Monday, February 28, 2011

Video of the Day! Dicksissel

Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500mm OS, tripod, f9, ISO 200

Last summer on a rainy day, I was out shooting in southern Minnesota when I came across this incredible Dicksissel. He did not mind me shooting one bit. He would actually fly towards me and land on this perch next to where I was standing and start singing away. The bright green background is wet grass on a hill. Prefect shooting conditions!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Photography Workflow

The term "Workflow" seems to be a trendy word in the photography trade and for good reason. Having a good workflow can vastly improve your time management which effects your bottom line if your a business. But your workflow doesn't stop there. So what is a workflow?

Workflow in photography encompasses how you manage your images from creation, through file management, to post production and finally to back up and recovery. You can be as elaborate or simplistic as you want, but it needs to be reliable, repeatable and efficient.

On Location
Review each of the steps in your process and challenge them for reliability and efficiency. For example, when your on location how are you addressing back up?

You can use a product like Digital Foci Picture Porter while in the field. You can bring a laptop and to a memory card on location. With Camera bodies like the Nikon D3S, D300S and D7000 with duel card slots, you can back up as you shoot. The main idea for back up is make multiple copies of the files and this can start on location.

File management can also start on the road. Do you bring a laptop with? If you use Lightroom or Aperture you can start a catalog or library on location and then export it to your main library at home.

At Home or Office
Now that I mentioned Lightroom and Aperture, it's probably a good time to make a recommendation about them. Here we go, USE THEM. Whichever you prefer, use either Lightroom or Aperture. It is a key ingredient to a fast and efficient workflow. They both handle import, backup, file management and quick post processing.

While challenging your workflow at home or in the office, note how efficiently you can locat the files you need. Most of the time this comes down to organization. Make keywords and ratings at part of your workflow. In lightroom you can also you collections and smart collections to keep yourself organized.

Backup & Recovery
I already mentioned backup on location but its worth repeating. If you have a card failure or hard drive failure on the road, then the entire trip was a waste. In most cases it's easy enough to dump your memory cards on a laptop on the road and not format the cards. If that's not possible you can use external hard drives to make the multiple copies. Some take it even further and back up to the cloud on the road or even use mutliple external hard drives and keep them in seperate cars and hotels. It's worth thinking about your strategy and deciding if your comfortable with it. Better to think about it now rather than waiting until after a failure.

The meat and potatoes of your backup plan should be at home or the office. The general rule is you should have redundant back up at home (at least 2 copies) plus another copy at a separate location. This seperate location can be at the office, at a friend's house or in the cloud. Cloud storage can be anything from your google storage, full resolution images on smugmug or a service like Carbonite.

For your local storage you can use external hard drives but a step further would be to use a RAID system or a Drobo. RAID systems and Drobo's work slightly differently but are similar in the fact that they use multiple hard drives as automatic redundent storage. They both offer the ability to suffer a hard drive failture without losing data. You can simply remove the damaged drive and replace it with a new one.

Maybe the most imporant part of your backup plan is that it should be automatic. A cloud based service such as Carbonite is automatic but your local storage should be too. You can use Apple's Time Machine, SuperDuper, or Carbon Copy Cloner for the Mac. Check out Life Hacker's article for backup solutions on Windows. HERE.

The last thing I'll mention is that you need to test your backup to make sure your able to recover the data. The first time you try to recover shouldn't be after your first failure.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Photo of the Day! Lazy Summer Morning

Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f4 w/TC1.7 @500mm, f7.1, ISO 640, 1/1000

Anytime Chad and I go out fishing we bring at least one of our cameras along. This morning we were fishing in a quiet bay on Lake Minneatonka just outside the Twin Cities metro area. This loon as snoozing away and didn't mind our presence at all. I started off by firing a few frames then passing the camera to Chad. What I really like about the image is the green reflection from the trees on the water. Just waiting for spring and open water to return..

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Photo of the Day! Peregrine Falcon Portrait!

Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500 OS @ 500mm, ISO 500, f/9, 1/200
Derek has posted a few of his Peregrine Falcon photos recently, so I thought I would follow that up with a few of my own. This captive falcon posed very nicely for me. I haven't had very many opportunities to photograph Peregrines, but they are one of my favorites, so I take any chance I get!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gear! Top 5 For Under $25

Everyone's favorite topic! Gear. I'm going at this gear list a little bit different. First of all, most everything on this list is under $25 and your not going to find it at your local photo store. I have listed 5 items that I bring along with me on every shoot (weather depending).

A good Blind can be a very effective way to get close to your subject without changing the animals behavior. Chad and I have been using a blind for several years now. I can say that it works! Another benefit for a blind is that it keeps you out of the elements allowing you to shoot long in to the day. I have been inside a blind in bone chilling cold weather and mid summer downpour. If you don't have the cash to buy a dedicated blind your car can double as an effective blind.

One other type of blind that you can pick up for $15 is a piece of burlap camo. The great thing about burlap is; it's highly portable and light weight. I have used mine mostly along side ponds where I can lay on my stomach and pull the burlap over my body. I put my camera on a tripod to keep the burlap off my head to give me some movement.

Anyone that has spent anytime in the field knows that your body can get tired carrying all your gear around. A portable chair to bring along and help give you a little rest while shooting will save wear and tear on your body and keep you fresh. The chair that I use that I have linked to in this post is $25. It folds flat for easy storage and light weight so your more willing to bring it along with you.

One of the most important pieces of equipment that Chad and I use is what we affectionately call an ass mat. This is a small piece of foam that I bring anytime I'm shooting outside especially in the winter months. It is a small barrier between you and the frozen/cold/wet ground. I can tell you the times that I forgot my ass mat at home my outing was significantly shortened.

Hand warmers are simply necessary in cold weather climates. These cheap little warmers are a must to give you a little shot of warmth while shooting. My advice is to buy a box of these and keep it in the car!

I hope these items can help you stay out in the field longer. All links are to a Minnesota based company called Gander Mountain. I have no affiliation with Gander Mountain what so ever. You should be able to find any of the items listed above at any outdoor store. On Twitter, follow @ChrisKlapheke the owner of Outdoor Photo Gear or @OPGear on Twitter. Chris is a great guy with a great company that has wonderful customer service for outdoor photo related gear.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Photo of the Day! Mystic Swan

Trumpeter Swans
Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500mm OS, f7.1, ISO 500, +1ev

Here is another image from Monticello, MN. Once again the day I took this the temp was hovering around 0 degrees. On this particular outing I wanted to get a swan flapping their wings in the fog. I saw around for a couple hours before I was able to get what I was looking for!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Photo of the Day! Amur Leopard pt 2

Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f/4 AFS  + TC-17E II @ 500mm, ISO 2000, f/6.7, 1/400
This will conclude my big cats week on NVP. As soon as I can get a chance to photograph some critters from around the world I will. I hope you all enjoyed the photos this week!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Photo of the Day! Superior Power

Lake Superior, MN
Nikon D90, 70-300mm VR, ISO 320, f9, 1/1000

I'm trying to think of warmer days ahead. Last week in Minnesota it was -25 to -35 windchill and just this week it was close to 50 degrees! Wow, can that change give you spring fever!!! I made this image at Split Rock State Park of Lake Superior while on a camping trip. If you ever make it to Minnesota's north shore, I highly recommend making a stop.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Photo of the Day! Peregrine Falcon Portrait

Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500mm OS, ISO 400, f8, 1/320

Here is another image from the University of Minnesota Raptor Release from the fall of 2008. If there is a chance that you can go to something such as a raptor release you should. Events like this can provide an excellent opportunity to view animals closer than you normally could.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fill Flash pt.II

Last week, I did a blog post on Fill Flash for Bird Photography. I wanted to take time and go into a little more depth on how to use fill flash and its benefits.

Black-capped Chickadee
Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8, SB-800, +2ev on flash

Learning how to effectively use fill-flash will dramatically enhance your bird images. In many cases, birds are in trees or in shaded areas out of direct sunlight. The indirect lighting often actually increases color saturation in feathers, but we need to fill in the shadow areas. The same is true if the subject is in direct or harsh sunlight. This is where fill flash can take your images to another level.

According to Wikipedia: Digital TTL works as follows: Before the actual exposure one or more small flashes, called "preflashes", are emitted. The light returning through the lens is measured and this value is used to calculate the amount of light necessary for the actual exposure. Multiple pre-flashes can be used to improve the flash output. Canon refers to this technique as "E-TTL" and has later improved the system with "E-TTL II". The first form of digital TTL by Nikon, called "D-TTL", was used in a few early models. Since then, the superior "i-TTL" system has been used.

Purple Martin
Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500mm OS, SB-800, -2ev on flash, Better Beamer

In using TTL, you have the option to control how much light is added by dialing in under or over exposure for the flash. FYI, it is a very good idea to read the camera and flash manuals thoroughly before venturing on a field trip. In some systems the compensation is made on the flash while in others flash compensation is dialed into the camera itself. Trying to figure out how your flash works with a bird in front of you is sure to be a frustrating experience.

In bird photography the large eyes of nocturnal species are particularly susceptible to red eye or steel eye. A good way to avoid red eye or steel eye is to move the flash off to either side of the camera. This prevents the light from the flash entering the subject's eye and reflecting directly back through the camera lens.
Gray Jay
Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8, SB 800, -3ev on flash

I can only speak of my experience with my Nikon D90, SB-800 and a Better Beamer. I can say that adding a flash to my bag has increased the quality of my images. That little "pop" of light added to your subjects increases your saturation, contrast and clarity.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Photo of the Day! Amur Leopard!

Nikon D90, Nikkor 70-300VR, @ 270mm, ISO 800, f/6.0, 1/500 
Continuing with the big cats theme this week I have an Amur Leopard. This is obviously another captive animal since it is estimated that there are only 30-35 animals remaining in the wild. This leopard's natural habitat is forests of Korea, northern China and eastern Russia. You can check out ALTA, the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance to learn how to support this threatened species.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Out of the norm.. Photo of the Day! Tiger!

Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500 OS @ 500mm, ISO 800, f/6.3, 1/400 (captive)
This is a bit of a departure from most of our images we post on Natural Vision Photography. Derek and I specialize mostly in North American wildlife, but that doesn't mean our interest stops there. It's pretty much the pocket book that kept us detained. I would love to get to Africa or Asia to photograph big cats, and hopefully I will someday. Until then my intercontinental wildlife photography has been limited to the zoo. It's been quite a while since I photographed wildlife at a zoo, so this image is from a few years ago. Wild or captive, at the zoo or on location, this is still one of my favorite photos. I'll share some other of my favorites this week as well.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Photo of the Day! Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14, f5.6, ISO 400, 1/600 +1/3ev

Yesterday, I received a tip that a Saw Whet Owl was is an apple tree in Bloomington, MN. I hopped in my car and made a the 30 mile trip from my house. On the way down, I was thinking that I would be able to see the owl 30 feet up in the tree. Well, when I got there I was surprised that there was 6 other photographers looking at the owl at eye level. After a 45 minute wait the owl opened up one eye for me!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Photo of the Day! White-tail Deer

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS @ ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/1250, EV +1
Here is another doe from this week. There was a large group together and I got to see some fun interaction. They moved off into the woods not long after I arrived so I'll have to head back to capture some of those interaction shots another time.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Photo of the Day! Oh Dear, 2 Deer!

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS @ ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/1600

I photographed these two deer yesterday. This image struck me because of balance in composition. I often try to get impactful images with multiple subjects, sometimes with success, sometimes not. I spent quite some time with the deer and will be posting more soon!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Photo of the Day! Juvenile Peregrine Falcon

Canon XS, 70-300 @300, 5.6, ISO 100, 1/400

I took this photo when I was about a year into photography just before I switched from Canon to Nikon. I made this image at the Minnesota Wildlife Science Center in Ham Lake, MN.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Limited Edition Sale, Banff Panorama!

I am pleased to announce the second part of Limited Edition sale. This is a 30"x10" Fine Art Canvas Gallery Float Wrap. Production of this art piece will be limited to 50.

Vermillion Lakes area, Banff National Park

Each Fine Art Canvas Gallery Float Wrap will be sold for $195. This product will be available only for a limited time.

Please use the order form below to submit your information. You will be contacted by email to complete the transaction. Please contact us if you have any questions.

More information about this art piece.

Banff Panorama Limited Edition Order Form

Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fill Flash for Bird Photography

Early summer 2010, I made the decision to buy an external flash (SB800) to better my bird photography. At first, I was hesitant about using it because I didn't know too much about how to use it. After a few quick tips from a friend I was off to the races with it.

Purple Martin
Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500 OS, SB800 set to TTL Balanced Light +3ev w/ Better Beamer

The Purple Martin photo about was from one of my first outings with the flash. I was instantly amazed with the difference in color and detail I was able to pull out of the feathers. The Purple Martin photo is a good example of how effective fill flash can be.

White-breasted Nuthatch
Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/ TC14 @420mm, SB800 set at TTL Balanced Light +2ev

Here is another example of fill flash on bird photography that I feel really helped the image. In this situation I actually had pretty good light (which we all know doesn't happen often). The flash helped fill in the shadow areas on the perch and bird to make the light more even across the photo.

Now, the SB800 and couple sets of batteries are always in the bag ready to go.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Photo of the Day! Banff Chipmunk!

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

This little guy was seen near Johnston Canyon. We saw several of them as they curiously approached the hiking trail toward the falls. Maybe somebody could help me out with the specific species? If so, please leave it in the comments!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Photo of the Day! Downy Woodpecker

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

This downy woodpecker was photographed a few weeks ago long with 12-15 of her buddies. The sheer number of woodpeckers was very helpful to get the shot. I'd like to thank John Nelson again for letting us use his backyard feeders. This was a really amazing set up and experience!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Photo of the Day! Motion Blur

Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8, ISO 200, f16, 1/13

I made this image just before my "Running on Water" image. There was poor lighting for most of the day. I wanted to try something new and create a motion blur. I have done this before during races, but not with animals.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Photo of the Day! Running on Water

Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14 @420mm, ISO 500, f4, 1/1600

I was at my favorite swan spot again yesterday and surprisingly it was about zero for the temp! That doesn't happen that often. Since it was a little warmer than normal there wasn't as much steam coming off the water. I was working on getting "Running on Water" shot. After a couple of hours, I ended up with this one! I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Photo of the Day! Banff, Big Horn Sheep

Nikon D90, Nikkor 18-55 @ISO 200, 46mm, f/8, 1/500

These big horn sheep were photographed in Banff National Park near Lake Minnewanka. I was actually just being a tourist on my honeymoon when these two came walking up to the parking lot. There were lots of other tourists around many of which were very close to the animals. At 46mm I was close as well. That was when I got the thought that this might not be a good idea. I quickly backed away. This type of experience is one of the many things I love about Banff National Park.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Photo of the Day! Grand Teton National Park

GTNP and the Snake River
Nikon D90, 12-24mm @24mm, f16, ISO 200, 4 seconds, HDR in Photomatix

This shot was taken at the "Ansel Adams" location in Grand Teton National Park. Chad and I were there with just a hand full of other photographers. It was a far cry from the 50-60 people that were at Oxbow Bend.