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on Aug 19, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

Ghosting for Effect?

Ghosting is an old term when it comes to wildlife photography. It refers to when there are two “images” of the subject in one frame. It is caused when shooting with flash using an shutter speed too slow so it captures the ambient light exposure of the subject along with the frozen image captured by the flash. The rule of thumb is, a subject has to appear in the frame for 1/4 of the exposure time to register (100% to be captured completely). Now I’ve used ghosting creatively for wildlife for a long time. Prime example is to illustrate the drilling action of a woodpecker. Here’ in the rainforest at O’Reilly’s, I’ve been trying it to communicate the activity of some of the birds, like this Eastern Yellow Robin. They are such a delightful little bird, but all so busy. In this case, shooting with the D5 / 300PF / SB-5000, I used ghosting to show its constant activity as it flits about the forest. Is it perfect? Na,...

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on Aug 16, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

Superb, Simply Superb

Our first twenty-four hours at O’Reilly’s has been simply brilliant! Now part of the giggle is the top photo is of a male Superb Fairy-Wren which is one of my all time favorite birds! And the first day we had a whole bunch of opportunities with them. Why do I like them? Just look at that head! Seriously and that’s not even using a flash, that’s just how they look. Brilliant, simply brilliant! The cool thing about the Superb Fairy-Wren is you can be out chasing some other bird and if you are getting skunked, the Wren appears to save the day. I came to Australia with a list of birds I wanted that, well, I didn’t do so well with on my last visit. The Grey Wagtail is one of those. The one thing that has become so overwhelming obvious to me is the amazing improvement of the gear since my last visit. This is a prime example of how the D5 / 800f5.6 AFS grab focus so...

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on Aug 11, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

Darn That Twig!

You’ve heard me say it many times, backgrounds are everything. In wildlife photography, we should be aware of that background for its pluses and minuses. The background is the stage we create to show off the star, our subject, and use the background to tell its story. That’s a real challenge and a lot to ask from something, show off something and not get in its way in the process. It’s one reason why wildlife photography is so challenging because we can’t control the subject to put it in front of the best background when we want it. This whole issue intensifies when we narrow our subject down to birds. This is when you start hearing, darn that twig! Just like all wildlife photographers, I run into this same issue. When I started out 40yrs ago the only option was to get it right in the camera. I still rise to that same level of perfection which is why I shoot with the D5 / 800f5.6 AFS. Optics to...

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on Jul 11, 2016 in Wildlife Photography

The Silhouette – How Much Do You Need?

The silhouette is a dramatic and romantic way to tell a story about your subject. But just like everything else in communicating, the amount you say helps the viewer understand the story. The silhouette is by its very natural a dramatic image because of the character of the light. The most common silhouette comes in the early morning or late evening when we can so easily take advantage with its color. You can suck in everyone to look at your photograph with that red (make sure you’re shooting in Cloudy WB). We all are drawn to red so in using that you’ve done the easy part, grabbed the viewer’s attention. The hard part is telling the story once you’ve got their attention. That’s where knowing how much silhouette you need in the photograph. What we’re competing with are folk’s life experiences and perceived ideas. For example, a palm tree, everyone knows that shape so you don’t have to show that much for all to relate to the shape as...

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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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