The Cincinnati Smug hosted a presentation by Dan Swart, award winning nature and wildlife photographer, at Caesar Creek State Park. Dan has always been interested in nature and animals. His love of the outdoors, and his desire to capture and share its wonders led him to photography. For the past thirty years, he has been adding to his vast knowledge of nature and honing his craft. Since his retirement three years ago, he has been able to devote more time to capturing the amazing natural world and the creatures that live among us.
Dan uses three approaches to photographing wildlife and nature:
- Scenic Wildlife Image- this is basically a landscape image with a wildlife subject in the scene. Dan tries to place the animal according to the rule of thirds and uses a small aperture for great depth of field. This type of photo puts the subject in its environment and tells a story.
- Behavioral Image- this is an image that shows the subject interacting with its surroundings. Whether feeding its young, building a nest, hunting or playing this image shows the similarities between animals and humans. Dan uses a large enough f-stop to keep the subject in focus but soften the background.
- Wildlife Portrait Image- this is a photo were Dan uses a low f-stop and zooms in tight to create a pleasing portrait. He focuses on the eyes and tries to get an angle that captures catch-lights and eliminates a distracting background. Sometimes just shifting a foot or two can make a huge difference.
Dan only photographs wild animals, and many of his images were taken close to his home. He also loves to travel in his motor home and has spent time photographing around the country. According to Dan, the three disciplines he follows are patience, persistence and practice. He wants his photography to inspire others to get outdoors and explore nature and wildlife.
He has taken the time to learn the distance from the nose of a moose to its eye and then to its ears. Combined with the focal length of the lens, he calculates the f-stop he needs to get it all in focus. After years of practice, these decisions have become second nature to Dan, and he can concentrate on his composition and other aspects of the animal he is trying to capture.
Dan shared the following tips:
- Watch the direction the subject is heading and put yourself into a good position.
- Watch the direction of the light and the wind, stay down wind if possible
- Search for the best landscape environment for the shot.
- Get as close as possible to your subject but STAY SAFE!
- Watch your f-stop and iso, Dan uses AV priority.
- Focus on the eyes, use live view if your camera has it.
- Use a tripod and cable release.
- Use back button focus and Al Servo AF.
- Remember: patience, persistence and practice- the Swart Way!
Submitted by the Cincinnati SMUG Scribe: Linda Palmer
The SmugMug User Groups (SMUGs) are putting out a call for speakers for our 2012 monthly speakers series.
A SMUG is a place where you can learn, teach and meet up with other photographers who share your passion. It’s also how we can tell you what’s happening in our world and discover what’s happening in yours. SMUGs are a great way to connect with other photographers and add a few weapons to your creative arsenal. There are over 90 SMUGs worldwide. Rain or shine, it’s always a great idea to come to your SMUG’s monthly meetings. This way, you have a great collection of photos in every season!
We are looking for presenters that can speak about various photography related topics. Examples: Business topics, software, lighting, fusion, camera usage, portraits, photojournalism, sports, nature/landscape, commercial, boudoir, sports and weddings.
All types of photographers are welcome to present.
If you are interested in speaking, please send a short bio and course description and let us know why you would be great for our groups. We really want people with something interesting to say so let us know why this is you. These presentations are not sales-oriented so while you are more then welcome to mention products and workshops at the end, the bulk of the presentation should be on the chosen topic.
This is a great opportunity for anyone to get in front of a large, active group of photographers.
You will also receive a free SmugMug Pro account as a special thanks from SmugMug (for as long as you are a speaker).
To submit your presentation or if you have questions, please email Rocky Bowles at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once we receive your email, we will send out a manual that explains all of the details for speaking at SMUGs.
All submissions will be kept on file and we’ll contact you if we choose your presentation.
SmugMug cannot thank you enough for your participation in becoming a speaker. It is the people like you that give SMUGs such a great reputation!
The Cincinnati SMUG made history at the launch of their group earlier this year. The Cincinnati, Ohio SmugMug Meetup Group ventured into the Great Saltpetre Cave (GSP) in Mt. Vernon, KY to take photos!! This was the group’s FIRST meetup. It was quite an adventure for these brave souls! Hardhats and headlamps were worn by all (I was first to bump my head, by the way). In reality, the route was casual and not a strenuous walk.
In Cincinnati, we have a local photographer who has made cave photography his forte. Robert Coomer led our group through the darkness and showed us how he sets up his cave shots. Then the cave lights were turned on, and we explored other areas of the cave. Two models, who are cavers and dressed as such, posed for our pictures. We visited cave locations called Pig Pen, Soldiers’ Graves, and of course, Fat Man’s Misery. Who names these places anyhow? Experiments with cave lighting were tried by all, while learning about the cave’s history.
Said to be discovered by John Baker in 1798, there is evidence that Daniel Boone and the Cherokee Indians knew of this cave much earlier. Saltpeter mining of the cave, which included 70 miners and slaves at a time, started around 1801 and peaked during The War of 1812. Saltpeter is a critical ingredient for making gunpowder. This cave reportedly out-produced the more famous, Mammouth Cave, by 30%.
Artifacts from mining activities and cave wall writing from the cave’s days of tourism could be seen on our trip. From 1947 until about 1950 the cave was used for tourism. GSP cave was first wired for electricity in 1967, and then it was used for community and church meetings, weddings and for live radio broadcasts. Some shots from the movie Fire Down Below were taken here in 1966. Rockcastle Karst Conservancy currently owns and care takes the cave. They are doing a terrific job. Because we had such a dynamite time, plans are in the works to repeat this meetup event soon!
Submitted by SMUG Scribe – Nancy G. Clarke