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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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on Jun 28, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

Slow Progress … Still Progress?

After sitting, stewing, and sleeping on it, I came up with minor changes in our technical tools and ideas and they started to payoff for us. Still shooting with the captured by D500 / 300PF / 2x SB-5000 set up but have made better use of Auto Area AF. The idea, of course, is not only capture the photo but have a ton of fun and enjoy the magic that is hummingbirds. We got much closer to that today. Now it’s still not “the” photo I want, but it’s now moving in the right direction so while slow progress, it’s still...

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on Jun 27, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

So Far, Yet So Far!

I’m down in nirvana, or to birders better known as Madera Canyon. It’s been thirteen years since our last visit here and we have a great, advanced group taking on the challenge of photographing hummers in flight. The goal is not to take a photo of a hummer frozen in the air, the goal is to bring to life in our still the magic that is these flying jewels. Today, I went down in flames not even coming close to the goal! Thirteen years ago, we didn’t have such cameras as the D500 to use with flashes like the SB-5000 wirelessly (using WR-R10 powered by SD-9 and light modified by Rogue Flashbender 2) which makes a huge difference. And shooting with the 300PF is a simply a joy. And while we’ve come so far in technology and gear, the same challenge of subject and light remain the same. So while technically the photo is OK, the light pleasant, it is miles from my goal! Will I get there in...

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on Jun 23, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

Our Photographic Progression Never Ends

It’s essential that the more we click, the better we click! Because if we don’t learn from our photographic past, we are doomed to relive it over and over again. One of the huge challenges is remembering what we’ve done, the good and the bad and remember which is which so we avoid one and embrace the other. That’s kinda what this week’s podcast is about. Perhaps if we look at the lessons we learn on a minute by minute scale, the bigger lessons might stick better. Case in point. A week ago we had this amazingly cute and cooperative Arctic Hare. When we first stopped, he wanted nothing to do with us, slowly sliding off into some low cover. Doing an 180, we walked to where I thought he might emerge. He did and when he did he found the four of us there staring at him through our lenses. And with that, he could care less we were present and went back to munching. Biologically and photographically,...

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on Jun 22, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

That Ugly Stick!

You know what I’m talking about, we’ve all had to deal with them. The unsightly stick in our critter photos, argh! The mind’s eye loves vertical lines especially when they have any kind of texture taking the eye away from our cute and fuzzy subject, argh! So we tend to go to great lengths to either make them disappear or simply not take the photo in the first place. This photo of an American Robin demonstrates a technique I try to use whenever possible. First, keep in mind I’m shooting with a very narrow angle of view. In this case, the D500 / 800mm permit me to move just a small distance, 6 inches to the side to incorporate out of focus leaves to help hide the annoying branch. Now in order to move over to grab that leaf, I also had to move backward. Subject size is not a priority when the subject stands out visually so with that branch now hidden even through the Robin is smaller...

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