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on Mar 23, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

The Stolen Moment

I have an amazing partner who is also my wife. Too often though, we are separated as I go off on this project and that event. We’ve been together a long time so I know the majority of her favorites and one of them is the Pileated Woodpecker. Goes way back in time when we watched them in Yosemite Valley in the ’80s. Well on my last adventure in FL last week, I was in a couple of locales where there were Pileateds. I wanted a photo to sent to Sharon just so you knew I was thinking of her. I saw one fly by here and another there, but never saw any opportunity to make a click. Then the last day in the last hour I received a text from Jake. He had two Pileateds in his viewfinder. So I grabbed the D5 / 800mm and booked it back down the boardwalk. Jake is really good at learning and applying all the lessons over the years shooting wildlife....

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on Mar 7, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

Love Their Tenaciousness!

We had a real fast moving, nasty storm come through on Sunday. I was stressing under a deadline to get a project completed by 17:00. It was a perfect day to shoot with the weather but I simply couldn’t afford the time to get the gear out since I was hitting the road the next day at 08:00 and everything was already packed. Finally, Sharon had enough and told me to go get in some shooting time. I quickly grabbed the D500 / 300PF and attached the TC-14eIII and got in ten minutes of shooting. The birds were going nuts in the nasty weather taking advantage of the free food. None so much as the Mountain Chickadees. We have a bumper crop this winter at the house, at least thirty are constantly darting about. Now I love Chickadees, especially one that comes to my hand for seed. With the clock ticking, I focused on the one perch with the most character hoping I would get the one click I...

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on Mar 2, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

“Catching Air”

Both the Pronghorn and Mule Deer are “catching air,” all four hooves are off the ground. But which one can you actually see that air? While the D500 is firing as fast as it can, the 300PF shot wide open for minimum DoF, to actually see that air takes more. What more? The one thing I talk about so much, background! While critters are on the move, it’s not like you can move to improve the background. It’s really all about luck as much as seeing it. But seeing that background before putting yourself through the pain of trying to capture it helps avoid getting frustrated. Good handholding, panning, fast FPS and clean background are what you need for catching...

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on Feb 8, 2017 in Wildlife Photography

Tread with Care

For the last 24hrs, we’ve had rain here in the Sierra. Our snow is slowly melting under the 3+ inches we’ve received at the house. As I look out at the slush, I’ve been watching our critters. It might be blowin a storm out, snowing like mad and they tend to just go about their business of getting food and staying warm. But with the rain, they hunker down and try to wait it out. But as the day goes on and the need for food for calories to stay warm grows, they venture out grudgingly. And that’s how most spend their winter, seeking those precious calories for mere survival. And as wildlife photographers, we need to recognize this basic yet vital biology and not get in the way of this activity. You can summarize their daily life simply with, calories in – calories out, basic survival. In the winter time when food is not as plentiful in snow bound habitats makes this basic biology a challenge. If photographers...

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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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