Interview: QT Luong and His "Treasured Lands" Book

Today’s interview is with QT (Tuan) Luong, the author of Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks. Without physically seeing the Treasured Lands book for yourself, it is difficult to characterize how much of an accomplishment it is to visit all of these places, photograph them well and in diverse ways, write about each park, and pull everything together into a coherent narrative and visual celebration of America’s Best Idea. 

Treasured Lands is a truly impressive and inspirational representation of a life’s work (the book is 456 pages long, with more than 130,000 words and 500 photographs). The book contains a helpful narrative section on each park, covering information about the area's ecosystems, geology, seasons, a map, and notes about each photograph. The photographs themselves go far beyond the typical icons featured in many photography books. Instead, QT sets out to share a more nuanced view of each place, displaying a diversity of views from across each park. I especially appreciate that the book includes both expansive grand landscapes and smaller scenes, an approach that helps showcase a fuller picture of each of the places featured in the book.

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5 Tips on Photographing Abstract Subjects in Nature

When thinking about nature photography, many people instantly think of postcard-style scenes: grand landscapes under colorful skies. From my perspective, however, nature photography can be a much more expansive pursuit when considering the opportunities available with smaller scenes, including abstract renditions of natural subjects. In this article, I share some tips on learning to create abstract photographs along a continuum, from photos with abstract concepts that amplify an obvious subject to fully abstract photographs in which the scale and subject are difficult to discern.

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Inspiration, Resources, and Recommended Reading for Nature Photographers (2018 Edition)

Over the last few years, we have sporadically shared links to inspirational/thought-provoking articles, good resources, and other recommendations for nature photographers. Instead of sharing this information in a bunch of separate posts, we are going to collect everything in this single post and keep it updated over the course of 2018. If you have recommended additions, please share them in the comments. 

Circles and Lines

January 2018

Articles on Originality and Personal Expression: These three articles each take a different view of some of the current issues facing photographers in the areas of personal expression, originality, giving credit, and copying. 

Michael Kenna Interview with Light & Land: In this interview, the highly-respected black and white photographer Michael Kenna shares some insights about his life as a photographer and his creative process. 

The New Publishing Landscape: If you have any interest in publishing a hard-copy book of your photography, this interview with Iain Sargeent is a must-read. Sargeant is a photographer who has created his own publishing business, publishing nine books so far. This article is an in-depth look at his experience and advice. 

Josh Cripps at Nikon Live: Our friend Josh Cripps recently gave a 30-minute talk on his wilderness photography, sharing inspiring stories about his backpacking trips and the resulting photographs. The talk will be available through June and you can view it by clicking the link and selecting "Nikon Live from CES Day 4." 

North American Nature Photography Association Showcase: Each year, NANPA publishes a collection of wildlife, nature, landscape, and macro photography that includes many inspiring photographs. You can see this year's collection using this link. I do wish that NANPA would upgrade the viewing experience with larger photos and a slideshow option, as the current presentation is quite cumbersome. 

Adapting to Light by Eric Bennett: In this post, Eric shares what we consider to be an essential lesson: all lighting conditions can create opportunities for photography. By moving beyond the confining box of colorful light at sunrise and sunset, nature photography can become a much more expansive pursuit. 

Tired of Perfection by David duChemin: This post was on fire on Facebook and it seemed to resonate with many readers. In sharing it, I will add one small quibble. I do not think the issue is so much perfection as it is creating soulless photographs. For my own photography practice, seeking some kinds of perfection can be a positive habit (for example, being precise with composition and technique while in the field). Otherwise, the message in this post is certainly worth considering as you pursue photography in 2018. 

Relevance by Zachary Bright: In this brief post, Zachary Bright continues in a similar thread to David duChemin's post. Here, Zachary discusses what he sees as some of the pitfalls of seeking to stay relevant with the quickly changing whims of social media audiences. 

Ron's 2017 Year in Review: In case you missed it, Ron shared his favorite photos (a quite diverse collection!) and a quick wrap-up of 2017 in this post. 

Top 25 Photographers of the Year By Christian Hoiberg of Capture Landscapes: Christian's Capture Landscape's site has become an excellent resource for photographers over the last year. He shares a lot of inspirational interviews and practical advice for nature photographers. In this specific post, Christian shares his list of 25 favorite photographers during 2017 (including me - thank you, Christian!). This list included quite a few photographers who are new to me so I hope it might also help our readers find some new sources of inspiration.

From our Archives: Ten Tips for Creating Better Black & White Nature PhotographsIn our most-read post from 2017, Sarah shares an in-depth list of ten tips for black and white nature photography - covering everything from field practices to photo processing. 

Ron's 2017 Year in Review

Sarah and I started and finished 2017 in Death Valley National Park. In between we also visited the Mojave Preserve in California, the Huntington Gardens near Pasadena, the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, Grand Teton National Park (twice), witnessed the total solar eclipse in Wyoming, and photographed fall colors in Zion National Park. We also photographed wildflowers and fall colors near our home in southwest Colorado, and finally moved into our house in October after living fourteen months full time in our Airstream trailer.

My complete processed work - so far - from 2017 can be viewed on my 2017 gallery, which includes:

I also created a gallery of my favorite photos of 2017, a dozen of which I will share in this post below.

 "Sun Dance" - The sun momentarily breaks through a thick fog layer in a Joshua Tree forest.

"Sun Dance" - The sun momentarily breaks through a thick fog layer in a Joshua Tree forest.

 "Mojave Garden" - Lush desert flora in the Mojave Preserve

"Mojave Garden" - Lush desert flora in the Mojave Preserve

 "Warm Fuzzies" - Teddy Bear cholla and ocotillo glow in the rapidly setting sun

"Warm Fuzzies" - Teddy Bear cholla and ocotillo glow in the rapidly setting sun

 "Organized Mess" - Cactus from a garden near Tucson, Arizona

"Organized Mess" - Cactus from a garden near Tucson, Arizona

 "Pastel Grasses" - Papyrus in soft light at the Huntington Garden near Pasadena

"Pastel Grasses" - Papyrus in soft light at the Huntington Garden near Pasadena

 "Gildy's Gift" - An incredible sunrise at Grand Teton National Park which we would have missed had our cat Gildersleeve not woken us up for food at 4 AM.

"Gildy's Gift" - An incredible sunrise at Grand Teton National Park which we would have missed had our cat Gildersleeve not woken us up for food at 4 AM.

 "Circles and Lines" - Lily pads in a small pond near Grand Teton National Park

"Circles and Lines" - Lily pads in a small pond near Grand Teton National Park

 "Sticks and Cones" - No further description necessary :)

"Sticks and Cones" - No further description necessary :)

 "Who Needs Vermont?" - A colorful hillside of oaks and cottonwoods in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

"Who Needs Vermont?" - A colorful hillside of oaks and cottonwoods in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

 "Fogged" - Fall aspens in a layer of ephemeral fog

"Fogged" - Fall aspens in a layer of ephemeral fog

 "Last to Leave" - A few persistent leaves cling to a tree in Zion Canyon

"Last to Leave" - A few persistent leaves cling to a tree in Zion Canyon

 "Autumn Sky" - Fall foliage contrasts against a blue sky

"Autumn Sky" - Fall foliage contrasts against a blue sky