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on Jul 10, 2012 in WRP Ed Zone

Favorite Questions from Short Lens Course

As I see it, when you pay for one of my workshops, you’ve paid to have your questions answered. The problem though is you don’t know (or remember) the question to ask to get the answer you need. So when you comes to our classes in Mammoth, you’re required to bring written questions. Here’s a sampling from the questions I received this weekend at our Short Lens Wildlife Course. It was a great weekend with great folks and we covered a lot of ground.

How many days does it take to get an animal familiar enough to you?

-If only there was such a formula! The best example I can think of are hummingbirds. You might find one that will have nothing to do with you, one that will tease you getting so close and another that will land on your lens, all in the same hour! Habituating wildlife is not a good plan. The best plan that you can apply over and over again is learning Basic Biology. This is something we go over quite a bit in class.


When using a flash on small animal, what is the optimum distance between the animal and off-camera flash?

-Flash is an essential tool in wildlife photography! One of the first basics we learn is the Inverse Square Law in which all flash, no matter size, model of make operates. Once we have a handle on this basic, you have your own answer. This is something we delve into, practice and put into action and solve during the weekend.


Is there any particular advantages to “camo” attire and accessories?

-You’re fashionable, to someone? Critters don’t seem to know the difference between a photographer in camo or out (we’re not talking hunting here). You basic critter could care less so spending hard earned money on this when Basic Biology knowledge that you can gain for free will get you closer, makes the most sense to me.


My equipment is capable of much better focus than I seem to be getting, can you speak to settings and techniques that might lead to better results

-You’ve gotta start with providing your camera a stable platform to operate from. Handholding is an essential tool! Then you have to maximize the settings for your particular camera body and lens to YOUR style of photography. This something we go over, practice and put into practice in class.


Do you recommend a sensor cleaning kit, if so which ones?

-I sure do, that from Copperhill!


I have a 300f4AFS and a TC-20eII, Would you use that combination? Is the TC-20eIII worth the investment?

-The 300f4AFS is a great lens I still use a lot! While it works well with the TC-20eII, the TC-20eIII rocks! The TC-20EIII is one of the finest teleconverters I’ve ever owned! What happens though to your f/stop and effective f/stop when you attach a converter? That is something we go through thoroughly in class because if is such an important tool.


A word on cropping would be appreciated

-That is easy for me, I don’t crop. Doesn’t mean you have to adopt that standard but for my, getting it right, right in the frame is what it means to be a photographer. It’s also how you obtain the highest quality from your file. How to you photograph critters and not have to crop? That’s why you’re here in class.


Interested in fill flash primarily for birds

-this is a primary and great tool for photographing birds, flash! But we’re not using flash for exposure the majority of the time but for color. The exercises we do in class help you find the answer to this question for your photography which might not be the same for myself or other participants. Even better, you’ll leave with the tools to constantly improve on your own settings.


Would love to see a demo of flash feathering

-and that you will! The basics though is real simple, we don’t use the center hot spot of our flash, but just the edges. Understanding of the inverse square law permits you to use this essential technique with confidence.


On your blog you were talking about the no-brainer that was the D800E when it was first announced, yet you seem to have gone with the D800, what changed for you?

-darn good question! If you’re going to have a damn big ass file camera, might as well go all the way! That’s until you have that big ass file camera and you realize you don’t even need that much. While the D800e is a great tool and for its application, rocks, I just don’t experience in my photography that application so I saved the extra pennies and went with the D800.