Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top 10 Photos of 2011 by Derek Griggs

2011 was another great year for photography! I was able to shoot on the warm beaches of Pensacola Florida, stand in -20 degree weather in northern Minnesota, and visit my favorite shooting location: Yellowstone National Park. I have to say it was harder than I expect to choose just 10 favorites from the year, but here goes anyway! 
I added a short description to each photo below the image. If I did a blog post regarding that image I will put a link in the description as well.

Ruddy Turnstone, Pensacola Beach, Florida
Nikon D7000, 420mm, f5.6, ISO 400, 1/2000, SB 800

Last April, I jumped at the chance to head towards warmer weather and stayed with some friends on Pensacola Beach, FL. It always amazes me how relaxed birds are in warmer climates. I found this little guy at first light laying in a foot print along the beach.  I got down on my hand and knees and started crawling closer and closer. Once I was in shooting range I realized that this Ruddy Turnstone didn't care too much of my presence. I was able to spend some time with this little guy until I spotted a small group of Sanderlings just down the beach.

Willet, Pensacola Beach, Florida
Nikon D7000, 420mm, f6.3, ISO 800, 1/2000

All week I wanted to get a "good" shot of a Willet, but them seemingly liked to come out mid-day. With the harsh mid-day sun in Florida, shooting would be next to impossible. On my last day,  I got up early and jumped into my car to head to Fort Pickens State Park in Pensacola. Again I was pleased to be able to locate and work with a cooperative Willet for 10 plus minutes till it flew away. This shoot was a bit tricky due to fog and low/ thick cloud cover. However, the sun did manage to peek through from time to time to add a warm light to my subject. Check out a previous blog post titled "Behind the Image: Willet"

Gooseberry Falls State Park, Northern Minnesota
Gooseberry Falls State Park, MN
Nikon D7000, 24mm, f13, ISO 200, 2 seconds

Back in August on a whim, I grabbed my camera bag and hit Minnesota's north shore. I set out for Temperance, Tettegouchee, Split Rock, and Gooseberry Falls State Park's. My mission was to shoot as many "northern Minnesota" landscapes as possible in one day. Although, I probably stretched myself a little thin, it was still fun! Gooseberry was my last stop on my adventure and as I arrived the clouds rolled in and took the harsh light away. As I was making my way down to the falls and passed a professional Canon photographer that was talking with several people and as I passed him he gave me a look like I didn't know what I was doing as to say all the "good light" was gone. Well, this turned out to be one of my favorite photos of the year, and let me tell you that this printed up fantastically on metallic paper!

Steamboat Geyser, Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, WY
Steamboat Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, WY
Nikon D7000, 24mm, f8, ISO 125, 1/20

As some of you may know I made a late fall trip to Yellowstone National Park in October. While doing some research I watched a video from Trey Ratcliff on Norris Geyser Basin on YouTube. Since I had not been to Norris before I put it on the top of my to do list. During my trip it was mostly cold, cloudy and snowy which made it difficult to photograph Norris Geyser Basin as I had planned. My my last evening I was making my way back from Lamar Valley and once I came to the Canyon Junction the clouds started to break up. I huslted over to Norris and ran towards the geysers. As I arrived to Steamboat Geyser the sun came out making for the first sunset during this trip. What seemed like a magical moment came true when I processed this image. 

If you would like to read about my photo trip to Yellowstone check out my Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5, my final day in the park.
Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton National Park, WY
Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton National Park, WY
Nikon D7000, 52mm, f14, ISO 200, 1/60

With limited time in Yellowstone and bad weather holding me back a bit I wasn't sure if I was going to make it to Grand Teton National Park this year or not. However, as you can see I decided to get up early and make my way south to GTNP. Once again, as I was driving clouds took over the sky line and as I was decending into GTNP from Yellowstone the clouds took over the Teton Range completely. With a little bit of luck as I came closer to Mt. Moran the clouds broke up ever so slightly and provided a small glimpse of the mountain. 

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, WY

Nikon D7000, 22mm, f14, ISO 200, 1/80

After making the semi long trek from West Yellowstone to Lamar Valley I stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs to stretch my legs. As I was walking through the moon like landscape I felt that I was in this alien world with water spewing and the strong smell of sulfur. As I was making my way back to my car I stopped for this shot of Mammoth. About a month after my trip I processed this image. It now is one of my favorites. 

Nez Perce Creek, Yellowstone National Park, WY
Nez Perce Creek, Yellowstone National Park
Nikon D7000, 22mm, f16, ISO 200, 1/30

One of the places I wanted to make a stop at while in Yellowstone National Park was the scene where I took my favorite image from my 2010 years trip. It's a very nondescript location right off the road along the Nez Perce Creek. I knew it was going to be difficult to replicate that magical moment from last year. With fresh snow the night before, I knew I would at least get a different look than before.
I pulled the original photo up on my phone and stood in the spot that I thought I took it in last year. I went back to my car to grab my camera and tripod. I set up the camera and framed my shot. Again, I wasn't thinking that the shot would turn out nearly as well as it did the previous year, but somehow it did in its own way. The colors weren't as dramatic, and the sky wasn't completely covered in clouds. I do like that its similar to the original,  the new one has snow, a different dramatic sky that tells the story of the weather on my 2011 trip.
Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, WY

Nikon D7000, 14mm, f8, ISO 125, 1/30

Here is another image from the Norris Geyser Basin. This time the sun was almost completely behind the mountains. The last rays of light lit up the clouds creating nice pastel colors on the clearing sky. I don't shoot enough vertically and thought I would give it a chance at this location. Check out the blog post that I put up in November about this photo!

White-tailed Fawn, Maple Grove, MN
Nikon D7000, 420mm, f4.5, ISO 640, 1/1000

Even though this photo was taken less than a block from my house in a place that isn't nearly dramatic as Yellowstone it turned out to be one of my most memorable. I was coming home from the store when I saw two white-tail fawns in a small field, so I raced home to grab my camera. I set my camera on the table in the entryway of my house so I could change my shoes. As I was putting my shoes on somehow my camera newish Nikon D7000 rolled off and hit the hard tile floor! I couldn't believe it! I quickly grabbed it to check for damage. The top LCD was damaged, however, my Nikkor 300 f2.8 that was attached wasn't. I quickly checked to see if it would still take a photo and set off to find the fawns. 

Once I was at the field, I slowly approached the fawns knelled down in the grass to shoot at their level. After 20 minutes of shooting the fawns moved off into the woods. A couple of days later I had full blown poison ivy on both knees and shins! Not only did I break my camera, but I had poison ivy to deal with. However, I was very pleased with the results from this photo opportunity.

Grizzly, Yellowstone National Park, WY
Grizzly, Yellowstone National Park
Nikon D7000, 420mm, f5, ISO 200, 1/400

Grizzly's are one of many reasons that I wanted to visit Yellowstone. After not seeing one during my 2010 trip I did my best to find one in 2011. Just past the Norris Junction near the Norris picnic grounds there was a massive traffic jam. That only means one thing in Yellowstone, bear jam!!! I quickly found a parking spot, grabbed the camera and moved as close as I could while being safe. This grizzly circled a 30 foot area for 4 hours digging up voles according to the park ranger.  At first, I wished I had a longer lens to get more of a up close photo, but I am extremely happy with how this includes the environment.

I wanted to take the time and thank everyone that has visited this year. I very much enjoy sharing my photos and experiences with you all. Without fans of Natural Vision Photography it would make it very difficult to get up out of warm bed to shoot in sub zero conditions. Here's to a great 2012!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Photo of the Week! Bull Elk

Bull Elk, Yellowstone National Park
Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14e II @420mm, f5, ISO 500, 1/160

Another image from my fall 2011 trip to Yellowstone National Park. I was lucky enough to have easy access each day to this bull elk near West Yellowstone, MT. I was amazed at the size these animals but that sure didn't stop folks from walking entirely too close to get photos with their iPhones or point and shoot cameras.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Photo of the Week! White-tail Deer

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f/4 AFS @ ISO 800 f/5.6, 1/400
I photographed this white-tail deer recently at a local park. Derek and I were in search for some big bucks, but this opportunity presented itself.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Challenge: Select your Favorite Photo from 2011

Nez Perce Creek
 Nikon D90, 12-24mm @f14, ISO 200, circular polarizer, Photo by Derek Griggs (click for full size)

My favorite photo from 2010 came from Yellowstone National Park along the Nez Perce Creek. Chad and I stopped along the road to watch a buffalo graze off in the distance. I walked a short distance with my long lens and realized that the buffalo isn't what I should be pointing my camera at. The Nez Perce Creek was my subject, with the geysers off in the distance and the beautiful sunrise beyond that.

 As we near the end of 2011, I believe its a good challenge to pick a favorite photo. I usually see on various photo forums and websites where people post their 3 to 5 and up 10 favorites. I want to take it a step further and select just one.

If your asking yourself why? I think it's a challenge for any photographer to pick just one image out of a library of thousands. If your anything like me I have several from the last 12 months that I believe are my best.

What I'm trying to get out of this challenge is to learn from my photography and see how it has grown or where it needs to go. To see if I have grown as a photographer I'm going to check on composition, exposure, sharpness and clarity.  Vision is something else that improves as I grow as a photographer. Vision is more important than any of tools I mentioned above. Without vision we don't have an photo in mind to create.

I challenge everyone to select a favorite photo from 2011 and share it with Facebook friends, Twitter followers, friends, family, co-workers and don't forget us! Make your photography fans ask you why you have selected that image as your favorite.

With that said, I'm not going to share my favorite just yet! There is still time in 2011 for more great shooting opportunities. Good luck and happy shooting!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Future Natural Vision Photographer

The Natural Vision Photography family is growing. My wife Liza and I had our first child last week. Mason Michael Griggs was born on December 5, 2011. Derek is now an uncle! Now the question will be, how long until he gets his first camera!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Behind the Image: Willet

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8 w/TC14 @420mm, SB 800 flash,  f5.6, ISO 800, 1/2000

Ever since I picked up my new computer a week ago I have been flying through my photos. I have mentioned it before, but one of my favorite things to do is go back through older photos to see what I may have missed.

This photo is from my trip to Pensacola Beach Florida last April. I woke up before the rest of the crew I was with and hit the beach at Fort Pickens State Park. All along the beaches you can find various species of water birds. Throughout my week long stay I saw a number of Willet's but was unable to get close enough to photography one.

On my last morning of the trip I found a Willet that didn't seem to mind the presence of people. There was a couple of guys fishing nearby. I was lying on the beach waiting for the Willet to come to me, so it wouldn't scare off. After a few minutes, I was firing off shots while the Willet was fishing for shrimp. 
I was shooting for only 10 minutes before it flew away. That's pretty good since I usually only have a few seconds before a bird takes off on my.

The morning of this shoot it was cloudy and foggy. To help bring out the colors out in the bird I attached my Nikon SB 800 flash. Flash really helps in situations like this where you need just a little bit more light on your subject. Earlier in the week I was using the flash in bright light to fill in the shadows created by harsh light.

Check out previous blog post on fill flash!
Fill Flash for Bird Photography
Fill Flash pt. II