DNR Winter Project Winners Spotlight – Week 3

DNR Winter Project Winners Spotlight – Week 3

“The Wildlife Resources Division is so thankful for the Georgia Nature Photographers’ Association and the special partnership we’ve built. By providing beautiful Georgia-based photos, photographers are able help the agency spread the message of conservation while also showcasing the talented residents of the state of Georgia.”  

Aubrey Pawlikowski, Assistant Manager for Public Affairs, Communications & Marketing


This week we are focusing on the winners of the Close Up category winners from our conservation photography project for Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife Resources Division.  Close Up photography is a type of shot that tightly frames a person or object. Close-ups display the most detail, but they do not include the broader scene. (Wikipedia)


Week 3 – Close Up Category

1st Place – Sara Asby

Ghost Crab at Jekyll Island, Sara Asby


Focal Length:   8.7mm
Aperture:          f/4
Exposure:        1/1000
ISO:                 160
Location:          Jekyll Island, GA
Date:                April 4, 2014 9:39AM

The annual project is a key piece of GNPA’s Conservation Committee, whose primary goal is helping GNPA members become aware of how they can engage in GNPA’s conservation efforts, and help members develop the skills to make valuable contributions to conservation in Georgia.

2nd Place – Ricki Forbes

Camera:           Canon EOS 60D
Lens:                Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro IS USM
Focal Length:   100mm
Aperture:          f/9
Exposure:        1/50
ISO:                 400
Date:                September 7, 2019  9:20AM

With 8 official conservation partners of GNPA across the state, there is always a need for your help.  From documenting cleanup events and families in nature to helping build a database of plants and wildlife, you can make a difference!

3rd Place – Steve Rushing

Camera:           Olympus
Lens:                Olympus 14-150mm F4.0-5.6 II
Focal Length:   80mm
Aperture:          f/5.6
Exposure:        1/1250
ISO:                 200
Location:          Terrell City, GA

GNPA is extremely proud of the difference that our Conservation Group members are making to have their photographs inspire current and future generations to connect with our natural world. 

To join the GNPA Conservation Group email cons_volunteers@gnpa.org

From the President – Welcome to Your Newsletter

From the President – Welcome to Your Newsletter


Eric Bowles, GNPA President

We are delighted to share with you the first issue of the GNPA newsletter. This is something we have wanted to provide our membership for a long time. The newsletter is intended to deliver valuable, practical information about photography, GNPA and your membership. And, of course, good photos.


We’ve had a great team, headed by Tom Wilson, working to build the GNPA Communications platform. This newsletter is the first big step.  We’re very lucky that Ken Dunwoody has agreed to be the editor of the publication. Ken has a wealth of experience as the editor of a number of outdoors-related magazines. The team also includes Brian Lucy, Stewart Woodard, Chris Dekle and Alfie Wace, all of whom have contributed articles and expertise. Brian is taking on the heavy lifting of leading the development of the newsletter format, layout and design. Our newsletter will feature plenty of member content, so thanks to all of our early contributors. Likewise, thanks to these team members for the hard work required to produce this first edition, and develop a platform for the future.

Raise your hand if you’re going to EXPO next year!

We were extremely disappointed, of course, that the 2020 GNPA Expo was cancelled. In light of Covid-19 and the threat of illness, we really had no choice. But it’s a shame, because Alfie Wace had done a terrific job in building the Expo program at Jekyll Island, and other GNPA members and speakers had put a great deal of effort into the preparations. We had a record number of registrants, a full schedule of sold-out workshops, and a great lineup of speakers. On the bright side, we’re rescheduling that Expo so that it can be held at Jekyll Island next year, and we can deliver the great program we planned – and more.  The new Expo dates are March 25-28, 2021. While this weekend does conflict with Passover and Palm Sunday, the other options all had serious conflicts or booking issues. Villas by the Sea will remain our host venue.


Coastal Chapter Social Distancing Manager

In addition to the Expo, Covid-19 has led to the cancellation of all in-person chapter meetings, at least through May, as well as field trips. However, we are beginning to ramp up a new webinar program that gives us the ability to offer both webinars and virtual chapter meetings. A couple of our chapters are testing these concepts in May, and we hope to develop a program for ongoing webinars that can supplement the chapter meetings. We’re planning to record and archive our webinars, so members will be able to access them later if they can’t attend the live event.


The GNPA Smokies event is still scheduled for this fall, with some minor modifications to support social distancing. The dates are November 5-8, 2020, so put it on your calendar now. Registration will open in a few of months, with Mike Thornton and Tricia Raffensperger leading that event.

In the meantime, stay safe and make your health the top priority. We’ll return to a new normal soon, and hopefully that will involve plenty of photography. Until then, if there is anything you need, don’t forget our good friends at Hunt’s Photo.

Enjoy the newsletter.

Eric Bowles, GNPA President

Meet a Member – Gordon Wilson

Meet a Member – Gordon Wilson

In our newsletters, we’ll be featuring short profiles of GNPA members from across the state. This month, it’s Gordon Wilson from the Gwinnett Chapter.

When did you join GNPA?

Seven years ago.


What’s your occupation?  

Retired. I was Senior Systems Developer on Student Systems at Emory University.


How did you get into photography?

My father was a studio photographer with his own darkroom in the basement, so I’ve been around cameras all my life. Unfortunately, his skills did not rub off on me. I’m still learning.


What are your favorite photography subjects?

Wildlife, structures and landscapes; sometimes small events and street scenes.

A cardinal in my front yard, waiting his turn at the feeders. Nikon D810, Tamron 150-600G, f/8, 1/160, ISO 400.

What are your favorite places to shoot?

I really enjoy the Georgia coast and the barrier islands.


What would be your photographic “dream trip?”

New Mexico and some of the southwestern states. Possibly Maine coast or Canadian Rockies.


Sandhill cranes from one of Larry Winslett’s Tennessee trips, back when Show Case (now Atlanta School of Photography) was still around. Nikon D600, Tamron 150-600mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO 500.

Which camera and lenses do you use most often?

Nikon D800 or D810 camera body with Nikkor 28-300mm or Tamron 150-600G, or 15-30mm lenses.


What are your go-to websites for photography information?

I am a very visual person, so I find a lot of my information on YouTube-type tutorials.


Have any photographers inspired you?

Ansel Adams is one of my favorites, not only for his great images but also because he, like John Muir and others, was an environmentalist and advocate for the West and the protection of our resources.


What’s your favorite part of belonging to GNPA?

The programs are great, and the members are so willing to help no matter what your skill level.


Something about you most people don’t know:

I’m interested in my Scottish heritage, so I am a director for the Stone Mountain Highland Games, and a director on the board of The Scottish Tartans Museum and Heritage Center in Franklin, NC. I performed with a bagpipe band for more than 40 years.


Where are you from?

 Atlanta GA


Where to Shoot Now – Dragonflies and Damselflies

Where to Shoot Now – Dragonflies and Damselflies

Reusset-tipped Clubtail, Tom Wilson, GNPA


Editor’s Note: As a part of each newsletter, we will explore some of the best places in Georgia for nature photography. This issue, Tom Wilson tells us about his favorite May destination for dragonflies and damselflies.


By Tom Wilson

I miss being able to visit GNPA Chapters to share my favorite photography locations, so I’m happy to feature one of them in our first newsletter. JJ Biello Park, at Riverside Athletic Complex (610 Druw Cameron Dr, Woodstock, GA 30188), is a great choice this month for finding both dragonflies and damselflies.


Located adjacent to the Little River, its wide-ranging habitats offer a tremendous variety of species and settings. You can expect to find pond species in the small ponds near the parking lot, gliders in the fields, and many river and swamp species on the back trails that parallel the river. I’ve photographed over 40 species of Odonates here in the past six years, and May is an ideal time to take a loop hike and look for dragonflies.

Photos by Tom Wilson, GNPA


JJ Biello is actually a good venue for dragonflies from now through September. I prefer to visit on sunny days, typically from about 10 a.m. until noon. My gear of choice is the Nikon D500 equipped with a 200-500 Nikon lens, carried on a Black Rapid Strap. The accompanying map illustrates my favorite route through the park, and the photo composite shows only some of the available species you may find.

Base photo from Google Earth






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.
Through the Lens – Rivers and Waterfalls

Through the Lens – Rivers and Waterfalls

By David Akoubian

I have always found solace in rivers and waterfalls. When I need to relax, listening to the sounds of water can be very calming. I grew up fishing and photographing the streams and rivers of North Georgia, and have continued to do so all my life. These days I photograph more than I fish, but the enjoyment is still as great.

When I set out to photograph rivers and waterfalls, I try to choose an overcast day to lessen the contrast in the scenes, and to expand my shooting hours. Because I don’t always know what my subjects will be, such as a large waterfall or detailed cascades, I pack both wide-angle and short telephoto lenses. My preferred lens for waterfalls is somewhere in the 17mm to 24mm range. For more detailed images, 50mm to 210mm usually gets the job done.

Photo by David Akoubian

I always bring a sturdy tripod, since many of my exposures are one second or longer. My tripod is also waterproof, so I can set up in the water. Other essentials for me are circular polarizers and neutral density filters. Circular polarizers reduce the glare and increase the saturation of any foliage in the frame. Neutral density filters simply reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor, thereby allowing me to use longer exposures. I like slow exposures for rivers and waterfalls, as they provide a silkier, softer look to moving water, and better capture the mood I feel when I visit a river. To avoid camera movement during long exposures, I recommend using a cable release, or at the very least, utilize the self-timer or shutter-delay capability of your camera.

For many of the rivers that I have visited previously, I tend to repeat compositions, which is a theme I have followed for many years. To achieve a different look to a familiar scene, I like to revisit places in every season. I live in a wide-angle world when I compose landscape images. By this, I mean I find a foreground object and then use the river as a leading line to either carry the viewer’s eye up the river or to a waterfall. That foreground subject can be almost anything — a log, a rock, or even a small plant. It doesn’t need to be strong enough to carry the image by itself, but sufficient to grab the viewer’s attention and let the leading lines of the river do the rest.

Photo by David Akoubian

My goal is to control the viewer’s attention from the second they see the image until they have arrived at the primary subject. That’s another reason for slow exposures; the air bubbles in the water become lines at about 1/15th of a second or slower, and grow even more pronounced with longer exposures. One second is my ideal shutter speed for most situations, but when necessary, I will throw on the neutral density filter to drag it out to 8, 15, 30 seconds or longer if I need to connect lines. I always use the circular polarizer turned to its maximum effect unless there is light reflecting on the water; then I simply turn it until it captures the beautiful reflections of light.

No matter why you visit rivers and waterfalls, photographing them can help share a part of yourself with your audience, and that’s a connection worth making.  In this time of social distancing, connecting with others who share or appreciate your vision is more important than ever. Stay safe, stay healthy, and keep creating images.

David Akoubian has been a professional nature photographer for more than 25 years, spending much of that time photographing in his home state of Georgia. He is a Tamron Image Master and conducts numerous educational seminars and workshops across the country.