Friday, April 29, 2011

Photo of the Day! American Goldfinch!

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS @ ISO 320, f/5.6, 1/1600
Late post today, Derek and I just got back from photographing song birds this morning. We saw some more eastern bluebirds, field sparrows, goldfinch and some other regulars. This is my favorite from the morning.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Photo of the Day! Willet

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/tc14 @420mm, ISO 800, f6.3, 1/2000, +1/3ev, SB800 for fill

Here is one more Willet shot from Florida. Using fill flash on a cloudy really helps bring the colors out when there isn't much contrast. The sun would peak out from behind the clouds only for a few seconds at a time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eastern Bluebird pt.II

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8, ISO 400, f7.1, 1/2000, EV +1/3, SB800

Here is part two of Monday's failed water fowl shoot. Chad did have some success shooting eastern bluebird. For this shot, I sat in the grass waiting for the male to return to the bird box with grass for the nest. Here is what I ended up with!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Photo of the Day! Eastern Bluebird!

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm, f/4 AFS + TC-14E II @ 700mm, ISO 320, f/8, 1/500 
Derek and I went to a local wildlife area yesterday in hopes of finding some migrating water fowl. It was our first trip this year to this spot and unfortunately the water fowl was non existent. But we did notice some very active eastern bluebirds that were protecting their nest box from some harassing swallows. The bluebirds followed a pretty consistent pattern of perching locations in the area. The male made use of this perch several times so we decided to set our cameras up and wait. Of course as soon as we did, he decided to go elsewhere. After a couple of hours of waiting and the activity levels decreasing, we decided to pack up for the day. As we were about to leave Derek said, look at your perch! Would you know it, there he was. Fortunately my camera was still on the tripod. I quickly got back into position and fired a few off before he flew away. This is actually one of my first bluebird photos so I was very pleased.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Photo of the Day! Sanderling

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/tc14 @420mm, f6.3, ISO 400, SB800 for fill

I can't get enough of these little guys! I was going back through my photos from my recent Florida trip and found a few more that I like. I'll post a new Ruddy Turnstone later this week.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Photo of the Day! Gray Jay pt.II

Gray Jay
Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f2.8, ISO 1000, f3.5

Here is another photo from last winter in northern Minnesota. I'm really looking forward to try this same shot with my D7000! To get this shot I had to pre-focus just behind the tree a couple of inches and wait for the bird to fly into the space.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Photo of the Day! Gray Jay

Gray Jay
Nikon D90, 300mm f2.8 w/tc14 @420mm, f6.3, ISO 800

Since I woke up to snow again yesterday, I thought I would post a photo with a little snow falling. This photo is from a trip to northern Minnesota last December.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Photo of the Day! Clark's Nutcracker!

Clark's Nutcracker
Nikon D90, Nikkor 300mm f/4 AFS + TC-17E II @ 500mm, ISO 1000, f/6.7, 1/250, handheld
This was the first time I had seen a Clark's Nutcracker. All I knew is it was a pretty and interesting bird. As it turns out the Clark's Nutcracker is well known for it's ability to cache huge amounts of pine seeds for later consumption. The Clark's Nutcracker can cache as many as 98,000 seeds per year. This image was taken in the Lake Louise area of Banff National Park in Alberta Canada.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Photo of the Day! Cascade River State Park

Cascade River State Park, MN
Nikon D90, 12-24mm @12mm, ISO 160, f20

Last summer I spend a couple weekends along the north shore of Lake Superior at Cascade River State Park camping. This is a 3 shot HDR from just above the main water fall.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Photo of the Day! Willet!

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/tc14 @420mm, ISO 800, f6.3, 1/2000, SB 800 for fill

Another photo from my recent trip to Florida. I sat and watched this Wilett fish for 5-10 minutes before it flew away.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lightroom 3 Tip: Option/Alt

This is a quick and dirty tip, but I thought it might help some folks if they weren't aware of it. Press and hold the "Option" button on the Mac or "Alt" on the PC to display alternate options. This can be very handy at times. For example.

When using the Sharpening tool. There is a slider for masking. If your want to know what is actually happening when you move that slider, press and hold the "option/alt" button. This will display exactly what is being done.

If you use the "option/alt" button while adjusting the detail, it will look like this.

The "Amount" of sharpening will look like this.

This is an important tool to use in Lightroom 3. When making any adjustments press and hold the "option/alt" button and see if any other options exist. They make using some of these arbitrary sliders much easier and more visual.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Photo of the Day! Cedar Waxwing 2!

Cedar Waxwing
Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500 OS @ 500mm, ISO 320, f/6.3,1/1250
This goes along with yesterday's post. I didn't quite get the super clean background like on yesterday's post, but I still liked this image.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Photo of the Day! Cedar Waxwing!

Cedar Waxwing
Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500 OS @ 500mm, ISO 500, f/8, 1/800
For this image I applied a basic rule in bird photography. Find a clean background first, then wait for the bird to come to you. I saw a flock of Cedar Waxwings along a walking path. So I set my camera up and pointed it at this nice clean branch. The waxwings kept landing on branches all around. After a lengthy wait, one finally decided to give me a break.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Photo of the Day! Willet

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/tc14 @420mm, f6.3, ISO 800, 1/1600 +2/3ev, SB 800 for fill

Fishermen and birds alike going after the shrimp along the shoreline for food. The fishermen would use a small net to scrape along the surf to catch bait. The Wilet's would walk up and down the beach looking for shrimp to eat.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Photo of the Day! Gull

Nikon D90, Sigma 150-500mm OS, f8, ISO 500, 1/2000

Most people see gulls as "dirty" because the pick up garbage in order to eat. Once you get close to these guys you realize how white the whites are, how "clean" they actually look.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Photo of the Day! Sanderling pt.III

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/tc14 @420mm, f5.6, ISO 400, 1/2500

Sanderling's are very entertaining to watch. They follow the surf as it recedes back to the ocean to feed. The don't fly real often but they scoot with their feet quickly moving between the soft dry sand and the water.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

3 Easy Steps to Improve

If your a beginner you may wonder, "how do I go from a beginer to a competent photographer?" In short, it's all about devotion. You need to commit your time and energy to improvement. So, where to start? I'm going to break this down into the most basic terms. But it's important to have a plan, otherwise you'll end up meandering along when there was a far straighter path, if you just looked for it.

FIRST, take pictures. This is the most obvious. It's also the easiest and most fun. Photograph anything that interests you and enjoy it. You can't improve in your photography if your not using your camera. Now that the obvious is out of the way, let's look at improving those photos.

SECOND, look at photos. Look at photos online, in magazines or at a gallery. A good analogy is for poker players. They say you can't become a good poker player until you've see X number of poker hands. It's the experience that pays in the future. Expose yourself to as many quality photos as possible. You will bring that experience with you in the field.

Also, change the way your looking at photographs. Try to image yourself being there and ask yourself "Why" questions. Why did the photographer choose this view? Why is the sun angle where it is? Why did they choose this foreground subject? Why isn't there a foreground subject? Try to also decide "What." What focal length was this? What lighting was used (flash etc..) What time of day was this? What was the weather like? What kind of post processing was used? Then apply your conclusions to your own photography and confirm your thoughts.

THIRD, learn post processing. This one strikes fear in people who just want to be taking the pictures. But, if you want your quality greatly improve, good post processing is a must. I've seen good images look bad with bad post processing. I've seen the opposite true as well. I can't stress how important it is to be competent in using your post processing tools. The most intuitive learning tool I've found is You pay $25 a month to learn as much as you can.

CONCLUSION, if your looking to improve your photography and you concentrate on improving these three things, you will improve your photography. If your already doing these things, and most of are, then look at each category and take each step to the next level. Now it's up to you find quality images to analyze and take on the responsiblity of learning Lightroom, Aperature and Photoshop.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Behind the Image: Willet

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/tc14 @420mm, ISO 800, f5.6, 1/2000, +2/3ev, SB 800 for fill

Yesterday morning I got up early and headed towards Gulf Islands National Seashore at Fort Pickens on the Pensacola Beach island. I was hoping for osprey photos, but the chance never came to fruition. I quickly changed plans and ditched my shoes and headed towards the beach. I found a Willet that was combing the beach. I sat on the waters edge and slowly laid on my belly in the sand.

With poor lighting, I cranked up the ISO from my usual setting of 400 to 800. I attached my SB 800 to my camera to help get the colors/detail in the feathers I was looking for. Once I had my settings dialed in I started blasting away at my new friend Mr. Willet. As soon as it came the sun was gone behind the clouds. I ended my day shortly after the willett flew away and after a few shots of a Great Blue Heron.

After a great morning of shooting I headed home for the day!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Photo of the Day! Ruddy Turnstone

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/tc14 @420mm, ISO 400, f5.6, 1/2000, SB800 for fill

Again I was up early walking along the beach looking for shorebirds. I found a single Ruddy Turnstone feeding in the early light. Luckily, it was cooperative letting me shoot for a few minutes before it flew off.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Photo of the Day! Sanderling

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8, ISO 400, f8, 1/1000 +1/3ev, SB-800 for fill

My Florida shorebird shooting experience continued today. While sitting on the beach for an hour or so waiting for the sun to lower in the sky the Sanderlings arrived. It was a little more difficult to get good shots due to all the people walking on beach but I managed a few good ones.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Photo of the Day! Sanderling

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/tc14 @420mm, f5.6, 1/2500

It was a successful trip to the beach yesterday. I found a small group of cooperative Sanderlings. I manage to get sand everywhere but on my camera!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Photo of the Day! First Photo from Florida

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14 @420mm, f5.6, ISO 400, 1/2500

Today I had my first chance at photographing birds along the shore. I woke up early to walk the beach. About 2 steps on the beach I found this little guy laying in a footprint. I'll have to check to make the on the ID later this week, but I believe its a Ruddy Turnstone.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Photo of the Day! Buck!

White-tailed Deer
Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8, ISO 400, +1/3ev

Here is another late season buck from a couple of weeks ago. I can't wait for next fall to find this guy again!

Friday, April 1, 2011

In the Midst of Migration

Reports all over the upper midwest have shown that the spring migration is underway! After going an entire winter seeing the same species of wildlife, it's exciting to see the migrants sweeping north. Just yesterday I saw bluebirds and robins as well as ring-necked ducks, goldeneye, bufflehead, hooded merganser, american kestrel and various hawk species that I could not identify.

Whats interesting about seeing this waterfowl is that all of the lakes and ponds are still frozen. But with all the snow we got this winter, there is massive flooding. Bridges are closed and my commutes is much longer because of it. But there is also flood ponds all over the place. These flood ponds are the only open pools of water and thus the waterfowl has been attracted to those areas.

This week I also saw both sandhill cranes and great blue herons in a snow storm. Probably not what they were expecting when they decided to head north. I'm still waiting for my first loon of the season. I think we will need actual lakes to thaw before I see that. So until then, I'm still waiting for spring to officially arrive!