Category Archives: education

Svalbard, An Arctic Wildlife Preserve

Gary Moore head shot
Gary Moore

by Gary Moore

“Svalbard, Svalbard, where is Svalbard?” my friends ask when I tell them I visited Svalbard last summer. Well, Svalbard is a group of islands, an archipelago, and way north of Norway in the Arctic Ocean. It is so far north that it was the launching point for many early explorers trying to reach the North Pole. Spitsbergen is the largest island and it hosts the only towns in the archipelago, Longyearbyn and Barentsburg. The total population is less than 3,000 people. Apparently the winters are very long and brutal, not exactly a winter paradise.

Bays along the north coast of Spitsbergen served as whaling stations as early as the 1600s. By the 1800s the whale population had been decimated and the whalers turned to seals. In less than a century the seal population was decimated as well. In the early 1900s coal was discovered on the islands and mining began and continues on a small scale today. In the 1970s, after centuries of environmental neglect, Svalbard, governed by Norway, began setting aside large tracts of land as national parks and nature reserves. As a result, nearly all of Svalbard is now an arctic wildlife preserve. No more hunting and the wildlife has flourished. Even the whales are slowly making a comeback. Continue reading

Photographing Sandhill Cranes

By Cynthia Lyons

One stopover on the annual migration of the Sandhill Cranes has become an annual pilgrimage for many nature and wildlife

photographers.  This once nearly extinct bird, with numbers as low as 50 total birds in the 1920’s, has rebounded to an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 birds, thanks in part to dedicated refuges such as the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge (HWR) in Meigs County, Tennessee.  This excellent habitat for the Sandhill Cranes and other birds is a perfect stopover on their annual migration from the Canadian tundra to their traditional wintering grounds in Georgia and Florida.  Sandhills are big, beautiful cranes with a unique call, known as bugling or trumpeting.  You can find more information on Sandhill Cranes, and hear their calls at and

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Twilight Photography

By Bill Miller
Personally, I love travel photography.  That’s my thing, and my wife, Sandy, and I have had the good fortune to visit and photograph beautiful locations both around the world and in our great country.  Still, excellent photographs can be made at home, wherever you live.  The secret is seeing an interesting subject and imaging how it would look in different conditions . . . ideal conditions.
For me, I like photographing just before sunrise or just after sunset, a time when most people are still asleep or eating dinner.  For example, I’m sure thousands of pictures of the Cookeville Railroad Depot are taken every year, but I wanted to make an image that might look different.

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Backyard Photography

By Helga Skinner

Two years ago I entered a contest and won with my Hummingbird landing on a branch in my backyard.  It had its tongue hanging out. It ended up in the” Natures Best Photography” Magazine in the best backyards section.

A backyard can become a very fascinating place if one looks at it from many different directions.  Sometimes I move my camera while taking the picture, creating a sense of mystery and motion. Other times I print my image on cotton or blend fabric, and then add batting and quilt it. Stitching with metallic threads by machine creates another look of dimension. I use software to enhance my images at times but am still learning.  I give presentations on this technique as well as other topics. Continue reading

Leading Lines

By Kathy Krant

An effective element of good photographic composition is the use of “leading lines” which draws the eye to a specific part of the frame or center of interest.  It might be a path, road or fence which winds through the frame to a vanishing point in the distance.  In nature it might be a shoreline, a river or row of trees leading you to your subject in the background.

First Place, Master
New York Subways on a Sunday by Gary Moore
Lining the Shore by Sandy Miller

Identify your strongest lines and consider how to enhance your image by creating depth and perspective positioning those lines from the foreground to the background.  Create a visual journey from one point in your image to another.  Position your image so the lines lead into the frame and never out of the frame.  Sometimes it’s as simple as moving yourself to change perspective and make your image more purposeful. Continue reading

Photographing the Milky Way

By Wanda Krack

author imageEquipment needed:

  1. A camera that allows manual settings
  2. A tripod, a sturdy one if there is wind
  3. Preferably a wide angle lens or a semi-wide angle. A lens that allows you to include all of the space that you want in the image.  I use a 14-24, and have used an 8mm fish eye to include the entire sky.  If you don’t have a wide angle, you can take several shots panned, and stitch them together using Photoshop or similar software.  If you do this, try setting the camera for vertical orientation, overlapping almost 50%, thereby capturing more of the foreground, or more of the sky.
  4. An external shutter tripper, or use the delayed shutter setting on the camera, to prevent any shake.

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Life Changing

by Bettye Sue Austin

Before moving back to Cookeville, I used to take pictuaustin_bettye_1454976605res of my flowers with a small Canon point and shoot camera.   I never took a class so I really didn’t know what I was doing at the time.   I hybridize daylilies and wanted to run a daylily seed business after retirement.

With this plan in mind, I moved to Cookeville bringing my daylilies along with me.  My goal was to learn how to get clear images of the daylilies, so I could display the two plants I crossed on my web page. I bought a DSLR camera and signed up for a class taught by Bill Miller, a member of the Cookeville Camera Club.  IMG_8345

The class changed how I view my surroundings!  I learned to see angles, shapes, texture, and color in this beautiful world we live in.  I learned how to compose my images to make them more appealing instead of just taking a snapshot.  I learned how to take close-up “macro” shots of my flowers.  I also learned how to take portraits of my family members.  I really enjoyed shooting the images for each class assignment and looked forward to sharing them with the other members in the class. After I completed the class, I practiced what I learned every day. Continue reading Life Changing

Hong Kong – Where East Meets West

By Walt Carlson


Walt CarlsonHong Kong, a city I never expected to visit; but, one that I can’t believe I had a chance to go.

Victoria’s Peak is the highest point in Hong Kong with breathtaking views of the city, especially after dark.  The iconic Big Buddha sits on a mountaintop in an area accessible by sky gondola, bus, or an all-day hike to the top while cows can be found roaming free in the gardens at the base of the site.Many locals Big Buddhatravel by ferry on weekends and holidays to visit the nearby fishing village islands where they select their dinner from the open-air fish market.  The meal is then prepared at the restaurant next door and ready to eat approximately 30 minutes later, served on large lazy Susan tables which are typical of Chinese dining. Continue reading