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on Jun 24, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

White Pelican over Snow

I was down on the flats shooting the Swallows on a gorgeous morning. Off in the distance is home, the Sierra Mountains, still snow capped and in that filtered light – simply gorgeous. Then up the river I see a White Pelican lift off the water. I throw the D500 / 300PF up to my eye, gently touch the shutter release activating the AF system (in Auto Area AF), the system locked on and I let it rip, and rip, and rip and rip hoping the Pelican’s flight path would put it in front of our home. There was no way to know if the Pelican’s flight path would take it with the background I wanted when it first lifted off. If I waited to put the camera up to my eye once I saw the background, by the time the camera locked on and I took the photo, there is a good chance that the background would be loss. So shooting the D5 or in this case, the...

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on Jun 20, 2016 in Landscape Photography

The Magic of Five Minutes

Light is everything, everything in a landscape photograph. All too often though, the moment we happen upon a landscape we like, the light just isn’t there. But because we are there and all the efforts it took to be there, we click away anyways. It’s really not that different from that hail Marry pass. But unlike the hail Marry, we have options and the biggest option we have in our playbook is time! This is a simple illustration of my point. The side of this old miners cabin when we first walked up is what you see in the top image. The light was a little contrasty but more importantly, not very expressive. But I was there so I took that click. I had no real thoughts about the image other than it was a “I was here” photo. In my book, about the worse kind of photo. But we stayed just five more minutes prevuing the scene. Then the light radically changed, it had character and therefore, gave...

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on May 27, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

Evening Love Cranking Up

Spring has sprung on the property and Sharon’s favorite birds have come back. We have two distinct populations of Evening Grosbeaks, winter and summer. This migratory species ranges over most of North America and Mexico with our winter Grosbeaks coming south from Canada, stopping at our feeders and our summer Grosbeaks coming up from the south to stop at our feeders. Sharon carefully notes their comings and goings over the years and so looks forward to the summer population since they are so active and noisy! We were in our home for years before we first saw the Evening Grosbeak on the property. We’d seen them in the Sierra but not around our feeders. Then eighteen years ago the first one arrived in May. Couldn’t move one foot in the house without flushing them. They are incredibly shy! Then none over the winter until the following May when we had a couple of Grosbeaks. The summer population slowly grew overs the years and then about seven years ago, the...

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on May 26, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

Simple Pleasures – Score!

On my last two week bird road trip, I photographed 42 species of birds, 23 were new to my files. It was a great trip! Now I saw some gorgeous birds, some rare birds, some weird birds and lots of birds but the one that was the real joy to photograph was this Bobolink. Why? I’ve been seeing Bobolinks on wires for two decades. I have many times stalked a Bobolink, had them in the viewfinder but for every possible reason, I had never got one click of one. Not a rare bird, not an incredibly cool looking bird but for me, one of those birds I’ve always wanted only because of the challenge of getting the shot. And this trip I got one in the viewfinder, I lucked out with a clean background and nice light (not great light though) and made the click. What’s the point? No matter where you are in your wildlife photography, having a critter in your sites, preferably a “common” one that you...

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on May 24, 2016 in Landscape Photography

Just A Sliver

When the heavens put on a show, it’s one of the great events that can disappear as fast as it appears. Bringing that fleeting moment of majesty to life is the challenge because of in large part of its scale. When the tops of those clouds are 30,000′ or higher, how do you say “freakin huge” in the small medium of our camera? And if you have a storm as part of that story, bringing that power of nature to life just adds to the mix of complexity. There are lots and lots of ways to start to communicate this starting at the bottom and working your way to the top! You gotta have some scale in the photo, something that permits the eye to quickly saw, “dang, that’s big!” Photographers understand this but tend to put too much landscape in the bottom of the frame. At the same time, often the landscape is not as interesting as the heavens themselves. The sliver is even more important in these...

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