Its National Bird Day 2015! This from Wikipedia : National Bird Day is an annual holiday with half a million adherents who celebrate through birdwatching, studying birds, bird drinking games including ‘bird date’ and other bird-related activities. Bird adoption is a particularly important National Bird Day activity. According to the newspaper Atlanta Journal-Constitution, many bird enthusiasts celebrate by adopting birds and by educating future bird owners about the special issues involved with taking care of birds, including their “screaming, biting, constant cleanups, the need for daily interaction and a varied diet”. National Bird Day takes place every year on January 5.
I particularly like bird drinking games myself. So, for all you birders out there, let us raise a pint in recognition of National Bird Day here in the USA. May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, The foresight to know where you are going, And the insight to know when you have gone too far. Enjoy!
The Great Migration! This post is the first of many of my “Behind the Lens” project. Through this project I will be posting or reposting images for the blog with the story behind the image as well as camera settings, equipment, and the thoughts behind the shot. In September of 2010, I found myself traveling with 5 of my friends to East Africa to photograph in the Masai Mara. We flew into Nairobi Airport (OK then, not so now) and trekked out to our camps on the outskirts of the Masai Mara. One of the reasons we picked this time frame was because of the Great Migration. Some call it the ninth wonder of the world. The Zebra and Wildebeest migrate from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya every fall and back again to the Serengeti in the spring. In the process, they have to cross the Mara River. It is a great spectacle as hundreds of Wildebeest and Zebra crash down into the river and cross to the other side. We made several trips to the river and witnessed two major crossings. Patience is a virtue as these crossings do not happen that often. Sometimes the animals gather at the river in large masses and then turn around and leave returning in an hour or even two hours before attempting to cross the river.
This particular crossing was one of the first that we were able to see. We were riding in Land Rovers which allowed us to photograph out of the top of the vehicle. Our guides from Nairobi were well experienced and always moved us into a spot where we could capture some great images. I was traveling with my Nikon 200-400 zoom lens and tele converters which I used sporadically during our travels through the Mara. Some of us had purchased special tripod mounts which would sit along the top of the vehicle or attach to the side rails giving us a strong and stable platform from which to shoot. We only had three photographers per vehicle which allowed us a full row of seats to ourselves. This allowed us to move back and forth along the width of the Land Rover while using the seat to hold some additional gear. The photography is fast paced and my cameras stood up to the challenge allowing me to shoot at 11 frames per second. Composition had to be by instinct as the animals were moving quite rapidly into the water.
If you look at the lower right hand portion of this image, you will see a Wildebeest heading to the far side of the river. In essence, going the wrong way. I observed this Wildebeest upon our arrival before the crossing began. It had apparently got caught up in some rocks on a previous crossing and was stuck there. He had long since drowned from the rushing waters. This was a familiar sight all along the river as some of the Beasts were not able to make the crossing and either were trampled in the process or were attacked by Crocodiles or Hippos in the river. There you have the brief story of the Great Migration. For you photo nerds out there, Nikon D3s, Nikon 200-400mm lens @ 200mm, ISO 640, 1/1250 sec @ f9.0. Custom tripod, Lexar media, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to finish. Enjoy!
Happy New Year! I have some great plans for the new year photographically so tune in to see what is new and exciting. I have been spending some time updating my galleries and Portfolio. Take a peek at my Coastal Brown Bears gallery and you will find some new and exciting images of Grizzlie Bears from my trips to Alaska’s Lake Clark National Park. Find them right HERE. In addition, I will be adding some new posts which I will be labeling as “Behind the Lens” posts. These posts will go into detail about how the image was created. What equipment was used, what settings on my camera, and the thought process behind the shot. So, check back or watch for my posts on your Facebook page, Google+, or Linked In. Not following me on social media? Get there and lets get connected.
The Image on the left is a photograph that I captured while traveling to the Northwest Territories of Canada last September. Our goal was to capture images of the Northern Lights and we were not disappointed. When you see the lights with the naked eye, they look to be white or off white in color. When I captured the images with my camera they appeared to be green in color. I have posted a few of these for your pleasure in my Northern Lights gallery. This image was enhanced using Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. We measure the temperature of light in degrees Kelvin. Sunlight, flashlight, or Lamp Light all have a different temperature and may look different in color. To complete this image I changed the temperature of the light from its original temperature down to about 3200 degrees Kelvin. It changed the color of the lights from Green to this Bluish color. Its a different perspective. As photographers we can post images captured and illustrated with no enhancements, or use a little digital magic and create art that seems to stand out from the norm.
Remember to “Like” this image on Facebook, “Pin it” on Pinterest, or give it a +1 on Google +. If you would like a copy for yourself give me a note and I will print you one and send it out. Check the pricing for prints in my galleries section of this web site. Enjoy!
The Fall season is upon us here in the midwest.. Many photo opportunities around us as the seasons change and the Fall colors drive us outdoors with camera in hand. Here is a post from my trip to Botswana last May. We were following a pair of Cheetahs as they were looking for their sibling who was off looking for food. They kept to the road for the most part passing up some great grassy backgrounds that we could use for a more dynamic image. When you have a great subject with a background that may not be as attractive, then your choice is to shoot tight up to the subject and exclude the problems in the background. This is also a decision that you make as a photographer. After all, you are telling a story about the subject you are focusing on. A Photo instructor whom I know from Vermont points out that we can clarify our subject by reducing our description of our subject down to one sentence, one phrase, or even one word. Cheetah Portrait! This seems to be the most appropriate name for this image.
This portrait image you see here on my blog is part of my collection from Africa – South Africa and Botswana. The gallery can be found by following the above link to my galleries or by clicking here. Remember to help the cause by sharing this image with your friends and family on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, or Flicker. You can also follow me here on Instagram. Enjoy!
Dancing Lights! I am back at home after a week in Canada’s Northwest territories where we witnessed the Northern Lights. Some people arrive to the North and are lucky to have one evening when the lights show themselves. We were fortunate to have four nights of great viewing and great photography. Our second night was by far the most active. The lights arrive with varying degrees of activity, brightness, and strength. Although there were a night or two that were less than spectacular compared to our second night, each night brought a different experience.
Traveling around the area during the day we were scoping out various lakes where we could see the lights and change the foreground or background for our images. This image was taken near a lake about 30 minutes from town and gave us the best viewing for the week. you can view my entire portfolio of Images from Yellowknife, NT right here. Please share this post with friends and Family on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Pinterest. More to come, Enjoy!
Camping! Camping out waiting for the magic to begin. The night before last we started our vigil at 7:00 pm and watched the Northern Lights dance at about 1:00 am. Last night they began their activity at 9:30 and continued until 1 0r so in the morning. We had a wild idea at lunch the previous day to stage a little event along with the Northern Lights. Someone suggested we get a tent and set it up with an inside light to add to the splendor of the event. So, off to our friends at Wal-Mart and with a little help from Eureka we found an orange pop up tent that suited our needs perfectly.
We returned to our favorite spot from the previous night, set up our tent and began some test shots to see about the right angle, composition, and proper placement. When we decided the best spot, we went to work setting up our Hyper Focal Focusing distances on our cameras and then marking them on the lens using gaffer’s tape. We needed to know the proper focus distance and to be able to set it in the dark. A special shout out to my friend Mike who worked with me to get it right. Traveling with these people over the last ten years or so has truly been a blessing. Many years of photographic experience added to the willingness of all to share with one another has helped each of us advance in our craft. Today is Mike’s Birthday so we are off to a nice dinner out and some adult libation to celebrate. No Lights? Nope, cloud cover predicted all evening and rain in the forecast. Tomorrow looks good for a final viewing and then back to reality starting Friday with a final flight Saturday morning.
Please share this post with your friends and family on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. Enjoy!
Evening Fire! On our third night here in the Northwest Territories, we headed out early for a sunset shoot and then settled in for a long wait at a great spot to view the Northern Lights. 6 hours later, the magic began to happen. The shutters began to click and the lights danced across the summer sky. At one point our guide Kevin yelled, look up! Stop shooting and look up! The lights above our head began to move and swirl around like a ballet. They twisted and rolled and moved with grace like a gazelle. Everyone stopped to watch. It was a great show. The above image was taken during the third, or was it the fourth, showing of the lights for the night. This image brought out some magenta as well as the green color we have seen since we arrived last saturday. Many of the images I have captured seem like the forrest is on fire with a green glow and smoke rising from the landscape, hence the name Evening Fire.
Tomorrow night is supposed to be just as spectacular and we are off to the Aurora Village where viewing the lights is augmented by a unique experience. I will post those when I can. More to come, Enjoy!
Northern Lights 2! Here is a vertical image from my Northern Lights images from Saturday night. Sunday was a no show for the lights but we are hoping for a great night tonight. Today, we went hunting for the Bison Herd and went imageless again. We did have a brief sighting of two Wolves, however the light was poor and nothing to capture for the Blog. It was a first for me as I had never in all my travels seen a wolf in the wild. More to come, Enjoy!
Northern Lights! Our first day here in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories began with the first showing of the Auroras or Northern Lights. We had a long travel day and finished with an evening meal together renewing old friendships and making a few new ones. We retired for the night when at 10:30 the call came from our guides, Wheels up at 11:00 and we were off. I will try to keep posting as I can. Our days are full of travel and landscape photography. We were also out scouting for new places for viewing should the lights reveal themselves again this evening. Enjoy!
Here is a quick post for the day. Hyena! Here is an image capture of a young Hyena moving through the grass in search of food. Hyena’s are carnivores and scavengers. They typically do not kill for food, but scavenge from food sources already killed by another animal. They are high up on the food chain just below the King of the Jungle, the Lion. Even the Leopards and Cheetahs fear the Hyenas. Leopards try to avoid them by taking their kills up unto a tree for consumptions. Cheetahs however, try to keep them away by hunting in multiples. One Cheetah will eat while the other watches out for roaming Hyenas who might try and take their food. Its an interesting thing to watch. Just another day in the African bush country. Enjoy!