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Welcome! I'm an amateur wildlife photographer from New York State. My specialty is nature and wildlife photography. I specialize in wildlife, birds, and landscape photography. This blog is where I share some of my photos and adventures. Please comment and post questions!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

0 High ISO Test

With the Bald Eagle numbers so low recently,  I decided to run a test to see how much noise high ISO’s would introduce into my pictures.  By using the higher ISO’s I was also testing much faster shutter speeds than I normally shoot with.  I found that 3200 ISO introduced a sizable amount of noise into the photograph.  I will probably try and avoid using that high of and ISO anymore when shooting wildlife.  1600 ISO seemed ok but it did introduce a little noise as well, at least for my camera.  The rest of the lower ISO’s seemed less significant in the amount of noise they introduce in the photograph.  However I found that 200 ISO was the clearest of them all, but 400 and 800 were not much worse than 200.  

For a while I was actively avoiding shooting shots with an ISO higher than 400 but I believe now that I can get away with using up to 1600 ISO and still get a nice clear shot.  I have not looked into using noise reduction software in post processing, but I know there are some out there.  Hopefully this will help my wildlife photography out, because often my photographs are blurry or I miss shots because the shutter speed is too low.  So using the higher ISO should allow me to use faster shutter speeds and should allow for more clarity with motion photographs.  

I included some of my test shots of birds by my feeders.  One shot is of what I believe is a white-throated sparrow hopping along the ground, and it was taken with 3200 ISO.  The other photos of the blue jay and the tufted titmouse were taken at 1600 ISO.  The harsh lighting did not help the photos any, but I believe that the higher ISO is not really as big an issue as I once believed.  At least now I hope I won’t be afraid to use high ISO, because I think getting the picture is more important than missing it because I was afraid to introduce noise into the photograph.  Please feel free to comment or ask questions, or leave your thoughts on the use of high ISO in wildlife photography.  Until Next time.

Monday, February 23, 2015

0 Low Bald Eagle Count Last Few Days

I traveled out to the reservoir the last two days and both days I only spotted two eagles each day.  This is way less then the previous weeks count.  The water level has gone done a lot and maybe that is part of the reason for the low numbers.  I also went looking along the Delaware River and the Lackawaxen River and didn't see any eagles.  The ice build up along the rivers is crazy this year.  I can’t remember the last time the rivers were so covered in ice. 

I did get to look over my pictures from Friday and almost all of them were overexposed.  I did however do some post processing on a few of the photographs to at least show what I got to see.  At one point there were two eagles together next to each other and one of them was dipping his head in the water I guess trying to fish along the ice.  Another eagle landed about 10-20 feet above me, but the sun was behind him so he was back-lit.  However to me it was a neat angle and the photo still had enough light so the eagle was not just a silhouette.  

Last week was a very good week and hopefully the bald eagle count will go back up as this week continues, so I can see more of these magnificent birds.  Enjoy the photographs.  Until next time. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

0 Bitter Cold, Great Day for Bald Eagles

Yesterday was a slow day out at the reservoir.  There were some bald eagles, but they were staying put, and were to far away for a shot.  Today however was much better.  At one point there were eight eagles in one tree together.  They were also much more active and landing on the ice.  However the super bright light was an issue.  A few clouds would have been good today.  The sunlight was causing problems not only overexposing the eagles, but the ice in the background.  The lighting was just so harsh not many of the photographs were coming out.  Not sure if I could have done anything better but there is always next time.  

The bitter cold was the worst part of today.  The wind chill was in the negative thirties and my fingers were freezing.  I do were gloves but they have open fingers to allow me to grip the camera and to focus the lens.  This weekend looks bad for photography.  There is a winter storm and ice coming so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to photograph anything.  

It will give me the chance to look at the images I took today though and post them.  Hopefully some of them will come out and not be overexposed.  The photographs on this post are more from a couple days ago and are more or less a sequence as the eagle came in for a landing.  I hope everyone enjoys them.  Feel free to comment.  Until next time.     

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

0 Cold Morning Well Worth It

I arrived at the reservoir at sunrise today and the eagles were there again.  When I first got there it was still a little to dark to be photographing eagle’s but they were putting on a show.  No one else was there to see it either.  It was beautiful, the fog was rolling off the water, the sun was peering over the tree line, and both ducks and eagles were present.  It was hard at first to photograph them due to the fog, but it started to clear off once the sun was up.  What made it really challenging was the cold.  The thermometer was reading negative eleven at the reservoir.  However the cold did not seem to be affecting the eagles.  

I was not counting how many eagles were there but it was close to a dozen or so, plus plenty of mergansers and black ducks.  I am Looking forward to going back tomorrow for another chance to see it all again.  The one photograph is from yesterday of the eagle rubbing his beak on the branch.  The other one is one of the flying shots from today.  Hopefully ill get a chance to look them all over and post more soon.  Enjoy the photographs, and feel free to comment.  Until Next time.   

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

0 Bald Eagles!

Yesterday while I was out running an errand I passed by the reservoir and there were ten bald eagles on the ice.  So I went back to the reservoir in the afternoon and only saw two eagles.  None were close enough to photograph.  So this morning I went back and there were eagles everywhere.  They were finally here and they were cooperating.  They were on the ice, flying around, and close enough to photograph.  Some were even close enough to photograph with my 250 mm lens.  I’m hoping they stick around because the weather for the next few days is supposed to be good.  This year has been a slow year for eagles in the area, at least for me and I was so happy they were finally here.  There was one eagle today that was acting funny.  He was rubbing his beak up and down a branch.  Not sure why but it was interesting to watch.  Hopefully tomorrow will be another good day.  Until next time.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

0 Bird Photography Tips and Tricks

The last few days have been freezing cold, windy, and snowy.  So I have not been out to do any photography.  I am hoping soon the weather will break and I will get out again.  Tomorrow does not look any better.  The weather man is calling for negative 30 degree wind chills so I will probably not be out much.  So in my down time, I decided to write about tips for photographing birds.  I hope these tips help.  If anyone has any questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment.  Until next time.      

Bird Photography Tips:

  1. Photograph birds in direct sunlight
In my opinion the best lighting for birds is direct sunlight.  Sometimes too much light can be bad, but overall I find bright lighting to be the best.  It also allows you to use faster shutter speeds in order to capture birds in motion.  Normally around 1/500th of a second or faster. 

  1. Get birds to come to you, don’t go chasing after them
For most small birds the trick is to get them to come to you, using either food or calls or both.  Obviously this wont work for all birds but most small birds will come to food.  Also you will want an area with natural perches for them to land before they go to the feeder.  You don’t want to photograph them on a feeder.

3.  Use your car or a blind to get closer to the subjects 

Blinds are great but cars normally work just as good.  Using cars or blinds help cover your presence and the birds are less wary of cars and blinds then people.  I also find that you can sit real still and birds will still come.  But if you move to much they will fly away.

  1. Avoid sudden movements
Sudden movements will scare the birds off.  So move with caution and with a steady pace.  If you’re walking and see a bird, you should not change the pace you’re walking at.  Sudden changes will alert the bird and it will fly off.

  1. Avoid making loud noises
Noises will also alert birds to your presence and scare them off.  In order to photograph anything you should avoid talking or making any noise.  If you’re in a car I recommend turning the car off if possible. 

  1. Don’t wear bright colored clothing
Try not to wear bright colors.  The best thing to wear would be camouflage, but you can also wear dark dull colors like green, brown, or grey.         

  1. Try to catch them in action
Catching birds in action is the best way to get good shots.  Try to photograph them when they are landing or taking off, or if they are pruning themselves or other actions.  But remember in order to do this you need fast shutter speeds. 

  1. Set your camera to aperture priority mode or shutter priority mode 
Setting your camera to aperture priority allows you to manually set your aperture and will auto adjust shutter speeds to ensure the proper exposure.  You must be careful though, because this can cause your shutter speed to go to slow and won’t be conducive to photographing birds.  Shutter priority mode allows you to set the shutter speed to ensure fast shutter speeds.  You still must be careful though because doing this can cause your images to be dark.  So you may need to raise your ISO or change aperture settings to allow more light in. 

  1. Set your camera to continuously shoot
Doing this will allow you to take bursts of photographs, maximizing your chances for great shots.  On Digital SLR cameras you can take as many pictures as you want so take tons of photographs and during post production figure out which are the best.  

  1. Consider the background
Having a dark or neutral background is the best.  It causes the subject to be the focus and having a distracting background can draw away from the subject. 

  1. Get at eye level with the subject
If it is possible try to get at eye level with the subject.  This makes for more appealing photographs.  However this is not always the case.

  1. Focus on the eyes

Focusing on the eyes is important because if the eyes are not in focus it draws away from the face of the subject.  Having eye glint is also important because it gives the subject a sense of life.  In addition focusing on the eyes is the best way to ensure the image of the subject is sharp and in focus.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

0 Photographing Small Birds at my Feeder

A couple of weeks ago I decided to set up a few bird feeders at my house to see what would come.  It has been fun watching all the critters that come to the feeder.  I was surprised by the shear number of animals that come. Including cardinals, blue jays, nuthatches, dark eyed junco’s, woodpeckers, black capped chickadee’s, tufted titmice, sparrows, squirrels, and even a large cottontail rabbit was outside yesterday enjoying the food.  I used to set up feeders and use a blind to make it easier to photograph wildlife.  However due to the large amount of snow on the ground I cannot put out my blind.  So I decided to just walk outside and stand there mostly still and photograph whatever would stay.  I was surprised to find that most of the birds got used to me being there and didn't seem to care that I was there.  Only the blue jays and cardinals didn't like me being outside.  Even the squirrels after a while came to the feeder.  I’m assuming the woodpeckers won’t come either with me outside but I didn't see any while I was outside.  

When photographing small birds on a feeder you don’t want to photograph them while they are on the feeder, but you want to put places for them to land that are appealing when you photograph them.  I plan on adding some branches or something.  I do have a wood pile but all the branches that I put up have died since the last time I photographed at my feeder.  I have also been out eagle watching a few times, but I have not seen any the last few times out.  It has been a bad year for eagles for me.  It’s the first time I have not gotten at least one nice photograph of an eagle during the winter in at least ten years.  I hope everyone enjoys the photographs.  Feel free to comment.  Until next time.
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