Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Don’t rush to delete your images. I constantly remind photographers never to edit in the field. When you delete your images during a shoot, you a tendency to toss photos you should have kept. I’ve regretted doing this enough times that it’s become second nature not to delete anything till much later. I don’t even recommend deleting images after the first edit is complete. Why? I’ve found too many good photos “hiding” in images that didn’t make the first cut well after the fact. Putting some time between your first edit and your “later” edit allows you to concentrate on the image, not the problems you may or may have had in getting it.¬†

Case in point is this photo of an osprey. This photo was missed in the first edit due mainly to the fact that the osprey was very small in the frame. This bird was really high overhead when I made this grab shot but, thanks to my Canon 5D’s full frame sensor, I was able to crop in to the bird and discover that it was carrying a large fish! The photo won’t win any contests due to the extreme crop, but I’m happy to add it to my personal collection of “found” photos anyway. I wouldn’t have found it had I deleted the images after the first edit.

So, don’t delete too soon. Storage memory is cheap. Hold on to your images for a while; then take a closer look — you might¬†be surprised at what you find!

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Having all the photo gear in the world won’t get that once-in-a-lifetime photo. It will help, but luck and planning will play a bigger part in whether you succeed or fail in getting “the shot”. Plan well and you’ll be ready when luck happens.

A great example of “planning for luck” happened during a recent vacation. I was staying at a state park adjacent to the Potomac River. Bald eagles were seen nearby. My self-assignment was to get photos of them feeding on the fish in the river.

I needed to come up with a plan.

I knew I’d need a long telephoto lens. I decided to use the loaner Canon 400mm f/4 DO lens I brought along as well as a 1.4X teleconverter. That would give me the equivalent of a 560mm lens on my Canon 5D DSLR. Knowing eagles fly high and far away from people, I hoped that would be enough.

I also needed to find where the eagles were active…and at what time of day. When shooting wildlife, it’s helpful to know their habits (day feeder vs. night feeder, etc.) and, of course, where they hang out. This can be the hardest part of the plan, especially if you don’t know the area. With binoculars in hand, I started watching the eagles. After a couple days, I had a good idea of where they caught fish as well as the location of their nesting area. I also noticed they were more active in the early morning hours.

With all that in mind, I decided to stake out a spot near their nests and wait for luck to happen. In getting ready for action, I set my camera to a high shutter speed (since I wanted to be able to react to birds from all directions, I left my tripod in the car and trusted a high shutter speed and image stabilization to keep things sharp). I chose 1/1250th of a second.

I also set the camera to manual and adjusted the exposure and color balance to match the morning light. I used manual metering because I figured I’d probably be shooting the birds against sky, woods and water and I didn’t want exposure errors caused by shooting against a bright sky or reflected water to ruin my shots. I also set the camera to RAW format to give me more flexibility in post-processing and set the autofocus to servo mode to better follow the birds. Manual focus is so…20th century!

So, with camera in hand, I waited. And waited. The morning light was glorious and there was a lot of activity on the river. I was afraid this activity would keep the eagles away and, as I was preparing to leave to find another location, a young male flew overhead. I tracked him for a couple minutes as he circled the river (he had spotted a fish) and, since I had everything ready, was set for what happened next!

lucky catch

I love it when planning and luck play nice together!

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I used to do that alot when growing up in West Virginia. I’d grab my camera and tromp off into the woods in search of solitude and inspiration. This time, I’ll be looking for a little stress relief from this hectic world in general. Call it a return to my roots. Today I’m headed to the park to meet some folks who are members of the photo gallery I moderate on HRTownsquare. They seem to be a good group of photo folks with a better than average appreciation of the craft and a passion for sharing their love for photography with others. I’m hoping to share some of my knowledge with them and in return be inspired by their enthusiasm. We’ll walk through the woods and, I hope, find some interesting things to photograph. Maybe I’ll post mine here. We’ll see.

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