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on Mar 31, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

Know When to Bail!

Many, many, many years ago I got a photo of the magnificent blue eye of the breeding Double-crested Cormorant. It was back in the days of film and I needed an extension tube on my 800mm to get physically close enough to make the shot. I’ve always liked that photo because with that magnificent blue eye they get during spring, the Double-crested Cormorant is really cool. The rest of the year, not so much. So whenever I’m around them in spring now, I’m always going after that blue eye trying to make a better photo then I already have in my files. Above you can see that blue eye that is just crazy cool. Both of these photos are of the same cormorant taken just a week ago, D5 / 800mm w/TC-1.25x. I had a very preconceived idea what I wanted to see in the viewfinder in my “better” eye photo. First, I needed to see the eye and I wanted to see just the eye. Next, I wanted...

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on Mar 28, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

The Cut Off … Argh!

One of the hardest things for photographers to grasp is where can they crop a critter in the viewfinder. There is no guide or book on where you can crop a neck or leg or body. The best I can ever do to help is describe it as the awkward crop. There is one area though that I have a little more substantial aid and that comes to birds feet. Above is an example of not only an awkward crop but and general rule of thumb. When it comes to feet, if you crop them, you need to leave enough room that mentally the viewer can put the feet with the critter. The photo above, there is great action going on but the feet are gone. In the bottom photo, the one foot is cut off by the water but there is enough room in the photo to mentally see them. It’s such a small thing but it can make or break a great photo. We need to have...

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on Mar 24, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

No Shot … Simply None

It’s real simple, there was no “shot” when we found the Barred Owl branchlings. They were high up against a horrible bright background when they themselves were in shade with all sort of distracting branches between them and the lens. It was a no win situation from the get go. Worst of all, stuck on a narrow boardwalk with everyone stopping to ask what we’re looking at. That’s because the branchlings were so far away in such horrible light, folks couldn’t see them. The D5 / 800mm wasn’t a secret weapon making the magic happen. No shot … simply none! Yet we stood there for nearly three hours. Why?! For starters, how often do you have Barred Owl branchlings to photograph? If you live on the west coast like I do where there are no Barred Owls, the answer is rarely. And if you’ve spent anytime with branchlings, you know that they will move. The question is will they move while you’re still watching and more importantly, will they...

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on Mar 23, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

The Stolen Moment

I have an amazing partner who is also my wife. Too often though, we are separated as I go off on this project and that event. We’ve been together a long time so I know the majority of her favorites and one of them is the Pileated Woodpecker. Goes way back in time when we watched them in Yosemite Valley in the ’80s. Well on my last adventure in FL last week, I was in a couple of locales where there were Pileateds. I wanted a photo to sent to Sharon just so you knew I was thinking of her. I saw one fly by here and another there, but never saw any opportunity to make a click. Then the last day in the last hour I received a text from Jake. He had two Pileateds in his viewfinder. So I grabbed the D5 / 800mm and booked it back down the boardwalk. Jake is really good at learning and applying all the lessons over the years shooting wildlife....

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on Mar 20, 2017 in Landscape Photography

Dance of Light

Light is this powerful tool that moves the mind and tugs at the heart. You can witness this every time you see a live presentation on stage. While contained within the physical space of the stage, the lighting crew moves you through a scene creating depth and tapping emotion with light. What is lit and what is not, the warm light here and cold light there, what’s in the spotlight and what is hinted at, each light doing a job that the mind grasps onto and the heart relishes. This is the same light we must seek in our photography! We are so very fortunate to witness the many wonders of our world and with that great fortune comes the responsibility to share it with others not so fortunate. That chilly morning you’re up early in the high desert where the newly white topped mountains are veiled in the last clouds of the storm. The sun battles to get all its rays through to warm the day only to...

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on Mar 10, 2017 in Landscape Photography

Love Scale When It Works

I was there, I know the size, depth and majesty that was the sweeping landscape before my lens. You weren’t there so you don’t know. Now I try my best to tell that story by including a foreground, middle ground and background and while that helps, it really doesn’t convey some of the time the expanse of space the lens is encompassing. That’s why when it works, I love including a reference in the photo to give you a sense of scale to the landscape. Shooting with other photographers, I had the opportunity to create a couple of examples. Shooting with the D5 / 70-200f4AFS I made the top photo which has the feel of a portrait but by shooting at f/4, the range out of focus in the background says just how far away they really are. Changing that up by having the person so small in the frame accomplishes the same thing. Now you might be saying, “We don’t see scale in Moose’s landscapes very often.” You’d...

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