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on Jan 5, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

Tenacious Little Bugger

They are smaller than a dollar bill but take prey twice their size without batting an eye! The No. Pygmy Owl has long been a favorite bird of mine. A lifetime ago we rehabed them and ever since, I’m always, always looking for them. This one was photographed years ago in Yosemite at the base of Lower Yosemite Falls on my first outing with the then new, 200-400VR. We have them at our the home and every so often, we get a glimpse of them. Years ago I was out shoveling snow off the driveway when I heard this sharp shriek behind me. I turn around to see our friendly Pygmy Owl just ten feet behind me tightly holding a Siskin in its talons it had just caught. Shovels don’t make a very good camera so all I have is the memory. Yesterday while out shooting with the new Wildlife Kit, I saw a Morning Dove dive down while flying down the alley (our name for a group of...

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on Dec 29, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

Is Snow Really White?

Is snow really white? Sure, it is in drawings and our imagination but in reality, is it really white? Since I look out at snow many months each year, I can tell you that it’s not always white. When is it truly white? When there are blue skies and bright sun. That’s when it’s white and bright (and exposure problems might occur). But as soon as you remove the sun, the color of snow radically changes from white to blue. Does its color really matter? It does if you have a story to tell. If you want to say it’s cold, blue is a great color cast for snow. You want to say it’s vast, you might want gray. That’s what you see in this photo of the Red Fox. How did I get gray snow and not blue (as there is definitely no sun at this moment)? I manually adjusted the White Balance. Yes, I know many just deal with that in post but being not only old...

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on Dec 21, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

When Do You Underexpose in Snow?

After my Podcast yesterday, I was flooded with emails about underexposing when shooting in snow. You’d think I’d said something really political by some of the responses. To start with, shooting with the D5 / D500, these three photos if I were to shoot them today (these are older images), I would dial in -2/3 exp comp to communicate the feeling you see in the images. And this is where most photographers get lost with my message. I’m not exposing for some graph or somebodies theory. I’m exposing for my heart because exposure = emotion. In telling the story, we must put what we’re feeling in the photo for those not standing beside us when we went click! The slight warmth coming from the rising sun on the Bison can be felt because of the overwhelming cold in the photo. The deer looks safe because of the overall warmth in the entire photo super imposes over the natural feeling of cold from the snow. And that tinge of warmth...

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on Dec 13, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

Bosque Blastoff 360

So, what’s a Bosque Blastoff really like? Sorry to say this video doesn’t show you as we never had a giant blastoff of the past which when shooting with the Keymission 360 would have been spectacular! But what the video does show (be sure to use your cursor to move the image around) is a glorious sunrise and how my dear friend Harry and I worked it. You can see below the stills of the sunrise itself and the geese shot on the horizon. This is my typical Bosque gear set up: the D750 / 18-35AFS just for that sunrise and the D5 / 800m just for the birds. But as you can see in the video, I spend as much time just watching it all as much as shooting. It’s simply good for the...

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on Dec 13, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

Where’s the Eye Going?

Just where does your eye go in your photos? We want the eye of the viewer to go to our subject first and then wander around in the photo, comeback to the subject and then wander off again. This is how we tell the story we want to tell about the subject. It’s why we select the lens, the f/stop and place we place the camera, to tell the subject’s story. The one element many photographers miss though is the light and bright, the one element that EVERYBODY’s eye goes to when they first look at a photograph! If that light and bright is or near the subject, perfect. But if it’s something that takes the eye away from the subject, then bad. Here is a simple example shot at Bosque two weeks back. The top photo was taken only 3 seconds before the bottom photo. The range of light is such that the horizon is blown out creating artifacts while taking you eye away from the exploding geese....

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on Dec 5, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

The Moment of Elegance

Sandhill Cranes fly with amazing elegance and grace! Their long wings grab so much air with each stroke, it sends them gliding through the air with little effort. Watching them fly, it’s very easy to see this grace but when you stop it with a camera, the motion and grace is often not captured. Is there a trick to this? Is there a wing position in flight that says this more than another? In saying this in a photograph, I tend to try for a couple of things. First, I try to start firing the camera when the bird is at the top of their wing stroke (crane on the right). I don’t know what it is but it seems to work out when you rip the shutter to capture the best wing strokes. The other thing I do is go for synchronized flying. Shooting with the D5 / 800mm (so I can shoot with Auto Area AF), I look for two birds flying together. They tend to at...

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