Shooting for the Markets: Humans Impact on Nature

BPSOP instructor Charlie Borland is known for capturing beautiful shots in nature, but he also has to look at a lot of different ways to keep his business afloat!  Charlie shares with is some important tips that most nature photographers don’t think about!


Navajo power plant near Page, AZ has been in the news off and on. Blamed for causing air pollution and haze in the Grand Canyon, this plant is supposedly slated for closing.

Outdoor and nature photographers are attracted to the beauty that Mother Nature provides! They seek to capture the great light, natural splendor, and breathtaking natural events. The goal is to create images that make viewers say “wow.”


But for those in the business of licensing images, it is even more important to create images that photo buyers need and will license and these are not always “wow” images.


While the market for breathtaking images is large there is also a market for images that show the less ‘pretty’ aspects of nature and the outdoors. And in particular, humans impact on nature.


These subjects are often overlooked as photographers strive to create only beautiful images that elicit warm responses from viewers. Yet, images that show mans impact on nature have a market for sure.


There are many publications and organizations dedicated to conservation, preserving the environment, and advocates of ethical land use. All of these are markets for stock images and even assignments.


Whether you are a conservation photographer dedicated to photographing for environmental causes or a nature photographer looking for a few marketable ideas, consider the less than beautiful side of outdoor photography.


These subjects can be air pollution, water pollution, garbage and litter, mining, deforestation, over-fishing, oil spills, nuclear an coal burning power plants, and so much more.


Many conservation photographers are valuable allies to environmental causes, but even for those who are not, there is still a market for images related to environmental issues. No matter which side of any cause you might be on, subjects that make the news often have a market for related images.


For example, if you are in the United States you are probably aware of the impending election. Within one parties platform has been calls to ‘gut environmental regulations.’ Whether that actually happens or not remains to be seen, but the idea here for outdoor photographer’s is that very suggestion of such action creates potential demand for images related to these subjects and causes. It’s best to be shooting now in anticipation for future needs.


Here are a few ideas:


This windblown garbage is strewn across the California desert.


Forest clearcutting in the Pacific Northwest.




Polluted discharge into a river


A deposited soda can in the Yosemite back country. (I packed it out with me)


Stream bank damage from cattle

There are many, many images that can be captured and may eventually be newsworthy and subsequently very marketable. While on any road trip to make beautiful images, dont pass up an opportunity to capture the other side of nature, the less glamorous and less beautiful side of mans negative impact on nature.

Happy Shooting!
– Charlie Borland – BPSOP Instructor
Charlies Teaches:

10 Tips for Fall Color Photography

Fall has arrived in many areas and photographers are getting ready or are heading out to shoot their favorite places. Many will go to the usual locations like the Smoky’s or New England while others will photograph less known and less crowded locations.

There are many aspects to successful fall color photography and the first important issue is planning. There is no perfect way to predict the precise dates for peak fall color but since there is nothing worse than arriving too late or too early.

A little research can go along way in determining a good average time frame to visit a specific location and the net is full of postings based on peoples experience. The rest may be chalked up to luck.

Photographing fall colors is like many other nature subjects where you seek the best light, a strong composition, technical excellence, and a worthy subject.

Here are a few tips on creating great images of fall foliage:


Great Smoky Mountains, NP

There are many ways to approach fall color from capturing the big picture showing a large scene like mountains with trees to shooting from within the forest. They are all good approaches, but if you tend to shoot only the grand scene, don’t forget to enter the forest and look for detail.


Look for color contrasts. Many areas with extensive fall color have a variety of foliage with unique color based on the species as well as Photosynthesis takes over. Here you can capture a palette of varying colors in a unique way.


Use your depth of field to isolate subjects for maximum impact.



Great pictures are not just about the foliage. Include in your compositions water and mountains and other details that enhance the composition.



Don’t forget good composition. The color can be overwhelming but composition and how you frame that color is what matters. Here we have lines, color, and a fir tree in a 1/3 compositional position.



Look for all compositional techniques like patterns that flow and can lead the eye through the scene, or here, framing.



Don’t worry about getting dirty. Sometimes some of the best shots come with the camera close to the ground.



White balance can also be an issue in some cases. In the above example, my WB is set to Daylight which I use 99% of the times outdoors. But with the sun shining down through the leaves you can see the amber color of the tree trunk, which is a greyish brown under correct color. Auto WB might get you close, but here is one of the instances where a Custom WB might just be the perfect solution.



Consider the lighting. When I am in the forest I prefer overcast light in most situations to avoid harsh contrast. However, all light is good light as long as it works well with the subject.



If you do have the sun aiding you consider looking for backlit situations. This helps with contrast. This aspen tree is backlit and shows nice contrast while the image below is also backlit but on an overcast day. Here the leaves are translucent and are photographed from underneath.





Polarizing filters have a lot of uses both when including skies and when not. Deepening the blue sky allows the leaves to stand out in contrast. In the forest on an overcast day, the polarizer is very useful for removing reflections from leaves allowing better saturation of the colors.



Fall color is not all about trees. Many shrubs also produce great color as they begin to change in the fall.

There are many more ideas and techniques for great fall color than mentioned here. However, with fall changing daily, hopefully these ideas get you motivated to go shoot.

Charlie Borland – BPSOP Instructor

Charlie Teaches:

Mastering Canon Flash Photography

Mastering Photography for Architecture and Real Estate

 A Different Angle


Much of the time when I am shooting people, I think of the perfect quote by Marcel  Proust, ” The real journey of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

In my portrait course here at BPSOP,  called Eye to Eye – Capturing the Face, one of the things that I like to talk about is just what Proust was saying. Shooting from different angles is one way of having new eyes.  This means to think outside of the box and capture your subject or model from a different perspective.  So often, the photographer just stands in front of  their subject and puts on a telephoto lens and starts to shoot.  That works fine much of the time but there are so many other angles that can be incredibly dramatic and give you so much more impact.

One of the ways that I love to shoot is from directly above and shooting straight down on my models.   There are many benefits that go along with shooting from above and one of the best advantages is that quite often they are in a very comfortable position that can make them look completely relaxed.  Being comfortable in an image and getting someone in a great pose is so much more important than many people realize as it can really help the face look dramatically better and the end result might be a great result for both you and your subject.

In this first image above of this young girl with red hair, I was asked to shoot her 2 weeks ago by her father and when we went to the park, I decided to try something different.  I had been shooting different angles of her against trees and laying down on her side,  and was pretty happy with many of the images.  But I decided to have her lay on her back and with my 24-105 Canon lens, I shot straight down and got the exact composition that I felt gave me the look that I wanted at that particular moment.  The great thing about doing a shot like this and using a zoom lens is that you can zoom in or zoom out to exactly the perfect crop and composition that you want.  Using a fixed focal length lens in this situation would also work nice but would not give me the freedom that a good zoom lens would have.

I realized that the horizontal framing worked best for her and you really have to play with vertical and horizontal to see which is the right camera position for that particular subject. I shot her in full sun at the park with my girlfriend holding  a translucent diffuser above and to the side to soften the bright sunlight and give me a gorgeous quality of light across her face.


In the above shot, you can see that this is totally different but has a similar feeling as I shot this one indoors and also shot it vertically and not horizontally.  It really depends from subject to subject and location to location and also lighting condition to lighting condition.  Many times I know what I want to get before I pull my camera out of my backpack and other times I just play it by ear.  This shot just happened in seconds as I was at a party at my cousins house and I was able to grab little Decklin  and ask him to lay down on the floor  while I  stood straight over him shooting down.  Sometimes your subjects don’t really care to listen to you but this gorgeous little 3-year-old was the perfect little model and did anything I asked.  I told him to put his arms behind his head and look straight up at my lens and in turn, I got just what I had envisioned that moment.   If I had shot him any other way, it might have been a pretty nice little image also and I did do some other poses too.  But this was the one that gave me the most impact and quite often shooting like this can give you something completely different and is definitely a nice change of pace.

 Below,  is another image that I shot from above, with children who probably are my favorite subject shooting from above.   Sometimes I put on  great backdrops which I lay on the floor and quite often I am looking for  great locations to shoot them on.  Quite often just the sheets  for a blanket on the bed  prove to be a great backdrop  or even just having your subject lay in the sand at the beach.  The sky really is the limit for a great background beneath them but you also have to look for great lighting which is really the key to everything.


I hope you try something different like this as it’s definitely a lot of fun and can give you some pretty nifty little images that you might not have normally thought of.  I love shooting portraits all over the world and whatever you can do to think outside the box and try something out of your comfort zone might open up only world for you.  When your models are comfortable, which quite often they are when laying on their back, all of a sudden you might see a completely different feeling that was never there before.   Keep trying different things as often as possible because you never want your photography to get stale and always be the same old thing.  Change is good and  looking at your subjects from a different angle is definitely using your creativity!

Scott Stulberg – BPSOP Instructor

Scott teaches: Eye to Eye – Capturing the Face

Photographing Autumn Color


It’s late September, and here on the coast of Maine I have already seen a few trees starting to show their autumn colors. Fall is my favorite season, I love shooting this time of year. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you are photographing fall foliage.

Check on-line foliage reports to find the best autumn colors in the area you’ll be shooting.

Shoot early in the morning and late in the day for warm light, avoiding contrasty mid-day lighting. If the day is overcast, you can shoot all day! Blue skies are beautiful, but cloudy days will saturate those gorgeous colors. Just don’t include that white sky in your composition, fill the frame with color.


I like early morning shooting best, morning mist can add wonderful mood and dew on the leaves is great for macro work. Bring your polarizer along to eliminate any glare on the leaves and boost color.


As with all of your photos, watch for distractions that do not add to the scene. Look carefully around the frame before you click that shutter. As my students frequently hear me say, “If it doesn’t add, it needs to go.” Eliminate anything that doesn’t add to the story you want to tell with your photo.

Shoot from wide to macro, work your subjects!



Look up for backlit leaves….





Look down for reflected colors in streams, ponds, puddles and on any reflective surface.



I shot this one on the hood of a car!


Don’t be afraid to make your own scenes. Adding that one perfect autumn leaf to a composition can add a wonderful focal point.



If it’s windy, embrace that wind and shoot with a long shutter for a more abstract look.


Moving water with a long shutter speed creates an interesting look as well.


If it’s not windy, you can play with camera movement instead. Pan, zoom, swirl and twirl, move that camera with a long shutter, it’s fun!


Happy shooting!

– Kathleen Clemons – Instructor at BPSOP

Kathleen Teaches:

Fine Art Nature Photography

Fine Art Nature Photography II

Fine Art Nature Photography III

Capturing the Beauty of Flowers

Lensbaby Magic

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  • The course, "Black and White Fine Art Photography" was extremely well done. Course content was very well sequenced and just what I was looking for. I learned a lot. Athena made suggestions that were both helpful and dealt perfectly with that lesson's goals. Her critiques were intelligent, insightful and really provided direction that I could apply to see immediate results. Athena has the ability to let you know, in detail, where you missed the point without making you question why you ever bought a camera in the first place. This course is highly recommended. Read More
    Jim Rester Black & White Fine Art Photography
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