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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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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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