Category Archives: news

CNP show winners!

Thanks to all who come out to our show opening at the Unitarian Church.  A big thanks to Carol for organizing the show and to Jen for baking the yummy treats.

We had around thirty images in the show.  The quality of the images was quite high and it was challenging to decide which ones to vote on for our prizes.

Congratulations to the winners!  The Best in Show award went to Nancy Ridenour (Macro Lotus)

We had a tie for the Most Innovative award:
Mark Malkin (Last Color)
Malkin Last Color DCS3257-1
Aubrey Kelly (Lady Bowen Falls)
Lady Bowen Falls - Aubrey Kelly
The show will run until June 8.

Lessons from the Galapagos

by Paul Schmitt

There were many lessons learned in preparing for and making the most of our travel. It is not possible in a newsletter to bring forth the many photos nor all of the insights gained. There are, however, points which are valuable for a big trip and for a trip two hours distant to a new location. First, let’s describe the trips three parts. Most routes to the Galapagos go through Quito, Ecuador. Since a cancelled flight from the US generally means a lost day, it is wise to get there at least day early. The tour leader schedules the first day as a trip to Guango Lodge to see and photograph mountain hummingbirds. If a travel delay causes clients to miss that day, they are still on the next day’s flight to Galapagos. Miss that flight and you literally miss the boat for the week. We arrived an extra day early to have a day tour of historic Quito. Great idea and a real stress reliever . Whether it is for a sunrise at Montezuma or Quito, arriving at the last moment creates unnecessary anxiety. Visiting the center of Quito made a great beginning.

For a big trip, get to know the leader and how the tour works. Look at the timing for our departure to the islands at left. He hired a fixer to get us to the flight which included a bus, group check-in, help with security and agricultural screening. The trip out there is a busy, long day and this was a BIG plus. We were on the yacht before noon! Our leader, a birder/photographer himself, got us ashore early for the best light.

The days were very full and the equatorial climate is unlike what you experience in New York, so here are some lessons on what was important. The white board at right listed a day’s plan. So, do a lot of walking to get in shape. The sun is unlike what you know; protect yourself. There are no benches on the trails; wish we’d had a small seat. Drink a lot of water. Note the two items that were questionable.

Finally, you can do a lot of planning from home to prepare you for making the most of an expensive trip. I should have spent a lot of time on eBird for both Guango Lodge birds and for the islands on our route. Finding what had been seen at Guango in August for the last ten years would have greatly prepared me for the overwhelming number of new birds seen.

What lenses does the photographer need? The research above can do a lot to answer that, and the trip leader, if competent , will have a good idea. But, our leader hauled a big tripod and 500 mm lens until it wore him down.  Note that you really need to backup all files via laptop and keep a copy on a flash drive in your pocket when traveling.

Apps for planning a photo trip

by Paul Schmitt

Mike Goldstein offered some background on tools that he is currently using to prepare for a three week trip from Nevada up to Seattle. Using the internet (and presumably other) resources, he located potential photo locations and pinned them to a custom map in Google Maps. He also located lodging along the way and added those as pins. For each pin, he could color code it for priority plus attach links for details such as a hotel website, park website or phone number. Google Maps will also create driving routes to a selected next stop from the current location with drive time calculated.

A second part of the planning was locating apps which support a photographer both in preparation and then in the field. One favorite is PhotoPills which is currently on iTunes ($10) with plans for an Android version in the future. The range of features includes trip planner, sun/moon positions, night sky, DOF, FOV, time lapse and low light calculations. It seems to combine what has usually been scattered among a number of apps. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is another well respected app.

This spurred some more research by your editor. Further planning tools include the StuckOnEarth (free on iTunes ) which pulls up Flickr images for a huge range of worldwide locations. Try it for a place you are familiar with to see what it would offer in a new location. Unlike some other sources, it is rich in landscape and nature photos. Online, Sightsmap gives a world view which is colored like a heat map to indicate “hot spots” of posted images. One can zoom in to research a desired location. It is, however, weak on outdoor photos, and some hotspots lack photos to pull up .

The GPS data for a wide range of good photos are available on  This can be used to pin locations on a custom Google map. You could then use a GPS navigator to lead you to the exact spot.

Predicting the precipitation, wind and clouds for the next day is another valuable resource that can be accessed in the field with a cell signal. Some good resources include the apps Wunderground and Storm,  for the weather patterns in the next week, and the National Weather Service.  It has a powerful tabular feature that predicts accurately by the hour sky cover, wind, temperature and more.

The Long Walk To Machu Picchu

I’m happy to report that I’m back from an amazing two weeks in Peru only slightly more worse for the wear. I opted to walk to Machu Picchu taking the less traveled and arguably more scenic Salkantay trail. My trek through the Vilcabamba Range took me through several ecosystems from cloud forests, high alpine valleys, and dizzying 15,200ft mountain passes. A once in a lifetime experience for sure.


Below is Nevado Salkantay, a 20,574 ft. rock we needed to walk around in order to get to our final destination of Machu Picchu on our 6 day journey. It’s pass lies at over 15,000 ft. to the west of its prominence and made for a vigorous and great day of hiking. Viewed from Machu Picchu’s main sundial, the Southern Cross is above Salkantay’s summit when at its highest point. The Incas associated this with concepts of rain and fertility, and considered Salkantay to be one of the principal deities controlling weather and fertility in the region west of Cuzco.


I’ll have more to share with CNP as the monthly themes allow, or keep an eye on my website,