Light is Everything!

Wildlife

And So This is Earth Day: A Photo Essay of Reality

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Today is earth day. Nice green trees, fresh water streams, bumble bees going hither and thither. Not here! We’re still caught in the death grip of winter at the end of April for crying out loud! It’s insane. Riddle me this. Why don’t climate action groups ever hold their meetings in Oxbow?! Nope, it’s always Florida or Hawaii or someplace nice! ;) Come here and get your global warming, it’s buried under 3 feet of snow! :twisted:  (more…)


Unique Deer

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Deer are deer right? They all look the same to me! I used to think that way until this one doe kept coming into the yard. She had really dark eyes, like she was wearing eyeshadow almost. It made her eyes look enormous, like a fashion model! Other whitetails typically have more of a white rim around their eyes, but this doe is quite unique from the rest. Also, in our yard, it is rare to see any bucks. It is primarily doe and fawn pairs that show up to gobble up my bird seed. But lo and behold, a big bodied buck showed up – missing his head gear.

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20130201Deertz 3I immediately knew that this was a different deer that hadn’t been in the yard before. I wanted to get a head shot of his antler sockets too. I finally was able to nab this (100% crop) image and get a better look. Pretty nifty!

20130201Deertz 4You can also notice what a different color the buck is from the doe and fawn. He’s much more golden brown than the typical grey color that winter whitetails usually sport. It truly is amazing how well the doe blends into the tree branches. They melt away just by turning sideways.

20130201Deertz 520130201Deertz 6And finally, a blurry action shot of the male deer “doe-slappin'” the female. She was too close to his food store, aka my bird feeder. It was quite the exchange. For everyone who thinks that Bambi is the way life is in the deer kingdom, think again! In the winter, food competition is tough and the biggest deer gets the spoils. And, they have no problem beating the crap out of the competition. I’ve seen does up on their back legs kicking each other like kangaroos! Note the awesome body language here, besides the hoof slap. His ears are WAAAY back. Look out deer pals, trouble’s a brewin’! :cool:

 


Yard Pals

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When the weather gets bloody cold, the deer come to town. Even if you don’t see them, you see their tracks in the snow. But lately in the cold snaps we’ve been having, we’re getting deer coming through the yard right in the middle of the day! But predictably, they start to come in right about sunset. I feed the birds and they help themselves to whatever the birds don’t eat. It’s a whitetail bonanza and it’s great for getting the deer to come in close to the camera. I shot all these photos from our little deck that sits up high above the back yard. It works great because deer don’t have any natural predators in trees, meaning, they don’t look up much. :cool: This doe is letting me know she’s putting her foot down! hehehehhe… ;)


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More Insane D800 Stuff

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Deer from the deck

OK, OK. I’ve nearly got this camera nerdery out of my system. But check this out. The deer were coming by the yard to freeload and eat the bird seed. I waited until it was very dark outside with barely any light, save what was spilling through our living room window. I had my 70-300 lens on the camera, 300mm 1/25 f/5.6 (bleh, I know) but I nabbed these deer shots at 25600 ISO or H2.0 in Nikon speak. The files are heinously, cell-phone-esque noisy, but a) the camera nailed the focus in utter darkness and b) when down sampled they are nearly usable! All that resolution really helps make a purse from a pig’s ear. :cool: I didn’t edit the shots except for watermark and the one crop. They are all SOOC RAW conversion.

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Welcome to the buffet, you fat lard!

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50% Crop! 25600 ISO

And, here’s one more I shot earlier at 6400 ISO which is totally usable. :D I heart the D800!

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The Crops

At lunch today I went out back and nabbed a few shots of some chickadees and redpolls that were coming to my black sunflower seed bonanza. I wanted to see how much you can crop a D800 RAW file. As a rule, I don’t crop anything. I like to fill the frame and have the shot exact in camera. But for this challenge, I wanted to see how the detail would hold up as we crop in on an image. Chickadees and other small song birds have loads of fine feather detail and I couldn’t wait to see how the D800 would do. Truly it is amazing how much information is there in these files. You can see in these shots, one at full size, one at 50% and the third at 100%.

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50% Crop

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100% Crop

Isn’t that wild? It’s unbelievable! But, all that resolution beats the living tar out of your lenses too. I shot this with a 70-300, Nikon’s el-cheapo telephoto and it shows. The fine details quickly turn to mush-mush. It would be nice to see what a 300 f/2.8 would be like. :cool:

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50%

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100%


Sunbathin’ Yote

It was cold this morning, mercury was dipped to -22C. Cold enough even for the creepy crawly critters to seek out a warm sunny spot. :cool: I watched this coyote walk up the ridge opposite to our house. He slowly climbed down over a big snow bank and spun around a few times, making a cozy little spot to catch some rays. I was on breakfast detail so after I had finished my chores, I grabbed the camera and snuck out in our backyard to see if I could nab a shot. My trusty 70-300 has always been my goto wildlife lens, though it’s performance is sluggish. I barely made one frame of the coyote  before he saw me and got nervous. The slow AF on the lens didn’t help much either as I wasted precious seconds trying to acquire focus. But I nabbed one while he was resting and a couple more as he began to flee.

The thing about coyotes is, they’re survivors. When World War III happens and nuclear armageddon is unleashed, the last thing walking around will be a coyote. This one looks like it will survive the winter just fine. :) Unless it keeps hanging around my yard. Then it might have a little visit from Dr.223… :twisted: I took a couple other shots of those cool winter patterns and textures too.


Early Mornin’ Wildlife!

We got the phone call this morning from our neighbour Eagle-Eye Jimmy that there was a momma & baby Moose on our crescent sauntering around. Nature guide Olivia spotted them from the breakfast table. So I grabbed my camera and went out trying to get the photo of the year with mom & baby in town. However, they had already vacated the premises. But I did find a baby bunny in point blank range and . . . a giant black bear!!!! ;)


Turkey Stalkers

Ma & Pa Kettle are down from Moose Jaw and with the wild turkeys in full strut, it was high time to try and get some photos. Dad had his 500mm f/4 and I brought a . . . 16-35 f/4 wide angle. What other lens would do for wildlife?!? hehhehhe… ;) Anyways, we drove down the road and spotted some turkeys right beside the road. Dad was switching up lenses and some other guy in a truck drove by and spooked them. Great. They were now on the move. So I ran on ahead of them trying to cut them off and steer them back to where Dad was waiting. Well the turkeys must have been chased by coyotes this year because they are far more flighty then they were last year. I was able to walk up with 15-20 feet but this year not so. Long story short on the turkey stalk was me nearly having a heart attack running up and down ginormous hills trying to cut ‘em off at the pass. To which the responded by flying away. I have a whole new appreciation for Border Collies. :cool:


A Tale of 2 Dishes

Happy New Year! Another year of photos is ahead of us and that is an exciting prospect. I can’t wait to see what lies through the lens in 2012. Christmas was good for us and we had great visits with family who loved us much and spoiled us more. When Ma & Pa came down for a visit we of course got to talking about photos. Dad, being an avid nature & wildlife photographer, was showing me what he and his photo pals had been up to lately. Winter wildlife can be some of the most interesting stuff! While most guys are sitting around watching sports, these guys are outside watching the epic battle of survival unfold! Check out these amazing snowy owl photos! These aren’t photoshopped! :cool: Just chuck a mouse out onto the snow and watch as white winged warriors wrathfully wreak havoc on unsuspecting rodentia! The main course is served! Hence, dish one.

Photo Credit: Jim Kroshus

(Jealous that dad missed out on snows, we went out and nabbed this short eared owl. Still a magnificent specimen!)

Photo Credit: Bob Schultz

Now for those who can’t handle this much excitement, there’s beauty dishes. (Hence, dish 2). :lol: For Christmas dad got a wee beauty dish. It’s actually an Opus mini reflector. It’s basically a miniaturized beauty dish that gives you a punchy, light that is one notch off of bare flash. It’s a really cool light for, yes, you guessed it, beauty and glam shots as it gives the light a very contrasty feel. I wanted to see how this little guy compared to my DIY beauty dish that I made. It’s basically the same design idea. Light comes from the flash and bounces into a surface in front of the light, then into a reflector dish and then out onto the subject. A little bit of ping pong action is involved and it makes the light slightly more diffused but still has loads of punch.

Automatically you notice the size difference. And with lighting, unlike other areas of life, size matters. ;) The bigger the better. The small guy produces a much sharper/contrasty light while the bigger the light, the softer the light. It’s the same reason why natural light photographers want huge windows. Loads of big light nice and close to the subject = soft and glorious! Here’s an example of what each light produced on our subject Sven (he’s from IKEA). :D

Opus Mini Reflector Light Mod

Contrasty Light & Harsh Shadows

DIY Beauty Dish

Still got shadows but much softer and more wrapping

So, after a quick peak, you notice the difference. The little Opus dish is much smaller and makes a more focused, contrasty light. It also fits into a gear bag much more conveniently. The bigger DIY dish gives similar contrast and punch, but is more wrapping because it is much bigger. Could you replace the big one with the Opus? Perhaps, depending on the look you wanted. It sure would make hauling it around easier!

But then again, if beauty light isn’t your thing and you don’t care about f-stops & shutter speeds, you can always try Coyote hunting. It’s hours of fun and only about 1/3 the cost of photography! ;)

Photo Credit: Bob Schultz


The Sniper

Real men like war-based action movies with lots of guns. Plain and simple. We also translate that into Photography. Go and watch The Battle of F/Stop Ridge to confirm my thesis.

So, when you’ve got a 500mm lens, you need to look and feel the part of a sniper. You can be back a loooooong way when you have 500mm to play with. It’s got über reach. The bokeh and compression with this bad boy are purely incredible. So, to put it to the test, we setup a blind in the backyard to see if Pa could nab any blue jay shots. For wildlife, the ultimate setup is the blind or “hide” as they are sometimes referred to. You setup and wait for the wildlife to come to you. In this case, we used the swing set and some hunting camouflage attached with zip ties. It’s quick and efficient and works really well. Dad also wore a full suit of camouflage to blend away into nothingness. The birds had no problems with the blind and came right in. The only issue was if he moved, then they took off. But other than that it worked really well and he got some awesome shots! All the bird images are copyright Bob Schultz of Sunwood Photography.


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