Category Archives: Uncategorized

Rough Green Snake

The weather broke a bit late this afternoon so I decided to venture out and see if I could find something interesting to photograph. The skies were still threatening a bit so I decided to stick to the car and explore some forest roads. That type of outing is always a bit hit or miss… with miss being the most common. I got lucky and notice a Rough Green Snake in the middle of the forest road. While they’re probably common enough their bright green color makes them very difficult to find when in vegetation. They are generally fairly tolerant of close contact with humans, seldom if ever bite so I decided to take advantage of those tendencies and used a macro lens combined with a 1.4x teleconverter and, eventually, an extension tube. For some of these shots the front of my lens was probably within 3 inches or so of the snake’s face.


A Rough Green Snake in the Croatan National Forest

Rough Green Snakes are fairly docile and approachable.

Green snakes eat primarily insects and spiders.

Rough Green Snake.

Also posted in General Photography, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Photo Tip Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Something Fun!

I don’t normally do composite images. There’s a place for that kind of art but it’s really not my thing. However, on a rainy Sunday morning it was something fun to play around with. Here’s a look at the results.

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Also posted in General Photography, Nature Photography, Wild Horses Tagged , , , , , , , |

Fall Dates: Wild Horse Photography Workshop & Crystal Coast Wild Horse Photo Safari

Wild Horse Workshops and Tours.Just posted, fall dates for the Crystal Coast Wild Horse Photo Safari and for an exciting new Wild Horse Photography Workshop. The Workshop includes classroom instruction, a critique session and visits to the wild horses via a private charter each of the three days. As always lunch is on me for all three days. For the Fall version of the Crystal Coast Photo Safari instead of a morning walking tour on the final day we’ll be using a private charter. Both of these are great opportunities to observe, photograph and learn about the local wild horses. Check out my workshop page for more information.

A wild horse feeds on the tidal flats during the evenings golden hour.

wild horse prints

Also posted in Banker Horses, Education, Nature Photography, News & Announcements, Wild Horses Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Ten Tricks to Improve Your Nature Photography

It would be nice if there were some magic pill that would make one an excellent photographer. The fact is that no such pill exists. However, by apply a few simple tricks you can make drastic improvements to your nature and wildlife images.

1) How Low Can You Go?

When you view a pair of photos of a similar subjects together… one taken by an amateur the other made by a professional photographer… you can usually pick the pro’s shot quickly just based on the perspective of the image. The professional shot will almost always be from a low vantage point. The amateur shot, on the other hand, will almost always be taken from the perspective of a person standing upright. Get low to add drama to your images.

2) Subject Eyes Sharp & In-focus.

It’s been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. In our everyday interactions we look into the eyes to check for things like honesty, empathy, warmth. It’s how we make a connection with other living beings. Having eyes sharp and in-focus helps viewers to make a connection with our photographs.

3) Get the Safe Shot then Experiment.

Novice or dyed in the wool pro we all do it. We see images that move us and visit the same locations to try our own hand at making a memorable photo. There are locations that have been photographed thousands, even millions of times. Images of these locations are usually similar… iconic. When visiting these locations go ahead and get the “safe shot,” that iconic, expected view we’re all used to seeing. Then experiment. Try different angles. Look for a view that hasn’t seen before. Go low. Go high. Go right or left. Take a hike. See if you can find an angle of this all too familiar location that hasn’t been worn out.

4) Rules Were Made to Be Broken… But Not Without Reason

If you visit many photography forums you’re bound to see a lot of posts by people proclaiming the virtues of breaking the rules. Often times their posts include an image… usually an image that doesn’t work. Being a rebel is great but be sure you have a reason for it. Compositional rules are based on centuries of artistic experimentation and observation. These guidelines work for a reason. Study about composition. Learn the various guidelines and apply them to build stronger images. Only then will you recognize those rare opportunities where breaking the rules will result in a stronger photograph.

4) Fill The Frame.

This isn’t earth shattering advice. It’s likely you’ve heard it before. There’s a reason for that, it works! Filling the frame with the subject is especially important when shooting a subject where there’s a lot of clutter around it. The clutter creates distractions that will divert the viewers eyes from the subject. By filling the frame with your subject you isolate it, focusing the viewers attention on it.

5) Include Negative Space!

In the last tip I suggested you needed to fill the frame of your photograph with the subject. But you’ll notice I included a qualifier; “where there’s a lot of clutter around it.” There are times that negative space can contribute to a stronger image. When photographing animals viewers may feel more comfortable when there’s some space in front of the animal for it to “move into.” Similarly the artist can create some tension, drama or mystery by putting negative space behind the animal and having it facing out of the frame.

6) Try a Vertical Orientation for Landscapes.

You should be familiar with two terms used when printing a document or image with your computer – Portrait and Landscape orientation. Landscapes are traditionally wider than they are tall while portraits are usually the opposite. Using the portrait orientation to photograph a landscape can produce an interesting and unique image of a tired, frequently photographed location.

7) Be a Photo Maker Not a Taker.

There are two kinds of photographers in this world, the takers and the makers. Takers aimlessly fire away, giving little if any thought to what the resulting image will look like. In contrast, a maker takes some time to study their subject, making decisions about perspective, point of view, and composition before pressing the shutter button. In order to consistently make good photographs you need to be a thinking photographer… a maker not a taker. Take a little time to look things over before you set-up your camera and tripod.

8) Gather Knowledge First, Pixels Second.

Most likely your best photos will be those made of subjects you’re familiar with. Whether you photograph animals, landscapes or specialize in macro imagery the more you know about your subject the better your photos are likely to be. Knowing a location, when the best light falls on it or having knowledge of a particular species of animal gives a photographer a huge advantage over those that have to depend on luck.

9) Don’t Be Afraid to Shoot in Bad Light.

Many photographers put away their gear when the golden hour passes. Learn to embrace and shooting in harsh light. Perfect lighting and conditions are a bit rare. If you make a habit of only shooting in the best of conditions you may have a problem when you make the photographic trip of a lifetime. If conditions are less than ideal and you’re not used to photographing in them you’re unlikely to bring home any decent images. Make a habit of shooting in tough conditions and you’ll have the knowledge and skills to salvage your trip.

10)) Learn to Use Post Processing Software.

It doesn’t matter whether you use Elements, Photoshop, Lightroom or some other software, post processing is nearly as important as your camera work. The images you see presented by your favorite photographers have likely received more work in in post than you think. Vignettes are added to concentrate the viewers attention on the subject, distractions are burnt down or cloned out, shadows darkened, highlights brightened, colors corrected… saturation, vibrance and white balance tweaked. Simply put artists have been making adjustments to their images as long as photography has existed. What was once done in the darkroom or with an airbrush is not done on the computer. Post processing is part of the artistry of photograph. Don’t expect your images straight out of the camera to have a chance of comparing with the work of an artist who knows how to use software to produce the results they wanted.

Also posted in Education, General Photography, Photo Tip Tagged , , , |

A Dying Breed: Oceanana Fishing Pier, Atlantic Beach, North Carolina

When I moved to the Crystal Coast there were 6 public fishing piers along the Atlantic Ocean; Bogue Inlet Pier, Emerald Isle Pier, the Iron Steamer Pier, the Sportsman Pier, Triple S Pier and Oceanana Fishing Pier. Today there are only two left. This is a trend that’s occurring up and down the coast of North Carolina. For example, in 1996 there were 32 piers along our coast, by 2009 only 19 remained open to the public. This evening I decided to pay a visit to the Oceanana on Atlantic beach. Below are a couple of the resulting images.

A veiw from under the pier.

The Oceanana fishing pier juts out into the ocean along Atlantic Beach in North Carolina.

Also posted in General Photography, Landscape Photography Tagged , , , , , |

Semipalmated Plovers at Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve

I loaded up my kayak and paid the reserve a visit a few mornings ago. As is usually the case, my efforts were awarded with plenty of photography opportunities. I found these plovers feeding along mouth of Deep Creek, the entrance into the tidal flats. These small birds are a joy to watch and a challenge to photograph. They tend to be more than a little suspicious of anything approaching them. Getting close to them, however, is easier from the water than from land. Such is one of the benefits of using a kayak for photography. Here are a few shots from the encounter.

A tiny plover explores the beach looking for a meal.

Semipalmated Plover at the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve

Plovers are very small shore birds.

North Carolina's Crystal Coast is a wonderful destination for nature and wildlife photographers.

Also posted in Avian Photography, General Photography, Kayaking, Nature Photography, Wildlife Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Shackleford Banks Seagulls

It’s all too easy to overlook seagulls when making nature photographs. After all, along the coast they seem almost omni-presents. They’re almost everywhere. Even so there are a variety of different gulls and they can make interesting photographic subjects. Here is a Laughing Gull and a Ringbill Gull photographed while waiting on pick-up from Shackleford Banks. Often times the best tactic for photographing shore birds is to take a seat along the beach, stay reasonably quiet and still, and to allow them to come to you.

 


A Laughing Gull strikes a pose along the beach on Shackleford Banks
A Ringbill Gull goes for a wade.

 



 

Now available my “Introduction to Kayak Photography” eBook. Learn how to approach skittish wildlife from the water to add an interesting perspecitve to your photographs.

 

USD 4.99 / Download

Also posted in Avian Photography, General Photography, Nature Photography, Photo Tip Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

Not Only Wild Horses

While the focus of last weekend was on photographing wild horses other opportunities did present themselves. For example, while waiting on the boat to pick us up we had several interesting shorebirds stroll past. Below is one of my shots taken on Shackleford Banks while waiting for a ride.

 

Wild Horse photography workshops often present opportunities to photograph interesting shorebirds as well.

 



 

Now available my “Introduction to Kayak Photography” eBook. Learn how to approach skittish wildlife from the water to add an interesting perspecitve to your photographs.

 

USD 4.99 / Download

Also posted in Avian Photography, Nature Photography, Wildlife Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

A Bit Tired But What a Workshop Weekend!

There’s no doubt that this weeked was tiring. I spent the weekend leading the Horses of the Crystal Coast. We spent Saturday exploring the eastern end of Shackleford Banks. It took a bit of hiking to find some Wild Spanish Mustangs but find them we did. We spent the morning exploring the tidal flats and marsh photographing the wild horses. We took a break for a couple of hours to refuel in one of the local resturants then returned to the island to explore along the beach and in the dunes for more photographic opportunities. We covered a lot of ground and I’m sure we all were feeling it a little by the end of the day. But a little effort frequently required when photographing wild creaters in their natural habitat.

For the Sunday portion of the workshop we visited the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve. Simply put, it was a horse rich environment. At one point we had 20 horses together providing plenty of photographic opportunities. Romance was in the air and there were moments of a bit of sparring and posturing mixed in a a lot of calm, quiet periods. It was, without question, a very productive morning.

Many thanks to to Blake, Carolina, Kelson and Gail… the workshop participants. I hope you captured some wonderful images and long-lived memories.

Below is one of my shots from the weekend. I’m sure I’ll post some more in the not too distant future.

 

A wild horse is back lit on a dune with the tidal flats and Bird Shoals in the background.

 



 

Now available my “Introduction to Kayak Photography” eBook. Learn how to approach skittish wildlife from the water to add an interesting perspecitve to your photographs.

 

USD 4.99 / Download

Also posted in Banker Horses, Education, Wildlife Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

SOLD OUT! – May 19,20 Wild Horses of the Crystal Coast Workshop

Wild horses of the Crystal Coast workshop Sold Out!
 The May 19 & 20, 2011 Wild Horses of the Crystal Coast is now Sold Out. There is still space left in the June 23, 24 2011 workshop. If you’ve been wanting to join me for a wild horse adventure don’t put off booking your space. These workshops tend to fill-up very, very quickly. For more information on my instructional offering visit my workshop page.

 


If you enjoy the photos you see on this site you may want to consider purchasing my “Introduction to Kayak Photography” eBook. Many of the images that you’ve been enjoying are made from my kayak. Kayak’s are a wonderful tool that allow you to be up close and personal with many kinds of wild life.

 

USD 4.99 / Download

Also posted in Banker Horses, Business and Administration, Ebooks, Education, Wildlife Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , |
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