2015 – Year In Pictures

I finally put a video up of my 2015 images. I start out thinking I’ll just put a top 12 but you know, I just get carried away sometimes. There are way more than 12 photos shared in my HurtNaturePhoto YouTube Video which I have linked for you. I’m very much a novice at putting together videos and I’m working with a very outdated workhorse of a computer. In fact, the Apple reps call it “Vintage” but it continues to perform. It is taxed on resources so I am unable to determine whether there is video compression due to my computer or something that occurs when I share the video to YouTube. The images are sharp but please let me know how they appear to you on video. Enjoy and thanks for watching it. — KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Northern Bobwhite Quail

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Northern Bobwhite Quail.  Canon 7D MkII | Canon 70-200/2.8 + 1.4x | ISO 1600 | f7.1

 

What a way to end 2015. I found myself back in South Texas on the Santa Clara ranch and once again, that ranch did not disappoint. I still haven’t viewed all of the photographs as I’ve not downloaded all of them yet; however, I really enjoyed the reflection of these 3 northern bobwhite quail and just had to share. I cropped this to a panoramic format to emphasize the reflection in the pond. While the original format looks nice, I think the panorama is a better portrayal.

Speaking of reflections, as you look back on your 2015, I hope that you accomplished all of your personal and photographic goals. As you look toward 2016, challenge yourself to stretch your photography skills. Whether that is to learn a new technique, travel to a new destination, or focus on that nemesis subject, may 2016 be your year.

Until next year…good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Mexican Ground Squirrel

Mexican Ground Squirrel.  Canon 1DMkII | 500/4.5 | ISO 400

Mexican Ground Squirrel. Canon 1DMkII | 500/4.5 | ISO 400

This Mexican Ground Squirrel provided a most pleasing pose at one of the water holes located at the Campos Viejos Ranch. They are constantly on the alert and the sound of the shutter caused this fine specimen to pause as if to momentarily say….”one more click and I’ll jump”.

Campos Viejos is a premier hunting and photography ranch in South Texas. For further information about photographic opportunities there, contact ranch owner Hardy Jackson.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN

What Is a Photo Anyway?

Daddy-Long-Legs On Birch Bark

Daddy-Long-Legs On Birch Bark

Lets answer that question first, with what it is not. A photo is not the camera or lens you used to take it. I’ll bet 9 out of 10 readers who see this post, or any other image they like, quickly try to ascertain what camera and lens were used in its capture. I normally provide those things in the caption but here I purposefully omitted that bit of information. Yet, we humans are curious creatures and we like to know those things. Hey I don’t blame you, I’m in that 9 category myself. But let me ask, does it really matter? If I used a Canon 7D, 1DsMkII, or 1DMkII, with a 70-200/2.8 and extension tubes, or my dedicated 180mm macro lens would that elevate or minimize the perceived worth of the current highlighted image? What if I used my Olympus e-pl2 with 14-28mm kit lens? Did that help or hurt your opinion of this photo?

Now that we are passed the gear obsession, lets look at the merits of this photo and see if we can answer the question posed in the title of this post. Photography is about capturing light on a subject so those two things are certainly part of what makes a photo. In the current image, we have some soft, warm, and dappled light (quality/type of light) hitting our subject (a daddy-long-legs spider) which is perched on the beautiful bark of a birch tree (background). The direction of light is from the left (as we face the image), which is evident from the shadows of the peeling bark and this direction of light helps bring out the texture of the bark. A small amount of fill light has been added to the subject to give it a little pop in the dappled light. Sharpness of the subject is critical to the image and without that, this image would be in the trash bin. Since I have chosen to frame the subject tightly (composition), I have a relatively narrow depth of field, but for this type of image that works. There is a pleasing amount of contrast and the neutral colors are warm. So in this photo, as in any photo, the answer to our question can generally be found in some combination of the bolded terms above. All of these characteristics may not be present all the time; but when applied correctly, these things can make the difference between a keeper image or one destined for the trash bin.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting. — KEVIN

Oh, because I know some of you are still curious about the gear I used…this image was handheld, captured with an iPhone 5s.

ImageSpotlight: Least Tern

Least Tern. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm | ISO 400

Least Tern. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm | ISO 400

Florida sure is a bird photographer’s paradise. I traveled to Bonita Springs last June and was met with photographic opportunities everywhere I looked, from Ding Darling NWR to a popular beach near hotels. The image featured here was near a nesting site behind a row of hotels on a fairly busy beach. The bird nesting areas are roped off to allow the birds to nest without being disturbed but to be honest, I think the taped areas need to be larger as people routinely walk right up next to the taped area and are met with birds dive bombing their heads to let them know they are too close to their nest.

The least tern is a small bird and I knew I would have to get close to get the shot I wanted, even with the 500mm on a Canon 7D. However, I did not want to disturb them on their nests. So, when I was probably 40 yards away from this pair of birds I got on my belly and began a slow methodical crawl toward them. I don’t know how long it took but it seemed like forever as I inched my way closer and closer. Eventually, I felt I was close enough and began focusing on nesting birds while keeping an eye out for interactions. The birds had grown accustomed to my presence and paid no attention to this blob of a figure laying on the sand. I noticed the interaction of this pair of birds and waited for the right moment. The result is featured here.

The key to this image was concern for the subject and a lot of patience to begin a low crawl way outside of photographic range.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting –KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Osprey with Prey

Osprey With Prey. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm | ISO 400

Osprey With Prey. Canon 7D | 500/4.5mm | ISO 400

A few weeks ago I made a trip to Bonita Springs, Florida. I have to say Florida did feel like a bird photographer’s paradise as everywhere I went, photo opportunities presented themselves, whether that was at nearby Ding Darling NWR or simply a spot by the road where wading and shorebirds gathered to hunt during low tide. On this particular afternoon I visited Lover’s Key State Park with the intention of hiking one of their marsh trails. However, I changed my mind at the last minute and decided to photograph on the beach at Lover’s Key instead. I knew terns and skimmers were nesting on the beach and I hoped to get some images of them flying by. Before anyone starts to wonder, I never made it to the nesting area on this afternoon but I did another day and yes, I kept my distance from the nest area itself. The nest area is roped off to keep people from disturbing the birds on the nest. However, it is a public beach and people can walk right up along the rope. In my opinion, that’s still too close as the birds will feel threatened and give you a flyby (witnessed it several times over the course of a few days). But that is a story for another day. Let’s get back to the image in this post.

As I mentioned, I was on my way to photograph the terns/skimmers and was carrying my tripod mounted 500mm lens slung over my shoulder across a bridge/boardwalk connecting Lover’s Key to the beach. When I reached the part where the bridge met the sand, I was greeted by this Osprey clutching a fish and settling in to start dining. Shocked, I feared my movements getting the tripod off my shoulder and legs spread would cause the Osprey to fly away. To make matters worse, I heard someone saying “behind you, behind you” as I was trying to spread the tripod legs. It turned out to be a lady on a bike and she was none to pleased that I had not moved out of her way, specifically that I did not move to my right because the bike rack was to my left. Now I really feared the Osprey would take flight given her noise and movements but to my good fortune, the Osprey’s attention was fixed on the fish since it was still alive and flopping. With the lady now gone, I began taking images…lots of images.

I took some insurance photos from a standing position but I knew the best perspective would be low to the ground so I eased my way into a low kneeling position and fired away. I would capture some images from the prone position as well but thought the low-kneeling images were best given this location and backgrounds. To say the least, lady luck was with me on this particular afternoon.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting. — KEVIN

ImageSpotlight: Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting.  Canon 7D | 500/4.5 | f8 | ISO 200

Indigo Bunting. Canon 7D | 500/4.5 | f8 | ISO 200

I’ve been after this bird for a number of years. When I lived in South Texas, these birds migrated through the area in the winter time. Now that I am in Georgia, the indigo bunting spends its summer months in the area. A few weeks ago I noticed a bird at my feeder that I had never seen on my property. It turned out to be the rose-breasted grosbeak, which migrates through the area. I setup hoping to get their photograph but they have since moved further north in their range. To my surprise, this beautiful blue bird visited my feeder instead. I was able to capture a documentation image but nothing I was excited about. Given that this is an afternoon feeder, the past two weekend afternoons has found me out back hoping for the bunting to land on my perch while the light was good. With the tall pines casting long shadows, I have a limited time before the perch is in the shadow and the background lit by the sun. After a few weekend attempts, I finally got a cooperative bunting to land where I wanted at the hour I wanted. And finally, an old nemesis was now a part of my portfolio. The summer has only begun so I hope to get many more but it sure feels good to have captured the image shared in this post.

Until next time, good light and keep shooting. –KEVIN