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Carefully Selected “Field Trips” Make Celebration Unique

By February 21, 2020No Comments
Blue-gray Tanager photographed in the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica.  © Kathy Adams Clark.
Blue-gray Tanager photographed in the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica. © Kathy Adams Clark.

Story by Kathy Adams Clark

An unprecedented number of field events—combined with the kind of classroom sessions and vendor demonstrations you’ve come to expect of NANPA’s big signature events—are what make the 2020 Nature Photography Celebration in Asheville, North Carolina, special. 

As you may already know, this year’s Celebration features six distinct educational tracks: night photography, birds, landscapes/scenics, flowers, fine art, and conservation. You can attend all of the workshops and field events in one track for deeper understanding of that area, or mix and mingle between tracks for a broader, more general experience of nature photography. 

But what I’m most excited about is the field trips. If you’re like me and learn best when the camera’s actually in your hands, then Celebration is for you. 

Night Photography in Downtown Asheville 

Kevin Adams, our keynote photographer for Celebration, is an amazing night photographer, and he just happens to live in the Asheville area. Walk with him as he shows you his favorite places to photograph in downtown Asheville. Be prepared to laugh and learn.

Columbine © Donna Eaton.
Columbine © Donna Eaton.

Flowers at North Carolina Arboretum

Explore the Arboretum with Donna Eaton. Donna is known for her magical photos of flowers and woodland settings. Walk with her, see how she selects her subject, and learn how she sets up her equipment. Learn more about the species you photograph. 

Wander with other participants, too, and talk about potential subjects and composition, equipment, settings. Learn and share alike. Explore on your own.

A 434-acre public garden, The North Carolina Arboretum is located within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest just south of Asheville and adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 393. It features cultivated gardens and groomed trails, forested coves and meandering creeks. More info:

Conservation at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

This field trip can be the beginning of a conservation story for those working with Andrew Snyder throughout the Celebration. For others, this outing is a great way to learn about the property from a conservation point-of-view. 

This 8-acre wetland is managed by the local chapter of the Audubon Society and is engaged in several conservation projects, including shade-grown coffee and other bird-friendly gardening initiatives that support at-risk species. 

Walk the Sanctuary and learn about its mission, how it was established, and what challenges are in store in the future. Learn how to frame those issues with your camera to create a conservation project. More info:

Birds of Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary 

The same location but a different view of it for photographers in the birds track. It will be spring, and migratory birds will be arriving in central North Carolina. 

Join bird photographers Richard Day and me as we walk the property looking for migratory and resident birds. We’ll talk about migration and the birds we see, how to photograph them, which camera settings to use. 

Stick with one of us or explore on your own. There’s plenty of room to spread out or stay in small groups. Butterflies and dragonflies/damselflies are also plentiful. More info:

Fine Art Interpretation at Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary

Yet another way to view the Bird Sanctuary, Jon Holloway will help you walk it with an eye for fine art opportunities. Walk and talk with Jon as you think intentionally about your role in the creation of your art and how that might differ from documenting what’s in front of you. Lots of opportunities for fruitful conversations with other photographers as you explore, too. 

Eastatoe Falls, NC © Mary Louise Ravese.
Eastatoe Falls, NC © Mary Louise Ravese.


Meet Mary Louise Ravese at the perfect waterfall location confirmed just prior to Celebration. Learn the nuances of capturing the beautiful moving waters of “the land of the waterfalls.” Wander and find your own vantage point, stay close to Mary Louise for help, or experiment and share tips with the new friends you’ll make. This is a good chance to visit one of North Carolina’s many waterfalls without having to scout or hike on your own.

Gallery Representation and Submission Opportunities 

Peek behind-the-scenes at Blue Spiral 1 Gallery (2.5 miles from hotel) and learn about business opportunities in fine art photography with Jon Holloway. Jon will shed light on working with galleries, commissions, presentation, portfolio reviews, and representation while you’re exploring the beauty of a real gallery.

Early Morning Blue Ridge Parkway

Two locations have been pre-scouted for you: Pounding Mill Overlook and East Fork Overlook. Large parking areas at the overlooks mean you don’t have to walk far from your car. 

The hours for this event mean you could photograph some stars while it’s still dark, then photograph through twilight and dawn. This is a great chance to capture photos of the iconic Smoky Mountains sunrise. Talk with friends and trip leaders for tips. 

Evening twilight view of the historic Flat Iron on Wall Street in Asheville, North Carolina © Kevin Adams.
Evening twilight view of the historic Flat Iron on Wall Street in Asheville, North Carolina © Kevin Adams.

What Are You Waiting For?

If you read all the way through this post without stopping to find the “Register” button for this event, you have more restraint than I do. I am counting down the days till April 19th, hungry to explore these exciting venues with all of my colleagues—including you. Please join us. 

Kathy Adams Clark has been a professional photographer for 26 years. Her work has been published in many magazines, calendars, and textbooks. Her photos have been seen every week for the past 20 years in husband Gary Clark’s “Nature” column in the Houston Chronicle. Kathy received NANPA’s 2019 Mission Award. She will lead several activities in the birds track at Celebration and serves on the Celebration event committee.