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on Sep 8, 2015 in Landscape Photography

Where to Put The Sun?

The first morning of any adventure is special, in Africa on the Mara, it’s incredible! There is no doubt you’ve seen a photo of sunrise / sunset with an Umbrella Tree from Africa. Talk about a tried and true tired theme. But when you’ve not taken it, you just gotta do it. At least, that’s how I saw it. Gotta have that one image in the files. So the opportunity presented itself the first morning and click went the camera. But working the situation trying to make it different from what I’d seen was in the back of my mind. So at first, I went wide and centered everything. The clouds are what made the arrangement of elements rather simple. Centered it all. Center it, really, you ask? Hell ya. You’ve probably heard never do that. All I can suggest is look at a lot of photos. You will see some great stuff with the subject dead center. How’d I get the sun centered with the Umbrella Tree on...

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on Sep 2, 2015 in Wildlife Photography

Breaking the Mold

We had landed just a couple of hours before after an interesting 28hrs of travel. Settled in our tents, had a meal and assigned a vehicle, out on our first drive we went. Eyes wide open, minds still spinning, I know I wasn’t exactly in a photographic state of mind. All I can assume habits took over because some of it is still a blur. We emerge from the brush to Topi, Zerba, Elephants and the roar of a lion welcoming us to the Mara. We’re literally hitting the ground running! With no clue what we’re heading for, I didn’t even have a camera out yet. I was just along for the ride. Then I hear we’re heading to a Spotted Hyena den. I’d only seen them briefly on my last visit to Africa but being selected as the first critter we were to focus in on now we’re at the famous Mara had me scratching my head. But like I said, at the moment I was just along...

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on Sep 1, 2015 in Wildlife Photography

The Egyptian Goose

One of the first birds you see in Africa are the Egyptian Goose. We’d call them a dirt bird in the US. That’s because they are so common, so very bloody common, as common as dirt. In the case of Africa, you can call them a dirt bird because they are not only so common as well as you most often see them, in the dirt. They are a big bird, about the same size as a Canada Goose. So after the first record shot to show you saw them, the Egyptian Goose receives no photographic love. It’s just that common. With that knowledge, it leaves the door wide open to make a special photo, making the uncommon from the common. The first example of this is the top photo where the geese are in running water. This is the only time I’ve seen them in such. This is a quick grab shot taken with the Df / 300PF. We can do better thinking those magical words, Light, Gesture...

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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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