My wife Chris and I have been feeding the bird life in our yard for over 30 years. We have a steady population of typical New England birds including tufted titmouse, yellow goldfinch, chickadee, downy woodpecker, house finch, white-breasted nuthatch, cardinal and blue jays. We also have resident hairy woodpeckers, red bellied woodpeckers, red breasted nuthatch, chipping sparrows, American robins, turkey, white-throated sparrow, fox sparrow. I’m sure there are some I haven’t mentioned. We do get some out-of-the-ordinary birds such as the four sightings this year of a pileated woodpecker. No photos yet.[Read more…]
Too Much Light!
While out photographing in nature, we all occasionally find a subject that might be better photographed at another time of day for better lighting conditions. But to delay may result in losing the moment and a change in the subject. A caterpillar crawling by, a dragonfly visiting a patch of flowers, one thing eating another thing, all of these scenes will change in a few moments; never mind waiting until early light tomorrow morning. In the worst of circumstances I’ll make some captures just as a record shot to document I did see the event; however, I will try to alter the lighting conditions, by adding or taking away light if possible, to make a better image capture.
Using Flash – Balancing the Foreground and Background Light
Using flash effectively is often a challenge for many photographers, likely due to the lack of knowledge of how to use it, and for some the belief that anything can be fixed in software. I believe it’s a matter of learning a few techniques and modifying them as needed to fit different situations. Some will question why I didn’t rely on HDR techniques. HDR is difficult to do well; at least well enough so that it is difficult to tell it’s been done. The capabilities of today’s software products to brighten the shadows and darken the highlights may have been possible but for me, it is more work than correcting problems in the camera.
Great Smoky Mountains – Landscapes and the Hand of Man
We’ve all seen the iconic images of layered hill sides in the haze of sunset in the Smoky Mountains. That didn’t happen much on this trip. For the most part the weather was clear with cloudless skies. Not conducive to landscape photography, especially in Cades Cove. There were no foggy mornings to take advantage and work into an images, or dramatic storm clouds to add interest behind a stately tree. We did visit two great locations to keep in mind for future visits. [Read more…]
Great Smoky Mountains – Wildlife, Wildflowers and Waterfalls
I’ve been to 25 National Parks over the years, many of them several times and Denali NP in particular six times. Two popular parks that I have not been to yet are Acadia National Park in Maine, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee/North Carolina. One thing that makes this odd is that they are the two national parks that are closet to my home. In April 2018 I decided to add one of these to the list of visited parks. I booked a short photography tour of Great Smoky Mountains with Slonina Photography tours, run by local photographer John Slonina. I considered this short five-day trip to be an introduction to the park. It was the first trip to a national park which I did not plan independently, and it was my first trip with John. [Read more…]
Ecuador 2016 – Herps and Hummingbirds
At the end of February 2016, I traveled to Ecuador to participate in a photography workshop organized by Greg Basco of Foto Verde Tours a photographic tour company for photographers founded by photographers. and Lucas Bustamante of Tropical Herping, an institution he co-founded in 2009 to preserve tropical reptiles and amphibians through tourism, photography, education and research. Both Greg and Lucas are award winning photographers. Assisting Lucas was Frank Pichardo, a new employee of Tropical Herping but an experienced photographer and naturalist guide. The trip itinerary was designed to provide three largely different habitats with the intent of photographing a wide variety of subjects. [Read more…]
Costa Rica 2015
In April 2015, I made my fourth trip to Costa Rica, attending a workshop conducted by my friend Greg Basco. With his business partner Paulo Valerio, he founded Foto Verde Tours, creating tours for photographers by photographers. He works with selected lodges to increase the likelihood of good nature photography opportunities. This year’s trip was titled The Art of Biodiversity – Pacific and the itinerary delivered on this promise. [Read more…]
Antarctic Peninsula Day 3
Day 3 – February 2 – Orne Harbor and Cuverville Island
The day started with heavy overcast as we cruised toward Orne Harbor, where a large glacier is the main feature at the end of the harbor and a large hill of exposed rock is on the south opening to the harbor. This is the location of the Chinstrap Penguin colony we were scheduled to visit. A few chinstraps were in the water near the shelf of rock that served as a landing area, but there were thousands of penguins along the ridge. The path to the ridge was on the other side of the ridge, which we saw when the ship rounded the point on the way to the afternoon landing area. Oceanites reported 1000 chinstrap penguin chicks on the ridge. [Read more…]
Antarctic Peninsula Day 2
Day 2 – February 1 – Paradise Bay and Neko Harbour
The day began with clear skies, flat seas, and reasonably warm weather. Our morning stop on this day was the Almirante Brown Station, a scientific research station built by the government of Argentina. The station had been mostly abandoned for a time due to fiscal problems and appeared uninhabited, although there were signs that repairs were being made to some of the buildings. Gentoo penguins were nesting in the areas around the buildings and allowed close observation of the nesting areas along the trail up the hill. I was surprised to find a Sheathbill, a.k.a Antarctic Chicken, a land based bird that is an opportunistic feeder, stealing krill and fish from penguins, eating their eggs and whatever insects they can find. Surprisingly, we were told they also eat penguin poop. [Read more…]
Antarctic Peninsula Day 1
Day 1 – January 31 – King George Island
Our first stop, Bellingshausen Station, is a Russian Antarctic research facility at Collins Harbor on King George Island. Adjacent to this set of buildings are research stations operated by Chile and China. One of the South Shetland Islands, the summer temperatures here are relatively warm, with much of the accumulated melting away, and giving opportunity to lichens, mosses and other vegetation to grow. Unfortunately, much of the snow free areas are muddy. On land, we were allowed to wander around the area, follow one of the expedition staff on a hike along some of the roads, and visit the small Russian Orthodox Church. There were a few Chinstrap penguins along the beach and it was our first exposure to observe these medium–sized seabirds as they interacted with each other. [Read more…]
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