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on Aug 28, 2015 in Wildlife Photography

Weekend Enjoyment – AlvinII

Yep, Alvin is back, we call him Alvin II since they don’t live that long. With the extreme drought here in the Eastern Sierra (all of California), our meadow has gone to seed a solid month early. That means no flowers for the hummers so our feeders are getting sucked dry in just days! Sitting here typing, I can see 11 hummers buzzing around the feeders. And as usual, a Allen’s Hummingbird has decided that the best feeder is all his. This is who we call Alvin II. It also means time to photograph the captive audience. With the meadow gone to seed early, the hummers dependence on the feeders is more intense then norma making photography really darn easy! As usual, I have selected a nice manzanita twig for a perch, stuck in a Justin Clamp on a Nano stand about 2 1/2 feet from the main feeder. That’s where Alvin II hangs his hat as he defends “his” feeder. The perch is set up with the background...

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on Aug 27, 2015 in Wildlife Photography

Grass Isolation

A vast majority of the time, photographers seek in their photographs to clearly see all of their subject. This is especially true for critters. There are some really, really good reason for this. When grass is in the photograph though, there is a tendency to want to make it go away. That single blade of grass going through the subjects face for some photographers is a disaster! When it comes to telling the story though, the grass is in the photo because that’s where the critter lives. The grass is part of their story. So then in telling the story of the subject, where it lives and dealing with the grass, you need to have a strategy that permits you to accomplish that all that doesn’t include a lawn mower. What I have to suggest might sound crazy, but here are two images to support my thought. There are three key components in my formula for working with critters in grass. The long lens, minimum DoF and highnoon light....

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on Aug 24, 2015 in Landscape Photography

The Mara Landscape

When those who know of the Maasai Mara think of the Mara, they often think lions, tigers and bears, oh my! (Ya, a bit of a windy). A majority though don’t think about the place itself, The Mara. Without the place, there would be no critters (that’s true for the whole planet you know). I, like most, was taken back by the wealth of critters but I was also quite taken by the landscape. In many of the locales of the Mara, I saw the California landscape back in the 1800s. No, I wasn’t around back then but have read so many accounts of those who were, I feel as if I had been. This sunset pano is a perfect example of what I’m talking about (taken with Df / 24-120VR). There is a spot west of Bakersfield looking off towards the Temblor Range that even today looks much like you see on the Mara. When your imagination and heart can wonder over a landscape with your camera leading...

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on Aug 21, 2015 in Wildlife Photography

The Worst Weather …

The Saddle-billed Stork was near the top of my list for birds on the Maasai Mara I wanted to see. Others had seen this four foot beauty, we had not. Near the end of our trip, they were on the edge of the marsh so off we headed to the locale. The skies were getting darker and darker as we drove in their direction. We had had a number of afternoon thunderstorms, this was sizing up to be a doozie! We were just pulling around to where they were and it started to sprinkle. I had the MP-1 V2 in my lap cause the rain started to get harder and the tarp roof of the Landi was starting to leak all over. We got up to the Saddle-billed Storks within shooting range just as the sky let loose. I’m talking a Noah event here! It was time to shoot!!! The rain is running down between my back and the seat. My left leg and arse are soaked but my...

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on Aug 17, 2015 in Wildlife Photography

Just Find the Birds

Sharon & I the moment we hit Africa were in a bird mood. Why? Well the Big Five for example are mammals all look for and most of the time, find during their safari (a Swahilli word for Journey). And some of the classic birds like the Little Bee-eater above or Lilac-breasted Roller are often seen, but the rest of the birds tend to get overshadowed. And something told Sharon and I that focusing in on the birds would reward us in the long run. Not that we knew anything special, it was just something in our gut. As it turned out, we learned something important going this route. The vast majority of the time, birds or mammals, I was shooting with the D4s / 800mm with its 1.25x. This was out and often riding in the Zenelli on the tripod, at the ready for those quick moments with birds. Back to following the birds. As it turned out, when you go off on a game drive with birds...

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on Aug 17, 2015 in Wildlife Photography

The Marsh Pride

Without even trying, our ten days at the Maasai Mara became a lion fest. Of the 23k files images I came home with, 6500 of them were of the the Marsh Pride. This famous pride with its own TV program and numerous books is unique for many reasons. One of the interesting ones is the fact they don’t seek shade when they sleep, the only lions to do such, anywhere. We saw them a lot, from making six kills, ranging over large range of land and as their name implies, at the marsh a lot. We have so many stories to go with all those images, but the story behind this image is a favorite of mine. It sums up the Mara, the Marsh Pride and the success basic biology can bring to a photograph. It was literally our last drive of our stay. We had a spectacular sunrise with part of the Marsh Pride so didn’t expect anything the rest of the morning. That’s how it normally works,...

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