elevated sites

What raised beds are to gardeners, elevated sites are to nature photographers. They make the process of getting the low-angle perspective more comfortable and therefore more productive. Many birds stubbornly refuse to leave the ground to feed on a bird table, so you’ve got to make your own bit of ground (perhaps by cutting some turfs), putting the food on it and raising them to your shooting level.

If you’re building a pond to photograph drinking birds, it’s essential that you can shoot at water level from an adjacent hide, so make sure the pool is high enough off the ground. Subjects on elevated spots also make it easier to shoot towards the zenith where the sky’s blue is richest. And if you’re photographing wildlife from your vehicle, a roadside bank puts it at eye-level.

5 tips on photographing spring birds

Jeremy Walker

Jeremy Walker is an award-winning photographer specialising in high-quality landscape and location photography around the world, for use by advertising, design and corporate clients. www.jeremywalker.co.uk

18. Use colour

It’s spring, so there should be plenty of colour around, but avoid the trap of just shooting an individual plant or flower. Look for blocks of colour that either work with each other or use colour that clashes and has impact. Good locations for this type of image will be the commercial bulb growers in Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Cornwall. Or, of course, the famous bulb fields in the Netherlands.

Jeremy Walker

19. Shooting with a reflector

Bright sunlight can often be too contrasty, especially with small, fragile and delicate plants. A reflector can bounce soft light back into the subject from the opposite side to where the sun is shining, to lift the shadow detail and reduce the contrast. However, you should do this with a soft white type of reflector and not a silver one, which would be too hard.

Alternatively, if you have a white/semi translucent type of reflector, you could hold it above the subject and effectively cast a soft shadow over the whole subject to reduce contrast, using the reflector like a softbox in a studio.

20. Using a windbreak

Remember the windbreak you have in the garage that you use for two weeks in the summer every year? Why not use it to protect the plants you are shooting from the wind? The slightest breeze can disturb a plant, and if you are using a macro lens, for which depth of field can be very limited, the slightest wobble will cause you to lose your shot.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a beach windbreak, as anything large enough to protect your subject will work. Just make sure it doesn’t get into the shot.

21. Slow shutter speeds for blur and motion

It is very tempting when shooting plants and close-ups to forget creativity in the pursuit of the ‘record shot’. In trying to squeeze out every last detail we put aside our artistic vision in the pursuit of sharpness and detail, so go the opposite way and use a slow shutter speed to achieve some blur and motion.

Jeremy Walker

If it is a breezy day, don’t dismiss the idea of getting some shots – think instead about flowers with long stems, such as daffodils, that will sway in the breeze and create interesting shapes and colour. Experiment with shutter speeds of around 1/4sec or slower. A tripod will be essential, though.

22. Patterns, shapes and textures

Shooting images in spring is not just about close-ups of flowers and recording colourful landscapes. Look for abstract images, detail shots and scenes with bags of texture. Look beyond the normal and check out the patterns in fresh leaves and petals, shoot shapes and textures and see how the light interacts with the structure of the plants. A macro or close-up lens is an essential tool for this type of work.

23. Use a Lensbaby for a soft, ethereal look

An interesting and alternative way of looking at the world is by bolting a Lensbaby onto your camera. With different accessories you can create a range of effects, from controlling the depth of focus to softening the image and having the colours go very pale and pastel-like. There are a range of Lensbaby accessories, so a little experimentation may be necessary.

Jeremy Walker

24. Get a waterproof picnic blanket

Available from any good hardware store, a waterproof blanket will keep you from getting muddy and wet when working down low. I’ve lost count the number of times I have come away from shooting with dirty knees or have had to put my bag down on wet grass or mud, so a blanket (or a large refuse sack) is a much better alternative.

25. Look for quirky angles

Try to avoid shooting everything at eye-level, looking down on your subject. Instead, look for quirky and odd alternatives. Directly overhead is a good starting point, or try a worm’s-eye view. For every angle you shoot from, think of the opposite point of view.

If your camera has a tilting, rotating LCD screen, it is easy to place your camera on the ground and point the screen up so that you are still able to see the image. Autofocus and a cable or remote release are essential for this approach.

Mark Littlejohn

Mark Littlejohn is an award-winning landscape photographer based in the Lake District. Winner of the Take a view UK Landscape Photographer of the Year 2014, he specialises in atmospheric early morning conditions. www.markljphotography.co.uk

26. Capture mist

In spring, mist is very common near water due to cold and warm air colliding. Shooting in misty conditions can be wonderfully atmospheric, but the key is to find the edge of the mist. Early low light coming through mist can give you a wonderful soft diffused light and also provide a bit of contrast. Work quickly as the best light will only last a short time. If you can keep your shutter speed up, then keep moving and shoot handheld. If shooting near water, wellies are a must, and neoprene versions will warm your feet in cold conditions.

Mark Littlejohn

27. Use a wider aperture

If shooting in mist, don’t be afraid to use a larger aperture than normal. The mist will soften the outlines of anything further back in the scene and the use of a larger aperture will accentuate this and heighten the feeling of depth in your image. It will also heighten the sharpness in your foreground. The background will be soft, both from the mist and the larger aperture, but the viewer will not know if this is from processing, mist or whatever. Making the imagination work is key to an atmospheric image.

28. Lambing

Watching new-born lambs gambolling around a field can be very enjoyable. Clearly, the last thing you want to do is scare them away, so take a longer lens, kneel down and keep still. They will either forget you are there or will come across for a closer look. If you normally take your dog with you, it’s best to leave it behind on this shoot. If the ewes see the dog they will shepherd their youngsters away, even if your dog is well trained and on a lead.

Tips for Photographing spring lambs

29. Get there early

When shooting a spring dawn, make sure you get to your chosen location an hour before sunrise is due. On some mornings with little cloud, you can be treated to the most amazing graduations in colour up to 45 minutes before dawn. You also need to plan your composition to ensure you make the best use of the early light and colour. If there are any steep drops or climbs near your chosen location, make sure to visit beforehand and get the lie of the land. Do not visit for the first time in darkness. A good-quality head torch is vital in these conditions.

30. Avoid harsh light

Each year, make a note of where bluebells, daffodils and wildflowers grow. In that way, you can plan out which areas are best to visit at the beginning and end of each day, when the composition will match with the right light. Use an app such as the Photographer’s Ephemeris to work this out.

If you are shooting wildflowers, you don’t want to photograph them in harsh light in the middle of the day, as it’s hard to control the highlights and the saturation.

Mark Littlejohn

31. Layered clothing

Lightweight, layered clothing with a waterproof outer layer will be sufficient for most spring days, and if you are wearing layers it is easier to remove one to cool down, as opposed to wearing thick jerseys or down jackets.

32. Try something different

Fresh snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells covered in dew and glistening in the early light can make fabulous subjects for macro shots, but don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with a wideangle lens as well. Most wideangle optics can focus quite closely and have an extensive depth of field, and it can be fun trying something different. I have a 24mm f/1.4 lens and shooting flowers close-up at a large aperture can be great fun.

Mark Littlejohn

33. Keep an open mind

Early light in springtime with all the new growth can be a magical experience. Don’t just think about the one ‘big’ shot. Keep an open mind and look all around you. It might be that it’s the first light hitting a stand of silver birch behind you that’s the shot of the day. By keeping an open mind about what you want to shoot, it opens your mind to the beauty all around you.

Mark Littlejohn


Further reading:

Get better nature shots this spring

Top tips for shooting insects this spring

Top tip for shooting wildlife this spring



Photography exhibit offers nature scenes | Local News


Photographer Dean Traver likes to provide a glimpse of the countryside as he sees it.

Anyone can observe Traver’s work now through Dec. 30, as Traver’s display — aptly named — “Life As I See It,” is on display at First Central Gallery, located in the lobby of the Operahouse Theatre, in downtown DeWitt.

Traver, 85, who lives in Mount Vernon, said he has enjoyed photography his entire life. His dad had a darkroom and let him help and take pictures. He also developed an interest in video in the 1980s and worked in video production since 1985, including as operator of the public television service in Mount Vernon and Lisbon. That service ended with over 5,000 video programs having aired.

Traver said his exhibit at First Central Gallery is a collection of things he hopes he can capture realistically that will give him and others joy, memories and satisfaction.

“There are a lot of varied subjects, heavy on nature, landscape and scenery,” he explained.

While he still completes some video work, Traver said he is going back to photography as he “matures in his life.” 

“I go through life day by day, seeing things that have a call to me,” Traver related. “Beautiful things, special things, meaningful things, ordinary things in a different setting that I would like to capture and preserve for others to see. So, I take photographs. I see a person, thing or scene and I think, that would make a beautiful photograph, and then it’s my job to try to capture what I am seeing with my eyes.”

While he said he doesn’t have a photographic specialty, Traver said among his favorites are old buildings and barns because he says they are disappearing too fast. Traver also enjoys photographing courthouses for their architecture.

At the moment, Traver is displaying his work in five full-time galleries, including First Central. 

He hopes by sharing his work he inspires others in more ways than one.

“I like having folks enjoy the viewing, hoping to encourage them to visit some of these areas themselves,” Traver said. “And try their hand at photography. And if someone purchases one (of his photos), it helps pay for my avocation.”

Traver said sometimes he is torn between color and black and white photos. Traver loves a beautiful, colorful scene, but for some photos, black and white makes a person see the subject itself without the distraction of color … which is good, too.

For Traver, photography simply gives him a lot of pleasure; developing and printing something that others enjoy and appreciate is his reward.

Traver believes the process of creating photographs, particularly the travel involved in seeking out new and different subjects and spaces to capture, is good for a person’s mind, body and soul.

“I think it was Samuel Clemens (who) said, ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness,’” he related. “Sounds good to me. I hope folks do more … maybe it would end some of that.”



Meet Kiliii Yüyan, National Geographic Explorer and 2023 Eliza Scidmore Award Recipient – National Geographic Society Newsroom


Kiliii Yüyan is an award-winning photographer whose work has taken us to some of the world’s harshest environments, contributed to the discussion around stewardship, uplifted Indigenous perspectives, and illuminated the importance of human connection to the land and sea. To recognize this incredible portfolio of work, Kiliii Yüyan has received the National Geographic Society’s 2023 Eliza Scidmore Award for Outstanding Storytelling.

This award––named for the writer and photographer Eliza Scidmore, the first woman elected to the Society’s Board of Trustees in 1892––recognizes individuals who use immersive storytelling to make complex ideas, issues, and information relevant and accessible.

Raised by parents who sought refuge in the U.S., and informed by his ancestry that is both Nanai/Hèzhé (East Asian Indigenous) and Chinese-American, Yüyan’s work explores the human relationship to the natural world from different cultural perspectives. He said: “Trying to understand my ancestry led me on a lifelong dive into Indigenous perspectives and ultimately guided me into storytelling.”

Whether he’s camping on arctic sea ice with polar bears, sharing a meal of piranhas with the Cofan in the Amazon rainforest, or participating in cultural burns with the Yurok community in California, one thing is sure: Yüyan demonstrates what it takes to create a truly immersive storytelling experience.

“We are thrilled to announce Kiliii as the recipient of the 2023 Eliza Scidmore Award for his outstanding accomplishments and contributions to storytelling,” said Jill Tiefenthaler, CEO of the National Geographic Society. “Kiliii’s dedication to illuminating the important stories of the Arctic and Indigenous communities epitomizes the power of storytelling by bringing new perspectives about humanity’s relationship with nature to audiences around the world.” 

In 2022, he received a grant from the Society and The Climate Pledge to conduct a project focused on Indigenous conservation. Specifically, he is photographing five communities from the Greenland coastline to the coral reefs of Palau to show successful Indigenous conservation efforts.

His outstanding contributions to National Geographic magazine include his 2018 documentation of the millennia-old Inupiaq subsistence whale hunt and its key importance to their collectivist culture, and his photographs for the July 2022 cover story that helped more people understand the sovereignty of Native nations across North America. Beyond National Geographic, Yüyan’s work has been exhibited worldwide and featured in top publications. Yüyan is and will continue to be one of the most pivotal contributors to photography.

Yüyan’s explorations past and present portray resilience, empathy, authenticity, and change. Through his impactful work, Yüyan will be honored as the 2023 Eliza Scidmore Award recipient during the annual National Geographic Society Storytellers Summit. Past recipients include Lynsey Addario, Erika Larsen, David Quammen, and Lynn Johnson.

Discover the amazing winners of SkyPixel’s Aerial Photo Contest


March 23, 2022

SkyPixel, one of the world’s most popular aerial photography communities, has announced the winners of the Skypixel 7th Anniversary Aerial Photo & Video Contest.

Co-organised with drone maker DJI, this year’s contest attracted nearly 30,000 submissions from professional photographers, videographers, aerial enthusiasts and content creators from 124 different countries and regions.

Grand Prize Photo

The Grand Prize winner in the Photo Category was shot by Zhu Jianxin on a DJI Mavic 2 Pro.

The image, titled Orchid, shows an otherworldly sight of a frozen lake after a heavy snow fell in the Taklamakan Desert, China. With a simple change in perspective, several cracks on a frozen lake magically came together to form something akin to a portrait of an elegant orchid.

Orchid, taken on a DJI Mavic 2 Pro in Xinjiang, China. 1/240sec at f/6, ISO 100. Image: Zhu Jianxin/Skypixel

Jianxin explained, ‘Photography as an art form always comes from life. It is born from nature. I am amazed by how a drone changes my perspective and helps me capture the beauty of our world.’

All submissions to the contest were assessed by a judging panel that included Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Alex Mellis, Pieter de Vries, Stefan Foster, Karim Iliya and Yunshan Yu.

Judge Stefan Foster commented on the work, ‘The real art in photography is to capture a photograph people have to analyse longer than a few seconds to see what the picture really shows.’


DJI Mavic 3 Limited Award

The DJI Mavic 3 Limited Award (only open to users of the DJI Mavic 3 drone) went to an image called China Animation Museum in the Mist by a Chinese photographer who goes by the name Tension Vision. The building is in Zhejiang, China.

You can read our DJI Mavic 3 review.

China Animation Museum in the Mist shot on a DJI Mavic 3 in Zhejiang, China. 1/600sec at f/3, ISO 100. Image: Tension Vision/Skypixel


Other Photo First Prizes

The other first prizes in the photography awards went to Scream by Nizhny Novgorod (Russia), Perfect Chaos by Sara Zanini (location unknown), Collecting Bang Grass by binhd7 (Vietnam) and Shadow Basketball II by Ekaterina Polischuk (Ukraine).

Scream, shot on a DJI Mavic Pro. 1/1000sec at f/2.3, ISO 100. Image: Nizhny Novgorod/Skypixel

Perfect Chaos, shot on a DJI Mavic 2 Pro. Image: Sara Zanini/Skypixel

Collecting Bang Grass, shot on a DJI Mavic 2 Pro. 1/40sec at f/5.3, ISO 100. Image: binhd7/Skypixel

Shadow Basketball II, shot on a DJI Mavic 2 Pro. 1/1000sec at f/3, ISO 100. Image: Ekaterina Polischuk/Skypixel


Photography – Second Prizes

The second prizes in the photography awards went to The Source of Landscape by Mark’s Horizon (Tibet), Age of Stone by I don’t want to take this name (Qintai Art Museum, China), Ice and Fire by Walker (Shenyang, China) and Alien Planet Vacations by Flamboyant Little Strong.

The Source of Landscape, shot on a DJI Air 2S. 1/2500sec at f/3, ISO 100. Image: Mark’s Horizon/Skypixel

Age of Stone, shot on a DJI Mavic 2 Pro. 1/200sec at f/5.7, ISO 100. Image: I don’t want to take this name/Skypixel

Ice and Fire, shot on a DJI Air 2S. 1/640sec at f/3, ISO 100. Image: Walker/Skypixel

Alien Planet Vacations, shot on a DJI Mavic 2 Pro. 1/200sec at f/5.3, ISO 100. Image: Flamboyant Little Strong/Skypixel


Photography – Third Prizes

The third prizes in the photography awards went to Mars by Lou (location unknown), Jin Ruyi lying on the East Lake by Goericgo (Hubei, China), Compete for the Top by AndyAndy (Shanghai, China) and Tillage by Empty Mountain Bird (Guizhou, China).

Mars, shot on a DJI Mavic 2 Pro. 1/60sec at f/4, ISO 100. Image: Lou/Skypixel

Jin Ruyi lying on the East Lake, shot on a DJI Mavic Air 2. 1/320sec at f/3, ISO 100. Image: Goericgo/Skypixel

Compete for the Top, shot on a DJI Mavic 2 Zoom. 1/1000sec at f/3.9, ISO 100. Image: AndyAndy/Skypixel

Tillage, shot on a DJI Mavic 2 Pro. 1/120sec at f/6.3, ISO 100. Image: Empty Mountain Bird/Skypixel


View all the winners

To view all of the winning and shortlisted submissions in the Photo and Video categories just go to Skypixel Contest Winners 2021.

About SkyPixel

Since 2014, the SkyPixel online community has attracted over 37 million aerial photographers, videographers, and content creators from more than 140 countries.

Now in its seventh year, SkyPixel keeps evolving and connecting photographic communities across the world.

From aerial photography to everyday vlogs, SkyPixel now holds a vast collection of extraordinary footage spanning the themes of nature, culture, architecture, and other aerial masterpieces.


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