Episode 10 – Dennis Minty – Clarke’s Beach, Newfoundland

Podcast Episode #10 – May 15, 2022

In this podcast interview we will be talking to Dennis Minty, a professional photographer, educator and author, currently based in Clarke’s Beach, Newfoundland/Labrador.

You Can Learn Photography Podcast Episode 10 – Dennis Minty (mp3)
©Dennis Minty

Through mindful and heartfelt photography, Dennis Minty wants to help others connect with nature to cultivate joy, wonder and respect for the world around us.

Dennis Minty has been making images since age 12, but he did not embrace photography as his main career until after a 30-year professional life as a wildlife biologist and environmental educator.
In this role, he designed, established and managed Salmonier Nature Park in Newfoundland, the province’s only wildlife rehabilitation facility and a premier nature education centre. His work in environmental education (EE), for which he received a Governor General’s Medal, included authoring three books, developing school curricula in both Canada and other countries and training teachers to incorporate EE into school learning.

After his career as a public servant and international consultant, Dennis turned to his life-long passion, photography, and made a new, successful career of it. “I think that everything we do in life can help shape our vision, ethics, skills and commitments. All of these are ingredients of image-making.” Dennis immerses himself in nature through photography. “The two are inseparable,” he says.
He strives to make his work quiet, contemplative, evocative and filled with light. “My goal in creating an image is, not simply to document, but to inspire an emotional response in the viewer that might echo what I feel when I am making the image.” His work has been called “soul-stirring”, “poetic”, “inspiring” and “profound”, and has been praised by people like Shelagh Rogers, Margaret Atwood and Freeman Patterson.

Besides making his own photographic images, Dennis loves to help others make their own and improve their photo skills. Informal teaching has always been part of his careers and now he uses this skill-set in photography.
Since 2002 Dennis Minty has been working with Adventure Canada as a naturalist and photographer in Atlantic Canada, the Arctic, Antarctica, New Zealand, Galapagos, Iceland, the Faores and Scotland.
In his work with Adventure Canada, he encourages people to see more creatively and capture images of the trip that will have a lasting emotional appeal. As well, he coaches folks on the fundamentals of photography. On shore, he continues the photography coaching, but also does nature interpretation, from marine mammals to seabirds to the botanical landscape of the Arctic. His goal is to deepen fellow travellers’ understanding of their destinations.

Currently, Dennis practices his photography by selling his work as fine art prints, publishing his work in various magazines and websites, leading small group photo tours and workshops predominantly in Newfoundland/Labrador and offering private photography lessons.
Dennis loves his home province, Newfoundland/Labrador and delights in sharing his knowledge and stories with fellow travelers. “To belong to a place is a gift. And I have
been blessed with a profound and abiding sense of belonging to this place on the eastern edge of the country.”

Besides his educational books, Dennis has authored six photographic books, his latest being, Slow Photography, Images with Intent.
In 2016 he was inducted into The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s College of Fellows.
Dennis resides in Clarke’s Beach, Newfoundland with his wife, Antje Springmann, and various pets and farm critters that come and go through the years. He is very proud of his three grown-up children and seven grandchildren.

Dennis Minty’s latest book Slow Photography, Images with Intent was discussed on the podcast and can be purchased via payhip.com as an eBook in PDF format from the following link: Slow Photography, Images with Intent by Dennis Minty

You can follow Dennis’s work and learn more from the following links:
■ Website: mintynaturephotography.ca
■ Facebook: facebook.com/dennismintyphotography
■ Facebook: facebook.com/dennis.minty
■ Dennis Minty Prints: market.newfoundlandcanvas.com/dennisminty

From your podcast app click on this link to the images which will automatically use your browser.

The Music snippets that you hear in the intro and outro of the podcast is from “upbeat-motivation-corporate” by M-Dewala on Pixabay Music.

May Theme Challenge – “Your Local Zoo”

The theme challenge for May 2022 is “Your Local Zoo“. This month the assignment is to go to a zoo near you and enjoy capturing some animals that you may not have had the chance to photograph before. You’ll contribute to supporting the work they do at your local zoo when you pay admission and you’ll get an opportunity to photograph various types of animals up close.

Two well known Zoo’s in Nova Scotia are the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park and Interpretive Centre located in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia known for it’s variety of animals and birds native to North America and the Oaklawn Farm Zoo located in Millville Nova Scotia known for it’s various exotic and native breeds of animals, birds and reptiles.

There are many challenges to getting good images while at a zoo and we’ll discuss some techniques that will help through showing sample images which will re-enforce the tips presented. The main problem we face as photographers at a zoo is the wire fencing to make it disappear from our images. There are a number of key elements that will help make better images:
■ overcast weather minimizes the glare on the fencing, or find a spot where the fence is in the shade
■ get as close to the fence as possible
■ wait for the subject to be further away from you
■ use a longer focal length lens such as 100mm – 500mm with a wider aperture such as f/4 – f/8 this will blur out the fence that is between you and the subject, pick the aperture that blurs out the fence but also has enough depth of focus to have the subject sharp
■ use a single continuous focus point and focus in a clear spot of the fence, if your having trouble you may need to switch to manual focus, remember to focus on the subjects eye
■ wait until your subject is away from the fence to the subjects left or right so its out of the image frame
■ also wait until the fence behind the subject is further away too so the fence will be blurred out in the background
■ a tighter crop will also help with removing fencing and other distractions from your images
■ Photoshop may be required to cleanup the fencing that was not removed with in camera techniques as described above, you also may want to completely replace the background depending on the in camera result

Let’s see what Local Zoo images you create this month. If you want to share your image there is no facility to upload your image here, however just paste your social media link to the image in your comment and we’ll be able to see your image. Please note comments are moderated so it will not show up right away, however we do get a notification when any comment is posted so it won’t take long to get approved and subsequently show up.
As an example; take a look at the sample comments for an Instagram image and Facebook image at the bottom of the September 2021 Monthly Theme – Water blog post. By posting your social media link of your image in your comment, it gives us, or anyone visiting the bog, a chance to not only see your image for the challenge but also the ability to look at your other work as well by visiting your social media through your link. Again the comments here are moderated, we want sharing to be a positive experience. We hope you have fun this month with this challenge.

The first image of the Siberian Tiger, Zarina, was taken at a low angle, remember its important to get to eye level so the viewer feels connected to the subject. This image was taken at Oaklawn Farm Zoo as the Tiger was pacing around the pen. I used a longer focal length, 400mm, to isolate the head and neck of the subject removing the fencing from the right side of the subject and minimizing the background which is also out of focus due to the focal length, aperture and position of the subject away from the camera and background.

The image of the female African Lion, taken at Oaklawn Farm Zoo, below is a composite image meaning I replaced the background using Photoshop with an image of a field because the Lion did not move a way from the fence background. As in this case if the need arises to replace the background keep an eye out for background image possibilities at the zoo or surrounding area with the same light and colour so the composite will look as natural as possible. Always keep an eye out for possible scenes to use as backgrounds just in case the in camera image did not work as hoped. If you do not have access to Photoshop checkout a free online web browser based alternative called Photopea which will allow you to achieve background replacements.

The horses shown below, taken at Oaklawn Farm Zoo, were composed tightly to remove the surrounding distractions

The next four images shown below were taken at the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park. This image of the Cougar was using a longer focal length to blur out the fence close to the camera and a tight composition to remove the fence on the right side, however the Cougar did not move a way from the fence in the background, so I used Photoshop to remove the fence.

The image of the Arctic Wolf with the reflection was taken with a longer focal length and composed tightly to remove the fence for the left of the Wolf, however the background was his wooden den and as a result I replaced the background using Photoshop.

The image of the Timber Wolf was taken as the Wolf was pacing around it’s pen and I waited until the Wolf was in a position that gave a clean more natural background before I captured the image. The Timber wolf was in the optimum position in the pen, being far enough away to blur out the fence, a great background, and in good light.

The Red Fox image is a composite replacing the background because the pen just did not have any angles that I could position myself to get a good background. The background for the Fox image was shot at the zoo and used to replace the background using Photoshop.

As you can see from the examples above that it’s challenging to get all of your images successfully in camera, and may require some Photoshop work to get a final image. In any case you can see it’s possible to create successful images. It’s well worth the experience, to get out for some fresh air, exercise, as well as support your local zoo.

With our monthly theme challenges we try to seek out an instructional resource, below are a few YouTube video links to help with some hints and ideas.

Zoo Photography instructional aids:
5 Tips For Taking Great Photos At The Zoo with Laurie Rubin: by Laurie Rubin [ViewBug] (14min 13sec)
No Fences Ep 137: Take and Make Great Photos with Gavin Hoey: by Gavin Hoey [Adorama] (12min 2sec)
How to Remove Fence Lines: Photoshop Tutorial #49: by Glyn Dewis (16min 5sec)
Remove Fence with 3 Simple Steps in Photoshop: by PiXimperfect (15min 33sec)

Students are encouraged to develop their ability to tell a story or invoke an emotion, as well as how to plan and troubleshoot while creating their images. As such it’s important to not only create the image but to also include a “title”, and write a short paragraph about; how they came up with the idea, any interesting back ground that compelled them to make the image, and describe any techniques on how they overcame any obstacles.

An important part of improving your photography is practice, which is one aspect of the monthly theme challenge, in addition you have an opportunity to learn about different genres, techniques and tips.