nature photography

Reinier Munguia - Guest Speaker on My Florida Photo Caravan

Reinier Munguia will be a guest speaker/workshop leader on my Florida Photo Caravan next week! He will be with us for part of our Merrit Island stop. Awesome.

The Caravan is sold out. But there are a few spots open at my Exploring the Light seminar in Ft. Lauderdale on January 27.

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In my 20 years as a commercial photographer, I haven't found a subject to shoot that gives me the joy that nature does. It's not only beautiful; it is also unexpected, wild and challenging. I spent my first years shooting assignments for books on reptiles and amphibians, which meant working long hours in the field.   

Over the years, you learn that when shooting wildlife, every subject presents its own new set of challenges, a never-ending learning curve. My most important achievement has been to create awareness about the challenges that nature faces every day. From a conservation and educational standpoint, these images are those that send the message across. While they may be gruesome or sad at times, they leave the viewer reflecting on important topics. I have taken these important messages to schools and organizations and the general public by means of images and presentations. 

A well accomplished nature photographer should be well versed in his/her subjects  to be able to recognize any negative impact in time. When combined, ethics and good photographic techniques can lead to successful natural history images. I've been teaching photography workshops now for well over 10 years, and if there's  one thing I want my students to learn, it is the respect that nature deserves.

There are many times in which you embark on a trip in search of one particular shot; well, you know how that works. At times you come back empty handed. But my philosophy has changed greatly over time and instead of focusing all my efforts on getting this one shot, I take the time to observe. There may be something far more important happening nearby, and I don't want to miss it. The most common challenge I face in the field is the uncooperative subject, be it a bird, mammal, reptile or amphibian - it does not matter. Give yourself and your subject enough time to get used to each other. I have seen many shots go to waste when my trigger-happy students shot too early and their subject flushed the scene. It has happened to me, too. Patience, patience, patience.

Working in the tropical rainforest presents many challenges including fogged lenses, low light, insect bites and venomous snakes, but after a while you learn how to deal with all of these challenges. In general, early morning or late afternoon light  is the most favorable condition for shooting wildlife, except in the rainforest in which case you take whatever you can get, and the flash becomes your best friend. I like to adjust my flash exposure to reduce the unnatural look that flash can produce at times as much as possible. 

The most important thing to consider is the balance between available light and the flash output. If flash takes over the available, then you get that flashy look. Slow down the shutter speed to allow your ambient light to add enough to the exposure.This at times means having a sturdy tripod to hold a large 400mm f2.8 lens to shoot a sloth in the canopy as your shutter speed dips below the focal-length reciprocal. Carrying all this weight through the jungle is part of the sacrifice we make as nature photographers, and when the weight exceeds 50 pounds, sure you want to quit. But this passion you have developed in capturing all these images won't let you down. At day break you pack all your gear once more, and head out the door to see what nature has saved for you.

In time your appreciation for all these living things we call nature will consume you bit by bit in a good way. You'll find yourself engulfed in a never ending battle to save what you have come to love so much. That same thought should be on every nature photographer's mind. This love for nature has taken me very far. Today I'm involved in many conservation projects and have committed my time to teach others the value of nature.

Bio: Reinier Munguia is a commercial/nature photographer based in Lakeland, Florida. His work has appeared in several publications including textbooks and magazines.  Reinier has been the President and teacher of the Polk County Camera Club for the past 5 years, where he has been educating amateur photographers not only in the proper use of their equipment but also in the ability to self- evaluate their work. 

His passion for nature has taken him to become an advocate for causes related to the protection of species. He has also taken time to become a presenter at schools all over the state of Florida to help the future generations understand and appreciate better the beautiful things that nature provides us. 

In the past year, Reinier has also taken the role of Vice-president of education for the local Audubon chapter, where he has been doing multiple presentations for the public  to educate about the importance of conservation and appreciation of our natural world. 

Wanting to explore more of that world has led Reinier to organize trips out of the state and country to take photographers that want to learn more about photography and about how he gets those amazing shots. Places like the Caribbean, Costa Rica and Galapagos have become new areas to explore and take his message of nature conservation.

iPad App Back to School Special Sale

Well, it's back to school time once again. I can't believe how fast the summer fly by!

Many of the stores here in my neighborhood are having "back to school" sales. So, I thought it would be a good idea to put some of my apps on sale for a limited time.

Butterfly Wonders and Life Lessons We Can Learn From Mother Nature are on sale for $0.99 each.

For info on all my apps, click here.

Enjoy the fall!


Introducing Rick Sammon's Butterfly Wonders – an interactive iPad app for nature lovers & close-up photographers

Rick Sammon's Butterfly Wonders – my interactive iPad app for nature lovers and close-up photographers, is here! The interactive iPad app features my favorite photographs of living butterflies – exotic species from around the world.

To celebrate the app, I am giving away 10 free redeem codes. Scroll down for info.

Co-developed with wildlife photographer Juan Pons, the app was designed to convey the beauty of the butterfly, and to share with butterfly enthusiasts – and nature photographers – fascinating facts about these amazing creatures. Fifty-five photographs, each accompanied by detailed camera/exposure information, illustrate the Butterfly Wonders section.

To help photographers capture their own beautiful close-up pictures of butterflies, Butterfly Wonders includes a comprehensive Photographing Butterflies section. Twenty-eight images illustrate my tips, trick and techniques. I was going to produce a separate app on close-up photography, but I decided to include this how-to information as a bonus in Butterfly Wonders.

Butterfly expert Alan Chin Lee supplied the scientific information, as well as fun facts, for each butterfly (and moth). For example, did you know that once a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis it never grows any larger? And did you know that silk moths have no mouth with which to feed?

In the Emersion section, the app illustrates one of Mother Nature’s miracles of transformation – an animal that starts out life as a crawling sack of goo and changes into a beautiful flying flower.

The app also takes the viewer on a visual journey, via the Migration section, to Sierra Chinqua in Michoacan, Mexico, where I photographed in a colony of more than 30 million monarchs during their annual migration. In this app, Dr. Thomas Emmel, a world-renowned butterfly expert, writes about this journey in a beautiful essay. Both Dr. Emmel and Mr. Lee were with me in Sierra Chinqua when I photographed the monarchs.

The butterfly, with its amazing metamorphosis from a crawling caterpillar into a vivid and graceful winged creature, symbolizes the infinite potential within every living creature to evolve: from darkness into light, ugliness into beauty, and lethargy into activity.

Rick Sammon's Butterfly Wonders, and the life of a butterfly, is a coming-of-age-story in the most profound sense. As an exotic metaphor for transcendence and renewal, the butterfly has been celebrated in art, literature, dance, fashion, myth, and spirituality throughout history and in cultures around the world. Now, the butterfly is celebrated in the first iPad app on living butterflies.

How did I get so many close-up shots of butterflies? Well, I captured the butterflies with my Canon digital SLR cameras, Canon macro lenses and Canon ring lights. The ability to see every shot immediately on my camera's LCD monitor allowed me to make critical exposure and lighting adjustments on site. That was of the utmost importance, due to subject movement, changing lighting conditions and the reflectivity of some of the butterflies.

Here’s what Maria Morris Hambourg, former Curator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, said in a review about my butterfly photographs: “For their inclusive vision, sumptuous textures and colors, and the sheer wonder these finely detailed descriptions of butterflies awaken in us, I think Rick Sammon’s photographs are marvels.”

Thanks Maria!

For more info and to order, click here.

Click here to see my other apps.

To celebrate the app, I am giving away 10 free redeem codes:


Note: To redeem a code, go to the home screen of the App Store and click "Redeem" in the upper right hand corner. Enter your redemption code and sync your iPad (in this case). Make sure to do so immediately as promo codes do expire and cannot be replaced if this occurs. Sorry friends around the globe, but the codes only work in the US App Store. Also note that the process for redeeming a code is Apple's standard process, not ours.

That's me on the left and Alan on the right.

Explore the light,

P.S. Is this cosmic or what? I found this butterfly chair shortly before the app was approved!