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on Jan 26, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

Why Flash with Snow?

I had a couple of folks ask why I’m using flash when photographing birds in snow. The reason has to do with the same reason anytime you need to pull out flash, light. In this case, it’s the quality of the color of light that is most important to me. The bottom photo was taken with no flash. Notice not only the down nature of the light, but the lack of life to the light? The perch the female White-headed Woodpecker is a stick I’ve screwed to the railing of our deck. Above her is the suet she came in for and she’s waiting in line to get her bite. The dull texture on the perch, the white head and black body all bring us to a dull photo. The flash is literally in the snow in fact, out the door and right next to the perch. Using the Hexi 24 Speedlight Softbox with the SB-5000 inside, brings a big light just eighteen inches away from the birds. This...

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on Jan 23, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

Sharon’s Chillin at Her Desk … Again

While the snow isn’t pillin up on her keyboard at her desk, the 25 degree breeze is coming in as I shoot. I love shooting our birds in winter and Sharon has them stacked up like cord wood waiting to get to the feeders. The Clark’s Nutcrackers are 7 individual thick waiting to get to the suet. These amazing bird are sitting on eggs right now which considering all the snow and temps, is amazing! Normally a shy bird, they see Sharon making her morning rounds to fill the feeders and they come right one down. They are a ton of fun and warm up our days! The photography is pretty straight forward, D5, 800mm with the SB-5000 in a Hexi 24 Speedlight Softbox with Shoe Mount Flash Bracket (24 x 24″) Fabric Grid for 24 x 24″ Quikbox Air-Cushioned Light Stand (Black, 8′) with the WR-R10 doin the talking. The only challenge is to not let Sharon...

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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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