It’s a Comin!

Sebago Lake
captured by Z7 / Z24-200

Yep, fall color is comin here in Southern Maine and it looks to be real nice. Not a huge explosion but plenty to fill up the viewfinder with fun. Just want to remind you of a couple of simple things when heading out to shoot the color. #1 is HAVE FUN!!!!!

Sebago Lake
captured by Z7 / Z24-200

You don’t need nothing but fall color in your photo to say, fall color. Including some green makes the other colors of fall really pop. And if there isn’t a huge quantity of color, to begin with, fill the frame with elements like the blue sky and the mind will so the rest of the work in filling in the color. Lastly, go long rather than wider. In this case, I was shooting at Sebago Lake
captured with only the Z7 / Z24-200 shooting between 50mm and 200mm the whole time. Came back with some favorite click knowing that next week, the fall color, it’s a comin!

Capturing “Our” Memory

My Sweetie & Me
captured by Df / 105f1.4

Memories, they are a very special aspect of life that makes us human! Photographs are an essential part of this experience especially as the years roll on. Our memory of events is often blurred by the event, the emotion, passing of time, and by what we WANT to remember. Our photographs should reinforce the “good” memory and blur out the bad. Case in point.

Stonehenge is an iconic locale. A couple of years back, Sharon & I were very fortunate to make a long time wish of seeing those vertical boulders in person come true. It was all we thought it would be, and much more. We spent hours there with our Brent & Katt, and about a thousand other folks. But you’re saying you don’t see a thousand folks in our picture. Did I spend an hour and remove them in post? Actually, when we took this photo, the only other person was the sweet ranger conversing with us. How could that be you ask?

The credit goes to Mother Nature and a fast lens. It’s England and it rains and the other 995 folks when the skies opened up, ran, ran very fast back to the shuttles. I looked at my app and saw the downpour would only last perhaps ten minutes so we stood out in the rain keeping the ranger company (who was so funny and full of trivia and I love trivia). With folks gone, we took our pics in front of Stonehenge with the 105f1.4 at f/1.4 so we popped while still showing the place empty! That reinforced our experience, our memory. Though we’re standing next to the “fence” that keeps you at distance from these big ass rocks, it appears we’re intimate with them.

The photo represents how we wanted our memory to be preserved, just us at this really cool, tranquil, and peaceful place on what most would think is a typical day in the English countryside. Photography did its job, simply capturing “our” memory!

Safeguarding our Feathered Friends

Evening Grosbeak (immature male)
captured by D6 / 800mm w/TC-1.25

We feed lots of birds, lots! Some of the birds eating our 320lbs of seed we put out monthly are residents. Residents are those birds that are The Ranch 365. At least half of the birds like the Evening Grosbeak you see above, are migrants. Those are birds that comes to North America each springs to raise the next generation. Our food we put out help these migrates in raising their young and provides fuel for their migration. And it might be killing them!

If you feed birds, you have probably heard at least once, the “thud” when they crash into your window. This past weekend we were out with our birds when a Coopers Hawk not once, but three times within an hour tried to make a grab for our birds. A couple of them crashed into the window in their panic to get away. None died in the process but we have had one or two that did. I had done the usual things to help prevent this but it wasn’t working so I went looking for more answers.

It seems according to the USFWS that birds, especially migrants when taking flight in panic want to head to the skies. From their point of view, the reflections they are seeing in our windows are the skies and that’s where they think they are heading to when they fly in panic (I’m generalizing their message here). If you click on the link and follow it through, they have lots of suggestions on how we can reduce to stop window strikes with some simply measures. We’re working on implementing a couple of them here at The Ranch. Hope there is something here that can help you in safeguarding our feathered friends.

D or Z – That IS the Question

Ever since I posted my D6 1st Thoughts video, I’ve had lots of great conversations with photographers with a common theme. “Do I buy the D6 of Z6/Z7?” This is not the first time in photographic history photographers have wondered which model to buy, but now the “difference” seems on the surface, much greater. I always smile when folks ask me this though since I own all three bodies. I can see where it might make sense to ask someone who does shoot with them all. But then, someone who owns all three might not have the answer for himself :-)

FWIW, Here’s how it breaks down for my own photography. The D6 is my primary body, replacing the D5 (which I still own and use as a back up for the D6). The D6 is my go to for critters and aircraft doing an obsolutely splendid job in that role. The Z7 is my go to for aircraft static shooting and landscapes. The Z6 fills in perfectly many holes and is my go to when I’m doing video or flash work. With the new Z24-200 on the Z6, I will be using it more in air-to-air work and fly fishing. How does any of this help you?

It very well might not help you one iota! Being in the business of producing content, I have to have tools that, if you’re not in the biz you not only don’t have to have but can’t justify having. I understand that so this is my $.02 worth in selecting just the one body. You have to ask yourself just two questions, what is the biggest passion in your photography and what are you going to do with those photographs after you’re all done? Honestly answering those two questions will narrow down the RIGHT body for you real fast! This means you can’t consider the body you WANT or the one you think permits you to keep up with the Jones. I’m very fortunate to have the tools I need to push my visual storytelling further. You’re just as fortunate, you’ve just gotta consider a few more things narrowing down what is right for yours!

I Was Sweating Bullets

Bernie & Abbey, June 27
captured by Z7 / 24-70f2.8 / SB-5000

“Do you shoot weddings?” My very quick response was a resounding, “no!!” My iPhone had already announced who was calling and knowing that, the question that came was not one I was not expecting. After Bernie told me all that had transpired for his upcoming wedding, I said of course I’d shoot his wedding. Flying to CA from MT and shooting a wedding during COVID wasn’t at the top of mind. Not screwing up royally, that was what had me sweating bullets! I had put myself through college shooting weddings, stopping the day I graduated and I’ve not shot one since. That’s nearly a forty-year drought. What was I thinkin when I said yes to Bernie? Yikes!

A week prior to the wedding, I pulled out all my gear I thought I would want and need. I decided the Z6 / 105f1.4 would be my prime and Z7 / Z24-70f2.8 second setup. That turned out working brilliantly. I had an SB-5000 connected to both (via the WR-R10), camera in Aperture Priority and flash in manual mode. For the formals, the Profoto B10 shooting through the Octa was my go-to. With confidence in my gear, off Sharon & I flew to the wedding. It was 107 degrees for the rehearsal dinner, 107! I was literally sweating bullets as I went through in my mind all I wanted to shoot to cover the wedding. My options where I could shoot the formals was scaring me too death! I had four options, all out in the bright sun for the background, an old building with coke machines, a parking lot, the tents for the ceremony, or a cement slab beside a pond which would put me shooting into the sun shooting at 4PM! That means they would all be backlit. Egads!

On the morning of the wedding, I know I was pacing more than the groom. How was I going to make the formal portraits work? I had told them the night before that I would want some time around 8PM that day to shoot the formals. That would put a real bent in their schedule but those photos are really important. So what’s with the photo above with the plane? Bernie is a long time friend, we’ve flown A LOT together and have had many adventures. He’s the only one I know who would have a P-51D Mustang airshow at his wedding reception (cause he did!). He is also one of few whose home is next to the hangar where a gorgeous Waco could be taxied over to the lawn for a background. Bernie had come up with all of that, I just positioned it on the lawn. Bernie & Abbey had one idea for the Waco, I saw an opportunity to take really unique formal portraits where I would easily control the light and it would be uniquely Bernie & Abbey. So before the ceremony, before we even drove to the venue, I took control and made it happen. Shot with the Z7 / Z24-70f2.8 with a single SB-5000 on a pole (held perfectly by my assistant, Sharon :-), the portraits were made. Phew

I know I overcompensated by shooting 7500 images, but I had that wedding covered! It all turned out well and it was really a lot of fun! And next time the phone rings and that question is asked, I’m going to stick with my answer, NO!

The 500PF is Such a Delightful Lens!

Lesser Goldfinch
captured by D6 / 500PF

We’re at our friends Auntie’s house who has created a delightful “shooting Gallery in her backyard. She has it set up for the 500PF so I grabbed her lens and started shooting. All sorts of birds came in and it was fun to shoot the Lesser Goldfinch and especially the Bushtits which I’ve not photographed for decades! I love Bushtits! They are smaller than your pinkie and weigh less than a dime. So darn cute!!!! I was handholding the D6 / 500PF which made the photography so enjoyable. I shot a lot of great birds in a short time with Autie’s great 500PF and shooting gallery, I fell back in love with the 500PF!

captured by D6 / 500PF

So I finished shooting as the hot sun crept around the corner and started to bake me and ingested my images. Right then I received a text from my friend at Bedford Camera that they just got some 500PF in stock. Oh man, it would be a great lens for The Ranch and my backyard birds. Am I just sayin that? Well my friend Auntie where we are, loves the 500PF SO MUCH, she has TWO! One dedicated to her backyard birds and one for her travels. Now that idea is in my mind … decisions decisions!

Just a reminder, you head to a 500PF to check out the 500PF, remember to ask for the “Moose Discount” which will save you real money!

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