News/Announcements


I finally decided to set up a Facebook page for my photography.  You can now become one of my fans by logging into Facebook (if you don’t have an account, it’s easy and free to set one up) and searching for me at “Natural Images Photography by Angela Classen.” Click on the “Become a Fan” box that’s on the page and you’re set!  I’ll post new photos, links to blog posts, share news and information, and ask for opinions, etc. 

Right now, I’m even having a contest.  I can’t decide which 3 of 8 images to enter in Mike Moats’ Macro Contest, so I’ve posted an album with the images and am asking my fans to vote for their 3 favorite images.  All those who vote are eligible to win a matted 8 X 10 print of their choice of the 8 images.

Tonight I went to the Garden Show to check the results of the photo contest. This year there were approximately 225 photos entered in 8 different categories (Kansas Wildflowers, The Rose, Spring Blooms, Summer Blooms, Trees of the Garden/Yard, Trees of the Wild, Gardenscapes & Animals/Insects in the Garden).  Photographers were limited to 3 photographs per category, with a maximum total of 12 entries.  Of course, I entered 12 total.

I received the following honors:

First Place (blue) - Kansas Wildflowers

Honorable Mention - Kansas Wildflowers

Honorable Mention - The Rose

Second Place (red) - Spring Blooms

First Place (blue) - Summer Blooms

Honorable Mention - Trees of the Wild

First Place (blue) - Gardenscapes

By far, this has been my best showing at this contest and needless to say – I’m ecstatic!! You can see my winning images from previous years and other awards and honors I’ve received on my web site or read about them here.

Flowers are among my very favorite things to photograph, and winning all these honors just makes it that much more satisfying.  If you’re in Topeka this weekend, stop by the Garden Show at the Expocentre and check out all the entries.

Wayne Rhodus and Scott Bean, two friends I met through NPN, are conducting a digital photography workshop in Alma, Kansas on Saturday, April 24, 2010.  The workshop is geared toward those who want to learn how to use their digital camera and improve their photography skills. Classroom lecture with handouts is included, and students will also receive hands on instruction on how to set various camera functions to achieve creative control of their images. Lunch is even included at a local restaurant. At the end of the day, participants will have the opportunity to shoot photos in the beautiful Flint Hills surrounding Alma. Since spring is the most beautiful time in the Flint Hills, everyone should come away with some amazing images of the area.

Please visit Scott’s web site for more details about this workshop.

Page spread from Spring 2010 Kansas! Magazine

My “Happy Pansy” image in the Spring 2010 issue of Kansas! Magazine has finally hit store shelves and subscriber mailboxes.  I’m pretty excited so am posting the magazine page here for all to enjoy.

Snowy Lines

It has been a busy week for me, dealing with three family birthdays, working my full-time job (and the almost full-time job of running a household), Valentine’s Day, getting some images ready to submit for consideration in the Kansas! Magazine 2011 calendar, and preparing my 12 entries for the Kansas Garden Show Photo Contest (which is next weekend, but the entry deadline was this week).  Whew!  Tuesday I was very excited to learn that I won an Editor’s Weekly Pick Award for the Weekly Challenge Gallery on NPN!  The Weekly Challenge theme last week was “Leading Lines.” 

With my boss’s blessing, I took last Friday afternoon off from work after we received a beautiful snowfall, and went out to Lake Shawnee to see what I could find to shoot.  At one cove near the Ensley Gardens (the only cove at the entire lake which wasn’t frozen over), there were hundreds of ducks and geese hanging out.  While I was watching some geese splash down gracefully in the icy water, I saw the “leading lines” created by the dead grasses/reeds and the snowy shoreline so set up and took a couple shots knowing if they turned out, I would have another submission for the challenge.  Because the skies were gray and there wasn’t any color in the scene anyway, I converted to black & white using Photoshop and tweaked it until I liked the tones and contrasts.  What I like about this shot, besides the composition, is the fact I nailed the exposure and was able to retain detail in the snow which shows up quite well on the left side.

This is my second WP. I received my first in October in the Earth, Sea & Sky Gallery for my image of Onondaga Cave.

As I’ve mentioned in my posts before, joining NPN has been the best thing I’ve ever done for my photography.  I’m very grateful to all those who view and comment on my images and so willingly share their knowledge with me. I’ve grown by leaps and bounds as a photographer since joining in 2007.

Happy Pansy

 

I was informed last week that Kansas! Magazine will use another one of my photos (entitled “Happy Pansy”) in its upcoming Spring 2010 issue.  The image will be a half-page in size, larger than my last two photos they published – “Scarlet Lady”  (Fall 2009) and “Frozen Leaf” (Winter 2009)(see my archived posts for 7/27/09 and 12/3/09 regarding these photos).

This photo proves you don’t have to travel far to make great images, and you can find great subject matter literally in your backyard.  This image was taken at our house! I bought a package of pansies to plant in the planters on our deck and couldn’t resist photographing their cute little faces first.  I think pansies have such great “personalities” in their faces, and this little guy looked like Mr. Happy Go Lucky. I placed them in front of a background of light blue scrapbook paper I had lying around, spritzed with just a tiny amount of mist, and used my 35-80 mm lens.  Exposure was 1/5 second @ F10.  I made only very slight curves and saturation adjustments in Lightroom and CS4.

I’m very excited that once again one of my images will be published and am keeping my fingers crossed that they will select something from the summer images I just submitted. I sent in several sunflower selections, and what says “summer” in Kansas more than sunflowers?!

Kansas! Magazine’s web site can be found at: http://kansmag.com/ and you can even become a fan on their Facebook page.

Bret Edge and another photographer from NPN, Dan Baumbach, have launched what will be a series of photo apps for the iPhone and the iPod Touch.  The app is a comprehensive digital guide to photographing the national parks and includes maps, park information, best times to photograph, sunrise/sunset charts, local restaurant/motel info, etc.  Designed by photographers for photographers, it appears to be a well-thought out and all inclusive guide to help traveling photographers create memorable photos while on the road without having to do tons of research ahead of time. Plus, all the info is available in the palm of your hand.

The first in the series is:  iFoto Guide: Arches National Park, and focuses on the awesome scenery of Arches National Park near Moab, Utah.  The next app will feature Yosemite NP, and future releases include Grand Canyon NP, Grand Tetons NP, Canyonlands NP, Glacier NP and more.  iFotoGuide: Arches is available for purchase for $4.99 at the Apple iTunes Store here.  Future updates to the app will be provided for free.

I don’t have an iPhone but have upgraded my “old” iPod Nano to a Touch version just today. I will download the app tonight and will post a full review once I’ve had time to check it out.  I already know I will love the included photo gallery.  Bret is tremendously talented and his photos of the Arches area are incredible.

I’m excited to announce that another one of my photographs has been published!  My photo of a wintery leaf was published in the Winter 2009 edition of “Kansas!” magazine and is located on page 31. I shot this photo last winter at one of my favorite local haunts, MacLennan Park, on the grounds of Cedar Crest (the Governor’s residence).  We didn’t get much snow last winter, but I did get out to shoot the few times we did. This was taken just a couple days after Christmas. The day after Christmas we had almost record-high temps and thunderstorms (yes, thunderstorms in December) followed by an immediate blast of cold air which froze everything quickly, followed by a light dusting of snow. It turned the wooded area at the park into a winder wonderland.

Two other of my photography friends also have photos in this issue.  Wayne Rhodus snagged the front cover with a beautiful pink wintry sunset shot, and Scott Bean has a great image from Tuttle Creek on the back cover as well as a half-page photo inside.  Yet another NPN member, Brad Mangas, has a full-page photo inside showcasing the Flint Hills in a wintery setting.

The “Kansas!” web site is found at:  www.kansmag.com.

Frozen Leaf

The 2010 edition of the Kansas Courthouse Calendar is now available to order!

This is the fourth year for the calendar, and the 2010 edition features the following Kansas courthouses:  Osborne,  Logan, Cloud, Kingman, Pratt, Edwards, Graham, Sherman, Crawford, Franklin, McPherson and Barber.

To see all the featured courthouses, please click this link:  2010 Calendar.

Calendar dimensions are 11 X 17 (when fully opened).  Full-color photographs are printed on 100# white gloss paper, and the calendar is bound with a white o-type wire binding with a hole punched at the top, ready to hang on your wall!

This is a great gift idea for lawyers, judges, paralegals, or anyone connected with the legal field, and architecture buffs!

Price is $15 plus applicable tax and shipping/handling.  To place an order, please contact me at:  niphotobyangela@aol.com.

I’m very excited to announce that my photo of the Lilly Pad Room at Onondaga Cave in Missouri was selected as the Editor’s Pick for the Earth Sea Sky gallery on Nature Photographer’s Network for last week!  This is my first “EP” and I feel very honored to receive this pick.  The ESS gallery is the highest-traffic gallery on NPN and consistently contains hundreds of awe-inspiring images from both amateurs and pros.

Onondaga 2 NPN 

A little background about the cave and the photo:  Onondaga Cave is located near Leasburg, Missouri and is just a few miles south of Interstate 44.  Guided tours are available March through October.  We had around 30 people in our group when we toured.  The cave is very open with only a few spots where the ceiling gets a bit low, so I did not feel claustrophobic at all as I did in a small cave I toured in Arkansas a few years ago.  The walkways and ramps are wide and steep in places, but there are plenty of handrails.  The Onondaga Cave was a private show cave for quite some time.  After a long, difficult history involving property disputes and almost being lost forever due to a planned dam in the area, the cave finally became part of the Missouri state park system in 1981. 

I had to plan ahead for shooting photos at this location since I couldn’t lug all my gear with me.   Because I knew the quarters would be tight, I took my 10-22 mm lens, which is also my fastest lens at F3.5/4.0.  (I also brought my 35-80 mm but never took it out of my jacket pocket.)  I knew I’d have to crank up the ISO and shoot wide open if I hoped to get anything acceptable.  There were lighting fixtures in place around the formations, and the walkways were lit, but after all – it was a cave and very dark!  As soon as the tour started, I turned the ISO to 800 and fired off a couple test shots, and discovered I needed yet more light so cranked it as high as it would go – 1600.  Unfortunately, I don’t have an off-camera flash so had to use the built-in one.  In some of the shots I took, this resulted in a half-circular pattern appearing at the bottom of the frame.  I found it very difficult to focus in the low-light conditions even though I was using auto focus. In some spots, the camera just couldn’t figure out what it was supposed to be doing. 

Compositions in the cave were very limited due to the placement of walkways, handrails and light/electrical fixtures.  Because there was another tour group coming through in about an hour, there was no time to waste.  This also didn’t help with trying to compose a nice shot.  Additionally, tripods were not allowed so I was forced to use the handrails for support.  Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t because people in the group kept bumping into the rails, causing vibrations. 

We saw several awesome formations (the Twins, King’s Canopy, Queen’s Canopy, etc.),  and the Lost River which runs through the cave was a clear, greenish-blue ribbon that contrasted nicely with the orange-hued formations.  One stretch of the river was named “The Grand Canyon” because the reflection of the cave walls on the river resemble that of a view from the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. 

The highlight for me though was the Lilly Pad Room, which was the very last formation we visited.  It is so named because the formations at the water surface look like lilly pads. The tour guide said it was only about 20 feet below the surface and the most active formation in the cave, which I believe after seeing all the dripping going on in there. There were also formations underwater, one of which I thought looked like an intestine!  I was fortunate enough to capture several concentric drip patterns while exposing this shot. It certainly adds to what could have otherwise been a pretty static image.

After converting the shot from RAW format, I used the noise reduction sliders in Lightroom to reduce much of the noise in this image. I exported it to PS and finished up with some curves adjustments and a little work on the color balance due to the artificial lighting. The final result is what I remember seeing while standing in this amazing little room.

Tech specs:  Canon Rebel XTI, Canon 10-22 mm lens, handheld, built-in flash, ISO 1600, F4 @ 1/50

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