Curacao – Natural Photo Wonders

The North and Northeast shore of Curacao are spectacular and a fabulous place to explore and shoot amazing natural wonders. The long north coast of Curacao is constantly hit by the northeast trade winds, which have created a rough coastline of weather-beaten terrain, limestone cliff formations of old volcanic rock and crushed coral.

It is possible to drive along dirt rugged roads and to hike around trails that will take you closer to seaside views and photo opportunities. The trails also provide an opportunity for a glimpse at sea turtles hidden breeding grounds. Seabirds and iguanas are active in the park, especially during the early morning and late afternoon.

Shete Boca National Park is a series of caves, coves and bays carved into the coastline, with waterfront cliffs and platforms. Waves can reach high enough to wash you from the edge of the cliffs. Amazing images can be taken, just make sure you take proper care of your equipment. Lots of wind and ocean water drops are suspended in the air, so your lenses will end up with a layer of salt, be sure to have protective filters not to damage your glass.

The park begins at Boka Tabla, where huge waves thunder into an underground cave. Steps that have been cut into the rocks will lead you directly into the mouth of the cave, if conditions allow, you can sit on the very edge and watch the surf roll in. With the proper exposure settings or the use of fill in flash you will be able to take great shoots.

Boka Pistol is a must, huge waves burst into the sky with gunfire like explosions. Hike for a while and find amazing panoramic overviews from the flat limestone hills and end up in Boka Wandomia and its natural bridge.

Another impressive natural attraction is Watamula in the extreme north of the Caribbean island of Curacao. Watamula is a large hole, formed in the middle of volcanic rock formations, connected to the sea at its bottom. Due to the force of the waves, air is pressed in and out of the rugged terrain and tunnels that interconnect, producing a breathing sound. Watamula is also known as ‘The Breath of Curacao’. In the same area you will find a spouter hole where the waves cause water to be expelled up into the air in the shape of a fountain. Prepare your camera and be sure to carry enough memory cards, you might spend all day shooting different shapes and forms.

Christoffel Park, last but not least is a the largest National Park in Curacao with hiking trails flanked by up to ten feet cactuses, weaving through bromeliads, orchids and surrounded by goats, iguanas, dear and numerous birds, as well as caves and beaches that end up at the peak of Christoffel Mountain, the highest elevation in Curacao.

If you ever have a chance to visit Curacao, do not think twice about it and do not forget your camera, the diversity and photo options are everywhere you go.

The Nature of Great Nature Photos – 5 Tips to Improve Your Outdoor Photography

“We cannot command nature except by obeying her.”

Francis Bacon

Whether you’re taking a picture of a geranium in your backyard garden or a grizzly bear in the Rocky Mountains, capturing a great photo outdoors means working with Mother Nature, and not trying to impose your photographic will upon her.

So many factors come into play when taking a nature photograph… sun, clouds, wind, rain, sleet or snow… and if you’re photographing animals in their native habitat, you’ve got noise, odors, and movement to deal with.

It can get complex, but the enjoyment you’ll get by taking nature photography seriously will far outweigh the extra time and effort you put into it. Rather than just clicking a snapshot of your sugar maple in all its fall glory, you’ll have a photo you’d be proud to hang on your wall as a piece of art. Or, you might even become so good that you’ll find yourself selling some of your better photos.

After all, everyone loves a great nature photo. It’s easy for viewers to put themselves into the picture. Even if they’ve never been to the mountains, people enjoy looking at pictures of mountains because it transports them, at least for a brief moment, to a peaceful place.

So in order to help you get the most out of the time you spend outdoors with your camera, here are five fundamental tips for taking better nature photos. As a photographer, I’ve learned that if you approach your outdoor photography with the right mindset, you are certain to succeed — oftentimes in ways you never expected.

Understand the nature of nature. There’s an old saying, “You can’t fight Mother Nature.” Plan on working with the elements of the natural environment you photograph. A backyard squirrel might not blink at the sound of your shutter. But a rarely seen black squirrel sitting in the woods 50 miles from the nearest road might run upon hearing the same click.

Animals, trees, bushes, grass… everything associated with nature functions uniquely in different weather conditions. If you’re looking for a “money” shot, you need to understand the conditions you’re working in, and the subject matter you’re photographing.

I recall walking along a large pond in a forest clearing many years ago. I was looking up for a shot, but saw nothing remarkable. Then I looked down and realized there was a fantastic shot right at my feet. It was of some green algae that had formed in the corner of the pond. It was a beautiful color, and contrasted nicely with the water. It ended up being one of my most popular shots.

Be prepared. Study the area you plan on photographing, even if it’s your own backyard. Watch how the light plays on your flowers at different times of the day, and under different cloud conditions. Pay attention to the patterns of birds. Animals are creatures of habit, and weather and light are somewhat predictable.

The same goes if you plan on venturing out into the wilderness. Get familiar with the local surroundings by talking to locals, watching weather reports on the Internet or TV, and by just taking some time to familiarize yourself with your surroundings.

Know you’re equipment. If you’re trying to get a close up shot of a deer in the wild, even if you’re using a telephoto lens, turn off your autofocus, autoflash and motordrive. Get to know your camera settings, from the f-stop and shutter speed to the ASA and ISO settings.

Experiment at home and in the field. After buying a new camera, I like to take number shots just around the house, in a variety of conditions. Spend about an hour or so walking around your home and yard, instruction manual in hand, and try out all the features. Use different exposures and settings. Do this as a refresher from time to time as well. It is well worth the effort.

Be patient. Natural events happen when they happen. You are not going to rush that beaver out of his watery den any faster. The perfect glint of sunlight playing off your prize rose bushes will not happen any sooner or later than you want it to. Keep your camera at the ready, and don’t force the shot. You may arrive five minutes too late for a great shot, but you may be five minutes early for the perfect shot.

Have an outcome in mind, but be ready for the unexpected. If you go out looking for cardinals in the forest, you’re likely to find some. So be ready by having a telephoto lens, a tripod if necessary, perhaps a birding book to help with recognition, and something comfortable to sit on. Take food and water. Picture the shot you want in your mind’s eye. You’ll often get something close.

But don’t close your mind to other possibilities. The sun may be absolutely perfect at that time of day, and you could get a stunning picture of rays of sunlight piercing the forest canopy. Ansel Adams’ famous “Moonrise over Hernandez” was taken while he was driving down a highway. He stopped the car, jumped out, grabbed his camera, took one shot… and nailed it because he was ready for the unexpected.

I had a similar experience. It was night, and I was just walking around the area I live looking for a good picture. I had been walking awhile, ready to give up and go home, when a flash of light caught my eye. I came upon a construction site of a multi-story building. The welders were getting in some overtime, working on the 8th or 9th floor. The sparks from their welding were arcing out from the side of the building and down to the ground. It made for a beautiful picture, and one I would have never gotten if I hadn’t been ready for the unexpected.

When it comes to photographing anything in the great outdoors, don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking you can control your subject matter. All you can control is your equipment and your knowledge about the subject matter. So with the right camera, an understanding of nature, and some patience, you’re likely to get the recognition you’re looking for as an outstanding outdoor photographer.

Five Tips For Better Nature Photos – The Low Tech Way

Digital cameras offer so many functions and features, photography can seem way too complex for the beginner. In frustration many new photographers simply switch their digital camera to auto, and never learn how to use it properly.

If you read that and thought “That sounds like me!” read on; I have good news. There are some great ways to take better photos without having to learn the complexities of your camera. That’s right – leave your camera on auto and still learn to take great photos.

Of course I encourage anybody to learn and understand aperture and shutter speed, the settings you will need to understand to really improve as a photographer. However, the best encouragement is to start getting results quickly, so here are five easy tips to help you improve your photography…the low-tech way!

Better Photography Tip#1. Take your photo in the best possible light. You may have heard that the best light for most photography is very early or very late in the day, when the sun is low, and the light is soft and colourful. This is a good rule to follow most of the time. Not only is the light more attractive, you can also avoid the contrast and heavy shadows of midday.

Some subjects actually work better on cloudy days. For animals and people, cloudy weather softens the light and overcomes the problem of your subject squinting into the light. In the forest, overcast skies prevent the heavy contrast that is a problem on sunny days.

Better Photography Tip#2. Landscape photos: create a more interesting composition. Many photos can be made more interesting not by zooming right in on the subject, but by zooming out, or standing further back to capture more of the surroundings. The important thing is to use make sure you use the surroundings to add impact to the picture.

For example, let’s say you are photographing an old rustic farmhouse. You could add even more character by using a line of fence posts, or a gravel driveway, to lead the eye into the picture. Or when photographing a waterfall, you could try going a little further downstream, to shoot the creek with the waterfall in the background for a more interesting angle.

Better Photography Tip#3. Sunset and Sunrise. Everyone loves taking sunset (and sunrise) photos. A brilliant sunset sky can make a great photo, but you can make it even better by looking for a good subject in the foreground. The key is to find something that stands out against the sky, with a an outline people can recognize; a tree, a windmill, even a row of power poles. The subject does not have to dominate the photo; in fact it is probably best if it only takes up about ten percent of the composition so that the sky remains the starring attraction. But if you can create a striking silhouette, you will immediately add character to your sunset photograph.

Better Photography Tip#4. Animals (And People). Portrait style photos are usually spoiled by a distracting background. When you take a photo of a friend, a pet, or an animal, you don’t want the surroundings to take attention away from the subject.

So here’s the trick. Don’t stand close to your subject and take the photo with a regular or wide-angle lens. Try standing further away from the subject, and zoom in with your biggest lens. This will have two results. First, it will reduce the area behind and around the subject that is visible in the photo. Second, it will minimize the depth of field, which means only your subject should be in focus. Anything in front or behind the subject will be out of focus, and will not cause a distraction.

Better Photography Tip#5. Concentrate. Sometimes all it takes to make a photo a success is to move a little to the left or right, or zoom in or out just a little more. If you just point the camera in the general direction of the subject without thinking about what you are doing, your results will not improve. If you slow down and really examine what you can see in the viewfinder before you press the button, your success rate will impove.

Simple things to look out for include; trees and power-poles appearing to grow out of the head of the subject (move yourself or the subject to a better position); litter on the ground (pick it up); aircraft or distracting clouds in the sky (wait for them to pass by); blurry branches on a windy day (wait for conditions to settle for a moment). All these things and more can ruin a photo, and they can all be remedied by taking a good look to make sure your picture has captured everything you want, and nothing you don’t want.

So there you have some easy tips for good photography without getting hung up on technology. Above all, pay attention to tip #5 and slow down to concentrate on what you are doing. The other golden rule: keep practicing, take lots of photos whenever you can. You will learn a lot more from your own experience in the field, than by being told what to do. Remember with digital cameras it doesn’t cost you anything to keep on snapping. With patience and attention to detail, you will be taking better photos in no time – guaranteed!