Monday, January 31, 2011

Limited Edition Print Sale

I am very excited to announce my first limited edition print sale! The print is a high quality 16"x 24" Fine Art Canvas Metallic Gallery Float Wrap. Each piece is signed and numbered, only 50 will be made.

"Nez Perce Creek"
Nez Perce Creek

Each Fine Art Canvas Gallery Float Wrap will be sold for $195. This product will be available only for a limited time. For more information on this limited edition art piece, click here. Chad will be announcing the second part of the sale next week. So stay tuned for that announcement!

Please use the order form in the link below to send your information. The order will be completed via email. Contact us if you have any questions

Limited Edition Order Form
More Information

Photo of the Day! Triple Swans

Trumpeter Swans
Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500mm OS, f8, ISO 400, 1/500

This is one of my favorite photos from 2010 that didn't make my 2010 top ten list.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Best Camera Challenge, Entry!

Near Owbow Bend, GTNP, HTC EVO 4G cell phone, AUTO
You may recognize the image above from a previous blog post titled, HTC EVO 4G as a Camera. The image even made it to my blog post, Top 10 of 2010 by Chad Griggs. We have also featured this image as the cover of our 2011 Natural Vision photography Calendar. What you might not know is the decision to use my phone as a camera came from Chase Jarvis' moto, The Best Camera Is The One That's With You. This idea has turned into an iPhone app and book by Chase Jarvis.

Now there is a contest called, The Best Camera Challenge. I'm excited to have entered my photo to this contest and hope that I get some consideration. The judging will be done by a panel including Chase Jarvis. There is also a People's Choice section that can be voted by you! Vote for me HERE!

Here's the part where I beg for votes =) Okay, begging done. Thanks in advance for voting for me! Vote for me HERE!

Now you know about this movement toward making amazing photos with whatever camera you have with you. If you already have an amazing shot with a mobile phone you can join the contest too!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Photo of the Day! Bald Eagle pt.III

Bald Eagle
Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500mm OS,f7.1, ISO 500, 1/160 By: Derek Griggs

This photo is from the University of Minnesota Raptor Release in the fall of 2008. Each year the U of M holds a fall and Spring raptor release. Although, I haven't been able to get to one since 2008. I plan on getting out to one this year.

Photo of the Day! Downy Woodpecker!

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS, SB-600 fill flash @ ISO 400, f/8, 1/1250

This male downy woodpecker was one of an amazing 12-15 downy woodpeckers at this particular feeding station in southeast Minnesota. We didn't plan on photographing woodpeckers but when a cooperative bunch like this stops by, we were ready!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Shooting Local Wildlife

Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14 @420mm, ISO 400, f6.3, 1/1600, by Derek Griggs, Monticello, MN

As a nature photographer it is difficult sometimes to find subjects. Since we don't live near Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Parks we have to look closer to home. Chad and I have a couple of local places that are within 30 miles of our houses.

Monitcello, MN
Monticello has been known for high numbers of trumpeter swan along the Mississippi River due to a power plant up river and the swans have been fed for many years. Monticello is 35 miles north of Minneapolis via Interstate 94. I have met photographers and birders from Canada, North Dakota, Wisconsin and many other states. Although, its not YNP with the big mammals, but it does have thousands of swans to photograph. It can be a challenging place to shoot mostly due to the weather. The steam from the open water adds to the image (in my opinion), however, it can really mess with your autofocus and metering systems.

Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500 OS, f7.1, ISO 320, 1/500, by Derek Griggs, Memorial Park

Memorial Park, Shakopee, MN
Memorial Park is along the Minnesota River southwest of Minneapolis. The great thing about this park is that there is a small pond that doesn't freeze over in the winter. The pond then flows to the backwaters of the Minnesota River. At this location, there are high numbers of mallards, geese, some trumpeter swans, bufflehead, goldeneye and various other species of water fowl. I have seen mink, muskrat and bald eagles in the area too. You really never know what you are going to come up with at Memorial Park other than a full memory card!

Bald Eagle
Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500mm OS, f8, ISO 400, 1/1000, By Derek Griggs, Black Dog Road, MN

Ring-Billed Gull
Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500mm OS, ISO 250, f9, 1/1600, By Derek Griggs, Black Dog Road, MN

Black Dog Road, MN
Black Dog Road is 5 minutes south of the Mall of American in Burnsville, MN. This is where it all started for Chad and I. When we first started in wildlife photography we had a friend bring us down to the Minnesota River along Black Dog Road (BDR). Chad and I were amazed that there was a high number of eagles so close to were we grew up. Often sitting in sub zero weather waiting for the eagles to fly by us. There are gulls, a resident belted kingfisher and various water fowl to photograph as well.

We often visit these places when we can't get up to northern Minnesota, or Yellowstone National Park. It does allow us to make photographs and refine our craft. Get outside a find places near your home and get out there and shoot!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Photo of the Day! Silhouette Sunrise!

Sunrise Tree
Nikon D50, Nikkor 70-300 VR @ 147mm, f/20, ISO 200, 1/200
This morning I was reminded of a this silhouetted tree I photographed a couple of years ago. There is something peaceful about an ancient tree sitting alone watching the sunrise.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Photo of the Day! Bald Eagle pt. II

Bald Eagle
Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8, TC14, 420mm, f8, ISO 400, 1/1000

This was from my only visit to the local hot spot for eagles this year along the Minnesota River. Due to some construction on one of the spill ways the eagles didn't show up in the number they have in the past few years.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Video of the Day! American Redstart

Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500mm OS

This was my first attempt at video. While out and shooting one day I decided to incorporate video in between stills. Thanks to I was able to put this video to music very quickly in iMovie.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cold Weather Photography

Trumpeter Swan at -5°F
 When I woke up this morning the thermometer read -20°F. In some areas this week it has hit -41°F. It's been a cold week here in Minnesota, but its never stopped my photography. Well... Almost never.

A several years ago when I got started in photography it was winter in Minnesota. I had just found the duck pond and I was eagerly shooting away. The temperature was in the teens and I was not dressed for the weather. As I began to realize that I would have to retreat to my vehicle to warm up, I noticed another photographer shooting away, seemly undeterred by the cold. I realized that if I was going to do this for real, I would need to be better prepared.

Dressing for the Weather
I drove straight to a local hunting and fishing outfitters and got myself some cold weather gear. Since then I have been routinely shooting in as cold as -18° F. If you live in the north land you are aware of dressing in layers. I routinely wear a pair of Under Armour cold gear pants and shirt as well as fleece long underwear. I wear sweatpants over that and then my snow pants and jacket. A face mask and knit hat as well as various gloves for various weather conditions.

Cameras Operating in the Cold. 
Red-bellied Woodpecker at -10°F

I've heard many people ask about whether or not a camera will continue to function in the cold. I checked out the owners manual for my Nikon D7000 and was surprised to see that the operating temperatures are from 32+°F to 104°F(0°C - 40°C). So does this mean you can't shoot in weather colder than 32°F? In my experience you CAN shoot in colder weather. Now for the disclaimer, this is from my personal experience, your results may differ. Last week I photographed for several hours in temperatures between -10°F to +10°F and did not have any issues.
All of this being said, the manufacturer's recommendations are for a reason. I don't think I would intentionally leave my camera in the extreme cold for hours on end. The fact that there are moving parts that are lubricated means that there are parts that could freeze. As expensive as cameras are, it's something to keep in mind.

Batteries can be another story. Typically batteries and cold weather do not mix. Conventional alkaline batteries lose battery power extremely fast in cold weather. This could impact your flashes and other accessories. The good news is the new lithium ion batteries perform very well in cold weather. I use a MB-D11 battery grip with my D7000. This allows two batteries to be used at once. One battery is very good and two batteries just make it all the better. In my experience the even the lithium ion batteries will lose a little charge in the extreme cold, but not to the extent that it has ever shortened my day of shooting. If your going to be spending very extended periods of time in the cold. It is a good idea to pack multiple batteries and keep the batteries your not using in warm pockets.

My Take Away
Cold weather photography is not difficult if you plan accordingly. Dressing for the weather is the most important.Generally speaking, operating your DSLR camera in cold weather (in some cases very cold weather) has not proven to be a challenge for my cameras or lenses. The biggest challenge is keeping your fingers and toes warm!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Photo of the Day! Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle
Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14 @420mm, ISO 1250, f4,1/200

One of our favorite subjects is the bald eagle. Unfortunately the eagles aren't around this winter for us to photograph. So I dug through my archives and found this one from Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Photo of the Day: Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl
Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500mm OS, F7.1, 1/200

Keeping up with the Owl theme this week. This is one of my favorite images in my portfolio. I took this at the University of Minnesota Raptor release in the fall of 2008.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Photo of the Day! Red-bellied Woodpecker

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS, SB-600 (fill flash) @ ISO 400, f/8, 1/1600

This image of a red-bellied woodpecker was taken yesterday in southern Minnesota. We were shooting near some feeders but this girl was too shy to come to the actual feeders so I got this shot as it watched from a safe distance. I've always thought the name, "red-bellied woodpecker" was strange for this species because there is more red on their head and their belly. But hey, I guess "red-headed woodpecker" was already taken...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Photo of the Day! Great Horned Owl!

Nikon D40x, Nikkor 70-300 VR @ 220mm, ISO 800, f/9, 1/160

This great horned owl is my favorite color morph found in this species. It's almost colored like a snowy owl. Mostly white with gray and brown markings. They are truly a beautiful bird!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First Time Seeing a Wild Black Bear!

Black Bear in Yellowstone
Nikon D90, 300mm f2.8 w/TC14 @420mm, ISO 400, f6.3, 1/640

Over the last couple of years I've been camping, hiking, biking, generally out in nature without seeing a black bear. My wife and I camped at Bear Head State Park were black bears are "common," and still nothing.

Again, our trip to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National park would prove to have many firsts for us.

Around lunch time, we were heading out of Lamar Valley and heading back to Mammoth for lunch when we came across this black bear. Surprisingly, there was just one other car pulled off to the side of the road watching and photographing it. However, that didn't last long. A short time later several cars and a park ranger arrived. We spend around 5 minutes with this bear while it was roaming around looking for food.

I was shooting out of the passenger side of the vehicle as the bear came closer and closer. With all of the people watching the bear, the ranger asked everyone to leave the area to allow the bear to cross the road.

Although, we didn't spend hours watching the bear like we did with the wolves it was still a great experience. On our next trip out west hopefully we can come across a grizzly!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

An Owly Update

Canon Rebel XTi, 70-300 @ 135mm, ISO 800, f/4.5, 1/250
by Derek Griggs
In my recently posted 2011 Goals and Looking Forward post, I mentioned some things I'd like to accomplish this year. I also mentioned that would be some opportunities that I could not predict that may present themselves. This aspect is part of the fun of looking forward to the year ahead. Trying to imagine what those best of moments might be.
Here we are exactly one week from that post and already an fantastic opportunity has possibly presented itself. A snowy owl was seen in south of the Twin Cities and has possibly taken up residency for the winter. It's only about a 45 minute drive from my house and I've already made two trip down there. The reason you don't see a snowy owl photo in this post is because I have yet to find it. In wildlife photography almost nothing is a guarantee and I only stated this is a fantastic opportunity, but it is a exciting one to say the least.

There have also have been an increasing amount of great gray owl sightings in northern Minnesota along with the regular northern hawk owls that have been seen. So is there a chance to get a tri-fecta of owls this year? The snowy, great gray, and northern hawk owl? I'd say the the chance is there!

So this is kind of the plan for the next couple of weeks. Locate and photograph northern owls. Sounds like a heck of a time to me. And if you see a post in the next couple of weeks of an empty, snowy perch, it will be a shot of the snowy owl that I never found!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Photo of the Day! Downey Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Nikon D90, 300mm f2.8 w/TC14 @420, ISO 400

This was one of my first opportunities to shoot song birds last fall after I got my Nikkor 300mm 2.8. I was and still am impressed by the sharpness and clarity this lens provides.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Photo of the Day! Landing Gear

Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14 @420mm, ISO 500, f8, 1/2000

This week Chad and I were at a local pond hoping a Common Goldeneye would stick around to photograph. However, as usual it wasn't as easy as we had hoped. While waiting, I made this image of a mallard landing on the smaller pond.

Focal Length Comparison

Guest Post by Chad Gustafson of Regal Wildlife

Focal Length Comparison

As nature photographers, getting close to your subject is always a challenge. It is very rare when the duck you’re after swims right up to you. Or, when the elk you have been following decides to turn and walk your way (non aggressively of course!). On the other hand, you may not want to get too close to your subject if it is something dangerous, like a bear. Sometimes there is just no alternative to having a big, expensive, telephoto lens. However, what is the extra focal length (and expense) really getting you?

Below are two demonstrations on how focal length affects your shots.

Click to view larger


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Photo of the Day! Howl of a Gray Wolf!

Nikon D50, Nikkor 70-300VR @ 250mm, f/5.6, ISO 800, 1/50

Wolves have always fascinated me. Maybe because I grew up with dogs, the similarities along with their wild nature drew me in. At any rate wolves have always been a favorite of mine and perhaps the main reason I got into wildlife photography. This was taken at a science center early on in my wildlife photography obsession in 2007. It wouldn't be until 2010 until I photographed a wolf in the wild.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Photo of the Day! Coyote

Coyote, YNP
Nikon D90, Nikkor 500 f4 w/TC14 @700mm, f6.3, ISO 400, 1/320

It might seem strange, but one of our goals going out west last year was to see a coyote. Coyote's are everywhere in Minnesota, but are very rarely seen in the day light. Just minutes after entering Grand Teton National Park we saw our first of many coyotes.

This coyote was feeding off of a elk which was likely killed the night before by wolves. I like this image because it shows the size difference between prey and coyote.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Photo of the Day! Pronghorn

Pornhorn, GTNP
Nikon D90, Nikkor 500mm f4 w/TC14 @700mm, f8, ISO 400, 1/1250

The Pronghorn is the fastest land mammal in North America. This one stood motionless for nearly 10 minutes in Grand Teton National Park for us last fall.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2011 Goals and Looking Forward

Well here we are in 2011. Now with 2010 wrapped up and looking back at my Top 10 of 2010, I've been thinking about what I'd like to accomplish in 2011.

There are some specific images I'd like to get. Last year it was a Ring-necked Duck, which I eventually got. This year is a Northern Hawk Owl. Not just any shot, but the shot. Possibly a Great Gray, but they are harder to come by here. There are other species that I'd like a chance at, like Grizzly Bears and Black Bears. And some long time species that I'd like are Coyotes and Red Fox. American Kestrels have long been on my short list as well.

I'd also like to make a goal of exploring and photographing northern Minnesota. I live in the Twin Cities area and don't make it up north often enough, especially in the spring/summer/fall. A book or calendar of northern Minnesota seems like a good project.

I'm also looking to accomplish some video projects. My "National Parks" video was the by-product of a vague idea, and some random video footage, mostly with a pocket video camera. This year I'm looking to make a few more purposed videos.

Lastly, but perhaps the most important is the continuation of this blog and website. Derek and I have maintained this website for a couple of years. Mostly off and on though. Since our recommitment in October we've watch the pageviews sky rocket from 0 in June of 2010 to 3,400+ last month. It keeps us motivated, it keeps us shooting and creating content. So thank you so much to everybody who visits!

So there you have it, my goals are written down for everyone to see. Now I'm commited! This time next year I'll have to own up to this post. Hopefully I will have accomplished my goals and maybe even experience some things that I didn't even think of. Only time will tell...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Photo of the Day! Moose in GTNP

Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14 @420mm, ISO 400, 1/2000

As I was going through photos from our Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park trip yesterday I found this moose photo. I had passed it up a few times because of the the back ground and it being back lit. So after playing in Lightroom 3 and Photoshop I came up with this.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Photo of the Day! Osprey in Banff!

Nikon D90, 300mm f/4 AFS + TC-17E II @ 500mm, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/1000

This image was taken in Banff National Park near Johnston Canyon. Osprey's are one of my favorite birds of prey and though common across most of the US, I only have a few photographs of them.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Photo of the Day! Red Squirrel

Nikon D90, Nikkor 300 f2.8 w/TC14 @420mm, f6.3, ISO 400, 1/1250

During our last trip to northern Minnesota while shooting Red-breasted Nuthatch's and Boreal Chickadee's this guy was running around making a lot of noise. While the Boreal Chickadee's were off in the woods I turned around and saw this Red Squirrel on a perfect perch starring at me.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Top 10 of 2010 by Derek Griggs

As Chad mentioned, I had previously posted my favorite photo of 2010. 2010 was a big year for me photographically. I finally made it out to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. I fell that my level of photography was great elevated in 2010, so without further ado, here are my top 10 of 2010!

In cooperation with Jim Goldstein's "Blog Project - Best Photos of 2010" I was able to pay some respect to a few other of my favorite images.

Canyon Pack, Male Grey Wolf, YNP
Yellowstone National Park, Wolf, Nikon D90, Nikkor 500mm f4 w/TC14 @700mm

Bull Elk, YNP
Yellowstone National Park, Bull Elk, Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8

Memorial Park Minnesota, Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8

Trumpeter Swan
Monticello Minnesota, Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500mm

Cascade River State Park, MN
Cascade River State Park Minnesota, Nikon D90, Tokina 12-24

Mormon Barn Pano
Mormom Barn Grand Teton National Park, Nikon D90, Tokina 12-24 @24mm two shot panorama

Bald Eagle
Yellowstone National Park, Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14 @420mm

Oxbow Bend
Oxbow Bend Grand Teton National Park, Nikon D90, Nikkor 50mm f1.4

Northern Minnesota, Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8

Nez Perce River
Yellowstone National Park, Nikon D90, Tokina 12-24

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Top 10 of 2010 by Chad Griggs

I previously posted my favorite photo of 2010, but that wasn't enough for me. There were just too many photos that felt left out afterwards =). So in cooperation with Jim Goldstein's "Blog Project - Best Photos of 2010" I was able to pay some respect to a few other of my favorite images.

Jim Goldstein has had a very popular Blog Project since 2007 where photographers submit their favorite photos from that year. Derek and I have decided to participate this year. So without further ado, here are my 10 favorite photos...

Near Owbow Bend, GTNP, HTC EVO 4G cell phone, AUTO

Oxbow Bend, GTNP. Nikon D90, Sigma 24-70 f/2.8

Yellowstone National Park, Wolf. Nikon D90, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS + TC-14E II @ 700mm

Yellowstone National Park, Coyote. Nikon D90, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS

Yellowstone National Park, Bald Eagle. Nikon D90, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS

Northern Minnesota, Pine Grosbeak. Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS, SB-600 fill flash

Northern Minnesota, Gray Jay. Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS, SB-600 fill flash

Northern Minnesota, Red-breasted Nuthatch. Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS, SB-600 fill flash

Northern Minnesota, Boreal Chickadee. Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS, SB-600 fill flash

Metro area, Minnesota, Trumpeter Swan. Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS