Saturday, December 15, 2018
Dramatic skies are always an exciting photo subject. These kinds of sun rays often occur at the beginning or end of the day when the clouds are just right and there is moisture in the air.
This was a mostly lucky shot. The clouds and rays had been shaping up for awhile to create this look, but the drama was just not there. It took about 15 minutes of waiting, watching, and hoping for this combination of clouds and sun rays to come together to form a powerful shot.
Several elements came together to help make this image - the three layers of clouds that allowed the rays to streak through in several places, the strong contrast between the dark clouds and the small slits of bright sky, and the rays that angle to the left and to the right as your eye scans across the image.
When optimizing this image in Lightroom, I could have lightened the Shadows to allow some texture of the ground to show, but I wanted a dramatic look so I decided to darken the shadows to add more punch. Using this approach helped convey what I felt when I viewed the scene.
It is OK to use some artistic license to create an image that shows not only what you SAW but also what you FELT. That makes for more powerful images with more appeal.
1/500 sec. at f/11, ISO 400. Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens set at 40mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "Drama is very important in life. You have to come on with a bang. Everything can have drama if it's done right. Even a pancake." --Julia Child
Sunday, December 2, 2018
Check out the new Alaska Brown Bears album posted on Facebook. This spectacular trip for both brown bears AND puffins is already half full, so it is time to register soon.
Limited to only 8 photographers, we will see brown bears every single day!
This adventure takes you to an area with a large concentration of brown bears. We photograph them safely, yet at fairly close range. We are driven from our lodge to where the bears are in an ATV, and all our gear is transported as well. No long marches, no slogging through hip deep water to get to the bears.
We'll see moms and cubs, and a few boars as well. There is always lots of action including play fighting, frolicking in the stream and along the beach, feeding, nursing, and more.
And the comfortable lodge is all ours. We are the only group there, and we have our own guide, our own chef, and everything runs on our schedule. This is by far the best brown bears trip in all of Alaska!
Please call or email me with questions, or to register.
Details and fees are at this link
Sunday, November 25, 2018
Early morning. Cranes everywhere in Bosque del Apache, New Mexico. Squawking, stretching, flying, dancing, and fighting. It can be hard to know where to point your camera to capture an action shot. Things change very quickly and moments are fleeting.
I was watching this group of sandhill cranes when suddenly the one in the middle decided to do a quick two-step and spread his wings. Sometimes luck is in your favor and a good shot develops right before your eyes.
At those times you have to be ready. You have to know your equipment, you have to have your exposure set, and you have to be quick on the trigger finger. The more you practice with your camera gear, the more comfortable you will be with it, and the faster you can react when rapidly changing action occurs.
So practice, practice, practice. And get out there and have fun!
1/640 sec., f/7.1 at ISO 400. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II set at 328mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "To be prepared is half the victory." --Miguel de Cervantes
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
The winter migrating birds at Bosque del Apache, New Mexico always provide a spectacle, and this year has been especially exciting. I am here with a talented and motivated group of 8 photographers, and we have been having a blast.
Our days start early, before dawn, in order to be on-site to get spectacular images of snow geese in flight. After a mid-day critique and a break, we return to the ponds to photograph the sandhill cranes returning for the night.
This shot was taken around sunset. I used a slow shutter speed to create a more artistic look. This technique gives a more impressionistic look to images, and shows the life of the subject rather than just freezing its motion. In addition to a slow shutter speed, I panned the camera to smear the background which adds to the artistic look.
1/30 sec at f/11, ISO 100. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens with Canon 1.4x extender for an effective focal length of 560mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "The principle of true art is not to portray, but to evoke." --Jerzy Kosinski
Sunday, November 18, 2018
The bird activity at Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge in New Mexico has been superb. This beautiful snow goose was one of many coming in for a landing on their overnight roosting pond. Their wings are beautiful, and this image caught a lovely forward sweep.
Bird photography is a real joy, and really keeps you on your toes. Rapid burst helps, but even so you have to pay close attention to how and where the birds are flying or landing. A fast shutter speed of at least 1/1250 sec. helps freeze the wing motion. I always use Shutter Priority when photographing birds and wildlife. That allows you to keep control over the shutter speed at all times. Of course you also have to pay attention to the Histogram to be sure your exposure is good. As the light levels drop, often you have to raise the ISO in order to keep the shutter speed where it needs to be.
1/1250 sec., f/7.1, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens set at 300mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." -- Henry Van Dyke
Friday, November 16, 2018
I am just finishing up my programs and teaching duties at the Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico. It has been a fabulous 4 days with tens of thousands of birds - snow geese, sandhill cranes, a wide variety of ducks, and more.
I'll be here for another week leading a photo tour, so it will have been a real treat to be here for 2 weeks. The birds at Bosque are legendary, and they have certainly lived up to their reputation. The snow geese have put on a superb show each and every morning with raucous lift-off's, and the sandhill cranes have been their usual calm selves, soaring serenely overhead.
This image was taken just after sunset when the geese were settling down for the night in an adjacent pond. I had already put my camera away, but grabbed my iPhone to capture this quickly disappearing moment.
1/40th sec. at f.2.2, ISO 32. iPhone 6 camera.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "Be like a duck. Calm on the surface but always paddling like the dickens underneath." -- Michael Caine
Monday, November 12, 2018
I have arrived at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico for the annual Festival of the Cranes week. I was honored to be asked to be one of the speakers presenting programs and workshops through the week. Thousands of people come for this special event, to view and experience the thousands of snow geese and sandhill cranes who migrate through this area.
The fall migration is massive. The birds are attracted here because of the large ponds and surrounding fields that provide much needed food.
This shot was taken at the dawn liftoff of snow geese. As if responding to a silent signal, they all lift off together at sunrise, creating a cacophony of sounds. The sheer mass of life is awe-inspiring. The sound of their honking and wing beats surrounds you, envelops you, and the entire show lasts all of 45 seconds before they are gone, flying off to the fields to feed for the day.
It is an amazing show and one that is exciting day after day. It is a treat to be here, both for the Festival and for my private bird photography workshop that starts next week.
1/1000 sec. at f/11, ISO 800. Canon 500mm lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Gitzo tripod with ball head and Wimberley Sidekick.
TODAY QUOTE: "Birds are a miracle because they prove to us there is a finer, simpler state of being which we may strive to attain." --Douglas Coupland
Thursday, November 8, 2018
This world class Alaska brown bears photo trip is one of the very best offered! We photograph bears up close and personal every day. Limited to only 8 photographers, we have an entire classic Alaska lodge to ourselves. We have our own private bear guide who takes us and all our gear on an ATV and gets us very close to where the bears are. No slogging through hip-deep water, no long hikes, no daily flights to get to the bears. We are RIGHT where the bears are each and every day.
The lodge is lovely and has its own chef who prepares all our meals. Each day we have opportunities to photograph moms and cubs, cubs playing and fighting, clamming, nursing, and bears traversing the fields and the streams.
AND we also take half a day to travel by boat to a puffin breeding island. We spend several hours photographing these beautiful and comical birds.
Read details about this exciting trip here
It doesn't get any better than this - bears AND puffins!
ONLY 4 SPACES LEFT
July 15 - 21, 2019
Call or email me for more details, or to register.
I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "To those devoid of imagination, a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part." --Aldo Leopold
Saturday, November 3, 2018
I love the last couple of weeks before Daylight Savings Time ends because it means the sun rises as late as it ever does during the year. I love sunrise, but it just comes too darned early!
The sunrise colors at this time of year can be spectacular. Magenta, purple, blue, yellow, all combine for a beautiful scene. The oceanfront gazebos silhouetted against the colors add extra visual interest, and the line of dark clouds stretching across the sky provide a finishing touch. The dark foreground creates a powerful base to the entire image.
So enjoy your extra hour of sleep tonight! And please VOTE on Tuesday. Having the privilege of voting is a vital element of democracy, but often we take it for granted and think our vote does not matter. It always matters - make your voice heard.
1/120 sec. at f.2.2, ISO 40. 4.15mm lens iPhone 6.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised for breaking down injustice, and destroying the terrible walls which imprison people because they are different from others." --Lyndon B. Johnson
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Wishing you a very Happy Halloween!
This autumn image was created in Iceland. The fall color was spectacular, and the moving water traced a lacy design over the rocks. I'm often asked how to show the movement of water, and the answer is "it depends."
It depends on how fast the water is moving, and whether it is moving toward you or across your field of view. The best way to get the look you want is to use a variety of shutter speeds. Then after you have downloaded the images, choose the ones that look the best to you.
Fast moving water can look very silky at a shutter speed as fast as 1/8 sec., while slower moving water might require a shutter speed of several seconds. So experiment with different slow shutter speeds every time you are photographing moving water.
To give yourself the best chance of getting a slow shutter speed, set your camera to 100 ISO, and close your lens down as far as it will go (f/32 or f/22).
If it is a bright day and you cannot get a slow enough shutter speed, you can use a polarizing filter which will reduce exposure by about two-and-a-half stops. Or you can use a neutral density filter (also called a black filter) which comes in various strengths, generally from 3 to 10 stops. I prefer a 10-stop to get the most effect. There are also variable neutral density filters which include all the various options, but can be costly.
A word of caution on neutral density filters: do not be tempted to get an inexpensive one. They are quite poor optically, and often result in unacceptable images. Also, some neutral density filters cause a noticeable color shift, again resulting in unacceptable images. Even highly respected manufacturers who claim that their filters have no color shift, do indeed have a negative effect on the colors. I have tested several brands, and have found that the Breakthrough brand https://breakthrough.photography/ is the best available. There is no color shift, and the optics are excellent. And they offer an excellent guarantee and free shipping, so order directly from the manufacturer.
Photographing moving water in all its forms - waterfalls, flowing streams, the ocean - is a creative and pleasant experience. So go play, and see what you can create.
2.5 seconds at f/32, ISO 100. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set to 200mm, on Canon 5D Mark III body. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it." -- Vincent van Gogh