Nat Geo Live: Birds Of Paradise Was Worth Every Penny

Nat Geo Live: Birds Of Paradise Was Worth Every Penny

This past Wednesday, I went to a presentation that talked about all the effort that went goes into taking videos and photographs of birds-of-paradise, as well as the animal's importance to rainforest conservation.


National Geographic is famous for their vibrant, detailed photography and documentaries about the amazing wildlife that can be found across the world. But have you ever wondered what it takes to get those perfect shots? Well through National Geographic Live: Birds of Paradise, Tim Laman, photographer and forest canopy researcher, and ornithologist Ed Scholes gave us the inside scoop on all the effort they had to go through in order to document the 39 different known species of birds of paradise.

After 8 years of working on this project, they captured 39,568 photographs. In order to take these pictures, they traveled all around New Guinea and Australia. Essentially, Scholes and Laman would be dropped off in the jungle and Scholes would pick up the calls of the bird they intended to document and head towards them. Once the calls were followed, they would set up a camouflaged hideout that is called a blind, near where they expected the birds would gather to perform mating rituals. A couple of the birds liked open clean areas, a fallen log or even the highest tree, so they could make an educated guess that eventually, a bird would make an appearance. In these blinds, they spent over 2,000 hours waiting around, practicing their camera techniques so they could be ready when the birds came and to do their mating rituals so they could get a perfect shot of them.

If you have never heard or seen a bird of paradise before, their mating rituals and wild looking feathers are the main things that make these birds so fascinating. Essentially, the males flaunt their vibrant, giant feathers during their grand performances, some of which seem like dances, and call out to the females. Every species is different in their characteristics and their rituals but across all species, the male who puts on the best performance and presents themselves the best is the male who gets to mate. As Laman and Scholes put it, the females are the drivers for these physical characteristics and behavior, so for these species its the "survival of the sexiest".

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this presentation as I was absolutely amazed at the lengths Laman and Scholes went to document these species for the sake of science. The footage that they showed us I thought was so fascinating and you can actually find some of it on youtube if you search National Geographic Live: Birds of Paradise. I could try to explain further about some of the birds, but I wouldn't do it justice. Anyhow, what I loved the most about the presentation was how they ended it. They brought the reality of development into the picture. Currently, the areas on New Guinea where the birds are found are mostly undisturbed and protected, but there have been plans made to start building roads through these rainforests. While that may be good for the connectivity of the nation, this opens up many doors for the potential destruction of the rainforest. When roads are constructed through big forested areas like this, the chances of it being deforested for logging or even mining drastically increase.

However, development doesn't have to result in massive deforestation of the area if we continue to encourage its protection by promoting what the rainforest can bring to the nation and the world. Thankfully, the government plans to keep 70% of the rainforest intact, but everyone needs to demonstrate their support for this policy. Ultimately, Scholes and Laman want people to know about birds of paradise because they are the easiest animals to fall in love with due to how pretty and charismatic they are. If they are used as "ambassadors of the rainforest" then its more likely people will make sure the forest stays protected. There are many other species in the rainforest that one may argue are more important from an ecological aspect and probably many species that haven't even been discovered yet, but we can't save those if nobody cares about the forest or is even aware of its potential threats.

Ultimately, I feel like this presentation succeeded in spreading awareness to its attendees and that this series of National Geographic Live presentations have a lot of potential in impacting the community overall. I hope that through this article I too have successfully spread awareness about these animals, but truly awareness is the first step of many on the path to saving the biodiversity present in rainforests.

If you want to learn how you can help save rainforests, besides just being an advocate, check out these links:

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10 VSCO Presets That Make You Look Tan As All Heck

Because come on, we can't all be sun kissed while also working 40 hours a week.


I don't know about you, but I cannot seem to get to the golden shade that I so desperately want. Think I'm silly all you want, but being tan makes me more confident. Now, working 40 hours a week, during prime sun hours doesn't exactly help this dilemma, so I have taken the matter into my own hands. These are a few of the VSCO Filter pre-sets that make me feel just as sun-kissed and stunning as I aspire to be, from the comfort of my cubicle.

1. E8 +8, Contrast +1, Temperature -1, Saturation -1, H. Tint Magenta +3

2. HB2 +7, Contrast -1, Exposure -1, Temperature +0.5, Saturation +1, Fade +1.5, Grain +4

3. C8 +12, Exposure -2, Saturation -2/+2, Grain +3 (Optional)

4. C1 +12, Fade +4, Contrast +2, Exposure +2, Saturation -2, Tint +3

5. A4 +7, Exposure -2, Contrast +1.7, Temperature +1.7, Tint +1.0, Saturation -2.0, Skin tone -1.0

6. M3 +12, Temperature -1, Contrast +2, Saturation -1/+1

7. E3 +12, Temperature -1, Saturation -2, Skin -2

8. HB1 +8, Exposure -1, Temperature -1

9. C1 +12, Exposure -1, Contrast +2, Temperature +2, Saturation -2, Skin Tone -3

10. G1 +8, Exposure -2, Contrast +2, Saturation +2, Temperature -1, Fade +2

Cover Image Credit:

Erika Glover

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10 Spots To Take Artsy Photos In New York City's Oculus

A look in the Oculus through odd, fun profile shots.


The Oculus in downtown Manhattan is a train station, plaza, and shopping center all-in-one! This 350,000 square-foot World Trade Center shopping mall is built right next to the 9/11 memorial site. It's a beautiful and huge mall and I took some pictures to capture the beauty of it (featuring my friends).

1. Fairy light stairs

Whether you like weird poses or serious poses, this staircase near the entrance of the Oculus is right for anyone in need of a new profile picture.

2. Honey lavender Yankee Candle of the month

With the changing colors of the walls, you can wait until the lights match the color of your hair so you can look like a Yankee Candle advertisement.

3. Look over there, it's all the stores that I can't afford to shop at

Actual photo of two girls trying to find the Forever 21.

4. Shop or photo shoot destination?

This is outside of a Victoria's Secret, but no one has to know that.

5. Toy store or another photo shoot destination?

At the toy store, Toytoise, cartoony backpacks and purses are up for sale.

6. White world (Trade Center)

Sometimes you have to find odd corners to get the best pictures. This marshmallow wonderland is perfect for a spontaneous photo op.

7. Lookin' like a polar bear's spine or something

If you're going to go anywhere, go to the top floor to look over all the people passing by below you as if they are your humble servants and you are their faithful ruler.

8. Twinsies

Taking pictures outside the Oculus in the dark makes for some great silhouette photos.

9. Outside the Oculus

Flower boxes. Art. Amazing. Yes. Good.

10. This is an illusion

Experiment with your angles! Because I got closer to this box and shot from a lower angle, it looks like my friend is stepping on what looks like a much bigger box.

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