Cameras for Conservancy Featured at Jester Park Nature Center

Jester ParkCameras for Conservancy is honored to be part of the inaugural year of exhibits at the Jester Park Nature Center in Granger, Iowa. From September to December 25th Jester Park Nature Center is displaying photos exclusively from Cameras for Conservancy Members.

On the opening night Polk County Conservation director Richard Leopold spoke a bit about the mission of the center and President of Cameras for Conservancy, Kristie Burns, spoke a bit about the mission of Cameras for Conservancy. Opening night was well attended and we continue to receive positive feedback about the exhibit.

You can see the exhibit until December 24th. Be sure to visit the images both upstairs and downstairs!


Photographer Member: Joe Countryman

Joe CJoe says, “Have you ever experienced a love for something so intense that it wakes you up at night? And you can’t stop thinking about it, so you just have to get out of bed and do it? Photography is that for me. Since realizing my passion for photography, I have become an entirely different person. I have found my purpose and I see the world in a whole new light. A light that makes me want to capture it and share it with you.”

Photographer Member: Mark Gromko

Mark Gromko 3Mark says, “I have been interested in photography since I was young, but it is only since my retirement in 2009 that I have been able to devote time and energy to developing my photography in a more studied way. I worked for 31 years at Bowling Green State University, first as a faculty member in genetics and evolution, and then as Vice Provost for Academic Programs. Freed from those responsibilities and with our children grown and out in the world, I have undertaken photography trips to a variety of locations. I have concentrated on landscapes of the natural world and wildlife photography.”


Photographer Member: Phillip Brouse

20140212_093727Phillip says, “I am a wildlife ecologist and photographer. Most of my professional background has been in preserve and natural parks management focused on ecosystem restoration and management. My photography experience has been mostly with nature, with some occasional portrait, wedding, fashion, and newspaper projects thrown in.”




What Inspires Your Photos?

Interview and Commentary by Member Kathleen Dytrych

8B6A3440-7I get so excited with beauty, I want to share it. When I see something attractive that gives me pleasure, that warms my heart, or fills me with joy, or has a profound impact, I want it captured.  Whether it’s the beauty of a sunset, a range of mountains, haystacks in an open farm field, an attractive storefront, or unique signs hanging high in a quaint business district, I want it saved. Maybe it’s favorite paintings at a museum, a vision from a visited place, treasured experiences or smiles and laughter with family or friends, or the beauty of the seasons, that I want to catch.

Most importantly, I want these photos to treasure and share and return to when my memory fades. I often come across photos that spark forgotten memories and I’m grateful to have glimpses of time past. I love celebrating life. I love enjoying the people who I’m with and later having a token of fond experiences to share with them. I have way too many photos that I could never sit down and look at in a reasonable time, but I think eventually I’ll come back to all of them.

It’s okay that I’m not a pro or have much knowledge of photography, and in time I will gain more experience and understanding of technique. In the meantime, I’m going to capture what excites me, what provokes me, what interests me. I’m going to memorialize experiences shared alone or with others that bring me joy or inspire me. I am going to find the beauty in the profound and simple.

Now my family and friends know that I take way too many photos. They may sometimes find me irritating and I know I can work on containing my excitement, but after events or vacations or experiences, they have fun looking at the photos and tell me how grateful they are that I captured the experience. They love having reminders of something wonderful.

It brings me such pleasure when I come across photos I have taken being used by others, as their profile picture or when they re-post events we shared, or when I see my photos used to create a montage to celebrate someone’s birthday on social media or in a slide presentation at an event or celebration. It makes me happy that I captured memories that others can use later.

I’m not sure if the ease of an iPhone camera is a curse or a blessing, as the multitude of pictures taken of a single event has increased, as opposed to the days when I had to pay for a roll of film and to have it developed, which caused me to be more judicious of the amount of clicks.

Interview with Kathleen:

  1. What inspires you to take so many photos and share them with others?

My love for life! I so appreciate all the beauty that surrounds me, in nature, in architecture, in colors, in people. I rejoice in celebrations, travel, experiencing new parts of the world near and far and being with family and friends. I always want to take photographs for memories and to share. I love looking back and reminiscing. When my memory fails me it’s wonderful to have photographs.

  1. The photos you take with your iPhone are stunning. Do you have any quick tips for people wanting to take more photos with their phones?

For those who don’t know it…

You can swipe up on the iPhone Lock screen as a shortcut to get to your camera fast when you want to catch a quick shot.

Remember the rule of thirds…

iPhones have a grid option available. By visiting Settings > Photos & Camera and enabling the Grid switch this can assist in lining up photographs to more easily follow the rule of thirds.

If you cannot shoot photos in natural lighting….

or the environment is too dark, take a photo with and without the flash to see which one you like best and you can adjust the lighting when editing. Or instead of using the flash, use the camera app’s exposure slider to boost the lighting of the photo as your taking the pic.

When taking selfies….

set the timer for three seconds so you have a moment to set up the picture to your liking.

Don’t forget….

to take panoramic photos when outdoors in beautiful surroundings, or that some shots might look better in Portrait mode or Square mode. Easily check it out when you are taking the photo.

If the object is moving or the camera is moving…..

try using burst mode and you are bound to get a few good shots.

Remember to try out the High Dynamic Range (HDR)…..

particularly when there is a contrasting light sources, and then use the exposure meter to darken or lighten the image to your satisfaction.

Most important of all…

Just take the photo, no rules. Whatever you think looks interesting, attractive, unusual… Just take time to take the photos and enjoy it and share it and have fun.

  1. What do you feel the impact is on people when positive/beautiful photos are shared via social media?

I think people generally like looking at beauty and really enjoy seeing photos shared by others who have captured something beautiful they came across. Just as I enjoy seeing photos of others shared experiences or places I have not been, I think others get the same enjoyment from my shared photos. It is so easy to share photos on social media with others that are captured in my photos, that just wasn’t possible before.  Also, on social media there can be negativity, or strong voicing of opinions, so it’s always nice to come across an attractive photo especially nature ones that have a calming affect, or people ones that show the beauty of relationships. Beauty and colors and putting out positive energy has a favorable effect on people.

  1. What impact does having a visually enjoyable social media feed have on conservation organizations? Like how do you feel when you see amazing wildlife or experiences in their feeds?

All of this world is connected and everything has an important part and if that is significantly interrupted there will be dire consequences. We have to treat all of nature with respect and care, and we have to honor it and preserve it in all its wonder and beauty. We are not to harm it, nor discount the importance of it.

I feel blessed to be in the presence of wildlife. A chance encounter is always such a gift. When living in a city and not having enough time to explore nature, I value the photographs of others when they share what they have experienced. It brings pleasure and heightens awareness.

I get such joy being out in nature seeing the uniqueness and beauty. On a recent trip to Mongolia one my favorite experiences and photos is of me just sitting there and holding a baby lamb. I had pure joy sitting there and observing the beauty of this little creature. I was fortunate to have the great pleasure of walking through herds of yaks, horses, goats, sheep, of seeing them crossing the road, grazing in the field, living in the great vast expanse of the Mongolian steppes. This was a rare experience and I do not have the opportunity for such a moment often or in many places. So I rely on conservation organizations and wildlife photographers to educate me, to make me think, to give me encounters.

The social media feeds of conservation organizations also remind me of what they are doing, the positive impact they have, and what would be the dire consequences it they did not exist. I am reminded of the importance of them being supported.

  1. Why is it important for people to share photos they take with others?

Everyone loves to see attractive photos; everyone loves to see photos from events that they participated; everyone loves to see a story in a photo, to try and comprehend the message. Photos can have a pleasant or powerful impact on others. They are a gift to others and a gift to the photographer from the viewers.






CFC Members Document Monarch Fest for Blank Park Zoo

By Member Melissa Cory

CFC members Melissa Cory and Tammi Howell had the opportunity to photograph the Monarch Festival at Blank Park Zoo on Sept. 15th 2019.

Although a very warm day, it did not keep the crowds away from Monarch Fest. Guests were able to visit many conservation booths with representatives from Nature Conservancy, Polk county Conservancy, Neil Smith National Wildlife Refuge, Iowa County Conservation, ISU and more.  The tables were full of learning materials and many offered free native seeds and milkweed balls for them to take home as well as live Monarch displays. Entertainment from Jovenes Embajadores Mexican Dance was a beautiful site and they did a wonderful job!

The kids were able to make their own costumes to use for the Monarch Parade which was led by a giant Monarch Caterpillar that walked the parade up to the Butterfly Garden where they finally participated in the release of tagged Monarchs. It was great seeing the kids as well as parents learning and having fun. The smiles on the kids were HUGE!

Seeing what all goes into an event like this makes one really appreciate all that these organizations do and why it is so important for us to help them. They really do make a difference and they are doing really special things!

Photographer Member: Rex Andersen

Rex Andersen
Rex says, “I’m a retired Information Technology professional who’s married with two grown children and two grandchildren. Both my wife and I are from the Des Moines area. We do quite a bit of volunteer work to keep us busy, both with our church, the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, and other local organizations. As an avid outdoorsman my entire life, I’ve been a fisherman, hunter, camper and hiker in many states and countries. As I got older I lost interest in hunting, so I took up wildlife photography in retirement to get me outdoors and in nature. I shoot Canon equipment primarily in Iowa but I have made photo trips to Costa Rica and British Columbia with more planned in the future.”