Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Anna's Hummingbird

Here's an example of a "5" rated photo where the detail might actually be distracting. This Anna's Hummingbird appears to rejoicing in its life; with "open arms" saying thank you to its creator:

Anna's Hummingbird

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

American Marten

This American Marten photo was taken in Canada. Just like a great many of my Canada Geese photos are taken in America. (Both species are actually found through North America). Normally, I wouldn't rate this a "5" photo because it is a little "grainy" and the detail not as "crisp" as other "5s." It was barely daybreak when I took the photo. I was too close for the lens I was using (less than 10 feet). And, it was not a high quality camera. However, it is 1) a rarely seen animal; 2)  carrying prey it just captured;   3) in an area (Wells Gray, BC) that I love; and, 4) I guess just a wonderfully exciting experience watching it all happen.  And, since I get to set the rules for my ratings I can do whatever I want! 

American Marten: Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia

Monday, October 29, 2012

American Bittern

Continuing in alphabetical order my "5" rated photos, this American Bittern, which is uncommon to Arizona -- especially, Southern Arizona. What always strikes me about them is not only how camouflaged they are, but that they remain motionless even if you are close.

American Bittern: Whitewater Draw Arizona

Sunday, October 28, 2012

American Avocet

This photo of two American Avocets I found interesting. Their reflections in the water along with the grasses and their reflections made for an interesting --- artistic photo:

American Avocet: Whitewater Draw, Arizona

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Acorn Woodpecker

Continuing with my "5" Rated photos: As common in the Southern Arizona Mountains as the Gila Woodpecker is in the Sonoran Desert and our place, the comical Acorn Woodpecker:

Acorn Woodpecker: South Fork Cave Creek, Chiricahua Mountains

Friday, October 26, 2012

My "5" Rated Photos:

I thought for the next while, I'll share a "5" rated photo each day. Starting alphabetically, Abert's Squirrel taken in the Coconino Mountains of Northern Arizona:

Abert's Squirrel

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What do I do with all my photos?

We have a very nice guest that has been coming every year. He mentioned that he had collected over 25,000 photos and didn't know what to do with them. I asked him what he like to photograph and he said, "Well, I just see something and photograph it."  25,000 photos would be overwhelming. No wonder he can't get started doing anything with them. There are just too many. Yet, buried among them might be some incredibly good --- award winning photos. My suggestion may not be for everyone --- but, maybe it will help those who don't know what to do with their photography.

Suggestion: Identify a specialty. Spend the next month photographing only flowers (macro lens if available); then the next monthly animals; the next month only birds, then landscapes, then buildings (architecture), then people,  (maybe also industrial if you are so inclined). At the end of each month, look at the photos you took that month. 1) Did you like photographing that specialty? Which photos did you like best? Why those particular photos? What was it about them you liked? Show them to others. Which did they like and why? After six months you might find that you were particularly good at one (or two) of those.  That's your specialty. Now, go through your 25,000 photos creating a library of just those photos (plus the new ones). I use iPhoto Library Manager to create multiple libraries. You've probably narrowed down your photos to between 5,000 to 10,000. 

Next, begin to work those photos. I usually delete 80% of the photos I take --- immediately. Some are out of focus, some the object is too far away, some are nearly duplicates, some -- like animals or birds -- the subject matter has turned its back to you at the moment the shutter released. These can all be trashed. You may be down to a couple of thousand now. 

Of these remaining photos, rate them. Most photo software not only allows you to rate your photos but sort them by rating. So on a scale of 1 to 5: "5" is the very best, i.e. perfect focus and detail, great coloring, great composition; in fact, a photo that is "sellable." It should represent no more than 10% of the photos you have left in your library. A "4" is a photo you would be happy to show other people. It's either not quite as good as a "5" or you already have a very similar photo rated a "5." "3's" are photos you want to keep for some reason (maybe because it was taken in a particular place, maybe because you don't have a better photo of that "thing, animal, bird, landscape etc.").

Now, return to your "5's." Go through each making sure you have all the information you need for each one: where it was taken; when it was taken; a title and a description for each. Do any editing that adds value to the photo. I limit my editing to cropping, bringing objects out of shadows, and removing blemishes. 

Now you are ready to share those 5-rated photos. You can do that by creating a 1) "slideshow," 2) DVD; 3) book; 4) greeting cards; 5) start a photo blog; 6) create a photo gallery that can be seen on the internet by others, i.e. website, flicker, facebook, twitter, etc. 

Want more? Create separate libraries for the other specialties. Then one at a time go through each library, but this time be much more selective. I only keep "4's" and "5's".  So, 75% of the photos in those libraries get trashed. You might end up with 100 or less photos in each of those libraries.

So that's it. Hope it helps. If you have ideas please share by "commenting".

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Then there is always a Cooper's Hawk

During the wedding week, our eldest daughter gave a Yoga Class outside on our front patio. About eight guests, including our youngest daughter  -- the one getting married participated.  During the class a Cooper's Hawk flew into a nearby tree. He stayed in the tree long enough for the class to finish and everyone get their cameras. It was at this point that one of the guests said something to me. At first it looked completely white  --  as if it was a white adult Gyrfalcon, which got me a bit more excited. As I tried to get a better angle for the photo it became apparent that it was, in fact, a very common resident of The Azure Gate  --- a juvenile Cooper's Hawk. Nonetheless, since I hadn't been out birding for a couple of weeks I took a photo:

Cooper's Hawk

Friday, October 19, 2012

And, Mushrooms

Not as many mushrooms in Southern Arizona as there are in the Northwestern US and Canada. So, my mushroom collection hasn't grown much. But they can still provide an opportunity when animals and birds aren't around. Here are a couple photos I like:

As you can see, it takes getting laying on the ground -- using elbows as tripods -- and you end up with a nice photo. The first looks like something from Alice in Wonderland. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Another non-bird, non-animal nature photo

Experimenting can be fun. Sometimes I'll come home look at a photo and say, "Why in the world did I take that photo? What did I see?" Sometimes I'll come home and say, "Holy cow, that's a nice photo, but how did I know to take it?" Case in point. Today's photo was essentially ...... weeds. But for some reason I saw something which I can only explain after seeing the photo. The centerpiece is actually the "flowering grasses." The background is dark green which makes the foreground standout. On the right there is color from the wildflowers, but the "whitish rock" just behind them provides wonderful contrast. 

Grasses and wildflowers
(click on photo to enlarge, there's wonderful detail)
I have probably walked right past this sort of thing thousands of times, never stopping to appreciate or photograph what is there.

The lesson, if there is one, is that if you aren't finding what you came looking for, don't go home empty handed. Experiment, have fun. Who knows, maybe you'll find a gem.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ivyleaf Morning Glory

In the absence of a bear, bobcat, elegant trogon, or berylline hummingbird to photograph, I'll take most any animal or bird. But at some point, you become more particular. i.e. It's hard to get excited about photographing a house finch, house sparrow, mourning dove, or gambel's quail when you live in Southern Arizona. So, what do you do when the birds and animals are nowhere to be found? You open your mind to something new, something different. Nature, of course, has much more to offer. Butterflies are beautiful. Wildflowers are colorful. And, mushrooms can be interesting. Mushrooms and wildflowers can allow for creativity because they are stationary. Angles, composition, lighting, distances all provide the photographer an opportunity to be creative. So experiment. Take lots of photos and see which you like best ----------- and, why!   Show them to friends and see which they like best  -------------- and, why. It's a wonderful learning experience that happened only because the animals and birds were hiding.  Today, I thought I would share with you a photo that I really like, and as it turns out, so do others. 

Ivyleaf Morning-glory

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Post Wedding

Life is not quite the same anymore. My youngest is married now. And realization takes place that you are getting old, when your children keep saying, "Let me carry that for you Dad," and "What else can I do to help?" These are the same children that 30 years ago you couldn't get to clean their room or help with the dishes.  

The Javalinas came by for a visit the morning of the wedding, although I was too busy with pre-wedding chores to take a photo. But, a couple days prior, a coyote seem very interested in something on the ground. He stayed there a couple minutes and allowed our guests to get a good look and some photographs. Unfortunately, I wasn't in my office where my camera was, and the Coyote was about 8 feet from the office door. I didn't want to scare him off so I waited until he decided to move on. Finally when I got to my camera this was the best I could do:

Coyote (click to enlarge)
Oh, how I wish he had just turn his had once to look at me. That would have been a nice photo.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Agua Calliente - Part VII

Still working on wedding, so a quick post today with some birds of Agua Caliente. I am thinking I might take the next ten days off to focus on the wedding. I'll try to be back by October 16th (maybe earlier).

Male and Female Cardinal

Male Vermillion Flycatcher

Western Tanager

Friday, October 5, 2012

Agua Caliente - Part VI

I have a moment's break, so I'll try to get in a quick post. 

We're getting ready for the wedding of our baby girl. Well, she's actually 36 but she's our youngest. The wedding is here at The Azure Gate, big affair with people flying in from Hawaii, Seattle, New Jersey, and New York among other places. We're working on a family history DVD to show at the reception. Included are photos of our daughter and new son's Great, and Great Great grandparents on their wedding days.  The oldest photo is from 1879:

On top of that, we're still taking guests until Monday. (Wedding's the 13th). So, very little time to go looking for wildlife to photograph. 

In the meantime, I'll continue with photos I already have of Agua Caliente. 

Osprey eating a fish taken from the lake.

Cooper's Hawk awaiting for the unsuspecting poultry meal.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Agua Caliente - Part V

Agua Caliente also has a full array of the usual ducks and coots. Nothing really unique. Lake Cochise is probably the best place to see sandpipers, curlews, godwits, avocets, stilts, etc. Coming from the Northwest where waterbirds are as plentiful as house sparrows, I sometimes overlook them here in Arizona. But, where there is water there is usually wildlife. Here are some of the ducks from Agua Caliente:

American Wigeon

Mallard Chicks

Ring Necked Duck
Northern Shoveler

Cinnamon Teal

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Agua Caliente - Part IV

More from Agua Caliente. Now the great Egret. Like the similar sized Great Blue Heron, the Great Egret is a little easier to get close to when it resides at a busy municipal park. There is usually one at Christopher Columbus Lake on the west side of Tucson. I've taken many photos of Great Egrets throughout the western United States. These are three of my favorites from Agua Caliente. The last one is one of my favorite photos of all time.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Agua Caliente - Part III

Continuing with Agua Caliente, Great Blue Herons. The Great Blue is usually present at Agua Caliente. Occasionally, I see one flying over our B&B on the way to there. 

Now, one normally doesn't think of waterbirds in Arizona. Actually, one normally doesn't think of water in Arizona. Well, except for drinking water. Coming from the Northwest, I wasn't quite sure what to expect in "the desert". But, there are a few water holes where waterbirds collect. Admittedly, it's not the same in, say Padilla Bay near Anacortes, Washington where you might find several hundred Great Blue Herons when the tide goes out. However, where there is water in Arizona, there is usually a park, and people, as well as the waterbirds. And, over time they have gotten used to each other. The result for the photographer is that you can often get very close, as you will see in the following Great Blue Heron photos from Agua Caliente:

This Great Blue Heron was a little further away but I had to get a photo of him downing the  three or four pound fish.

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