My wife and I spent most of this last week in Yosemite. A beautiful place with lots of hiking and photo opportunities. The weather was not the greatest for hiking, but it did make for some unique photo ops. Below is a photo taken after it stopped snowing for a bit. Upper Yosemite Falls is visible in the background.


The next day we took a hike up to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. A pretty steep hike (a bit over 2700 feet in elevation gain). Unfortunatley, the clouds were not very cooperative and we were unable to get any views of the Falls or Yosemite Valley from on Top, but we did have a good feeling of accomplishment. I truly doubt there are many people willing to do that hike in the snow!! Below is a photo of Michele and I near the top. Made the Nut Brown Ale taste even that much better that evening over pizza.


For more photos from Yosemite please visit my Yosemite Phlog post.


Some bird species have started the northerly migration to their breeding grounds. Yesterday I found a small group of Mountain Bluebirds in Washoe Valley on their way to their breeding territory. They will most likely only stay a day or two and continue on.

Here is a photo of a male.



Many nature photographers put their camera away when the sky is overcast. This is unfortunate because the soft light from an overcast sky combined with fill flash can make for some great photo opportunities. The high dynamic range of many birds and the bright colors are often best photographed in soft lighting.

Below is an example take this morning. A Western Meadowlark taken at ISO 400, f/8.0 at 1/300. Fill flash set manually to half the distance to the bird.


Later this afternoon there was a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk terrorizing the birds at my feeders. I was able to get a shot of him flying in.


To see larger sizes of the above photos please check out today’s phlog


Considered a pest by many the Eurasian Collared-dove was introduced to North American in the Mid 1970′s. It has quickly spread across the continent, and is now present year round in many areas. Until this year I rarely saw this species in Washoe Valley, though this year I have at least a dozen coming into the yard to feed on the seed I put out for the Quail.

It is unknown at this time if this species will cause any harm to the present ecosystem. Below is a photo of one of the birds that has been coming into the yard. For a larger photo please visit this phlog

EC Dove


Today I was able to test my new Mark IV with a couple Harriers in flight. The Mark IV tracked the birds extremely well.

When photographing birds in flight it is generally best to use Manual Exposure. When shooting in Av or other Semi Auto mode the camera will change exposure depending on backgrounds.

To set your exposure set your Camera in Manual Mode, meter a mid tone scene and set your exposure based on the tones. The other option is just to shoot a couple test shots, check your in camera thumbnail and the histogram and then adjust your exposure. I like to shoot most BIF at a shutter speed of at least 1/1600. The aperture and ISO will need to be adjusted accordingly.

The following photo was taken at : ISO 800, f/4.0, 1/1600


A few more Harriers are on todays phlog post


I just purchased the new Canon 1D Mark IV and tested it on some local ducks today. I received the camera yesterday and it came with the latest firmware (1.06) installed. I was very happy with the focusing ability and the image quality from the camera. The camera had no problem acquiring and maintaining focus.

All of the ducks were taken in AI Servo mode with either the central point, or one of the peripheral focusing point active. When photographing ducks I try to keep the focus point closest to the eye the active point.

The photo of the Mallard below is an example from today. For more examples please visit today’s phlog post. As you can see the sky was overcast with flat lighting.



In my last post I posted a photo of a female Northern Flicker. I’ve been hoping that a male would come to my perch and this morning he showed up!

To set this photo up I drilled some holes in the side of a branch, then filled them with suet. After several days the birds found the suet and then I started watching to see if they had any pattern of when they were showing up. The only time they were showing up on a regular basis was just before sunup. Otherwise it was off and on throughout the day.

Since I didn’t want to sit and wait for hours until a bird came in, I chose to try for a pre-sun up shoot. Since there is no light from the sun that early I had to plan on shooting with flash. This meant using at least 2 flashes – one for the subject and one for the background. Setting up a flash set up like this sounds complicated, but once you do it a few times it isn’t really that difficult. I prefer to set my flashes on manual, since I feel that it is more predictable then using them in ETTL mode.

The set up is:

  • 1 Flash on a tripod directed at the background (a tree). This flash is set on Slave mode to be triggered by the main flash.
  • 1 Flash on camera for the subject and set as the Master flash.
  • Exposure was ISO 400, 1/300 at f/8.0

Below is the male Flicker. The female can be seen at today’s Phlog post.



A couple cooperative birds in my yard today. Below is a Northern Flicker.


Ready for lift off!!

Lift off

More photos of these two birds can be seen at today’s Phlog post


Spent this week at Virginia Lake shooting some ducks. When the majority of the lake is iced over this makes for good photo ops on the duck species that visits the lake. They are forced to smaller locations and tend to be closer to shore. One of the challenging aspects of photographing ducks in water like this is to isolate a single duck from the rest of the group. This is best done by setting up in one spot and then watching for one duck to become separated from the rest. Patience being the big key!

Below is a male Northern Shoveler

For more recent duck photos visit the following two phlog posts -
December 14, 2009
December 15, 2009


Rudy in the Snow

This is a photo of Rudy, our 3 year old lab that was having a blast running through the snow. When there is snow on the ground and the sun is out, you will often have to subtract around a stop of light due to the reflected light coming from the snow.


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