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on Jan 6, 2021 in Wildlife Photography

1st Day of The Year

Downy Woodpecker captured by D6 / 800f5.6 AFS Shortly after I built vs3.0 of our water feature at The Ranch, I planted the woodpecker perch. Many looking at it wonder why a ten-foot-tall, dead top of pine is planted in the ground four feet from the water feature basically in the middle of the property. If you’re not a backyard bird photographer, you would simply check it off as odd. But for you folks who follow my blog, it’s pretty much operation as normal for me. I’ve put up dead sticks for a long time for backyard bird photography. Well on New Year’s day with the nice light, I set up on the woodpecker perch to shoot for the first time. Red-shafted Flicker captured by D6 / 800f5.6 AFS Why did I wait so long? The woodpeckers, Red & Yellow-shafted Flickers, Hairy and Downy (along with magpies, nuthatches, and Clark Nutcrackers) have been coming to the perch regularly for about 45 days. Before that, it was pretty hit or...

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on Dec 16, 2020 in Landscape Photography

That Clingy Snow

Firehole River photo captured by Z 7 / 180-400 That shot of trees covered with snow takes a couple of weather factors, the first is water. It’s the snow with a lot of moisture content that tends to cling onto trees limbs as it falls. The wetter the better but then the key is cold. But if you have cold when the snow is falling, it’s not wet. That’s why often you’ll see the snow cling and then your won’t as once warmth hits, it drops off from its weight (pine boughs are adapted just for this). The moral of the story, you want the photo of the snow covered tress, or this case, a rock in a creek, shoot it ASAP, don’t come back to get it later. It will be...

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on Dec 15, 2020 in Wildlife Photography

Falling Snow Background

Steller’s Jay captured by Z7 / 800f5.6 It’s that time of year when falling snow can be incorporated in your background to help tell your story. Capturing it is pretty straight forward if you think about it like you would shooting burred water or a blurred plane prop. It’s all a matter of how fast the snow is falling vs. shutter speed. The faster the snow fall, the faster the shutter speed. The slower the snow fall, the slower the shutter speed. In this case, the snow was blowing pretty hard so my shutter speed was 1/100. You might have tried this photo but didn’t have the results you desired, what to check? The first thing I would check is the background, is it dark? You need a background that is darker than the snow in order to see the snow. Gray and green are naturals. Next, did you use flash as I did here to bring out the color in your subject? If you did, was the power...

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on Dec 1, 2020 in Landscape Photography

Caddo Lake NWR … Oh My!

In 1942, a young congressman, Lyndon B Johnson arranged for the US Army to build one of their new ammunition plants in Texas on the Louisiana border. Shortly, 8493 acre were purchased on Caddo Lake and the plant was built. During WWII, Monsanto Corp produced 393,000,000 pounds of TNT at this location! For fifty-five years, the plant built everything from incendiary devices to rocket motors. Thiokol Corp modernized the plant from making liquid rocket fuel to producing solid rocket fuel after the Korean War, the Cold War era. Then in 1987, the plant was used as part of a treaty as the site where the Pershing I & II missiles were destroyed. And now, it’s a National Wildlife Refuge … dang! What you see above is what’s left of Production Area #1 for the production of TNT. We were there birding, looking for the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (which we did find) when we literally stumbled upon Production Area #1. As you can see, the forest has reclaimed the area bringing...

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on Nov 18, 2020 in Wildlife Photography

How They Can Blend

Pronghorn captured by D6 / 180-400VR When we look at critters, we often, at least I do, wonder why they have the coloration they do. Some, like the Rhino or elephant, don’t really need to blend so are just gray all over. The Polar Bear can blend when they are lying so they can catch their prey. Others like the Pronghorn especially when young need to totally blend in. But how does one blend in when they are partially orange and white? The answer is not always obvious. Pronghorncaptured by D6 / 180-400VR In the late fall when winter’s first snows have fallen and the last of the falls grasses are still exposed, you can quickly see why the Pronghorn have adapted to their color scheme. The further away they are, the more they blend, and when your predators have a finite range they can see, then they have a chance at survival. Though we saw one Pronghorn taken down on our latest travels, the rest of the herd...

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on Nov 10, 2020 in Landscape Photography

Red Loves Black

Caddo Lake captured by Z 6 / Z24-200 Yep, in our landscape photos and in general, red just loves black! We love our reds, we love them saturated, deep, vibrant and if at all possible fire engine red. Its just part of the human condition and as such, let’s just give ourselves what we love. There are many ways to do this. Saturation is by far the most common method of delivering that gorgeous red. I prefer more subtle methods such as using White Balance and exposure. In this example at Caddo Lake, I set the White Balance manually to 8000k and underexposed by 1 2/3 stops. The underexposure not only saturated the color but made sure the black went truly black. Our mind’s eye sees that black and uses it to determine other colors and by association, we see other colors more vibrant. Or in real simple terms, red loves...

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