Friday, July 31, 2020

Jaunty Little Jokester!

Since it is blazing hot in many parts of the country, I thought a quick trip to the cool climate of Antarctica might be a fun thing to do. My trip there this past December was beyond spectacular,  and I came away with many lifelong memories.

We were so lucky that the trip was right before the Covid-19 virus began sweeping the globe.

This jaunty Gentoo penguin was making its way to the top of a small hill of snow. Penguins are absolutely adorable in so many ways. I could have watched them for hours and never tire of their antics, their beautiful feathers, and their endearingly gawky movements.

So if you are dealing with the summer heat, absorb some of the cool air in this image.

I am working on building an exciting and educational series of workshops for 2021, so stay tuned. As soon as we are past this terrible pandemic, we will begin traveling again! But for now, please be safe and stay healthy.

1/4000 sec at f/8, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II set at 227mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It's practically impossible to look at a penguin and feel angry."  --Joe Moore

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Was Surprised With Great News!

I was happily shocked to open the box with my copy of this book to find that my image had made the cover! This is the annual hard-cover coffee table book published by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) that showcases the images selected for their prestigious Loan Collection.  While I knew that the image had been selected for the Loan Collection and would appear in the book, I had no idea that it would appear as the cover photo.

This image, titled "Blowin' In The Wind," was taken in St. Augustine, FL. The great egret was perched in a tree on a very windy morning, and when the wind caused its breeding plumage to go a bit crazy, I was in the right place at the right time to grab a few shots before the moment passed.

I thought long and hard before deciding to enter this image in the competition since it is certainly not a typical "beauty" shot of an egret, and not generally what judges look for in a successful image. But I loved the unique moment, and the the high-key white-on-white look. So I threw caution to the wind and took my chances.

I have been competing in the PPA annual photo competition for over 3 decades, and have been fortunate to have many of my images selected for the Loan Collection during that time and published in the annual book. But never in my wildest dreams did I ever think an image of mine would be selected for the cover.

The reason for that is that the majority of photographers in the PPA are portrait and wedding photographers, and most years it is a portrait or wedding image that makes the cover. There are a few of us wildlife and nature photographers who are members, and often it is an uphill battle to have a wildlife or nature image do well in the annual competition. Nevertheless, we persist in trying year after year!

So in the most recent 2019 competition, I was thrilled to have two of my bird images selected for the Loan Collection. The other bird image is an eagle in flight taken in Alaska (see it in the August 25, 2019 Blog post).

The lesson for all of us is that if you love an image, you should go ahead and enter it in completion. After all, the worst that will happen is that it will not be accepted. So go for it!

1/1250 sec. at f/11, ISO 1600. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 400mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "All competitions are a crap shoot. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don't. The trick is to keep going, keep striving, keep improving. And at the end of the day, believe in yourself."  -- Mollie Isaacs


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Soft Yet Fire-y Sunrise

This dramatic sunrise was taken in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. It was quite unusual to see both soft pinks with a backdrop of fire-y orange and yellow tones.

Admittedly I have enhanced the colors quite a bit in Lightroom. Generally I do not go quite so far in making modifications in post-processing, but I felt this image needed some punching in order to convey the sense of drama I felt when viewing the scene. I would not enter this in any nature-based photo competitions since the modifications take this image well beyond the actual look of the scene. But for artistic purposes, in order to convey the feel of the place, I was OK going a bit overboard with artistic license.

When using software to improve the look of images, it is all too easy to go too far. Over-sharpening and over-saturating are common pitfalls, especially when entering images into competition. Normally all you want to do is to bring the RAW image close to what the scene actually looked like. But there are times, as in this case, when your personal decision is to add drama and mood to an image.

Since photography is essentially a communication device, there are times when communicating YOUR take on the image outweighs the general rule to preserve the actual look of the scene. It is best to choose your battles, and not add extreme drama to all your images. But for those images that can be made more powerful in order to communicate your message, you should feel comfortable going farther than normal.

1.3 seconds at f/22, ISO 800. Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS II lens set at 76mm on Canon 5D Mark III body. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love."  --Marcus Aurelius

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Missing Alaska

I am SO missing Alaska this summer. The pandemic has certainly had a major impact on travel near and far. So today I want to share this breaching whale image. To me, it shows the exuberance all of us will feel once this terrible pandemic is over and we can freely and safely be with friends and family. AND be able to travel again!

So for now, we can travel vicariously by reviewing our images from past trips. Often when reviewing older images I find some hidden gems that I had overlooked before. So I highly recommend taking a walk down memory lane with some of your travel photos from past years and see what you can find.

For now, stay safe and healthy. And watch for news of 2021 trips and workshops!

1/1250 sec. at f/7.1, ISO 1600. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 214mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "And let us remember too that life, in its exuberance, always succeeds in overflowing the narrow limits within which man thinks he can confine it."  -- Jacques Yves Cousteau