Posts Tagged ‘photography tips’

Photo Essay: Nightscapes

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Monday, February 11th, 2013

Photo Essay by Josh Haas: Nightscapes

 

Sedona Nightscape, Trails of Light

Sedona Nightscape, Trails of Light

Sedona Nightscape:

This very special image took hundreds of miles in travel, days of scouting, hours throughout the night shooting, and hours of post-processing. This makes it an ‘earned’ image in my book. It’s a classic long exposure but instead of just leaving the shutter open for 30 minutes, I created this using multiple stacked exposures instead. This was because the town of Sedona was close enough that in a super long exposure, the light pollution would’ve ruined the image. The first shot was taken about 45 minutes after sunset when there was still enough ambient light to illuminate the rocky ridge in the foreground. After that, I had to leave my gear in place and wait a couple hours until it was dark enough to begin taking the 30 second exposures one after another. I did this for another 90 minutes until I was sure I had a sizable group of images without plane lights and other problems to create a nice star trail image. Finally, the shooting was complete. On the plane ride home at an altitude of 30,000 feet, several interested people on the flight watched as the final image was created. A night image was my goal weeks before heading to Arizona for this trip and I’m excited to say we made it happen.

 

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark III, 24-70mm f2.8 lens

Aperture- f2.8

Shutter Speed- Multiple 30sec exposures, stacked

ISO- 250

 

Lightning with a Purple Hue

Lightning with a Purple Hue

 

Lightning with a Purple Hue:

After years of waiting for the perfect storm to photograph, it was finally here. The storm has to be just right to make lightning photography work and this one was perfect. Using an intervalometer, I set up underneath my deck and began shooting. After setting my exposure settings, focus and composition the intervalometer took over to kick off the exposures one after another while I retreated inside where it was safe. This was a great compromise that made my wife happy. =) Safety has to be number one in storm photography and this device sure makes it safe. While inside, I waited until the rain was close enough that it would compromise any good images and then retrieved my gear. After loading the 100+ images, I had one that turned out great (and this one is it!) The purple sky, tree line and lighting all work together to make this a nice image.

 

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel T2i, Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens

Aperture- f6.3

Shutter Speed- 20sec

ISO- 100

 

Lake Superior Lightning

Lake Superior Lightning

 

Lake Superior Lightning:

A more recent image, this was taken on the south shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. After a day of shooting waterfalls the lighting was drab that evening so I figured my shooting was done for the day. It was about that time I began to hear distant thunder and decided to make the trek out to the beach to see what was happening. As a distant storm approached I set up and waited. The evening light dwindled and the storm approached; a hole in the clouds opened up at the perfect time show-casing an orange sky lit by the fading sun. The lighting popped and all I needed was a rock star of a lightning bolt to finish off the scape. Just before the rain began my wishes paid off and I got my lightning. To create this image I set my aperture, ISO and then used 6 second exposures over and over until the right lightning appeared in the sky (notice my stopped down aperture of f13 to keep too much light from hitting the sensor). As the sky becomes darker, this technique gets easier as you can use longer exposures but because I was shooting before dark, I had to stop down my aperture and could only use 6 second exposures without blowing out the images.

 

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 lens

Aperture- f13

Shutter Speed- 6sec

ISO- 200

 

 

Star-filled Night with Space Station

Star-filled Night with Space Station

Star-filled Night with Space Station:

This image is the result of a family member contacting me about some action I might be interested in. The International Space Station was set to pass by our night sky that night. At the time, I was still living in the city where light pollution would ruin the image so I grabbed my gear and headed out in the country in search of a spot. I ended up on a golf course and struggled to find a decent spot with enough time to get set up in time. I was able to make it work and record the image with the International Space Station streaking across the sky. For all of you photographers out there, it pays to spread the word and build a base of people that can give you tips on where possible action may be. I’ve captured several images this way and had I not been tipped off, the images would not exist today.

 

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens

Aperture- f2.8

Shutter Speed- 30sec

ISO- 100

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.

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Photo Essay: Owls

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Friday, December 14th, 2012

Photo Essay: Owls by Josh Haas

Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl © Josh Haas

Burrowing Owl:

After a frustrating couple days on Sanibel Island, we decided to stop at some of our favorite Florida birding areas as we headed back north to the Orlando area.  Our spot for Burrowing Owls didn’t fail us and we happened upon a cooperative bird that was spending time in and out of its burrow one March morning.  The slight angle of the ground and the birds demeanor are just sweet in this image.  The warm morning light sure didn’t hurt either!  This was definitely the shot of the trip and while it’s not the most popular at art shows in Michigan, it still has a special place in our house!

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel T2i, 500mm f4 lens

Aperture- f4.5

Shutter Speed- 1/500th

ISO- 100

 

Long-eared Owl

Long-eared Owl © Josh Haas

Long-eared Owl Silhouette:

For those that remember an old post from me regarding “The Four Year Image,” this one took even longer!  My wife and I have been going to Whitefish Pt. in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for years.  The first time we spent a sunset on the hawk deck more than seven years ago we were lucky enough to have a couple Long-eared Owls fly through and I immediately had the goal of capturing that as an image.  The image would only fall in place with a perfectly clear sky, the right winds, and an Owl to take flight at the right time in order to capture the light and composition just right.  Every year since that evening, I’ve found myself trying for this image the one weekend in April we are there each spring.  This past spring, the stars aligned.  I had a clear sky, the right winds and a single Owl took flight just in time.  The result, more than seven years was this image and one happy photographer!

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark III, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/1000th

ISO- 1000

 

Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl © Josh Haas

Great Gray Owl:

This image is brought to you by way of a 3 hour drive one winter morning beginning at 4am.  The goal was to be set up before first light for a bird that had been incredibly cooperative just days before.  Unfortunately for us, after the long drive we came upon a bird that had a free handout from the evening before.  The bird sat as we waited for hours and hours.  By the end of the day, the bird hadn’t moved and while I was hoping for flight shots of a Great Gray Owl but sometimes, it doesn’t always go the way you planned.  Later that night when I was going through some of my images from the day, I found one with the bird looking straight at the camera.  After a little cropping and some thought into some matting I snuck away with a great image.  Not at all the image I had hoped for but still one I was very happy with!

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Id Mark III, 500mm f4 lens

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/200th

ISO- 200

 

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl © Josh Haas

Snowy Owl:

Talk about a sit and wait bird.  This stunning adult male Snowy Owl was perched on a power pole as I sat waiting and hoping he’d take flight.  Sitting on the ground against the car in sub-zero temps far enough away to not spook the bird is tough.  Holding a 13lb camera rig at the ready hoping action would take place is harder.  Many times, when they do take flight in a scenario like this, they fly in the opposite direction but this bird launched and flew directly past me.  What an exciting event it was!  In the process, I was able to get some shots.  The floating manner this bird took on made it my favorite shot of the group.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f11

Shutter Speed- 1/1250th

ISO- 250

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.

Photo Essay: Eagles Galore

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Thursday, December 6th, 2012
Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle with talon shadows © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle with Talon Shadows:

This image is very important to me as it was the first really nice Bald Eagle image I added to my repertoire.  Most of my Bald Eagle imagery is from the Mississippi River in the dead of winter.  It’s a cold way to get photographs but if you are after images of specific species, you have to go where big numbers are.  Once you find a good group, then comes the tricky part.  Exposing properly for adult Bald Eagles.  Shooting in full manual is a great way to expose properly but for those a bit weary of full manual, aperture priority can be used but it’s important to monitor your histograms ensuring your exposure is correct as the day goes on.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel XT, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/500th

ISO- 100

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle with fish © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle with Fish:

A classic Bald Eagle image after the hunt.  If you ever find yourself at a spot with lots of Bald Eagles, it’s only a matter of time before you start to experience them fighting over a recently caught fish.  One of the things I like about this image is how intent this bird looks on bugging out of the area.  The position of the wings and the general look of this Raptor in the photo has always spoke to me.  Natural predation at its finest!

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f8

Shutter Speed- 1/2500th

ISO- 400

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle with Reflection © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle with Reflection:

I was extremely happy the moment I reviewed this image on the back of my camera.  I found a spot away from the crowd one winter where there was an open hole in the ice.  A small group of Bald Eagles had found the spot before me and were nailing fish in open water.  Setting up low at the river’s edge, I was able to position myself so the leafless trees were in the background making the water appear very dark.  Because the hole of open water was small, the water appeared calm which created the nice reflection.  It just took a while for the bird to hit the spot.  That’s the key in bird photography, spending time.  Most all of my Bald Eagle images are the result of full days in the cold, waiting and shooting.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel XT, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/800th

ISO- 400

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle Extreme Close-up © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle Extreme Close-up:

This is a photograph that my dad absolutely loves.  As you can see, I typically am shooting with my 500mm for Bald Eagles but there are times when they come very very close.  This particular Bald Eagle image is the result of a successful hunt where shortly after, the bird turned and flew directly in-front of us at a very close distance.  I pulled my 500mm up, hand-held and fired away.  Having recently tweaked my exposure, I was able to get a sharp, properly exposed image that fills the frame.  To this day, my dad sees this image and still can’t believe I hand-held the giant lens and obtained such a nice image.  Practice and preparation is huge but a little luck helps too!

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark III, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/2500th

ISO- 400

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle in Warm Evening Light © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle in Warm Evening Light:

Any good photographer knows, lighting is everything.  This image is at the end of the day when the sun was low.  My rule of thumb for Bald Eagles in flight is to strive for shutter speeds of 1/1200th or faster.  This is plenty of speed to capture what’s needed.  As the light fades, it’s important to increase your ISO to keep your shutter speeds high enough to capture the speed.  This was one of the last hunts of the evening and I was set up and ready for it.  The result was a great image with warm light from the sun and the reflecting water lighting the bird up.  It sure was cold, but the image made it all worthwhile.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark III, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/1600th

ISO- 400

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle Perched in the Pines © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle Perched in the Pines:

Ahhh, another image full of memories.  This photograph was from atop a tour boat in search of whales and glaciers in Alaska.  Because the weather was horrible and the seas were extreme, we were stuck in the safety of the bay which resulted in no whales and even less glaciers.  This was quite disappointing and while I didn’t plan on Bald Eagle images in horribly dull lighting, the stars aligned as we approached the rocky shoreline.  I ended up in the perfect position.  It’s not too often you find yourself looking eye to eye with a perched Bald Eagle.  While the lighting was dull, this was perfect for easily exposing this beautiful bird amongst the green Pines.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/320th

ISO- 640

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.

Photo Essay: Get Down Low

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Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Photo Essay: Get Down Low by Josh Haas

Black-bellied Plover

Black-bellied Plover © Josh Haas

Black-bellied Plover:
There really is nothing better to a photographer than morning and evening light, the glow that turns subjects into warm masterpieces.  For shorebirds, it’s imperative to get down and shoot as low as possible.  This winter plumage Black-bellied Plover was feeding on a South Carolina beach late one evening and allowed me to approach its area while he moved around hunting.  Laying in the sand with my camera rig mounted to a extremely low support, I was able to capture the Plover mid-step giving the bird a nice pose while the sun softly lit his entire side.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel XT, 300mm f4 lens with a 2x extender
Aperture- f8
Shutter Speed- 1/400th
ISO- 400

 

Short-billed Dowitcher

Short-billed Dowitcher

Short-billed Dowitcher:
This image created quite the ID process fro me.  I was sure I had the ID correct but back then, checked with one of my birding mentors just to verify.  As it would turn out, what I thought was a Long-billed Dowitcher turns out to be a Short-billed Dowitcher.  I was given a couple tricks on determining this but the most important was the range map of the two birds.  The location the bird was photographed was nowhere near the wintering grounds of Long-billed Dowitchers.  While freak things can happen, this should’ve been one of the first things I looked at.  Range maps aren’t just in the books for fun, they serve a great purpose!  Also of note, this is another example of shooting low.  This image doesn’t have that warm low light glow but knowing how to compensate exposure up and down in certain situations really helps, especially in bright light overhead.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f75.6
Shutter Speed- 1/3200th
ISO- 250

 

Horned Puffin

Horned Puffin © Josh Haas

Horned Puffin:

Here is an image that brings back great memories.  It was taken from a kayak in Peterson Bay, not far from Homer, Alaska.  This particular day happened to be my birthday.  What better way to spend it than kayaking in Alaska.  Most of our group that day was completely turned off to the smell that was “bird island” where sea birds were packed in with their newly hatched young.  This was the one spot I banked on going when we scheduled the tour and I was in heaven.  Birds were everywhere, flying in and out.  Throughout the madness, I was able to focus in on a lone Horned Puffin, preening in the water.  Given his attention was elsewhere, I was able to get close enough for a nice shot from a low vantage point that really shows the cool colors of the scene.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel XT, 300mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f5.6
Shutter Speed- 1/800th
ISO- 400

 

Black Turnstone

Black Turnstone © Josh Haas

Black Turnstone:
Another species photographed in Alaska, this was also a life bird for both my wife and I.  After a long day of driving from the Anchorage area to Homer, we set up camp on Homer Spit.  My wife was gracious enough to begin dinner while I hit the shore looking for birds.  I came across this little guy, ID’d him and called Kara over so she could get views.  After we were both satisfied with the ID and took notes about the added lifer, it was time to get to work and go after a nice image of the bird.  Seeing where the bird was headed, I ran way around the bird and tried to get ahead hoping it’d continue the path towards a rocky shoreline not far away.  As luck would have it, it ended up coming right to me and at one point jumped on a rock, turned around and then jumped back down.  This image is part way through that movement as it was getting ready to jump back to the sandy shore.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f5.6
Shutter Speed- 1/800th
ISO- 100

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.

Photo Essay 1: Raptors

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Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Photo Essay 1: Raptors by Josh Haas

Red-tailed Hawk raptors

Red-tailed Hawk © Josh Haas

Red-tailed Hawk:

The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the most common Raptors in North America, however, not the easiest to photograph.  I was able to capture this image from the driver’s seat (stopped of course!)  This particular field where the bird was hunting is an amazing place in winter for Raptors.  Finding places where bigger numbers of your subjects are known to roam increase the chances for nice photographs.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Digital Rebel XT, 300mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f9
Shutter Speed- 1/400th
ISO- 400

Juvenile Red-Shouldered Hawk Raptors

Juvenile Red-Shouldered Hawk © Josh Haas

Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk:
While kayaking down the AuSable River in northern Michigan, my wife and I began hearing the incessant call of a Red-Shouldered Hawk and we didn’t come upon the bird for another few bends.  This raptor is known for calling like crazy and it’s a call not soon forgot.  I had a small telephoto rig with me in the kayak and was able to capture the bird after taking flight and began soaring.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Digital Rebel XT, 300mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f5.6
Shutter Speed- 1/800th
ISO- 100

Merlin raptors

Merlin © Josh Haas

 Merlin:
The Merlin is a powerful hunter that is full of pride.  When other Raptors are in the area, they will go after them regardless of size.  When perched, they can often be mistaken for Sharp-shinned Hawks but one thing to keep in mind is Merlins tend to perch in the open where Sharpies are more secretive.  When I photographed this bird, it was perched on a Lake Superior beach and allowed me to slowly approach and get a nice image.  As I was working for images, another Merlin actually flew in and they began fighting in flight.  This image is right as the bird was lifting off.
Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark III, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f6.3
Shutter Speed- 1/1250th
ISO- 400
Bald Eagle Raptor

Bald Eagle © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle:

Following rivers in the Midwest, especially in Winter, can yield groups of Bald Eagles hunting and carrying on.  I was on the upper Mississippi River in February when I photographed this bird.  By positioning myself in a way that placed some tree branches and late foliage in the background, it created a much more pleasing image all around.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark III, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender
Aperture- f5.6
Shutter Speed- 1/800th
ISO- 640

Osprey Raptors

Osprey © Josh Haas

Osprey:
If there is one bird that is simply amazing, it might be the Osprey.  A bird that is in a family of birds all by itself the adaptations of this bird are very special.  While usually found along lakes and coastal waters, one can even find them on rivers and among flooded marshes.  I captured this bird in a marsh in Northeastern Michigan on its way back to the nest.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark III, 500mm f4 lens
Aperture- f6.3
Shutter Speed- 1/2000th
ISO- 250

Let the Environment Tell a Story

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Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Belted Kingfisher by Josh Haas

So many new photographers dream of that full-framed shot of the bird they’ve been after for years. It’s never a bad thing to have a big goal such as this but in the meantime, it might be time better spent shooting for a different style of image that tells a much more creative story.

When it comes to bird photography, especially from birders turned photographers, the full frame image is the goal. When all is said and done, these can still be beautiful images but, in my opinion, they fall very short creatively and compositionally. Think of all the times in nature when a special moment happens in front of your eyes. You know a moment like this is probably only going to happen once and there is much more to the story than just a picture of your subject alone. This is where a wider field of view that showcases the environment around your subject comes into play. Many people reading this may realize just how skittish the Belted Kingfisher is. Full frame images of this flighty species are typically only possible using the sit and wait technique while in a hide. There are times, however, when backing off a bit with your composition can give a creative view that allows the environment around the bird to tell a different story. The image above of the Kingfisher sets a misty mood where the dead branches and cobwebs offer the viewers’ eyes something extra.

Often the lack of focal length may force you to be further from your subjects. Try not to look at this as a negative. In the case of the image below, showing the Bald Eagle smaller in view shows just how small the bird is relative to its environment. One slight miscalculation and the bird ends up in the frigid February waters of the Mississippi River. This definitely tells a different story of our Nation’s master predator.

Bald Eagle by Josh Haas

When it comes to creative and compositionally pleasing images, try to think outside the box and add a little environment around your subjects. Your viewers and critiques will likely spend more time looking at those images and give much more positive feedback!

Images Galore…Now What?

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Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
Lesser Scaup

Lesser Scaup

You’ve slowly acquired the gear, you’ve bought the computer and software, and you’ve spent the last birding seasons shooting like crazy. Now what? Not only do you need to find and post-process images, but what about safe photo storage? These things are often thought of second, but if spending time going through very old images yields good results, there is a flaw in your process. Good images, no matter how old, should be easily reached at all times and stored in a reliable and safe way. There are many processes to use, and what works for one may not be perfect for you.

Storing and managing images is like anything else. It starts with a well-thought out plan. Images need to be searchable, quick to bring up, and safe. Many programs help with creating libraries of images based on keywords, dates and more. Adobe Lightroom and Bridge within Photoshop are great tools for this, but if you don’t have these tools there are other ways. One of the tried and true methods of storage I have been using for years involves simple folder hierarchies within Windows (also possible within Mac). This costs nothing extra above the computer and storage (hard drives).
Where to store the masses of images is the first step to this method. An easy solution would be 2 external hard drives. The basic premise is to store everything on one drive and then mirror that data on the second drive as a backup. One recommendation is to store the second drive off-site (ex. at work) in the event that something drastic happens to your home.
Now comes the hierarchy of folders: Think of this as a tree diagram. The top folder would be called “Photography,” while the next folders within would be named as years (ex. “2009”, “2010”, “2011”, etc.) Within those folders would be more folders that would be titled with the date of shoot and a rough synopsis of the shoot (ex. “5-4-11, Worm-eating_Warbler“). Think of these folders as albums. Within that folder/album would be where all your images are actually stored from the particular shoot (see accompanying photo to see example structure).

When all said and done, keep things simple and use good titles for folders that are easily searched. If your current process isn’t working, ask around and find out what others are doing so you can make the decision on what process is best for you.