Membership Types

Membership Types

Membership Update

Memberships, Status & Profile Attributes:

What They Mean, and Why They’re Important

By Stewart Woodard

In GNPA, we have nine different Membership Types and three different Member Status conditions. To participate in any GNPA activities, you must be a “current member in good standing.”

Those categories are important, so here is what you need to know to make the most of your membership. And remember, you can change your Membership Type at any time, or change to a Lifetime Membership. 

Most of the Membership Types are fairly straightforward and need little if any explanation. With the exception of Lifetime Memberships, they all require annual renewals. Family Memberships are a little bit more complicated for our system, so if you choose this path, please contact me at and I will help get you set up.   

If more than one member of a family belongs to GNPA, the Family Membership offers annual dues savings and the ability to make just one annual payment. This category allows up to four family members in a single membership. One of the major benefits is that any family member can participate individually in any of the GNPA activities, such as the annual EXPO. In the past, registering for EXPO required a great deal of effort and assistance. Now, each family member can sign up to attend EXPO and register for all the same field trips and workshops if they want, or pick and choose as each family member desires.

Family Memberships are listed in the Member Profile Attributes as “Organization.” This identifier needs to be unique, so we also use the last name, i.e. “Anderson Family.” If we have more than one Anderson Family (and we do), then we include the first-name initial, such as “L Anderson Family” or “T Anderson Family.”  

Each family member, however, will have his or her own unique Member Profile, like all other GNPA members. Each of these is linked back to the Master Family Profile. One member of the family needs to be identified as the Key Member.  At the time of membership renewal, a single renewal invoice is generated and sent to this Key Member only. No one else in the family unit will receive a renewal invoice.  

Two Important Items About Renewals

  1. The only time when you have the opportunity to opt-in for automatic renewal is when you renew your membership each year.   
  2. When renewing your membership or for any other fee payments, only valid credit or debit cards may be used, NOT checks or money orders of any kind. GNPA does not keep any credit or debit card information on file; it is only used by our bank-processing services. 

Membership Status

Membership Status has three different levels – Active, Graced and Lapsed.  Only Active and Graced are considered Current Members in Good Standing. They are described in this way:

Active: A current member who has either paid their annual renewal or is a Lifetime Member (Lifetime Memberships never generate a renewal invoice). 

Graced: A current member with an outstanding renewal invoice. Every GNPA member is extended a grace period of 20 days after their renewal due date to pay their dues.     

Lapsed: For whatever reason, no attempt has been made by these members to renew their GNPA membership. These Member Profiles will be made inactive and moved out of the member database.  

Member Profile Attributes & Their Importance

We now feature Basic (6) and Custom (15) Attributes for all members. Considerable thought was put into creating the Custom Attributes, and while most are optional, they are important to our organization. Here are a few:

Contact information: Important basic contact information includes member name, email address, home address and phone numbers.

Chapter Affiliation Primary & Secondary:  This identifies the local chapter you will identify with and attend. It’s typically the chapter closest to your home, but not necessarily. If you live outside the state of Georgia or live more than an hour’s drive from a chapter, then you probably should select “Out of Area” as your Primary Chapter. A Secondary Chapter is quite common, as many of our members attend multiple chapter meetings and activities.  

Emergency Contacts:  This is very important (and sometimes critical) information. Whenever you are attending any GNPA outing, EXPO, field trips, workshops, etc., we always need to know who to contact in case of an emergency situation. It is in everyone’s best interest to make sure this information is complete and accurate. 

Camera Type & Photographic Interests: This data is very helpful for planning purposes. Having this information allows us to put together workshops, webinars and field trips that are relevant to our members.    

Speaker Bureau: One of the biggest challenges for our chapters is finding speakers to address GNPA chapter meetings and other events. Please opt in to this attribute only if you feel qualified to be a speaker.  

Over time, we may add more attributes that we feel will help us serve our members. Please make every effort to include this information in your profile. Rest assured that our members’ information is for GNPA use only. 

So please complete as much of your online Member Profile as possible. The more information we have, the better we’ll be able to serve you and all of our members. 

Thank you for your help!


From the President

From the President

See What’s New for GNPA


Eric Bowles, GNPA President

It’s been about six months since Covid-19 forced our organization to shut down chapter meetings and most in-person events. During that time, we’ve been working to reinvent GNPA in ways that will help it thrive in this new world.   

First, we’re updating and improving the GNPA website. When you visit our website (, you’ll find a new home page featuring some terrific images from GNPA members. You’ll also discover a new Blog page, which offers the ability to view current and archived posts from our blogs and newsletters. To make it even more useful, you can search this content by topic or keyword.

In place of chapter meetings, we’ve launched a webinar program using the Zoom platform. At this point we’ve delivered more than a dozen webinars, and those recordings are posted on the Member Home page. One great aspect of this approach is that it allows our members to virtually attend meetings from any chapter in the state, so you never have to miss an interesting speaker or topic. If you can’t watch the live webinar, you can always catch the recorded version at your convenience.  

Meanwhile, we see a lot of members who are eager to get outside and make photographs with other members. Jamie Anderson’s Jekyll Island astrophotography program sold out in just four days and had a waiting list. The Fall Smokies event (November 5-8) already has 50 people registered, but don’t worry, there is plenty of space available. The program has been revised this year to support social distancing and safe travel. Even more trips and programs are in the works, with the emphasis on regional travel. 

Don’t miss these opportunities. To register for events, sign up for webinars, listen to recordings or find out about other member activities, just click on the Member Login on the top right corner of the GNPA home page. After you log in, you’ll see your Member Home page with a list of member-only activities and programs at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for your continued support of GNPA.

— Eric Bowles

Tips & Tricks – Using Filters

Tips & Tricks – Using Filters

Use Filters To Elevate Your Photography

By Tricia Raffensperger

No matter what type of photography you prefer, learning how to cope with difficult lighting conditions is one of the biggest challenges we face. Fortunately, there are some practical and easy-to-use tools that can help us capture images that might otherwise be impossible.  

Polarizing filters and neutral density filters give you the ability to tame harsh light, restore color and eliminate reflections that obscure or distract from your subjects. Regardless of your camera type or lens, these two filters can improve your images. And with the GNPA Smokies Fall Weekend coming up on Nov. 5-8, there will be many opportunities to play around with both types of filters to create some stunning effects. Personally, I love using them with water shots to create looks I could not otherwise achieve, or to make those fall colors pop even more. 

The filters I’ll be talking about are the screw-on variety, which thread directly onto the front of your lens. Whether it’s a circular polarizing (CP) or neutral density (ND) filter, you can adjust the effect by rotating it. And by the way, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of always rotating your filter in the same direction in which you threaded it onto your lens. That way, you won’t accidentally unscrew your filter as you’re adjusting it (a lesson some of have learned the hard way!). 

Here are a few of the ways that I enjoy using these two filters:


These allow you to remove the glare from water (and other surfaces), and enable your camera to capture what is beneath the surface, which can often add interest and detail to your foreground. To use a circular polarizer, you simply look through the viewfinder and rotate the filter until you see the effect you desire. You may choose to completely or partially eliminate the reflection on water, bright foliage or the sky to reveal more detail and color. Polarizers work best when you are facing 90 degrees away from the sun; in other words, when the sun is off to your side. 

Photo by Tricia Raffensperger

Photo by Tricia Raffensperger

These filters also enable you to capture beautiful reflections and color in the water by removing the glare. Polarizers are especially useful at places like Gibbs Gardens to capture the reflections of the flowers in the water, as well as all the different reflected colors from the surrounding trees and plants. 

There are many CP options available and prices range from $100 to $400. Filters come in various sizes to fit your individual lenses, so be sure to purchase the right size for whatever lens you’re using. Since I have a variety of lens sizes, I found it helpful to purchase a 1-82mm filter and several inexpensive step-up rings to fit all my different lenses. This has helped me keep costs down and travel a little lighter. It also allowed me to purchase a more expensive polarizer to use with all my lenses, rather than many of a lesser quality. You can also choose between neutral, warming or cool polarizers, depending upon the effect you wish to achieve. But any CP will allow you more creativity and eliminate common problems with reflections and glare. 


These filters allow you to slow down your shutter speed by reducing the amount of light reaching your camera’s sensor. This is especially important when you’re trying to use a long exposure to blur motion, but the ambient light is too bright to allow those slower shutter speeds. 

Photo by Tricia Raffensperger

With an ND filter, you can create silky, dreamy effects with waterfalls, moving water or clouds, no matter how bright the scene. You can also shoot dramatic images of city lights or floating leaves as they drift on water. 

While newer cameras make it possible to hand-hold at longer exposures than previously possible, a tripod and shutter remote are often required for many slow-shutter water scenes. Also, keep in mind that ND filters are manufactured in different “stops” that reduce the amount of light reaching the camera’s sensor by various degrees, from three stops to 16 or more. Each graduation or stop level can be purchased separately and in different sizes for different lenses. Or, there is the option of a variable ND filter that has many stops in one filter. By turning the filter ring to block the light, you can choose the amount of stops required to achieve your effect. The amount of available light determines the number of stops you must add to reach the results you desire. So a variable filter can again come in handy for coping with different situations. 

I always recommend reading reviews on the different types and brands of filters. Some can create vignetting on your image or a color cast, so the more knowledge you have, the better choice you can make regarding type of filter and price point. 

Photo by Tricia Raffensperger

When using filters, I prefer to use the manual settings on my camera to control the exposure balance, aperture and shutter speed. I feel this gives me better control and more options. But you can use other modes as well. I suggest choosing your water scene, and then setting the ISO as low as possible, but not on auto. You could choose your aperture and then adjust your exposure with the shutter speed, or vice versa. There are endless ways to use CP and ND filters, and I’m by no means an expert. So I’d encourage you to experiment with different approaches and settings to learn what works well for you. 

I think the best way to learn is among friends and surrounded by beautiful landscapes. So please consider joining us in November at our Smokies Fall Weekend, and let’s see what we can create together.

Tricia Raffensperger began photographing nature about 10 years ago after attending workshops and classes at the Showcase School of Photography, and she hasn’t stopped since. She’s served as Vice President on the board of RPS and is currently a board member of GNPA.

Meet a Member – Bill & Heather Hatherley, Alpharetta Chapter

Meet a Member – Bill & Heather Hatherley, Alpharetta Chapter

In each of our newsletters, we’ll be featuring short profiles of GNPA members from across the state. This month, it’s Bill and Deborah Hatherley (and their dog Butterscotch) from the Alpharetta Chapter, one of our Family Memberships.

When did you join GNPA?

October 2016.

What’s your occupation?  

Deborah and Bill are both retired after working 40 years. Deborah spent her career as a school psychologist and Bill worked in computer security.

How did you get into photography?

Bill started in photography 50 years ago with a Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic. In 1984, his apartment burned down and he lost all of his photography equipment, prints and negatives. After this dramatic loss, he left the hobby for 25 years. In 2010, when Deborah and Bill began traveling on cruises, Bill’s interest in photography was rekindled and he purchased a full-frame camera with all the “necessary” lenses. He later moved from his Olympus system to Canon, and has recently adopted a full-frame Sony outfit. 

Deborah takes a few photos and videos with her iPhone but her real artistic passion is painting. She joins Bill on GNPA trips and while he takes photos, she paints. One of her most intriguing accomplishments was decorating a walking stick with painted scenes from all the sites she saw while on a GNPA trip in Florida, led by Tom Simpson.

What are your favorite photography subjects? 

Bill shoots mainly landscapes and birding scenes, but his favorite subject is his service dog Butterscotch.  

butterscotch pic

What are your favorite places to shoot? 

Bill and Deb both love attending GNPA trips. The more memorable ventures involved traveling with Tom Simpson to Florida and Larry Winslett to Tennessee and North Georgia, as well as a learning session conducted by Eric Bowles at the Chattahoochee Nature Center.

What would be your photographic “dream trip”?

“We would love to travel with Larry to Bosque Del Apache or with others to the Triple D Ranch and the Tetons, especially in winter,” according to Bill. 

Bill’s photo “Dad Supporting Junior On First Flight” was recently selected to be displayed for a year at the Emory University Hospital Downtown, as part of an Atlanta Celebrates Photography (ACP) exhibition.


Which camera and lenses do you use most often?

“For birding and wildlife, I tend to use the Sony 100-400 or the 200-600. They are great lenses. For landscapes, I lean on the 16-35. It is so sharp and awesome.”

“Bigger Than Life Shadow” is another image by Bill that is on display at the Emory University Hospital Downtown exhibition.


What are your go-to websites for photography information? 

“At this point, we are so limited by the Covid-19 virus situation, I’ve got to give a big shoutout to all the GNPA chapters. They are continuing to foster interest in photography by providing Zoom classes with excellent instructors. Both of us attend sessions from all over the state. We recently enjoyed an excellent presentation on the Montana Photo Triangle from the Hamilton Chapter. By the way, these Zoom sessions are posted in the Members section of the GNPA website. A big thank-you goes to Lee Friedman of my chapter, who has been instrumental in facilitating these sessions and posting them online for all GNPA members.”

Have any photographers inspired you?

“David Akoubian, Tom Simpson, Tom Wilson, Eric Bowles and Larry Winslett of GNPA are winners and inspirational. They have shown a strong commitment to facilitate learning and support the GNPA endeavor. We should also add that local photographers Kevin Gaskin, Jeff Milsteen, David Wolf and Amanda Gardner (of ASOP) have also been instrumental in our learning. On a national level, we follow Tony and Chelsea Northrup, Mark Smith, Scott Kelby, Mark Galer, Nick Page, Terry White and Laura Shoe, not so much for their photography but for their commitment and excellence in education.”

What’s your favorite part of belonging to GNPA?

“By far, it’s the sharing and learning. I am constantly searching for ways to improve my photography.  GNPA is so welcoming and inspirational. Before Covid-19, I regularly attended local meetings at Alpharetta and Roswell but have also traveled to Gwinnett and Smyrna and always been welcome. It’s a great organization.”

Something about you most people don’t know:

 “Deb and I help teach (not train – talk to me about the difference) service dogs for Canine Assistants. We love helping canines grow and develop and get placed with people who need service dogs to help them function in this world. Dogs we work with change the lives of people with disabilities, and it’s so heartwarming to be a part of this important service.” One other piece of trivia: Bill has set foot in all 50 states, an experience he now treasures.



Butterscotch. Photo by David Akoubian.


Where are you from?

Deborah is a native Atlantan. Bill was born in Florida but only lived there six months. After that, he traveled with his family to many military bases before finally settling in Atlanta.


Through the Lens – Mike Moats

Through the Lens – Mike Moats

Photo By Mike Moats


5 Reasons You Should Shoot Macro

By Mike Moats

If you haven’t explored macro photography yet, you may want to take a closer look. 

Macro not only offers an expansive new world for photographers, but it allows you to take remarkable images without buying tons of equipment or traveling to exotic locales. In fact, you could probably photograph for years just in your own backyard. 

Here are my five favorite reasons for shooting macro:

Shooting close to home 

Macro subjects are everywhere. You can find them at local parks, in your own yard and even inside your home. I have four great parks within 20 minutes of my home, and probably 70 percent of my best images have been taken in those parks. A few of my best-selling images were shot in my own backyard. Most people have flower gardens in their yard, so they can simply walk outside and start shooting. This is not only incredibly convenient, but it saves you money on gas and the wear and tear on your vehicle. On top of that, you can do a shoot even if you have just an hour or two available. 


Photo By Mike Moats


You can shoot with just one lens 

Unlike some types of photography, you don’t need a whole arsenal of lenses to shoot macro. I got by with just one lens for seven years before I added another to my camera bag. If you are starting out as a macro photographer and limited on funds, a mid-range focal length lens like the Tamron 90mm will work great as an all-purpose lens. If you plan to shoot live subjects such as butterflies, dragonflies and other small critters that will flee if you approach too closely, go with a longer focal length macro lens in the 180mm range. Plan on shooting most images with your camera mounted on a sturdy tripod and ballhead.




Photo By Mike Moats

Shoot any time of day

Landscape and wildlife photographers have limited control over lighting and usually need to shoot early morning and late evening to take advantage of the best light. Because of the small subjects that macro photographers work with, we can control our light by using diffusers and reflectors, allowing us to shoot any time of the day. I carry a simple 12-inch diffuser, which I use to control harsh light and prevent overhead sunlight from hitting my subjects



Photo By Mike Moats


Enjoy more creativity 

One of the challenges faced by macro photographers is working with limited depth of field. Because we are shooting awfully close to our subjects, the depth of field is very shallow, causing lots of out-of-focus areas in our photos. The closer we get to the subject, the less of that subject will be in focus. But we can use this shallow depth of field to our advantage in creating artistic compositions. If you like soft-focus, dream-like images, try shooting in the lower f/stop range (with a wider aperture) and use this shallow depth of field to produce some beautiful artwork. If you have a subject that may have some interesting lines or textures that you want to accentuate, you can set your f/stop in the higher numbers (narrower aperture) and bring more of the images



Create your own personal art

This is one of my favorite benefits. Every image that you view on my website is an original. Each one is a subject that was present for only a moment in time, until nature or the environment erased them forever. Almost none of those images can be reproduced, because the subjects are gone or have changed. 


There are plenty of great reasons to give macro photography a try. Once you start exploring this world, you’ll begin finding your own.


Mike Moats is an international award-winning, full-time professional macro photographer from Michigan. He’s a Tamron Image Master, and his articles and images have been published in numerous photo magazines. He hosts a Macro Photo Club online with over 2,000 members from 18 countries, and teaches workshops and speaks at photo conferences throughout the United States. His website can be found at

Exploring the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve

Exploring the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve

Spectacular Sunflower Bloom, Tom Wilson, GNPA

Exploring the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve

By Tom Wilson

A Bee visiting a Porter’s Sunflower using a 150mm macro lens


The first time I took photos at Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve, I felt as though I’d somehow been transported out of Georgia. It was very difficult to believe that I was in the Atlanta metro area, only two miles from a major shopping mall, despite periodic reminders from the passenger jets flying overhead on their way to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. This is a remarkable area for geology and native plants, with almost limitless potential subjects. You could visit with just a macro lens, just a wide-angle lens or just a telephoto lens, and find plenty to photograph in each case. I choose to bring them all, however. 



Layers of Porter’s Sunflowers looking towards the top of Arabia Mountain


This month, a major bloom will be occurring that makes September a special time to visit. These flowers are a type of Sunflower (Helianthus porter) known by the common names Porter’s Sunflower, Stone Mountain Daisy and Confederate Daisy. It’s an annual flower that grows in the thinner soils along granite hillsides. On Arabia Mountain, you can find a multitude of blooms. The flowers typically reach their peak sometime in the third week of September but, as is the case with everything in nature, this varies from year to year.

Your first step in planning a visit should be an online search for “Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area” to find the latest information and trail maps. The specific map you should utilize is the one titled “Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve Trails.”


Wide Angle close up of a bee visiting a Porters Sunflower on Arabia Mountain


I typically park at the South Parking Lot adjacent to the AWARE Wildlife Center. All of the photographs included with this article were made along the “Mountain Top Trail,” which begins at that parking area. The trail is a half-mile long, and includes some moderate climbing along its cairn-marked path to the top of Arabia Mountain. Make sure to have outdoor essentials such as good walking shoes, sunscreen, water and a first-aid kit. It’s also a good idea to carry a cell phone and have a buddy with you for safety.


Icy Vernal Pool, by Tom Wilson GNPA

In order to protect delicate flora, you should also be very careful where you walk. Stay on the path as you travel, and avoid stepping on vegetation or in any sandy areas. Walking on these sandy soils can damage sensitive plant life, including some endangered ones. Even in winter, make sure all your footsteps land on rock surfaces that are free of vegetation. The trail map will include safe-visit guidelines that everyone should follow.

 As you may note from my accompanying photos, I try to visit the park on the edges of daylight, either early morning or late afternoon for the most dramatic lighting. I typically carry a fairly comprehensive camera bag including a tripod, polarizer, a full range of lenses, and light modifiers such as a speedlight, diffusers and graduated neutral density filters. Although I typically shoot landscapes at this location, I never venture there without a macro lens as well. 


This month’s spectacular sunflower bloom offers a great time to visit, but you’ll find terrific photo opportunities in other months as well. I typically visit in January and February on very cold mornings to take photographs of the frozen vernal pools on top of the mountain (I’ve included one such photo with this article). 



In March and April, I come to photograph Diamorpha smallii, (see accompanying image) an amazing red plant that grows in the solution pits on the mountain. The possibilities are almost endless, and the fact that this other-worldly realm exists within an urban area is truly special. 





Good luck and good shooting.  

Tom Wilson is a nature photographer working primarily in Georgia and the Southeast. He serves on the board of GNPA, is past chair of the Conservation Committee and current chair of the Communication Committee.