It’s Monsoon Season!

Monument Valley captured by Df / 18-35AF

The summer monsoon season has arrived and so far is producing spectacular weather. The emotion and moodiness of this weather can be visually incredibly exciting, challenging and dangerous. Being out in the weather leads to the great images if you’re ready. Are you?

The first basic is watching the weather which is a lot easier now with the assist of our iPhones. TMRWWeather, MyRadar, and Lightning Pro are my favorite apps for watching an approaching storm and being prepared. Being prepared includes having the rain shell, the Miops charged (and firmware updated), white towel packed (as you’re going to get wet), and knowing escape routes if you get surprised. Much of the big weather is in the southwest where flash floods can become lethal. You need to know focal length, exposure as well as safety to make the most of this glorious season for landscape photography!

“Come with long lense”

Great Horned Owl captured by D6 / 800f5.6

Sharon was out with Maggie when I received the text, “Come with long lense.” When Sharon has a typo, it’s big! Not the first time I’ve received such a text on The Ranch. When Sharon who knows her birds, knows the lens I would select texts me with something like this, I go running. Me being me, I’d not set the D6 / 800mm up on the tripod that I normally leave up since our last Adventure so it took me a couple of moments to get out. When I went out, I found Sharon & Maggie, and seeing Sharon, I knew exactly where to look. We’d heard the Great Horned Owl since day one on The Ranch but this is the first time we clearly saw her. That’s what the text was all about. I slowly walked up to Sharon and then slowly, over time approached the owl.

We had over thirty minutes with her as she seemed to be just moving through (though I was hoping it would be her morning roost). She permitted me to get within 40-50′ of her. At that point, a squirrel or something caught her attention and she moved to another perch and then went on the hunt. It was a great encounter and just goes to show, venturing past your door, there are photographs to be made! This evening during our thunderstorm, she was back just off from our OP staring over the “Back Nine” looking for sure a bite to eat. I hope she’s here for a long time to come!

Whoooooo Knew?

No Pygmy Owl fledgling captured by D6 / 180-400VR

Sharon and I first went to Madera Canyon back in 1982 to see the amazing hummingbirds that come to this summer Shangri-la. All the regular North American species make an appearance along with some of the finest from south of the border. It is a birder’s paradise that many don’t know even exists. There are many other unique, special, and rare species of birds that come to the canyon in the summer as well like the Elegant Trogan. And as long as I have been journeying there, the smallest owl in North America, the Elf Owl has nested in a telephone pole at Santa Rita Lodge. Over the years we’ve also had Whiskered, Western Screech, Spotted, and Flammulated Owl in the canon. At night, you hear them seemingly everywhere. But this year, there was a first for us, a Northern Pygmy Owl!

No Pygmy Owl fledgling captured by D6 / 180-400VR

One of my friends shooting there ran into another photographer who was watching and photographing the Pygmy Owl (owl is smaller than a dollar bill) nest. He was doing everything right which was so nice to see. Anyways, our friend Pat come back and reported what he learned. It was cool to hear about but since the other photographer was there first and had been working the nest for weeks, I just put it in the back of my mind. Days later, Sharon & I went for a walk birding and ended up down in the area where the photographer had been shooting. We had no idea where the nest was located so kept on birding. After a short time, I saw a small puffball trying to fly and land on a large branch. I knew instantly who it was (we use to rehab owls and had a Pygmy for months). Baby owls are first hatchlings then nestlings then branchlings and finally fledglings. We later learned that two of the three chicks became fledglings that morning. For the next five hours, we watched and photographed the two as they mostly slept on various branches and did silly baby owl stuff. Shortly before dark the parents came in with a freakin large lizard and fed the two chicks. It was a great afternoon and I was pleased to not only learn something new about the owls of Madera Canyon, but photograph them too. Whoooo knew?

Moose Peterson's

Aviation Seminar

Presented Live in the Classroom or Your Computer Simultaneously!

I'm bringing to you all I have learned romancing the skies with those gorgeous flying machines. We're talking hours of live presentations with images, charts, gear, and live demonstrations that you can take to the airfield and use to bring back those great images. To learn more and to get your Boarding Pass, simply click on this banner and then put up your trays and fasten your seatbelts, we're taking off!

Watch and rewatch it for 6 months afterwards!

The Beauty of Wx

Thunderstorm Shelf Cloud, Rapid City, SD captured by crazy photographer with Z 6II / Z14-24f2.8 & Miops

Weather (wx) is the breath of the globe bringing with it demons and angels. A storm can be a curse and a blessing at the same time. It can bring needed goodness or evil, dark or bright, gray or brilliant red. I can go on and on but it’s simpler to wrap it all up in the simple word, emotion. It’s your emotional response to weather, you need to bring to your story, your photograph. Is there a trick to this? I like to keep one phrase in mind no matter the storm to bring out the beauty I see.

It’s the old phrase, every cloud has a silver lining. In our case though, I’m not looking for silver, but white. White and bright, no matter how big or small, when associated with dark, gloomy skies just makes that darkness, darker. The ferocity in the storm is implied even if not real, the imagination takes over. And when you tap a viewer’s imagination, the storyboard has been wiped clean and you can tell away. So just remember next cloud you have in your viewfinder, give it a little light and bright and you’ll bring out the beauty in wx.

Masters of the Skies!

Bald Eagle captured Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8 w/Z1.4x

I think of Bald Eagles in two ways, that comes from all my experiences with them. Back in the day in Homer on a -10 February morning, or up on the Haines River in early winter, you see the Bald Eagle in what we affectionately called, “snow pigeon” mode. This is when despite there being tons of food about, they only want the food that’s in the talons of their neighbors and go to great lengths to take it from their clutches. The other mode and the one I enjoy so much, is when they are masters of the skies!

Bald Eagle captured Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8 w/Z1.4x

I had the rare opportunity a few weeks back to spend an hour or so with some that were actively fishing. This pair put on one helluva a show as they would come in, bank and do a 180 so they could use the wind to stall their flight providing for flap maneuverability and then at the last moment, lower them talons and grab the fish (or attempt to) to then tuck it up under their tail and go. To say they smoked me more than once as I was panning is an understatement. I would lose them because they had done an about-face in midflight, me panning one direction and them flying off in another. There were a couple of times though that the wind, light, and flight direction lined up and I could follow them down the water’s surface and watch the intensity in their glorious flight. And it seemed as quickly as we started shooting them, they were gone and the action was over. It was just a thrill though if for only a moment to be amongst them and watch them at their best being master of the sky!

I Hadn’t a Clue!

Moon over Kachemak Bay captured by Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8

I had no clue if it was a strawberry, harvest, super, blue, or the morning of the eclipse last month. All I knew was the moon was gorgeous (is it just me, were all these moon “colors” around when we were kids? No clue). The sun was setting after 11PM and from my room on the bay, I could watch the moon ever so slowly rise in the last glow of the day’s light. The color changed continually so I simply couldn’t put down the Z 6Ii / Z70-200f2.8. And while it was gorgeous, I had no clue how I wanted to bring that story home!

Yeah, I knew the basics to underexposure and focus on the moon and how to connect the lens to the body, but where I wanted the moon in the frame, how big or small, nothing just said to me, “THIS IS THE ONE!” So as the clock clicked by and the light and color changed, I changed up how I told the story. The image at the top I like the best of them, but not one just leaps out to me and that happens. It doesn’t mean I don’t shoot but it does mean that I will more than likely never share it.  In all reality, how are you to know the story if I hadn’t a clue?

Moose Peterson's

Aviation Seminar

Presented Live in the Classroom or Your Computer Simultaneously!

I'm bringing to you all I have learned romancing the skies with those gorgeous flying machines. We're talking hours of live presentations with images, charts, gear, and live demonstrations that you can take to the airfield and use to bring back those great images. To learn more and to get your Boarding Pass, simply click on this banner and then put up your trays and fasten your seatbelts, we're taking off!

Watch and rewatch it for 6 months afterwards!

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