Monday, March 31, 2008

Amazing Elephants

I was astonished when I followed this link this morning:
Elephants Painting

I hope I learn more behind the story of these artistic elephants. I would never have believed an elephant could paint a self portrait - and do it so well.

Thanks to Marlon Ignacio at Digital Image Cafe for the link.

Friday, March 28, 2008


When I look across the atrium area and see Star Wars storm troopers walking by, I know I'm at a science fiction convention. And these costumes were pretty convincing. Where do they get such professional looking costumes? I've seen the military look, the Renaissance look, a feather headdress, zombies, Doctor Who look-a-likes. Yes, this is a Con! Tall people, short people, fat people, thin people, able bodied, people in motorized chairs and wheel chairs, and people with canes. Old people, young people - all connected by great imaginations, the love of reading, the interest in science fiction and fantasy, and the love of role playing games. Some will stay up all night and all day.

I attended my first con back in the '70's - probably AggieCon in 1972. My first WorldCon was Kansas City in 1976 with Robert Heinlein as Guest of Honor.

The panels are interesting and challenge my mind. I find new authors to read and enjoy.

Yep, I still enjoy a good Con!

In the News

While I used to read the local newspaper regularly, now I get most of my news on the internet. I set up my news feeds on "My Yahoo" a number of years ago. Probably I need to redo the mix but I'm used to what have. When I open my YAHOO, I get a full page full of headlines. I can pick out stories from Reuters, from Yahoo, Top Stories from the Associated Press, Entertainment news from Reuters, AP and EI. I like to check on business and stock market news. Because I have interests in Colorado, I get news feed from Denver's Rocky Mountain News. When my daughter moved to California I added the Los Angeles Times. To make sure I don't miss something really interesting, I look at most viewed and most emailed headlines. And somewhere down the line, I added USA today. I used to have the New York Times and the Austin American Statesman, but I think they discontinued interacting with Yahoo.

I choose to open and read an eclectic mix. Yes, the personality stories of famous entertainers catch my interest. But right now I'm a little tired of stories of Brittany, Lindsay and Michael. I have not clicked on as many recently.

But today I found an interesting article hiding in the Los Angeles Times. Being married to a science fiction writer who has always had an interest in UFO's, I was drawn to a story entitled
"Seeking UFO's, deep underground."

For one thing . . . how do you look for unidentified flying objects underground? I was intrigued.

An old missile silo is now the home to The National UFO Reporting Center. Top on the page is the most recent UFO mystery from Stephenville, Texas. I had heard about this somewhere (can't remember where right this minute - probably on from most read stories on My Yahoo.)

Peter Davenport took the torch to run this organization back in 1994. An educated man with degrees in biology and Russian from Stanford University and graduate degrees from the University of Washington in genetics and the biochemistry of fish and the experience of founding a successful business, the National UFO Reporting Center is still going strong under his leadership.

While I don't know the truth as to whether UFO's are atmospheric phenomena, military testing, mass hysteria, or aliens from outer space, I have been to Roswell and seen some of the history behind the 1948 story. I am glad that someone is compiling the data from all of those things seen in the sky and not understood. And I hope that someday, he will find someone that will pick up the torch from him to keep this data available.

2008 Michael H. Kellicutt International Juried Photo Show

It is always fun to see your work displayed with other beautiful photographs. I mailed off an archival quality framed print of my image Geometric to the Coastal Arts League and Museum. It will be displayed in late April. I got an email that they have posted the images that will hang in the show and those that will be in the book.

To check out the images that will be on display: 2008 Michael H. Kellicutt International Juried Photo Show

It is a privilege for two of mine to appear among all these other great pieces.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Our original plan for this weekend was to do our first booth at AggieCon. Henry was going to promote and sell his books, and I was going to have photos for sale. With Henry's Darrell Award nomination, we're going to Memphis, Tennessee and Debra and Jonathan are going to do our booth. So . . . I've spent this week making notecards from my animal photos trying to choose photos that might have science fiction themes - owls for the Harry Potter fans, Hawks, coyotes, crocodiles, lions, etc. I got everything printed and then I got almost everything matted, mounted, signed with my initials, and placed in poly bags.

I'll try to get back to my regular blogging here in the next day or so.

I'm hoping to find some birding areas or scenic areas near Memphis before we head home.

Time for bed . . . my body is sore from all that mat cutting!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bookstores in the News

Borders explores sale

Henry and I have been going to Science Fiction Conventions for years. Last year I went to the Colorado Christian Writer's Conference. We have been hearing a lot about how the book markets have changed over the last few years. What we hear from both places - the science fiction world and the Christian books world -markets are changing. Small bookstores are disappearing. Bookstores in malls are disappearing (which reduces the possibility of impulse book buying). Wal-Mart sells more books than almost anyone. The disadvantage of Wal-Mart as the major bookseller is that books have a very limited shelf life at Wal-Mart.

Stores like Barnes and Nobles and Borders create an "experience" when you go to buy a book. You can go have your latte. There are comfortable chairs to browse through books. They are designed for you to spend time, hoping you will choose more books in the process. But these mega bookstores have had a negative impact on small family owned bookstores. While I really like shopping at the Family Christian bookstores for Christian books, music, and art, the growth of that chain of stores has negatively impacted the small, locally owned Christian bookstores. In the Austin area most of the smaller Christian bookstores are gone. A well beloved children's bookstore, Toadhall, has been gone a long time.

But when I saw the headlines about Borders this morning, I had to sigh. If even the large mega bookstores are having financial problems, what does that say about our country's reading habits? Are we truly reading less? Are the nation's economic problems discouraging people from making that extra trip into a bookstore?

While there are many good things I can say about Wal-Mart, I would hate to see the "bottom line" being the only criteria for which books are available for purchase. Books need a longer shelf life, not a shorter one.

I grew up as an avid reader. I still enjoy reading. Yes, I do my news reading online rather than paper newspapers. But I still enjoy picking up a good book and I prefer the paper variety over electronic books when I am reading for pleasure.

I hope that Borders will be able to turn their economic situation around. I would hate to lose them as a place to shop for books. More important, I hope Americans continue to read books.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Photographic Inspiration

I went to the first NANPA in Portland because I heard such good things about the experience and what I would learn. I keep going back because I learn so much each time about how to be a better photographer. Part of photography is based on knowing the technicals - exposure, focus, depth of field, composition, color theory, etc. But there is another part of photography that I call the "magic." The desire to find that magic moment and capture it with the camera comes from the inspiration of seeing what is possible with the camera. Going to NANPA allows me to see incredible photography and the opportunity to hear the photographer talk about how he or she took the photo. As I see these photographic wonders on the big screens or in the books, I am inspired to spend the "drudge" time to find my own magic moments.

Nancy Rotenberg's sessions always trigger both a sense of wonder at her beautiful photographic creations and a sense that we, the audience, can go out and find our own beauty. It is there for us to find. It may even be waiting for us.

Her first session this year was on marketing. I loved how she started the topic - a reminder of what is truly important. When we are trying to pay our bills and still find a way to get to those "destinations" to take our photos, money seems pretty important. But she was so right when she said - we don't take photos because we'll make a lot of money. We don't take photos because we love to spend time in front of the computer. We take photos because it is our passion. And the beautiful aspect of this - we all have a different vision. While she encouraged us to find the area of photography that was our passion, she also challenged us to grow by trying other types of photography. Her passion is macro photography. Her intimate flowers and insects are truly amazing. But she has not stopped there. To make a living at photography, one must go beyond our first love and try the other types of shots.

Now, for me, that is easy in a way. For better or worse, I am interested in almost everything. I love the macros, I love the animals, I love landscapes, and even architecture. I have not yet figured out what my "specialty" in photography is going to be. And I'm about to decide that perhaps I won't specialize. But when I am in the room with Nancy, I can be who I am. I can find joy in my passion about everything. I can feel that I have something unique to share. Wow!

When you are in the early stages of a photographic career, it is easy to get discouraged. Even when you are making lots of submissions, there are lots of rejections. The publications don't "feel" like they are coming quickly enough. But when I hear Nancy say - "Are you making a living or making a life?" it brings home the truth that there are benefits to this life of creating something beautiful to share.

Nancy spoke twice at NANPA and both presentations are well worth buying the recording through the NANPA website. Nancy and Raymond Klass gave an excellent presentation with great ideas on how to get your work out there. There are tips for markets that may be easier for people in the beginning stages to get their work published. (NANPA-08-WS1 New Ideas in Marketing Your Images) Raymond discussed some of the technical things that need to be done with your files as you present them to the editors. There is no way in a short blog to pass along all the excellent ideas they had - so I encourage you to order a copy.

In addition, Nancy was a Keynote Speaker. Her topic: Let Your Light Shine Through
For the recording: (NANPA-08-10)

You will be blessed by hearing what she has to say.

If you want to get further inspired, I would check out her book, "Photography and the Creative Life." It is on my wish list.

You will also be blessed if you visit her website and read some of her articles there: Natural Tapestries

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ethics in Nature Photography

At the NANPA Summit another breakout sessions I attended was "The Ethics of Subject Welfare: Animals, People, and the Land."
The panelists were Daniel J. Cox, Susan McElhinney (who was absent due to illness), Michael "Nick" Nichols, and Michele Westmorland. The panel was moderated by Joshua Baker.

Several of these panels really made me think, and this was one of them. I am a firm believer that issues usually have both sides. And I think it is good to look at both sides, because if there is a "truth" it is probably somewhere in the middle. At some point, I have to figure out for myself what my position is or will be.

Obviously we don't want to harm the animals or the environment where we are photographing. When we have happened on to a marvelous photo opportunity, how long do we stay? Are we stressing the animal? Are there too many photographers making an animal nervous? In the heat of the magic moment, what are we going to do?

There are many reasons we need photographs of animals. We can use them to help people identify them. We may use them in a book or magazine article which perhaps might help other people appreciate the animal more. Animal photos are frequently used commercially to advertise products or businesses.

There are many reasons that some animals are captive. I've taken photos of captive raptors. One set of my captive animals came from the Desert Museum in Tucson. These animals are used to educate and inspire appreciation for the amazing abilities these birds have. I've also photographed animals in zoos. My personal take on zoo animals is that these animals are representatives for their species. We take our children to zoos so that they can learn to appreciate nature and animals that they would not be able to see in their native environments. And some zoos, like the San Diego zoo serve as safe places to breed endangered species so that eventually we can reintroduce them into the wild. The condor is one of the success stories of this type of captive breeding. I hope that the Atwater Prairie Chicken will be another success story. Several zoos are providing prairie chickens to the refuge in hopes of establishing a more viable population. Animal rescue centers care for animals that have been injured. Sometimes they can be released into the wild, but other times, the rescue center provides a safe and healthy environment for animals that cannot be released because of their injuries. These animals also serve as ambassadors for their species and are usually well treated. Some animals are kept captive so we can study them and learn more about their biology and their behavior.

There are also game farms. And here is where things get really controversial and heated. First you have to figure out how to define game farm. Near as I can tell, a game farm is a place where animals are kept for the sole purpose of photography and exhibition. They may be well treated and well cared for, but they live most of their time in enclosures that are much smaller than their normal territories. They are brought out and placed in "natural" and "scenic" settings for people to photograph them. They are usually immaculately groomed - so you get some pretty amazing and beautiful shots. You can also get much closer and so you can get great facial shots with eye detail. And in some cases, it may make sense to photograph this way. Sometimes it is for the photographer's convenience. Much easier to go to this facility and get your shot that your commercial agency is requesting. But sometimes there are advantages for the species as well. With endangered species, photographing a captive animal places less stress on the ones that are still trying to survive in the wild. Photographing a captive nest reduces the chance that you will interrupt a nesting cycle. Getting too close may either provide a predator an opportunity or could prevent the chicks from fledging.

One of the audience members proposed that there were no "free" animals any more. He included the African nature reserves. But in Africa, these animals are in their native habitat, they are free to go where they will in an area that allows them to roam the same amount of territory as they did before all the humans moved in. Plus most of these parks and and nature preserves have been set up to protect these animals and give them natural territories. My experiences in Africa let me get very close to animals living wild, in their natural environment. They were free to leave when we drove by or they could choose to continue their normal activities. Some species eyed us warily and then chose to run. Others checked us out and continued what they were doing. Huge amounts of land have been set up as natural parks much like what we have in the United States.

So the best definition of captive animals seems to be an animal that is not able to move about of its own will, an animal that is restrained in some way.

We are all free to take our photographs where we wish. We have to figure out where our ethical positions are for what we are choosing to photograph. But as professional photographers we must be honest in our submissions. Each market has guidelines. I know that the magazine Nature Photographer will not accept photos of captive animals. National Wildlife excludes images captive in game farms. And there are photographers like Thomas Mangelsen who stand up and confront photographic situations that they feel are unethical. The BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest prefers photographs taken in wild and free conditions. Nature's Best magazine's prestigious Windland Smith Rice International Awards also has a category for zoo animals. All others must be wild and in their natural habitat. As a photographer, I want to follow the submission guidelines for each market, gallery, or contest submission.

Michele Benoy-Westmoreland made an impression with her perspectives. She has done documentary work in Papua New Guinea with native tribes there. When I got home, I looked her up and found a fascinating story, "Headhunt Revisited" If ever I head in that direction, I would love to go on one of her tours because of her respect for the native cultures. I would like to learn more of what her point of view is as I hope to go back and spend more time in Africa one day. Among the things that she mentioned was trying to give them pride in their history and their culture. So many things are being lost as civilization moves in. She did a lot of preparation work before the filming - talking with the tribal leaders, making proper introductions, and finding ways to give back. She brought a small printer so she could give back pictures. She wanted to create not take. With her tours she finds ways to give back to these people in ways that will be useful to them and also encourage them to remember their culture. This ecotourism helps sustain the village and the demonstrations help keep traditions alive. Another great idea was to bring school supplies and books for the children rather than candy.

Globalization is making the world a much smaller place. We each have to figure out how we can make a difference.

This panel gave me much to think about.

NANPA has guidelines that have been developed over time to help photographers be aware of ethical issues. They have been posted on their website.

NANPA's Principles of Ethical Field Practices

NANPA's Environmental Statement

NANPA's Truth in Captioning

Thursday, March 13, 2008

NANPA Breakout Session- Digital Alteration and the Line of Credibility

When I was signing up for my Breakout Sessions at the NANPA Summit, I knew that I needed to go to Ernie Mastroianni's "Digital Alteration and the Line of Credibility. Ernie is the Photo Editor at Birder's World Magazine. He is coming to this subject from a journalistic background.

I've come up through the ranks of the internet online photo competitions. Digital manipulation is common and encouraged. Photos that have not been cleaned up removing distracting elements don't win Photos of the Day as a rule. When trying to make an artistically beautiful image, it makes sense to use the tools at hand to make a visually pleasing end product. My policy has been to make sure I know what the rules at the various contests are and make sure my submission follows those rules. But, I've seen images win at the contests with the tighter rules on manipulation that I KNOW have been altered because I saw the original as it went through the critique process. Most of these changes don't really change anything about the "nature" of the situation.

I am now trying to submit my images to professional photo buyers. I am submitting for commercial, artistic, and journalistic usages of my photos. I had one portfolio reviewer last year tell me that I should be very careful with photo manipulation because if I do it anywhere then I would not be "trusted," or my credibility would be gone. Later in the Summit, I heard one of the presenters at a Breakout Session talk about how he was always honest with his end users. He manipulated some photos for the artistic appeal, but he also submitted non edited photos for scientific use. Another reviewer for a children's magazine has dealt with the issue by having different categories of images: photo altered (minor adjustments) and photo illustration (where components have been rearranged, removed, or images combined.) I left the 2007 Summit thinking that as long as I am honest in my submission as to what I've done to the image and that I am submitting appropriately to the entities that I am being ethical in what I'm doing with my photography.

So I sat down to listen to Ernie's presentation with great interest. I knew before hand that journalistic photos need to be pretty much straight out of the camera. In most cases removing sensor dust is usually OK. But with RAW capture there is a lot of manipulation that can be done without changing the image. And some manipulation is really just adjusting the image to be closer to what your eye actually saw rather than what the camera's technical abilities were to capture the image.

Ernie's policy for Birder's World is very simple and based upon journalistic principals:

Allowed adjustments;
Color Balance
Saturation adjustment

Cloning dust marks and digital noise such as hot pixels
Red-eye (with some caveats)

Additional Alterations - based upon maintaining the reality of the scene
Composites taken at the same scene at the same time frame without altering elements
High Dynamic Range images which allow the information from shadows and highlights to be visible and accurate
Extreme depth of field - used a lot in macro to bring all of the image (such as a flower with petals) into sharp focus
Perspective control - simulating what a tilt shift lens can do

Additional information from Ernie:

Additional Alterations - based upon maintaining the reality of the scene"
These types of alterations can have credibility, but an explanation to the
reader is needed.

For instance, if I was publishing a picture that was a 360-degree panorama,
it would require an explanation, otherwise, how would the reader know how
wide it was. They might think they were seeing a 180 degree view, rather
than a 360 degree view.

Unacceptable alterations
Removing items
Cloning other than removing sensor dust spots
Combining or adding elements of one image to another
Changing color of individual components - such as greening up brown or dying vegetation
Stretching or compressing part of an image (distortion that is not a perspective control)

The best part of the presentation was WHY these are his standards. Photographic manipulation has been around as long as cameras. In doing some research for this blog, I found an image of Abraham Lincoln which was his head and John Calhoun's body. (See links at the end.) I have to wonder in the days of glass plate photography how this was done.

The Cottingley Fairies were photographs that deceived the eye, but apparently at the time led many people to believe that they were real photographs of fairies. To our more sophisticated eyes today they seem to be obviously artistic drawings that were cut out and put into the scene at the time of the photograph. And that kind of manipulation can be done today - adding toys to battlefield images of destroyed homes, adding trash to a scene to emphasize environmental issues, posing people for a news story, etc.

The credibility of photos is probably at an all time low, because people are more aware of how images can be altered. And several publications are trying to restore believability. Even if they have previously published altered images, the standards are tightening up.

The audience discussion was also enlightening. Arthur Morris, a well known and respected photographer, one of the best bird photographers around, pointed out a different set of issues. Imagine a bird photo of a bird on the top of a tree snag with a forked trunk. There are two trunks, both broken and different lengths and one really does not add anything to the beauty of the photo. In today's world, the collective wisdom is to clone out the distraction. In some cases you could have removed the offending branch before you took the shot, but then you are altering the environment. That alteration of the environment can upset the wildlife that live in that environment. There was a case mentioned where a hummingbird was frequenting one particular branch - seeming to prefer it to the other flowering branches nearby. For some reason a photographer thought it was not a particularly photogenic branch, so he broke it off and attached another prettier branch. The hummingbird was devastated. Not fully mentioned is the "gardening" we sometimes to when we are taking flower shots - whether in our own gardens or along the roadside. It might be as simple as removing a distracting rock or a taller stalk of grass. After all, a deer comes and munches on the grass. But . . . if you are in an area where there are endangered plant species, you could be doing irreparable harm removing plant life from your photographic composition to get that perfect photo.

Another sobering aspect of this issue is the fact that a few photographer's careers have been ruined after they made a simple change to a journalistic photo, even changes that really did not change the story in the photo. Their credibility as a journalistic photographer is gone forever.

Here is a practical example of these issues from a photo I took last week. I think you can click or double click to get a larger view.

Here is the original image - taken from the jpg - the only change is resizing for the blog:

Note that the water line is not level (from the time my eye "saw" this image to getting the camera and tripod setup without my hot shoe leveler . . . I had to be incredibly fast to get the shot while there was even the tiniest amount of sun still there) and note the few stalks of marsh grass on the right hand corner. And, yes, there IS sensor dust.

Here is my initial post processing. I've enhanced the colors (similarly to what you might get if you used Fuji's Vevlia film. I've leveled the water line, cropped such that the sun is off centered and the trees and their reflection occupy a larger portion of the frame.  I chose the bottom crop to avoid some of the marsh grass. And after some deliberation cloned out some single stalks of grass in the lower right hand corner. I chose to keep the grass on the left hand side because I felt like it added to the sense of place and kept the reality in the scene.

I submitted this to the Critique Corner at Digital Image Cafe. Now, I respect the critique process. I have learned SO much from having my work critiqued. I agree with and understand the comments made in the context of online contests (and even other artistic venues).

Here is the image with the lower left corner "cleaned up." It may be slightly more appealing to the eye. Those grass stalks do pull your eye a little bit away from the bright colored sky and the silhouetted tree trunks. They do interfere with the illusion of an oval that is created from the trees and their reflection. But here is where Ernie's comments are convicting and compelling: Nature is not perfect. "Real life with all of its imperfection is more interesting." Is it the essence of nature or wildlife or the desire of the photographer?

Ernie's comments from a thread at "A photographer in this thread wondered if the elaborate outside studios, water drips, feeders and perching props used to attract wildlife to the perfect setting are simply another way of altering an image? My answer is no, there is a big difference. As long as that bird is free to come and go, you are capturing an image of a real bird, in real space and in real time. That bird wants to be there and if it sensed a threat, it would leave. The best setups anticipate the desires of the bird, and not the photographer. But if an image is altered after it was taken, it captures the desires of the photographer, and not the bird.The bottom line is always credibility. On occasion, some photographers have sent me altered images, but if they also send me the original unaltered file, their credibility as an editorial photographer remains intact."

Since the conference, these words keep coming into my head as I am capturing my images and as I do my post processing. For myself, I prefer the middle image, because it retains most of the essence of what I saw that night - with a minimal of post processing. If I decide to submit to the online contests I will probably submit the "cleaner" version. If I submit for calendars, I'll probably submit the middle one with a note in the metadata as to the changes I made.

For those that are still interested in this topic after this long blog, here are some other links that are illuminating. Complete with compelling images that illustrate the issues here:

Reuter's Photo Examples

Dan Heller's Digital Manipulation - Responsibility of Photojournalism

Dartmouth College paper "Photo Tampering Throughout History

The Perfect Fashion Model

Extreme Photoshop Makeover

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Getting Back into the Groove

It seems like when we get home from a trip, I have a transition time before my productivity starts back up.

We took our time coming back from Florida touring areas of Biloxi that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina and driving around parts of New Orleans.

When we got back into Texas we explored Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Boy Scout Woods at High Island, and the Atwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge.

We drove around Anahuac Tuesday afternoon to get an idea what all was there. I got a few shots of this young alligator in one of the ditches.

We spent the night at an older motel at Crystal Beach - the closest operating motel to High Island. We got up fairly early, but not the predawn that I envisioned. Grabbing breakfast items I headed over to Boy Scout Woods and lugged my big lens into the photo blind. Not too much activity, so I tried a couple of other spots. While I did have some birds come and check me out, my best photos were of some turtles sunning themselves. My first photos have some blurred grasses that annoy me, but I waited patiently and this turtle began to move forward giving me a stronger shot.

I was amazed at how the spring green growth in the water coated their shells.

I spent a couple of hours hoping for some bird shots and then we headed back to Anahuac. While we missed the best of the early morning light, we did see several groups of alligators. There were three alligators sunning near each other and Henry proclaimed - yes this is a shot - so I got out the big lens and played.

We started heading in the direction of home but using a route that took us by the Atwater Prairie Chicken NWR. While we did not see any prairie chickens I learned about an upcoming event where visitors are driven out to watch the last of the displays of the season. It is not disruptive to nesting because the nests are well established. These amazing chickens are highly endangered - less than 50 chickens are currently found at this refuge.

We made the loop a number of times. Right before sunset, a bittern made his appearance. He was so comical as he stretched his neck out and tried to stay perfectly still hoping that we would not notice him.

We knew it was close to sunset and we would be finishing up near the water. We came across the last rays of sun and I knew I had to have that picture. So . . . picture me scrambling madly to get out the proper tripod - change the lens and get set up just as quick as I could because I knew if I was not very fast, I would miss it. You can see how close I came, the sun is almost all the way down. While I took more that may work, this one is my favorite as the sun is still visible as it sets on the horizon.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Life of Adventure

I get inspired at NANPA by the adventurous lives I see. Norman Wu was at one of the first NANPA Summits I attended. He told us about what it took to photograph UNDER the Antarctic ice. His book, Under the Antarctic Ice has amazing photos and he also made a documentary, Under Antarctic Ice. Several NANPA photographers lead tours every year to Antarctica. I already have an idea who I want to go with if I get to go.

On one of the panels this year, Michele Westmorland talked about her experiences in Papua New Guinea. She has done film footage of the native people there and leads cultural tours. I was impressed with her respect for the native cultures. I found a trailer for her film Headhunt Revisited. There is more of the story of this amazing expedition at the The Smithsonian Magazine. Whether I get to visit this amazing place in her group or not, I've been inspired to find out more of her view of honoring cultures and to get more information about her project.

This Summit, I sat across from a 68 year old gentleman. He had a heart attack in 1969 and began an exercise program. He is an inspiration - he's climbed Kilimanjaro and Mount Rainier. He's going to be going with a group to the Galapagos Islands this year. His eyes sparkle. He smiles and laughs. He is living a full life.

While for many reasons I may not get to do all of the things I hear about at NANPA, the stories inspire me to get out and experience this wonderful world that God made. I was browsing Nancy Rotenberg's site last night. She has an essay there about enjoying the world around her while she was confined to a chair. When you are truly aware, your backyard holds amazing wonders.

When my children were growing up, we made efforts to take them as many places as we could. So many of my children's friends never left the state of Texas while growing up. (Yes, Texas IS a big state, but still . . . ) We used saving techniques such as over withholding on our income tax. A large refund check in the spring often funded our camping trips throughout the United States. One year we drove to Alaska.

As I get older, I need to stay active. My body needs to be outdoors moving and my spirit still needs to experience new things. I want to be a vibrant old lady that people will want to be around. Whether exploring my backyard or going to far off places, I want to see and experience as much of God's creation as possible. I want to keep having adventures all my life!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Summit is Over

It is a little hard to believe, but the Summit is over. I will be posting some more specific blogs about the various breakout sessions and Keynote addresses I attended. But tonight's post is about NANPA.

NANPA is an amazing organization. I attended my first Summit four years ago in Portland, Oregon. I had heard that it would be a good thing to attend. But I had no idea what an impact it would make on my photographic abilities and how helpful it would be in getting a career in photography started. No one told me beforehand that I would be interacting with the world's finest photographers in an atmosphere where people are wanting you to succeed. Yes, the photographic world is a competitive world, you must produce excellent images to succeed. But there is a feeling at NANPA that the cup is half full.

NANPA also has programs for college and high school students. Canon provides the professional camera equipment for these students to use and NANPA provides professional instruction and interaction. This is an incredible opportunity for a young photographer to learn what it takes to create marketable and beautiful images and how to market them.

For me, NANPA has been a place of learning. At my first NANPA I attended an all day training session by Tim Grey that taught me how process my images from RAW files and how to do the post processing I needed at that time. I've been inspired by the keynote addresses of incredible photographers made all the more powerful by seeing their images on huge screens. In her keynote address this year, Nancy Rotenberg said, "When the student is ready, the teacher will come." That has been so true for me at NANPA. It seems like each time I come to NANPA, there are sessions that really teach me what I need to know NOW.

While there are many "big names" at NANPA, there are photographers at all skill levels. There are many opportunities to network and make contacts with people who are teaching workshops, leading photography tours, and buying photos.

I can truthfully say that I've had opportunities because of my participation at NANPA that I would not have had otherwise. The portfolio reviews give you a one on one session with professional photo buyers. They help you see what you can do to improve your photographic work. When your work gets to be good enough, it is also an opportunity to begin a working relationship with a photo editor, learning the kinds of images they are interested in buying and the types of images they don't need. Each magazine and market has very unique needs.

The Summit is in a different place each year. There are Regional Events where a smaller group of photographers go on location with mentors and actually photograph and help each other. The Road Shows are educational workshops with excellent trainers. To see the schedule of coming events, click here.