Thursday, August 14, 2008

Red Fox Mates @ BBH NWR DE

I'm coming up on my 3 year anniversary on flickr, which is basically my anniversary of getting my first digital SLR (Aug 2005).

The way I first started shooting and posting was to take lots of shots, edit them, and try to learn from what worked well technically as well as what worked best on flickr.

Flickr is a brutal judge in some regards. If someone likes an image they will view it, and if they like it more they'll comment or fav it (or post an invite).
Posting things and getting little or no response is a real measure of how an image can evoke response. I'm not saying it's a measure of quality. It could be, or it could be some thing else entirely. But if an image doesn't go over well, the budding photographer should wonder why. And I did, and I think I've managed to learn a bunch about photography at an accelerated pace...

Fast forward a couple of years and here's how I generally shoot, edit and then post.

When I am out shooting I can usually get the camera settings right, not always, but most of the time. Lower light and I will boost ISO. I use a tripod a lot now. White birds and I compensate down. Overcast days and I adjust WB and don't protect the highlights (no harsh light = no harsh highlights). So, lots of lessons learned over the past few years of shooting digital.

Then I wind up with a lot of ok images, and I edit sometimes 50% of them, cropping and adjusting levels mainly.

During this initial edit session I usually have an image or two catch my eye immediately and I post one. But in this batch can be tons of good images technically.

Because I shoot so much, sometimes it is just this first pass that I end up doing in a timely manner. But later I look at the originals again (hopefully), and for sure I look at the images I've edited a second or third time.

By taking time to let a set of images soak in, and coming back to them repeatedly, I think I've managed to learn to be critical, and focus on what really makes an image work, for me at least.

And all too often it is behavior in a subject (animal) that makes something hit a nerve. Part of the problem of making all those judgements right after the images were taken is that as the photographer there's a huge amount of context already in your mind's eye. Images are but a moment in a timeline of a day or encounter. And seeing an image shortly after it is taken makes me recount the day and all of the context.

By letting time pass, and revisiting images, I think I've developed a more keen eye for what is in the image vs. what I recall from the encounter.

My goal is to tell stories, and provide glimpses in to nature and understanding of animals, so I can appreciate this place we all call home, and if I can share that moment with others too then all the better..


It's with all that context that I post an image from around 6 months ago from the foxes mating day at Bombay Hook NWR in Delaware. I've already now posted around 13 images, and this one caught my eye tonight. I had tried to crop it and make it work but something didn't feel right. It wasn't quite sharp enough for a close up crop, and the story of the moment seemed to be lost. So, this is the full frame version and I think I am finally happy with the image.

Red Fox Mates @ BBH NWR DE


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Location, Location, Location - Osprey @ Belle Haven Marina

So much of what I see and photograph is made possible by location. This spot at the marina, brought to my attention by Kim, is a great example of location at work.

In the second half of the day, the sun gets lower and is to the west (duh) while the action is to the east. This creates a very predictable good setup for light.

Another thing the location has going for it is that the osprey nest is in a fairly high traffic part of the Potomac river. There's a boat launch, and docks right near the nest. This gets the birds more accustomed to people and tolerant of them. Another good example of this is with the Hawks I've photographed at the national zoo, as well as the Black-Crowned Night Herons there too.

From the animal's perspective in all those cases, they see tens or hundreds of people on a given day.

Comparing that to a animal or bird, that might see one or two people a day (or none) the odds of getting a good encounter are much much lower with the isolated subject.

Part of why I wrote the above was to encourage other people to keep venturing out to new and different locations in search of better encounters and photos. Flickr has a been a great resource for me when it comes to discovering locations, most places I go are a result of flickr searches, contacts, etc.

Above cropped for effect, I had the entire bird in frame, and select sharpening was used (ie only the bird part of the photo was sharpened, not the sky). Taken with D300 and 80-400mm VR f/4.5-6.5.

I've been happy with the 80-400mmVR lens, but I want more. Kim has gotten me jealous of her gear, but I don't think I will be happy with a huge lens that requires a tripod. So, I think I might be looking in to the 200-400mm f/4 Nikkor lens. The only person I know on flickr that uses this 200-400mm lens if Michel and his work is amazing, inspires me, etc. If you're not familiar with his photos, start by checking out his girl friend.

Here are some photos and videos from Belle Haven Marina.
Osprey Chick (Finiky's)

Got Fish?  Osprey @ Belle Haven Marina 7/18/2008


Location, Location, Location - Osprey @ Belle Haven Marina


Thursday, July 10, 2008

I just heard about the Gettyimage / flickr thing. There was a post on strobist about it, and then a link to probably a better more informed take on it from Photoshelter. (And I read this too - You just have been Flickered (updated)
. This was interesting too, from 2006, strobist's take on photography, stock, etc.

My barely informed opinion on the flick/getty alliance after reading those... Gettyimages is not going to make us all rich. They won't even make a bunch of us rich.

If they were to contact me I'd be flattered I suppose, but would probably not pursue it. I'm planning to setup a site to sell prints, and have started the work on picking the images out from the nearly couple hundred thousand I've taken in almost 3 years.

I've sold a handful of images through flickr (someone emails me in flickr) that were used a couple of different ways (ie not a print for personal use). I've also given away tens if not a couple hundred images to good causes for free (educational or promoting nature or the environment).

That said I submitted a request for a free photoshelter account. I may or may not use it. I know someone that has some images on istock I think, and they make a few bucks from it. I don't think I'd want to give away some of the photos that mean a ton to me for potential sale at a cheap price for commercial use. So, I might just try to shoot specific images for photoshelter, or submit only a certain type of image (ie not my personal favs, etc). If I have a photo that I can sell individual prints for $50 or $100 or more, why would I sell someone the image for 10 bucks so they can sell prints, or use it in an ad or whatever???

There's just no way I'd part with these on the cheap:

Great (Falls) Blue Heron

Blue Ridge Mountains

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The boat: Bagheera

Shot from Spring Point in South Portland Maine. These were my manual settings. I was using manual on the Osprey, and kept shooting afterwards with M-mode...
Exposure: 1/1000
Aperture: f/11
Focal Length: 185 mm
ISO Speed: 400

D300 and 80-400mm, not cropped I think:
Casco Bay, ME


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gerber Daisy, from my Mom's Garden

Such an eye catcher, had to blog it for y'all.....

Friday, May 09, 2008

JSOH / Joint Service Open House / Air Show 1 Week Away

The air show at andrews AFB in Maryland is one week away! Make your plans to go now....

Here are a few from the last two years.

Help Wanted: Exhaust Detection Specialist, No Experience Required:
Help Wanted: Exhaust Detection Specialist, No Experience Required.

*Protection* - Joint Service Open House (JSOH) 2007 @ Andrews AFB, MD
*Protection* - Joint Service Open House (JSOH) 2007 @ Andrews AFB, MD

Joint Service Open House 2007 - SkyTypers
Joint Service Open House 2007 - SkyTypers

And here's a video from of the A-10 I took....

Visit the web page for the Air Show here:


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Red-Tailed Hawk Encounter

My first Video on Flickr... It's a series of still images with some commentary by me...

For all those "purist photographers on flickr" that hate this video thing, i say: "embrace an extension to the format you already love....."

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Red Fox Kits - Blackwater NWR, MD March/April 2008

Photos from 3/29/2008, 4/2/2008 and 4/5/2008 at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland.

Red Fox Kits - Blackwater NWR, MD

Red Fox Kit - Blackwater NWR, MD

Signs of Spring - Fox Kits Playing (6 pix)






And then there were 4 - Red Fox Kits, Blackwater Refuge, MD

All 5 Fox Kits

Curious Fox Kits @ Blackwater NWR, MD

(just) Two Fox Kits

Mating Red Foxes at Bombay Hook NWR, DE January 2008

Model Citizen
Originally uploaded by Nikographer [Jon]
Red Foxes at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware.

This day was just so awesome. My second trip to Bombay Hook NWR and I can't believe it.

It was supposed to be cloudy all day, and on Friday I was expecting Saturday to be a wash. But I went, and it was actually partly cloudy early. You just can't trust the weathermen that much.

Foxy! (1 of 9)

It was in the 20's and a lot of the water was frozen over. I saw numerous foxes on the ice, a lot of them. According to Doug, who has gone here a bunch, the foxes were extra active and he saw around 8 or 10 of them early in the day.

I also ran in to Robert and Barry and his dad.

On the prowl - Red Fox at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
On the prowl - Red Fox at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge (2 of 9)

Early morning consisted of a number of foxes working the marshes and ice. In between periods of being active a couple times we could see them lay down, and rest, and clean themselves some.

Then this one made some good time along the edge of the ice, and stopped a few times to scent mark... In the above she (?) scent marks just before running across the road to a different patch.

Scent Marking - Red Fox at Bombay Hook NWR, DE
Scent Marking - Red Fox at Bombay Hook NWR, DE (3 of 9)

Having just scent marked the fox crosses the road and takes a moment to look behind her. Her plan is starting to come together.

Red Fox checks the trail she has set
Red Fox checks the trail she has set  (4 of 9)

(Red Fox at Bombay Hook NWR, DE)

Unable to resist her charms he follows his nose, it always knows... (lol, couldn't resist)...

He's hot on her trail
He's hot on her trail  (5 of 9)

Red Foxes at Bombay Hook NWR, DE

The female made it in to the marsh/woods and he followed her in. A minute later the two of them came racing out. You can see her slightly submissive posture in the above...

The time draws near
The time draws near (6 of 9)

Red Foxes Mating - Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware

Having lured in the male with her charms, they began to mate, and actually mated continuously for the first hour or so! They then each settled in to the grass and slept for a while....

There had to be 7 or 8 photographers around for the much of the early activity, but most moved on including myself once they went to sleep. But this story doesn't end here...

Love is in the air....
Love is in the air....  (7 of 9)

Red Foxes Mating and Bonding at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

...when you're happy it shows. He's so happy I think he's dancing.

After initially mating for about an hour, they rested and then over the course of another hour or two mated and played a little. I'd have to guess that they were afraid of each other before they first got together. And with that out of the way they seemed to be more at ease with each other.

I'm really looking forward to going back and hopefully seeing some kits! I read a bit this weekend and learned that the males will stick around and help feed the female while she's pregnant (wiki)..

I have a hunch that when she marked the trail and he followed it was to where she has her den picked out. Had that been where she wanted to mate they would have never left the wooded area and come back in to our view along the marsh.

A Thousand Words
A Thousand Words (8 of 9)

Together, they rejoiced!
Together, they rejoiced! (9 of 9, full story)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Flickr and Animations - How to upload, and some samples

The King
Originally uploaded by Nikographer [Jon]
To create an animation I use Photoshop and then ImageReady.

The trick to uploading them on flickr is that only the original sized version will have the animation. I create versions that are around 500 pixels wide and upload them as private. Then I take the html code from the original sized version (all sizes link) and place the animation in a comment of a public photo.

Here are some of the ones I've posted in the past.

King Vulture in flight

Bald Eagle landing

Hunting Osprey

Cartwheeling Bald Eagles

Black-Crowned Night Heron take-off

Upside down Juvenile Bald Eagle


Thursday, January 03, 2008