Light is Everything!

Posts tagged “Wildlife Photography

TEDx – Apex Predators

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An Extremely Candid Photograph of Dr. Greenwood! 🙂

There are truly only very few moments in a person’s life when you enter a room and instantly know that  you are surrounded by giants. People so incredibly bright and knowledgable that they have already forgotten more than you will ever know. Being in a room with Dr. Hamilton Greenwood is one of those such moments. He is a brilliant biologist, educator and photographer and he has been a family friend for many years.

Recently he did a TEDx talk in Saskatoon, SK. His talk is perfectly woven together with his own stunning wildlife and nature photography from our great province of Saskatchewan. Check out the talk here, it is totally worth your time and you will be highly rewarded!

Description from the TEDx Talk:

Educator and Wildlife Photographer | Hamilton Greenwood is an adult educator and wildlife biologist with a passion for using photographs to inspire. He is the department head at Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Natural Resource Technology Programs, and a sessional lecturer for both the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP). With an undergraduate degree in Biology from Queen’s University and a PhD from McGill, he has taught a generation of people who contribute to Natural Resource Management in Western Canada. As a teacher, he is known for the passion and commitment which be brings with him to his classrooms. Hamilton’s personal and professional life has found a wonderful bridge in landscape, wildlife and still-life photography. His images are widely published and freely shared with many non-governmental organizations. These photographs, and countless hours in the wild, are the canvasses from which he works.

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Dr. Greenwood in a rare moment of On-Camera Flash

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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’! 😎

 


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. 😎 This doe is letting me know she’s putting her foot down! hehehehhe… 😉


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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. 😎

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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. 😎 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… 😈 I took a couple other shots of those cool winter patterns and textures too.


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! 😎 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). 😆 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). 😀

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.


Robin

 

Turdus Migratorius

Yesterday 10,000 robins descended on my mountain ash tree to gobble up berries like they were going out of style. Not really a good sign. Usually means big crazy cold coming our way. Or, maybe they’re just hungry. 😉 Let’s hope it’s that one.


It’s a Murder!

Last night after another magical slow cooked dinner we decided to have a fire. After we got the s’more pit going, I looked up and noticed a gaggle pride flock band murder of crows. I know why they call them a murder.They make so much obscene noise you want to murder them all! It was a toss up between the camera and a gun on this “shoot”. 😉 My theory is that there was something dead nearby because they and two hawks kept swooping in and out of the trees behind our house. Anyways, it was golden light and everything was rich in colour. Love it! Can’t beat it ever! I grabbed the 70-300 and nabbed a few shots before the light slinked away behind the horizon. It’s gyp that the sunsets aren’t lasting as long as they did even a few weeks ago. All of these shots (except the fire pit) are with the 70-300. You can see how longer glass gives you added compression and photo num nums. The power/telephone poles show this in the pics of the family. Even at f/5.6 0r f/8, they look compressed and bokehlicious. 8) And the shots of the lone yellow clover blossoms have sweet sweet bokeh at 300mm. That’s the added benefits of compression in images. If you’ve ever wondered why the vast majority of portrait photographers use that magical 70-200 lens, this is why.


It’s a Hummdinger!

I’m on holidays right now! YEE HAW! It’s great to get away. I’ve been busy on the ol’ picture mill too. After being in Grenfell for a few days taking in all the centennial activities as well as family fun, I’ve got 4 full memory cards, 8GB each – all RAW. That’s 24 GB of pics to wade through! I can’t wait. But today, while taking it easy, I got to play with my Dad’s (*ahem*) awesome Canon wildlife setup. 1D Mark III & a 500mm f/4. Does it get any better?! (If you said a D3 with a 600mm f/4 you’d be right) 😉  Mom’s garden is chock full of flowers and birds so I setup the big guns and nabbed some hummingbirds when they came in!

For the last shot, I setup Dad’s 580EXii on a stand with his Pocket Wizards. Super rad to light up these little hummers. They really shine! Not too bad a day, even if I had to use Canon stuff…. 😉