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on Oct 20, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

Bird Bath Birds

I had the itch to spend some time with my birds. So I set up the D850 / 800mm on a bird bath where I could work on the computer and shoot. I actually had a great time, photographed over a dozen species and made a couple of images I really like. What I love seeing in the photographs was the dramatic change in the light. Over the couple of hours, the light on the birds and the background really changed, changing the entire photo. What you see below is Cassin’s Finch, Red-breasted, White-breasted and Pygmy Nuthatch, male & female Red-shafted Flicker, White-headed Woodpecker, Evening Grosbeak and Stellar’s Jay. I just love my...

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on Oct 9, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

The D850 & Wildlife

I’ve had a whole lot of folks ask about the D850 for wildlife photography. The honest answer is, I’ve not really had the time nor opportunity to truly photograph critters with it yet. It’s a valid question because, on paper, the D850 appears to be perfect. For example, I’ve always needed myself a minimum frames per second of 5.5FPS which the D850 blows by with 7 native and 9FPS with the MB-D18. Even better is the buffer which for all intent and purpose is endless (yes, technically there is a limit). After a week of focusing in on the backyard critters, I can easily say the D850 does a great job with wildlife! I first went with a D850 / 300PF combo chasing squirrels around the wood pile. This small, light package was pretty darn easy and fun to shoot with. The rockin D850 AF system made shooting in the low light a snap which is really important in wildlife photography. With that checked off the list for first...

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on Sep 27, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

How Low to Go?

I’ve written many times about getting down low when shooting. The whole thing about getting down low is to control the background so the subject pops. This need comes from shooting a subject low to the ground and pointing the lens down captures too much background or, shooting up not only controls the background but adds drama. When standing up how do you know how low you need to go, or even if you need to go low in the first place? It starts with seeing that the subject is blending in with the background. After that, it’s just getting down a lot and knowing if it’s worth it or not. Here are two photos of the same American Golden Plover and one is working and one is not. Can you tell which? I love the action of the tail in the top photo and the biology and calm of the bottom photo. That said, the light at the top of the frame in the top photo drives me...

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on Aug 30, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

Season for Fur

Fall is less than a month away and with it comes colder temps and thicker fur. At the same time for many mammals, it’s time for fall mating rituals. When you add into this mix the colors of fall and the gorgeous light and you have a wildlife photographer’s nirvana! This all can bring to the table a huge challenge as a visual storyteller. You might think gear can be an issue, but I think that’s the least of them. The basics of photo creating gets in there quickly. There can be a lot going on in excluding those elements that take the eye away from the subject while including those that tell the story. But on the scale of the biggest, it has to be the romance. Here are some thoughts. I’ve selected the images I have illustrating this post based on all the varied gear used to make the photos. The only common thread is it’s all Nikon and all digital. After that, it’s kinda all over...

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on Aug 1, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

They Call Him … Jim Bob!

Well, we call them Jim Bob, the rest of the world calls them Willow Ptarmigan (the Alaska State Bird). When it’s mating season this largish bird simply turns stupid. While not the brightest bird in the flock to start with (some hunt them by simply throwing rocks at them), when there is sex in the air, all thought goes to one thing, attracting a mate. Many years ago we had one basically fly into the window of the van while in pursuit of another male it felt was trespassing on its territory. Every since that moment, we’ve affectionately called them Jim Bob. What you see here is their plumage as it changes from their all white winter garb to the brown summer garb. As they molt out their winter white you get the variants you see here. It is amazing how well this chicken size bird can hide behind just one piece of grass even with their plumage not completely swapped out. And when there are females flying about...

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on Jul 6, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

Looks Gr8 on Paper

We were so fortunate last week to spend it in the company of some great shooter and amazing birds. That combination should have produced some killer images. It was on paper the perfect mix of biology and technology, hummers and flash. Madera Cyn, Santa Rita Lodge, in particular, is simply a spectacular location for birds, specifically hummers. With that biology, today’s iTTL technology is the perfect tool for produce the images we were after. We should start there, the image we were after. There are definitely two camps when it comes to Hummer photos, frozen wings, and blurred wings. After seeing my aviation work and the blurred props, it’s no coincidence I’m in the blurred wing camp. It’s simple, I experience hummers as this blurred jewel and that’s how I want to tell their story in my photos. And that’s where this all begins, the subject and the story I want to tell. What makes hummers so darn cool? Their hovering abilities and the amazing colors they bring to...

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