May Term Day 2 – Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

For Day 2 of May Term, we headed off to Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge for the Ornithology Science and Art Field Work class. It’s about an hour from Rochester, and right off the New York State Thruway.  It is just short of 10,000 acres of both dry and wetlands set aside for the nesting, feeding, breeding, and resting of waterfowl and other migratory birds. We are fortunate to be so close and we will head back for another day tomorrow. No bald eagle sightings, but maybe tomorrow will be our chance.  I’m so excited to go back. May Term is such an incredible experience, and I’m so glad I go to a school that doesn’t keep me sitting at a desk taking exams when there is so much out there to learn.

CSC_2013.JPG

DSC_1953.JPG

DSC_1930.JPG

DSC_1936.JPG

DSC_2002.JPG

DSC_2005.JPG

DSC_2009.JPG

DSC_1896.JPG

DSC_2008.JPG

May Term – Ornithology and Photography

Today was the first day of May Term for us at Allendale Columbia. May Term is a time toward the end of the school year where we can choose coursework from a variety of different things and specialize to our interests.  After seeing an offering for ornithology and photography, I was excited to sign up.

We spent a majority of the first morning with a refresher on how to use a camera for those who didn’t have experience from Mrs. Wun, the Upper School art and photography teacher.  We also had a visit from former Allendale Columbia Biology teacher, Mr. Paul Amber, who was kind enough to give us a tour of campus and the nature trail while helping to identify birds.  Mrs. Lisi, who is one of the instructors, also had a former student who is an ornithologist in Maryland who Skyped with our class. It’s great having my photography teacher Mrs. Wun and science teacher Mrs. Lisi team up in this course, which brings two of my favorite things together; wildlife and photography.

I’m very excited about tomorrow as we head to the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see a bald eagle and get a good photo.

National Geographic Your Shot Community

National Geographic has a great community site for sharing photography. I know there are many of these sites out there, but Nat Geo Your Shot by far has been the most influential to me. I have used the site for the past 2 1/2 years, and in that time and gotten great feedback from other photographers on my work. My favorite part about National Geo Your Shot are the assignments. I think it’s very easy for me to get caught up in taking only wildlife photography, which is a passion of mine. The assignments and stories part of the site let the editors give an assignment for photographers like myself to submit photographs to that fit a particular theme.  I have enjoyed challenging myself on themes just as “The Gift of Life”, “Invisible Worlds” and “Facing your Fears”, After the editors close the entry period, they craft a story that is then published. I love reading these stories and seeing which photographs made the final cut. I haven’t earned this yet, but I hope to keep submitting my photographs, as my goal is to someday be part of a published story.

What has been really wonderful for me is to be selected as an “editor favorite”. These are special shout-outs from the editors for liking my submission, and some of these shots may have been at least considered for a published piece. The fact that a few of my photos were liked have kept me excited about trying to become better at my work. An even bigger plus is when an editor leaves a comment. For me, that is the best thing that can happen, as I know that a professional who liked my work took the time to let me know that.

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 5.02.55 PM.png

National Geographic Your Shot also just added a “follow” feature, which allows a photographer to follow another photographer’s work. I do not have a large following at all, but the fact that 8 people decided to keep track of my work is a great start and something I think I hope to improve on.  There’s no catch. It’s free, and for a high school student like me, the feedback is priceless.

Reflecting on the Past – Patriotism

Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 7.28.11 PM.png

This is a shot of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. I may not have been around during any of these wars for which these memorials stand, but for me, the patriotism that these men and women must have had to die for their country is something I cannot yet fathom. I can a least do my part by honoring these heroes by respecting, reflecting, and admiring those who came here to remember.

Endangered – the Ring Tailed Lemur

The ring-tailed lemur is iconic because it’s the most recognizable kind of lemur. It’s black, gray and white tail make them pretty obvious to pick out.  It was an honor seeing them when I traveled to Madagascar, and they were one of my favorite things to photography while I was there. According to a new study by the University of Victoria in British Columbia and the University of Colorado Boulder in 2016, the number of ring-tailed lemurs is guessed to be around 2,500 in Madagascar, the only place where they exist. Here are some of my favorite shots. These lemurs were in Anja Reserve, a protected area in Madagascar.

DSC_1414.JPGdsc_1412dsc_1403dsc_1389 DSC_0002.JPGDSC_0010.JPGDSC_0015.JPGDSC_0018.JPGDSC_0029.JPGDSC_0034.JPGDSC_0038.JPGDSC_0039.JPG

Back to Basics

School, sports, and life have been busy, and I forgot about how much photography can make me happy. I’ve taken some photos, but haven’t had the time to post them here. Here are some random shots that I particularly like that have no particular theme.  I am still using my Nikon DSLR3300, and am hoping to upgrade as soon as I save up some money.

CSC_2500.JPG
A Guinea Turaco tips his head as he spots me with my camera.
CSC_2306.JPG
“Armor” – I liked the contrast of the metal grate, which seems like armor to me and the hard shell of this bug.
DSC_2511.JPG
Skylon Tower, Niagara Falls Canada – Extraterrestrial or Extra Touristy?
DSC_2447.JPG
True Colors. I often take photography of the heads of these birds, but I couldn’t help but be drawn in by this macaw’s colorful feathers.

Lemurs of Madagascar

A conspiracy is the term they give to a group of lemurs. Although I did get to see groups of lemurs, most of them were just hanging out in the trees, enjoying themselves. It was incredible to see just how many species of lemurs we could find when I traveled to Madagascar. The lemur that I encountered the most was the common brown lemur. We also got to see ring-tailed lemurs, bamboo lemurs, black and white ruffed lemurs,  and sifaka lemurs. The common brown was notorious for climbing up on people, and even perched on my shoulder for a visit. It helped that I had a banana in my hand.

DSC_0274.JPG
Golden Bamboo Lemur
csc_1093
Golden Bamboo Lemur
DSC_0964.JPG
Sifaka Lemur
DSC_1054.JPG
Black and White Ruffed Lemur
DSC_1061.JPG
Common Brown Lemur
DSC_1085.JPG
Common Brown Lemur
DSC_0002.JPG
Ring-tailed Lemur
DSC_0017.JPG
Conspiracy of Lemurs

Where My Camera Might Take Me

The Madagascar trip will be forever be in my brain as an amazing opportunity to have seen some pretty incredible wildlife and scenery. It has taught me to be patient and slow down to look at the smallest details. Even though I have been home for many months, I continue to think about the trip and how I can continue to travel to learn more about photography and nature. Hopefully, another opportunity will present itself to me in the future. Until then, I continue to take macrophotography in my own backyard.  dsc_1826csc_1845dsc_1822dsc_1800dsc_1716