Think back to a recent time when the weather was nice and you were in a pleasant park area. The sun was out, the clouds were fluffy, and the birds were singing (a rainbow and some happy skipping may have been involved too but we won't go there…). During this joyous day, recall how many people you saw making photographs. My guess would be quite a few. In general, people like making images when the weather is nice. Yet, when the weather becomes inclement, we tend to stay inside, and far fewer photographs are made.
The world doesn't stop when the weather is bad. As photographers, neither should we.
Since Chris Klapheke and I are heading down to Roma, Texas for one of my workshops, I thought it would be good time to post a few tips on using water drips to attract birds. In Roma, we put a water feature in front of every blind. Due to the dry climate and the sound of the water dripping, we get lots of different drinkers and bathers.
I have been a user of Gitzo tripods for many many years, and have been very fond of their carbon fiber models.
Carbon fiber is the preferred material to use for making durable yet lightweight tripods, however, they are typically very expensive. A few years ago Gitzo developed a new material that offers many of the same advantages of carbon fiber, but at a fraction of the cost.
Check out this video where I explain a bit about the tripods that I am using now made from Basalt, and why I now prefer them over the carbon fiber models.
You can see Gitzo's new line of basalt tripods in the store here: Gitzo Basalt
I've shot a lot of images from my car over the years, but I have to say that I really don't care for it. Yes, it’s nice that you can drive around and sneak up on your subject. Your camera is supported by the car, so you don’t have to carry your gear over your shoulder. You are sitting in a nice leather chair, with maybe a little snack sitting next to the soft drink in the cup holder.
But for me, it totally limits my style of photography. My camera is five feet off the ground and I have limited background options. I can’t get closer that the car can be parked. This was the situation when I tried to photograph a Long-billed Curlew in a field next to a road. The bird was used to traffic so I felt confident that I could drive up as close as the road would permit. I waited untill the evening so the sun would be behind my back (or the back of the car), but when I pulled up, the sun was behind clouds. I fired off a few frames and got the following image.
Nothing too wrong with the image. The bird is nice and sharp. The head angle is good with the bird making eye contact.
I'm heading out to Reno for the North American Nature Photographers Association annual Summit!
The Summit is great get-together of many of the nation's premier nature photographers for presentations, workshops, socializing and exhibits.
In addition to attending some of the presentations and scouring for new products, I'll be helping out our good friend Scott Elowitz in his LensCoat booth. We'll have plenty of LensCoat product to sell, and discount coupons for the OPG Store to hand out.
If you are attending or in the area, stop by and say hi!
Here’s a quick tip for getting good exposures of both very dark and very light subjects. When photographing a dark subject, such as this leopard seal that I photographed in Antarctica, set your exposure compensation to -1. When photographing a white subject, such as this polar bear that I photographed in the Sub-Arctic, set your exposure compensation to +1.
I know that sounds backward, but it’s actually true. Very dark and very light subjects can fool a camera’s exposure meter into thinking that the scene is darker or brighter than it is in reality.
By the way, those are just starting points for a good exposure. As always, check your histogram to get the very best in-camera exposure. You can’t trust your camera’s LCD monitor when it comes to exposure and color.
You may have seen Alan Murphy's incredible signature work: beautiful birds on gorgeous perches with uncluttered backgrounds, presented with the elegance of an artist.
But did you know Alan came to this country as a birder?
Growing up surrounded by the beautiful countryside of Ireland and England, Alan developed a love for birds and nature early on. He was a quick study of these birds and upon immigrating to the US in the early 1980's, Alan was thrilled to find many new species to learn about and new habitats to explore. After studying field guides, Alan wanted to capture similar images, and so began his quest to learn photography. Most of Alan's spare time became devoted to chasing the perfect shot. His artistic background cultivated his creative use of perches with uncluttered backgrounds and excellent lighting.
Spare time was hard to come by, for as Alan was developing his photographic style, he was also starting and developing his own salon business. Today, the Alan Murphy Salon is a leading salon in the Houston area and is consistently ranked among the Top 200 Salons in America by Salon Today magazine.
Dig out and dust off your old light table and put it to use as backlighting for macro subjects. When I started in photography in 2001 I bought a few nature magazines and noticed all the pros were using Velvia slide film, so I used slide film which required me to buy a light table to view the slides.
I only shot film for three years and then made the change to digital. The light tables has been dark until I found a use for it. It works great for backlighting which creates a special look to your images. You need subjects that are somewhat transparent for the best results.
Recently I had the opportunity to test and review the newly released Gitzo Ocean Traveler tripod. Here is a short video review.
The Ocean Traveler is an extremely compact and lightweight tripod specifically made for use in the ocean and in harsh conditions. Tripod is made from Gitzo's 6X Carbon fiber and a specially treated stainless steel that repels any corroding agents, truly making this a durable tripod.
The tripod is pretty pricey, but when you need your equipment to survive harsh conditions, there is no substitute.
If you are interested in one of these tripods, check out the product detail page for the Gitzo Ocean Traveler