Fire and Ice

Posted in Equipment I Use, Favorite Places, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2017 by lilybug1960

Fire and Ice.
 
I couldn’t help but look at the sky last night over “The 3 Chairs” and think about the real fires to the west in California. I have many friends and family who live out there and hope they stay safe. They are always in our thoughts and prayers.
 
As the snow storm pushed off to the east, I knew the sunset would be spectacular here in Bear Woods. As the sun dropped below the cloud line the snow glowed with warm light. Evelyn saw it and ran to the door to make sure I got the shot. Even we professional educators need teachers and guidance…
 
For the image itself, I quickly recognized that this was a perfect time to use the Sirui Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter since the brightest part of the image was along the horizon, and then above it in the sky. I wanted to capture detail in the foreground so this filter was perfect to simply line up the darkest part where the sun was located in the frame. I really am loving this filter!
 
Tamron 18-400mm Di-II VC HLD lens on a Nikon D-500, Manual Exposure mode, f8, ISO 400, shutter speed of 1/15th of a second, Sirui W2204X waterproof tripod and K20 head, Sirui 3 stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter, processed in Lightroom Classic CC, #WithMyTamron, #TamronUSA, #TamronLensesUSA, #TamronImageMaster, #Sirui, #SiruiUSA, #SiruiProfessional
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For the Birds

Posted in Bird Photography, Equipment I Use, Favorite Places, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2017 by lilybug1960

For the Birds.
 
We were supposed to get about 1 to 2 inches of snow yesterday, but that quickly turned into about 10 by nightfall and we had several more last night. According to the news this morning we shattered the old record for snowfall in December! The sun isn’t up yet so I can’t see the beauty of the snow this morning. I spent most of the day yesterday keeping the wood stove fueled with logs, doing some things on the computer, and of course taking care of the birds. I always get concerned for their well being and ability to find food with all the snow. I put out mealworms and sunflower seeds on 4 different occasions and with the traffic I had at the feeders, I know it was appreciated. A couple of times the Eastern Bluebirds paused and posed in the Backyard Bird Studio for a few images. I still have around 8 Bluebirds wintering up here. Along with the Eastern Phoebe, Tufted Titmouses, Carolina Chickadess and Carolina Wrens, mealworms were in big demand. I saw more Dark-eyed Junco around the yard yesterday than I have ever seen before. I look forward to more chances for images today! I will share others in the next few days of the other birds as well. I have a beautiful scenic that I will share in due time…it is for a special day. To my fellow Georgians, stay warm, stay safe, stay at home.
 
Tamron SP 150-600mm Di VC USD G2 lens on a Nikon D-500, Manual Exposure mode, 450mm, f8, ISO 1250, shutter speed of 1/125th of a second, Sirui P424S carbon fiber monopod and L10 head, processed in Lightroom Classic CC. #WithMyTamron, #TamronUSA, #TamronLensesUSA, #TamronImageMaster, #Sirui, #SiruiUSA, #SiruiProfessional

Sirui’s Reverse Graduated ND Filters

Posted in Equipment I Use, Favorite Places, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2017 by lilybug1960

Sirui’s Reverse Graduated ND Filters.
 
A problem I face as a landscape photographer is a setting or rising sun on the horizon and what it can do to exposure. When the sun is on the horizon, the brightest part of the frame tends to be that area right where the sun is located. Typically a photographer would use a Graduated Neutral Density Filter to “reduce” some of the light and balance the exposure. The graduation has been from top to bottom, dark to light. The situation I described above though dictates a graduation from light to dark, then clear for the foreground. My friends at Sirui have just released a Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter that will eliminate the problem. There is one other filter on the market that does it as well, it is made with Optic Resin, as opposed to German manufactured Schott Plate Glass B270. The optical quality of the Sirui Filter is absolutely incredible! They are made in 3 and 4 stops. I had the honor and pleasure to use them on my trip to Maine in October and was super, super impressed with them. The Bass Harbor Lighthouse image was made on this trip using the 3 stop reverse filter. I did a cellphone capture of the filter beside a traditional Graduated ND Filter for quick comparison. I will really enjoy shooting with them in Wyoming in a couple weeks!
 
Tamron SP 24-70mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 lens on a Nikon D-750, Manual Exposure mode, f4, ISO 100, shutter speed of 1/10th of a second, Sirui W2204X waterproof tripod and K20X ballhead, Sirui 3-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter and Sirui Filter holder, processed in Lightroom CC. #WithMyTamron, #TamronUSA, #TamronLensesUSA, #TamronImageMaster, #Sirui, #SiruiUSA, #SiruiProfessional, #SiruiFilters

Looking Back

Posted in Equipment I Use, Favorite Places, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2017 by lilybug1960

Looking back.
 
The title has double meaning in regards to this image. First, this time of year is a time I don’t get out to shoot much. I spend time catching up on unfinished business, planning things for next year, and simply evaluating where I am, where I have been, and where I am going. Photography, like sunsets, often will give you an idea what it is going to look like on the horizon by watching what it does to the landscape behind you. In order to see where my skills need to improve or my focus needs to be for next year, I have to look at the previous year. Did my skills improve? Did I lose focus or did my focus improve on what I wanted to achieve for the year? When I first started doing photography professionally, I loved doing landscapes although my income came from portraits. As I chased my dream of being a nature photographer vs a portrait photographer, the income shifted as I progressed. I am able to continue with nature photography while picking and choosing what portrait work I want to do, and in turn produce a better body of work. As I move forward I want to keep the trend constant and produce better work, while being pleased with the balance of photography I do. Sort of like having a great sunset behind you, then looking forward and seeing the sunset you hoped for develop to your liking. In reality though, could there ever be a bad sunset or sunrise?
 
Sunset, Bosque del Apache, New Mexico. Tamron 18-400mm Di VC HLD lens on a Nikon D-500, Manual Exposure mode, f8, ISO 100, shutter speed of 1/25th of a second, Sirui N3204X tripod and K30X ballhead, MindShift Gear FirstLight 30L backpack, processed in Lightroom Classic CC. #WithMyTamron, #TamronUSA, #TamronLensesUSA, #TamronImageMaster, #Sirui, #SiruiUSA, #SiruiProfessional, #MindShiftGear

A Tip for Photographing Birds for Publication

Posted in Bird Photography, Equipment I Use, Favorite Places, Photography Workshops, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2017 by lilybug1960

A tip for photographing birds for publication.
 
I photograph a lot, and I mean a lot of birds. I offer my images for sale in publications. Most of the publications I deal with want to see details in the bird that will help to identify it. This requires photographing the bird in angles that aren’t that pretty portrait. It is hard to distinguish one bird from another when simply viewed from one angle. During my lectures I stress several points for those folks who are wanting to pursue photography as a source of income: leave room around the bird (it is possible for an editor to crop, but they can’t create what isn’t present in the image), make sure it is sharp, photograph the bird from different angles (even from underneath if possible to see the underside of the tail), and photograph the male, female, juveniles and seasonal plumage when you can. Explore online the avenues to sell your images. Look at field guide publishers to get information as to how to submit your images for consideration. Learn to live with rejection, many more images are rejected than accepted, so it is a law of averages, the more you submit, the better the chance of selling an image. Of all the tips probably the most important is to leave space. Clipping a part of a tail or wing is like going to get your family portrait done and the photographer crops you off at the knees for every image.
 
This is a Pine Siskin from 2 years ago in my original Backyard Bird Studio. Images made with the Tamron SP 150-600mm Di VC USD lens on a Nikon D-800, Aperture Priority mode, f8, ISO 1600, shutter speeds of 1/250th (top) and 1/400th (bottom), Sirui N3204X tripod and PH20 Gimbal head, processed in Lightroom CC. #WithMyTamron, #TamronUSA, #TamronLensesUSA, #TamronImageMaster, #Sirui, #SiruiUSA, #SiruiProfessional, #birdnirdvana

Preparing for Winter Photography

Posted in Equipment I Use, Favorite Places, Photography Workshops, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2017 by lilybug1960

Preparing for Winter Photography.
 
I get this question often as folks prepare for trips during the winter months. My winter photography trips usually entail outings that last a couple hours of exposure to the elements (at most), so these tips are based on my experience. For longer adventures, I think these principals will work, but I can not speak from experience. Earlier this year my trip to Wyoming confirmed my research and advice from friends. Winter is tough on photographer more so than gear. The biggest issue noticed was battery life. Your camera battery’s life will drop as it gets cold. I carry no less than 2 or 3 extra batteries in a pocket that is close to my body for warmth. One thing I noticed is if you have a camera mounting plate that does not allow the battery door to open easily without removing it will make it a little more difficult. You would have to remove the plate, change the battery, then replace the plate. I use “L” brackets that allow me to change the battery without interference. One way to improve battery life, during prolonged breaks from shooting, I keep my camera under my jacket to keep it warm. This won’t work with long lenses obviously if you are shooting wildlife.
 
I have been told that sometimes the LCD screen will turn a slight “blue” tint, but that goes away when it warms back up. Be careful taking your camera to and from cold to humid interiors. Condensation forms and that becomes ice when you go back outside. Let your camera acclimatize when you go out to shoot. When our group traveled to our morning shoot (that is when it was coldest) I would leave my camera out of the bag while we drove, this helped. Unless we were traveling more than 30 minutes the car never reached a warm temperature that would cause condensation. Camera lenses seemed to function very well and we had no instances of any problems with the functioning of lenses. There were a couple times though the contacts between lens and body caused an error on the photographer’s camera body. Re-seating the lens usually fixed the problem. I tend to use manual focus for landscapes, so focus was not an issue either. For wildlife, my Tamron SP 150-600mm G2 lens never failed or had any problems. Most of the time we were in temps below zero degrees.
 
My Sirui tripod worked flawlessly. I prefer tripods with twist locks, which for me in cold conditions is much easier to operate. On the coldest of mornings, -30 degrees and colder, the ballhead became a little stiff but was still operable. It just took a little time to set up the composition.
 
As for the photographer…dress warm, and dress in layers. I use 2 sets of gloves, a thin layer then a normal glove. When I am shooting I remove the thicker glove from my right hand. Dress as warm as you need to dress to stay comfortable, but make sure you can move. You don’t want to trip and fall with your gear. Face planting in the snow is not fun, I tested that theory one time. My feet on a -34 degree morning got a little chilly, so in the off season I purchased a pair of Sorel boots to combat that. One photographer, not with our group, actually got frost bite on his cheek from pressing his face against the back of his camera for a prolonged time. We saw him later in our stay and he showed us his “spots” on his cheek. Be careful. And oh, try not to breathe on the viewfinder while standing there, condensation on the viewfinder means frost, you have to clear it to see!
 
Have fun and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me. If I don’t have the answer, I will direct you or get the answer for you if I can. Winter can be a great time to capture really unique images, so get out there and enjoy!
 
Tamron SP 150-600mm Di VC USD G2 lens on a Nikon D-500, Manual Exposure mode, f8, ISO 1600, shutter speed of 1/500th of a second, Sirui W2204X waterproof tripod and K20X ballhead, MindShift Gear FirstLight 30L backpack, processed in Lightroom CC. #WithMyTamron, #TamronUSA, #TamronLensesUSA, #TamronImageMaster, #Sirui, #SiruiUSA, #SiruiProfessional, #MindShiftGear

Setting Super Moon

Posted in Equipment I Use, Favorite Places, Photography Workshops, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2017 by lilybug1960

Setting Super Moon.
 
Let me start by saying, this was not last night, it was this past January. I was not able to go out and shoot the “Super” Moon last night, but I did notice that there is going to be 2 more in the next two cycles. I won’t be in Wyoming for the full moon, but a day or so after, so I will see if we can’t incorporate that big moon in some landscape. This was a special morning though. The Snake River Overlook, snow and minus 28 degree temperature, harsh conditions but well worth getting out there! We don’t force our workshop attendees to go out in these conditions, but we give them every opportunity to capture images that will be a lifetime of memories.
 
We are still finalizing more dates for 2018, and hopefully they will be posted within the next few weeks. We are looking at some local, southeastern US, north Georgia, north Alabama, southern Tennessee workshops that would be one or two day workshops. I wanted to make sure we do some smaller group things, but intensive workshops, meaning everything from basic exposure to composition to finalizing your image. I am planning on opening up the Bear Woods Backyard Bird Studio for morning sessions of bird photography as well (coffee included). We will keep you posted.
 
Tamron 16-300mm Di-II VC USD lens on a Nikon D-500, Manual Exposure mode, f8, ISO 100, shutter speed of 1/15th of a second, Sirui W2204X tripod and K20X ballhead, MindShift Gear FirstLight 30L backpack, processed in Lightroom CC. #WithMyTamron, #TamronUSA, #TamronLensesUSA, #TamronImageMaster, #Sirui, #SiruiUSA, #SiruiProfessional, #MindShiftGear