Archive for the Birds Category

Tanzania – wonderful wildlife safaris

Posted in Acratech, Africa, African Safari, Benro, better my photography, Birding, Birds, BlackRapid, Canon, Cheetahs, Columbia sportswear, elephants, Filters, how to photography, Hyenas, Induro, Jeff Cable, Kaenon, Lake Manyara, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, Light, lions, Marketing, Ndutu, Ngorongoro Crater, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Serengeti, Sigma, Tamron, Tanzania, Tarangire National Park, Tarangire NP, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, warthog, water buffalo, waterbucks, wide-angle, wide-angle lens, zebra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2017 by mmphototours
_E7A0993 Elephant under the Acacia B&W web ready

Elephant rendered in B&W – Canon 5D Mark III, f/11, 1/320, ISO 200, 35mm

_O5A1869 Lioness on a tree1 web ready.jpg

Lioness resting on a fallen tree – Canon 7D Mark II, f/4.5, 1/1000, ISO 2000, 74mm handheld in very low light right before sundown with thick cloud cover

Every year M&M ventures to Tanzania in January and sometimes in August to witness two of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth.  In January I call it the reverse migration when wildlife returns to Tanzania from Kenya.  This is the calving season for many of the hoofed animals – zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, impala, and more.  It makes for great predator action.  In August we venture over again for the better known Great Migration and river crossing you have all heard about and seen images from many different sources.  This is when the migration leaves Tanzania for Kenya and the better grass across the border.  This post is meant to share just a few comments about Tanzania and several images from recent M&M trips.

Most of trips to Tanzania are all-inclusive – RT economy air from certain US gateway cities, all meals, all lodging, all ground transport, all park fees, world-class driver/guides, and more.  We usually fly through Amsterdam and then into Kilimanjaro International Airport just outside Arusha, Tanzania.

During most trips we visit the following areas – Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and then spend as much time as possible in the Ndutu area, & Serengeti National Park.  Each area gives us a different view of the wildlife and the migration.  They also afford their own benefits and scenes for the wildlife photography we all desire.

We head to Tarangire for a few reasons – resident wildlife and the elephants.  The park has solid numbers of resident wildlife anytime of year.  This gives us a quick warm-up for what we’ll experience on the rest of the trip.  The Ngorongoro Crater needs no words.  With one of the world’s most dense resident wildlife populations it is hard not to see amazing wildlife or capture great images.  The crater offers one of the best wildlife experiences in all of Africa and certainly one of the top in Tanzania.  Ndutu is a region known for awesome wildlife year round.  The resident cats (lions, leopards, cheetah, and more) are some of my favorites here but there are also elephant, herds of zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, and more.  One of the pluses of a several day stay in Ndutu is the that off-road safari is allowed so you can track and get even closer to wildlife than in other areas.  Of course, we and our driver/guides maintain a respectable distance and give the wildlife the space they need to keep them comfortable.  The Serengeti is arguably the best National Park in all of Africa.  It offers excellent wildlife viewing year round and the space and numbers of animals in the park make every safari authentic and every safari participant yearning for more.

People often wonder what our lodging is like on safari.  Here I am going to give you links to the places we usually stay (our first picks) so you can decide for yourself.  We try to combine authentic safari experiences with several comfortable lodges/camps so our guests are comfortable, safe, and enjoy their time in Tanzania.  Of course, the food is always delicious…

We first stay at Rivertrees upon arrival – Rivertrees is set in a pleasant semi-rural location around 20km to the east of Arusha and is therefore convenient for Kilimanjaro International Airport.  It sits in beautiful informal gardens filled with large shady trees and is centered on a lovely old farmhouse.  https://www.expertafrica.com/tanzania/arusha/rivertrees-country-inn

Our next stop is one of two camps in Tarangire National Park.  Tarangire Safari Lodge – Tarangire is situated in an impressive hilltop position deep inside the reserve, with extensive views from camp of wildlife along the river. It is a simple facility, but with very nice well-intentioned owners.  Tarangire offers good quality dry season wildlife, notably superb elephant viewing Jun-Dec.  Additional activities include vehicle safari and balloon safari, plus some modest walking safari and night vehicle safari.  https://www.expertafrica.com/tanzania/tarangire-national-park/tarangire-safari-lodge  Or, we’ll use Tarangire Ndovu Camp depending on group makeup and numbers.  Ndovu is a medium specification mobile tented facility in a quiet location in the northeast of the reserve. It is a comfortable camp, with just six guest tents. Activities include daytime vehicle safari, with possible options for walking safari and night vehicle safari. Wildlife viewing is usually at its best during the dry season, Jun-Dec, particularly strong for elephants.  http://www.nasikiacamps.com/tarangire-ndovu-camp.html

Our next stop is the Ngorongoro Crater.  Here we always try to use Lemala Ngorongoro Camp.  Lemala is a high quality mobile tented camp set on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.  It includes a comfortable and nicely appointed mess and nine pleasant guest tents, with reliable owners and a reputation for a really good atmosphere amongst the camp staff.  The lodge is on the better northern side for weather and for early access into the crater.  Vehicle safari into the Ngorongoro Crater itself is the main activity, with walking and cultural activities also being possible.  https://www.expertafrica.com/tanzania/ngorongoro-crater/lemala-ngorongoro

We always try to book Lake Masek Tented Camp in Ndutu.  Lake Masek is a medium specification permanent tented lodge set in the important Ndutu area and is open year round, with the main migration often being in the area Nov/Apr.  The lodge offers a relatively high level of conventional comforts, especially compared with the mobile tented camps which are so numerous in this area during the migration season.  https://www.expertafrica.com/tanzania/serengeti-migration-area/lake-masek-tented-camp  Another option we have on hold often is Kubu Kubu Tented Camp.  Kubu Kubu is Situated on a gentle hillside with broad views of the Central Serengeti area and is a medium specification permanent tented camp.  It is centered on a large circular structure which contains the lounge and dining areas, leading out to a large swimming pool.  Guest accommodation is in a total of 25 spacious tents on raised platforms and with great views, which are suitable for up to five people, making this place a big favorite for families and camera clubs.  Activities are centered on vehicle safari, with the area offering very solid wildlife viewing year round, notably with incredible predator sightings.  The migration usually passes through May-Jun and Nov-Dec.  http://www.africatravelresource.com/kubu-kubu-tented-camp/

Depending on the time of year and camp availability we’ll use one of two of three camps in The Serengeti.  We always like to give folks the experience of a true “roughing it” camp so we use Ronjo Camp.  Ronjo is a medium specification mobile tented camp set in a relatively quiet location in Central Serengeti.  It offers an authentic safari experience, with animals often passing through camp. The camp has a pleasant canvas mess and around sixteen reasonably comfortable guest tents.  It is a closed access camp, which means it does not accept vehicles from other operators, which can lead to a much more intimate atmosphere.  http://www.africatravelresource.com/ronjo-camp/  After a couple of nights at Ronjo we’ll move our guests to one of two more upscale camps – Dunia Camp or Kaskaz Camp.  Dunia is a high specification mobile tented camp is in a relatively quiet location in Central Serengeti.  It offers an authentic safari experience, with animals often passing through camp.  The camp has a lovely canvas mess and around eight guest tents. It is elegantly presented and genially hosted.  Activities are centered on vehicle safari, with the area offering very solid wildlife viewing year round with incredible predator sightings, especially Jul-Oct.  The migration usually passes through May-Jun and Nov-Dec. https://www.expertafrica.com/tanzania/serengeti-migration-area/dunia-camp  Kaskaz is a small and relatively upmarket mobile tented camp with eight guest tents .  Kaskaz offers style and grace in the northern Serengeti – we use this camp for the August Great Migration safari.  http://www.nasikiacamps.com/Kaskaz-Mara-Camp.html

We cap every trip off with a stay at Gibbs Farm (when available and we book far enough in advance.  This place is an oasis after a safari and bring a level of comfort and peace that unrivaled in Tanzania.  Gibbs Farm has been voted Best Safari Hotel in Africa in the past.  Gibb’s Farm imparts a sense of well-being, tranquility and history—deeply rooted in African culture and community—in a warm, rustic luxury environment.  A peaceful sanctuary to rejuvenate the senses while on safari in Tanzania, the farm features cozy, well-appointed cottages, breath-taking scenery and wildlife and unique cultural activities that allow you to fully experience the rhythms and beauty of the farm, community and nature.  http://www.gibbsfarm.com/

Hope you have enjoyed our little piece on our Tanzania adventures.  We’d love to host you on one of our Tanzanian safaris sometime soon.  We have tours coming up in August 2017 that has 2 spots available, one in January 2018 that still has multiple spots open, one in August 2018 that has multiple spots open, and back-to-back luxury trips scheduled for January & February 2019 with guest pro Jeff Cable.

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Sigma 150-600 C lens test in Tanzania

Posted in 1, Africa, African Safari, Benro, better my photography, Birding, Birds, BlackRapid, Canon, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, elephants, how to photography, Induro, Kaenon, Lake Manyara, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, lions, Marketing, Ngorongoro Crater, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Serengeti, Sigma, Tanzania, Tarangire NP, Travel, Travel Photography, warthog, waterbucks, zebra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2016 by mmphototours
_E7A8391 Elephant walk web ready.jpg

Young elephant crossing the river in Tarangire National Park

In June of 2016 Mike G had the chance to make a visit to Tanzania with family and friends where he spent several days testing the Sigma 150-600 C lens in three different Tanzanian National Parks – Tarangire, Ngorongoro, & Lake Manyara.

Bottom line – Mike G, who has used the Tamron 150-600 VC lens and Canon L series big glass on African safaris in the past, was very pleased with the lens and feels it is every bit the lens the Tamron is with possibly better stabilization and color reproduction and offers a better bang for your buck than the much more expensive Canon or Nikon options.

All of the following images were taken with a Canon 5D Mark III and the Sigma 150-600 C lens.

_E7A8312 Waterbuck family web ready

Waterbuck family checking surroundings

Elephant crossing the river in Tarangire NP

_E7A8396 Elephant vignette web ready

Elephant crossing the river Tarangire National Park

 

The first thing most people are going to notice with this lens is the price tag – much less than the Canon 100-400 II, Nikon 80-400 VR, Canon 200-400 w/ 1.4x, or any of the prime BIG glass lenses either Canon or Nikon offer.  And, you are gonna save size vs a few of the other options while not adding much bulk vs some of the slightly smaller options – Canon 100-400 II or even Nikon 80-400 VR.

High quality glass is vital to the optical quality of any image.  The quality Mike G observed in this test shows that the 150-600 C is an excellent lens with high quality workmanship coming out of the Sigma Aizuwakamatsu (where Mike actually lived for several months while a young man) factory in Japan.  The FLD & SLD glass elements help the lens achieve a high degree of clearer, sharper, greater clarity and excellent contrast across the focal range.  While not weather-sealed like its Big Brother the S version the lens should withstand most light weather situations but you’ll want some form of heavy weather protection should you venture out in heavy rain/snow.

Mike G finds the lens be very sharp at all focal lengths up till about 550mm – especially when stopped down to f/8.  Above 550mm stopping down to f/11 helps keep the center of images sharp and clean.

_E7A8184 Lilac Breasted Roller web ready

Lilac-Breasted Roller checking surroundings

The next thing you are going to notice is a wonderful range (150-600mm) which will allow you to fix this lens on your favorite camera body and shoot all day without changing lenses – which can be extremely convenient and save a lot of sensor cleaning while out on safari – or even shooting birds in the backyard or wildlife in Yellowstone National park.  With a minimum focusing distance of 110.2″ critters will have to be pretty close – 9.2′ or just a tad over 3 yards away to not focus.  If you are that close to any wildlife you had better be near small wildlife that cannot hurt you or in vehicle that can help protect you.  For sporting events – depending on the event – it can be the lens that reaches out and touches the action.

Some of you may ask – what about the min/max aperture range of the lens – f/5-6.3 – f/22 and capturing images in low light?  Not a concern if you are shooting with a relatively new body that handles noise/high ISO situations well.  Feel free to bump that ISO up to keep your shutter speed up if needed.  Plus, the Sigma Optical Stabilization, which includes an accelerometer for better panning results, is going to get gain you anywhere from 2 – 3 stops when handholding with good, solid technique.  So, go ahead and shoot away.

_E7A9186 Wildebeest rut B&W web ready

Wildebeest males battle during rut

_E7A8970 Lion gaze web ready

Male lion surveying Ngorongoro Crater surroundings

How about the auto focus performance you may ask?  Mike G found it to be very accurate, fast, and quiet.  The Sigma Hyper Sonic Motor is reliable and Mike G found it be a bit faster than the Tamron 150-600.  The lens does also come with a focus limiter switch which can be handy when subjects are more than 33+ feet away.

_E7A9288 Warthogs in wild flowers web ready

Warthog family lounging in the short grasses of Ngorongoro Crater

_E7A8377 Young elephant water-crossing web ready.jpg

Young elephants crossing the river in Tarangire National Park

Do we (Mike G) recommend this lens?  Yes.  This lens offers great image quality at an excellent price point.  The outstanding performance seen coupled with the savings makes this lens a viable option for even the most serious wildlife photographers.

_E7A8661 The horns web ready.jpg

Lounging gazelle

_E7A7889 Zebra face web ready.jpg

Zebra

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: Light, Location & Lenses

Posted in Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, better my photography, Birds, BlackRapid, Cambodia, Canon, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Filters, Floating Villages, Floating Villages Cambodia, Golden Pavillion, HDR, how to photography, Indochina, Japan, Kinkakuji, Kyoto, Laos, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, Light, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Sigma, Ta Prohm, Tamron, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, wide-angle, wide-angle lens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2013 by mmphototours

Where do I go to get the best shot of…?  When do I go to get that shot?  These questions have troubled travelers and photographers for years.  Travel photography is more available and affordable than ever.

Great travel photography boils down to three things: Light, Location and Lenses.  In the following short paragraphs I will share with you the prime basics I have learned over the last 30 years of travel photography.  Since the early 1980’s I have traveled to over 160 countries—yes, there are that many and still more to go!

Storm clouds over Bayon at sunset web ready

Light.  Without it GREAT photography is difficult—even with the high ISO digital cameras of today.  Truly excellent photography begins AND ends with light and how you use, protect, manipulate and ultimately capture light.

Kinkaku-ji

Just as important as the primal light mother-nature provides is the light of your own imagination and eye.  The art of seeing light is a must for being able to visualize exactly how you want to capture the light you have to work with.

The key with travel photography, as with most other photography, is how you put yourself into position to capture the best light for the location you are working with.  This can vary depending on the location.

How do we combat or work with light?  Rise before the sun, and most people, to be out, set-up and ready to release the shutter on location before even the bell tower mice of Notre Dame are awake.  The best light of any day and any season is often the morning light.  The soft rays create hues and angles which even the novice can make look extraordinary.  In my opinion morning light is the most interesting and clean light of the day.  Of course, the often vibrant rays of the evening are inviting and awesome as well.

As always, before you begin clicking away, consider how the available light, weather, as well as lens selection and camera position will impact your shot.  Take some time to walk around your subject, if possible, while considering all of these elements. Take your time and look through the viewfinder (or even LCD screen) and be open to the unusual and the unexpected.

Location.  The world is such that many people have traveled and seen much more than even 20 years ago.  The classic sights—The Eiffel Tower, The Leaning Tower of Pisa or even a Bull Elk in Yellowstone National Park have been shot by MILLIONS of photographers.  Each of them has a killer shot of the site—right?  However, many travelers do not go back to a location to ever shoot it again.  Hitting sights in each of the four seasons brings them to life.  If at all possible return to favorite locations and shoot often—the Light is NEVER the same and your mood and imagination may bring you new discoveries.  Spending time watching locals interact and visit sites can add a layer of creativity and vision to how you approach and shoot it.  Find out as much as you can about your destination before you start traveling.  Use the Internet, travel books, maps and the phone to find out details about potential shooting locations and weather.  When you arrive on location take some time to look at post cards of the area to get ideas and locations.  If the schedule allows, scout a location to determine the best camera position for the next day—these are all things we do and provide in advance on a photo tour!  Putting yourself in the right place at the right time is a must to excellent travel photography.

Elephants

Lenses.  Do NOT skimp on glass.  I would rather have a basic (read entry level) DSLR and GREAT glass than a fully-loaded pro DSLR with inferior glass.  Yes, we recognize that there is a lot of good glass out there.  Every maker has raised the quality level to deal with the specific needs of digital photography.  The key here is to take the time, effort and spend the money you can afford for the system AND desired results you want.  Our Imagination, Light and Lens (ILL) make SICK (read awesome) pictures!  When the three L-elements come together with our imagination the possibilities are endless and the creativity and beauty are as magnificent as the love of our life.

Majestic Bald Eagle

What are the answers to the above questions?  Get out and travel.  Take your camera and shoot.  When we couple travel & photography the world takes on new meanings and adventures.  The people, places and sights that are travel photography open our eyes and fill us with an appreciation for the privilege we have to document the Light & Location through the Lens, of not only the camera, but our minds and hearts.  As we say at M&M, “You don’t just take a photograph, you experience it!”

Floating Village Family Homestead Back Door View- Cambodia

Contact me directly at: mikeg@mmphototours.com with questions about our tours, general travel questions, and of course anything photography related.  Thanks for all the support.

Recent trip to Yellowstone

Posted in better my photography, Birding, Birds, Canon, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Filters, how to photography, learn photography, Lexar Digital Film, Light, National Park Photo Workshops, National Parks, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2012 by mmphototours

We recently spent 4 wonderful days in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) with our good friend Rob Daugherty (www.robswildlife.com) watching and photographing the varied wildlife of the park.  If you’ve never been to YNP you are missing one of the photographic gems on earth – whether it be for landscapes or our target for these 4 days – wildlife.

Knowing the right time to visit for the cubs, calves, kits and other babies that the adult animals bring into the world between April and early June (some later) can bring you not only iconic shots but just a wonder and amazement as you watch the young animals start their lives.  Traveling YNP with Rob makes spotting the wildlife easy – he spends nearly every weekend of the summer (May – September) every year in the park.

We had great luck – 25 bears, 5 wolves, fox, golden eagle, redtail hawk, weasel, ground squirrel, coyote, grizzly, black bear, and of course the usual bison, elk, deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep.

We hope you enjoy just a few of the images we loved from the trip:

This cub and it’s sibling spent hours up the trees as we watched it and its mother play twice a day.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon EF100-400mmL @400mm, ISO 2000, f/5.6, 1/125, Clik Elite Pro Express, Lexar Professional Digital Film

The wolf below – love the dark coloration – was running near the Lamar River just up the ridge from the highway when it stopped and just posed for us for about 10 minutes.  There were 4 other wolves with it but they were more shy.  It looks like the wolf had just been in the water.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon EF100-400mmL @400mm, ISO 500, f/10, 1/640, Clik Elite Pro Express, Lexar Professional Digital Film

We watched the coyote below mouse for about 20 minutes.  It was comical yet precise.  We watched the eyes and ears as the coyote honed in on its prey and would pounce.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon EF100-400mmL @400mm, ISO 500, f/11, 1/250, Clik Elite Pro Express, Lexar Professional Digital Film

This little tyke teased, posed and talked with us non-stop for our entire stay at a turn out where we were hoping to capture the local weasel.  We were a little late for the weasel – it had just caught and killed 5 baby ground squirrels and holed up for lunch.  Couldn’t help but snap a few shots of this guy as he posed on the log.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon EF100-400mmL @400mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/500, Clik Elite Pro Express, Lexar Professional Digital Film

In one of those photographers luck moments we caught this hawk as it swooped in and caught a meal.  Our lenses were focused on the above wolf when this guy appeared and dove for the kill – caught him with bounty in beak as he flew off.  Nice lesson on always keeping an eye out for other action while you are shooting the action.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon EF100-400mmL @400mm, ISO 500, f/10, 1/640, Clik Elite Pro Express, Lexar Professional Digital Film

Look for more YNP wildlife posts through the summer as we’ll be spending more time there this year than any previous year.  The richness of bears and the wolf activity will keep us coming back as much as possible.

Keep on shooting and enjoy the shots you get.

New Toys

Posted in Birding, Birds, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Ron Wyatt with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2012 by mmphototours

As we mentioned in an earlier post we were recently in Florida attending the Florida Camera Club Council Annual Conference. BlackRapid sponsored this event space for us and provided giveaways for the show. They were a big hit! Thank you BlackRapid.

While we were there, we had the opportunity to play with a few NEW big boy toys.

400mm f4L, 500mm f4L, 800mm f5.6L,
2 100-400mm f4-5.6, 7D, 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III

We were particularly excited to use the (at the time, unreleased) 5D Mark III. We couldn’t wait to get out in the field and test out the gear. We met an exceptionally talented local wildlife photographer named Dennis Goodman. He took us to one of his favorite locations to photograph the “Snowys” or Great Egrets so that we could put these new toys to the test. Needless to say we had fun, and the images turned out great as well. Here are a few of the shots. Hope you enjoy some of our results.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III EF400mm f/4L
Shot at 1/1000 f/6.3 ISO 400

Canon EOS 7D EF500mm f/4L
Shot at 1/640 f/9 ISO 100

Canon EOS 7D EF800mm f/5.6L
Shot at 1/320 f/9 ISO 3200

Canon EOS 7D EF500mm f/4L
Shot at 1/640 f/9 ISO 100

Canon EOS 7D EF500mm f/4L
Shot at 1/640 f/10 ISO 100

Canon EOS 7D EF500mm f/4L
Shot at 1/640 f/7.1 ISO 100

Canon EOS 5D Mark III EF800mm f/5.6L
Shot at 1/500 f/5.6 ISO 320

But don’t worry Nikon shooters. We had Ron Wyatt with us (Nikon shooter) and he had a large assortment of Sigma lenses.

A day at Farmington Bay

Posted in Art, Birding, Birds, Canon, how to photography, Light, Naional Park Photo Workshops, National Park Photo Workshops, National Parks, Nikon, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Professional Photographer, Travel, Travel Photography on September 2, 2010 by mmphototours

1/320   f/6.3   ISO 100   400mm

We had some free time to get out and shoot some birds.  There were so many Pelicans and Geese everywhere we filled our cards in just a few hours.

“During migration, the diversity of sound and color astounds visitors to Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area (FBWMA).  Hundreds of thousands of water birds, songbirds and raptors visit this area during the migration and nesting seasons.  More than 200 different species have been documented on the management area.” -Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area

Gear used on this shoot:

Canon 5D Mark II, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM, Lexar 300x CF cards, Black Rapid straps, Tripods, Tiffen Circular Polarizer

1/400   f/8.0   ISO100   400mm  

1/400   f/8.0   ISO 100   400mm

Pelicans are very graceful for how big they are!  It was exciting to see a pelican come in for a landing.  We would all brace and fire away when one was on its approach.  It’s important to have a fast enough shutter speed and frame the shot just right in order to get a great shot.

1/1000   f/6.3   ISO800   300mm

We have great composition here.  The Pelicans are the main subject in the center of the frame while the flying birds create a unique frame.  As they fly by, they along with their reflection, creates a unique frame.

1/320 f/10.0          ISO 100           400mm

1/200    f/5.6    ISO 250    400mm

Patience was the name of the game in order to get this shot, and it’s still not exactly how I wanted it.  I waited and waited for these 4 pelicans to line up the same direction and space evenly.  It’s not exactly what I was hoping for but I still like the result. 

1/1000   f/6.3   ISO 800   300mm

“Migration: September marks the beginning of the fall migration for waterfowl.  Waterfowl on Farmington Bay during peak migration can exceed 200,000 ducks.  Many ducks have already left by the time the waterfowl hunting season opens in early October.  Tundra swans close out the annual migrating pilgrimage during November and December.” -Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area

1/8   f/5.6   ISO100   130mm

The morning wasn’t only about the birds though.  We arrived at 6:15am, before sunrise, and were able to watch the colors change in the sky as the sun rose.  The quality of light was very poor for the birds that early in the morning but the landscape photography was great! We stayed until about 10:30am that morning and where able to watch the light change on the mountains, water and most importantly the birds.

A fun day shoot

Posted in Art, Birding, Birds, Buffalo, Canon, how to photography, Light, National Parks, Nikon, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Travel, Travel Photography on June 14, 2010 by mmphototours

Mike & I (Mike) had a free day and wanted to explore some areas close to home to see what we could find and photograph. We decided to do a little “birding” in the morning over at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, which is on the southern tip of the Great Salt Lake.  After a morning of trying to capture those fast flying devils we headed to Antelope Island. Besides all the crazy nasty gnats and mosquitos it was fun.  We lucked out when we found a buffalo hanging out on the shore.  It almost looked like a white sand beach, and you don’t usually see a buffalo on a white sand beach so I was excited.  After traversing the swampy and bug infested brush we were able to get a good angle and just close enough.

f10.0 @ 1/250 ISO 500

I love this classic Buffalo stance.  He was a very big animal and he wanted us to know it.  He watched us intently for a while until he realized we where not getting any closer and where not a threat.

f9.0 @ 1/640 ISO 320

While photographing animals people tend to forget about the background and the foreground.  Here is an example where it all worked out nicely.  We were fortunate enough to have the golden plants right in front of us, the subject on a very different and fun spot, and the background is fun and interesting.   Notice that the buffalo is still the main subject and the background along with the foreground both complement it.

f7.1 @ 1/320 ISO 320

You will notice that it was an overcast day with a lot of even light.  It’s nice to have the even light but at the same time the sky was very dull and bright.  To compensate for that and still make the picture enjoyable, I wanted to give it a brighter and almost dreamy look.  I overexposed the picture slightly and pushed the highlights in Photoshop.

f9.0 @ 1/320 ISO 320

Don’t be afraid to get down in the weeds to find a fun way to compose your shot.  I like the plants in the foreground but looking at it now I wish I would have moved the subject a little higher and off to the side more rather than almost center.

f13 @ 1/320 ISO 320

Be aware of you surroundings and what the weather is doing.  As we sat and photographed this buffalo we watched the weather roll in.  As a result we were able to put the dark clouds into play and give the picture a little more dramatic look.  I decided to use a “hefty” rule of thirds here to show off the location and weather.

f16 @ 1/250  ISO 500

Here is a vertical shot to finish us off today.  In order to get a slightly closer look of the buffalo and still show off the weather, mountain, and white ground I choose to go vertical.  The sun poked through the clouds for just a second allowing the buffalo to be lit up along with the white ground around him and the mountains and clouds stayed dark and moody. Play with the light!

f6.3 @ 1/500 ISO 100

We liked this picture because of the soft colors and the composition with the three birds in the corner.  They never did cooperate with us or let us get any closer. Maybe next time.

f10 @ 1/320 ISO 200

Thought we would try a fun crop with this one. Don’t be afraid to crop your pictures any way that you want in order to make it a stronger image.  You don’t have to stick to the traditional sizes.

f7.1 @ 1/640 ISO 200

These birds are extremely fast and hard to get into focus.  We were fortunate enough to snag one with a great wing posture.  The birds are flying low right next to the water skimming and searching for bugs.  Every once in a while you will see then dip down very quickly and grab a bug off the water.

f5.6 @ 1/250 ISO 100

When we first walked up to this pond there was a single pelican just waiting for us.  This was about as close as we could get to the pelicans all day.  They were toying with us.

f10 @ 1/320 ISO 125

f9.0 @ 1/400 ISO 100

This guy was a lot of fun and put on a good show for us.  This is a good example of knowing and learning about your subject.  We knew that this guy was going to start screaming and making all kinds of noise when he started to puff his chest out.