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 (www.GNPA.org), 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

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.

 

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). 

 

Looking East from Arabia Mountain in April with Diamorpha and other plants in view

 

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.
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