Today for the Ornithology Science and Art May term, we headed over to the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden at The Strong. This was great for many of the first time middle school photographers, as there were plenty of opportunities to get some great shots of the birds and butterflies which, for the most part, were completely still. Having been here before and not as new to photography, I settled in to try to take some select shots and help other students if they asked. I used my Nikon D3300. A favorite of mine was the owl butterfly, especially since we shot actual owls from Wild Wings, Inc the other day. Owl butterflies use Batesian mimicry, which is when harmless animals use markings to resemble threatening animals to ward off predators.
Melinda is a beautiful barn owl at Wing Wilds, Inc in Honeoye Falls, New York. Wild Wings is a place where permanently injured, non-releasable birds are housed and cared for. As part of our May Term at Allendale Columbia, we were lucky to visit Wild Wings and photograph some of these amazing birds. Melinda by far was the most photogenic, allowing me to take some great close up shots. This is a special place for me since when my Grandfather passed away a few years ago, our family requested any donations to go to Wild Wings. These birds are beautiful and the work they do here is important to help people learn about these animals and how to protect and respect them.
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.
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.