Wednesday, March 31, 2010


From Saturday's shoot in Galveston -- here's Chelsea. This one I actually used Bridge to select. I was drawn to the pose and the expression here. I thought it was very natural. Again, monochromatic to give it more of a traditional feel like the first shot of Lauren.
Comments welcome ... ok, expected regarding the blown highlights. My thoughts -- first this was on the platform of a warehouse and the highlight you see over her shoulder is the end of the platform in the western sky. So it was bright, very bright, probably 120 feet away. Could I have recomposed? Sure, but there was something about her pose here that I really liked and I would have had to get up and move, which would have spoiled that moment. So I shot about 25 images from this position -- some with more and some with less highlight in the background than this. My one defense for having it there is that it mimics the artificial light we were using from the side and slightly behind. So I think it's not ideal, but I can live with it. I think sometimes we are too critical of exposure. We create this small, defined box for image exposure to fit in, and I think at times there can be some roughness around the edges and the image can still have impact.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lauren in Living Color

Cindi asked why I went with black and white over color for this image of Lauren yesterday. I put in the comments that Larry, Doug and I were using a gold reflector so much Saturday that I think I had it in my head to process these images very warm, and I was afraid I went too warm. And I also felt black and white really gave it a timeless, fine art kind of look. So, here's the color version. Comments welcome on which you like better.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I took a break this weekend from the Elissa images, and Larry, Doug, Cindi, Mike and Shirley and I did a portfolio shoot with models Lauren and Chelsea down at a warehouse in Galveston. Above is Lauren. Really weird thing about this image. I took probably 400 images of the two women. After downloading the cards, I randomly picked one image to open just to take a peak. Mind you, I wasn't even in Bridge and didn't see a preview. Just picked an .NEF file and double clicked and processed through ACR and spent about 15 minutes in Photoshop retouching. Now, I'm not sure if it was just dumb luck or if this is an indication of how nice these images will be. But I know in my mind that there are at least a dozen images of Lauren I liked better as I was shooting them. Feels good when things all start to click -- beautiful light, great model, good location, windy day, and expert light and reflector handling by Larry and Doug. Nikon D200, 85mm at 1/320 sec at f/4. Yes, I was trying to cheat the sync and briefly went up to 1/320 sec. Got a slight vignette at the top, but seemed to fit into the image. Again, gotta love it when things good and bad come together to make an image.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Elissa Day Sail #2

From the Elissa day sail on Monday -- beautiful day, but no clouds. I resisted adding some clouds in post. Didn't even add the gull who hung there in midair -- almost posing for us. Lots of gulls, pelicans, and dolphins were along for the ride this year. Nikon D200 at 56mm, 1/1000 sec at f/8, which was just enough to get both the bird and ship in focus.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Elissa Day Sail #1

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of being part of the Galveston Historical Foundation's day sails of the tall ship Elissa. This week I'll be posting images from our ride on the press boat as we photographed the Elissa. The photo above was taken from the Texas Seaport Museum as people boarded the Elissa for the sail at approximately 7:45 a.m. Monday morning. Nikon D200 at 28mm, 1/250 sec at f/9; Topaz Adjust applied in postprocessing -- adding a little color boost and detail.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Incoming Pelican #5

Post #5 -- Huh, camera isn't focusing, even at 200mm this is getting a little too close for comfort. What's the wingspan of a full grown brown pelican? Isn't it about 6-7 feet? Huh. I'm gonna bail out of this shot and begin to lean toward my right.
And right about the same time, I feel the brush of a pelican wing across the top of my head ... or maybe it was just the rush of wind from a downstroke. Hard to tell.
The life of a bird photographer, especially one that has an inclination for the "in-flight" shots, has its moments. Sometimes it's poetry and grace; other times it ain't so pretty. And still other times, you're just happy to still have your cap on and your lens intact.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Incoming Pelican #4

Post #4 -- I think I got focus again ... although not exactly where I'd like to be focused. Crop is rather tight. This isn't the artsy shot I had in mind. Why isn't he turning for the shrimp boat? Wonder if I should start to duck out of the way anytime soon?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Incoming Pelican #3

Post #3 -- Huh, he doesn't seem to be turning. I've still got my finger on the shutter though. Maybe this will be one of those cool abstract images. Camera doesn't seem to be picking up focus again. Wonder what the minimum focusing distance is on this lens? Isn't it around 4 and a half feet? Huh.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Incoming Pelican #2

Post #2 -- OK, he seems to be getting awfully close, especially at 5 frames per second. Camera is starting to lose focus. Cropping is all over the place. But I'm thinking: I'm shooting at 200mm, so everything's fine, camera will regain focus and he'll turn to the open water to head for a shrimp boat that had just docked at the seafood shop about 30 yards to my left. I'm not giving up on this, maybe there's a shot here as he turns.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Incoming Pelican #1

Posts here the next several days will be a sequence of images I took of this brown pelican flying. With Featherfest right around the corner, I've been trying to shoot lots of birds the last 5-6 weeks. This series of shots was taken late February down in Galveston. All were shot shutter priority, 1/1000 sec, f/5.6 at 200mm. All images will be straight out of camera, no postprocessing. These aren't award winners, but it will get interesting. What I'll relate here are my thoughts during the sequence, or my thoughts as best I can remember. Post #1 -- I'm standing on a slip between two shrimp boats and pick up focus on a pelican flying toward me. Nothing too out of the ordinary. He's a little close, but the light's decent so I start shooting away.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

White Pelican Take Off

Ever since I've been photographing birds I've been fascinated by the way pelicans take off from the water. They use their legs and webbed feet to propel themselves along the water as their wings provide the lift. It's all pretty interesting to watch. We have brown pelicans here year round, but the white pelicans are here now migrating through. I've always been in search of that perfect pelican take off photo (brown or white) -- trying to capture the beauty and chaos in one fleeting moment. I've never gotten it, but I keep trying. I brought this image to the Bay Area Photo Club last month and got some good suggestions to improve it. I extended the canvas a bit to the right to give it a little more room, blurred the water behind the bird, and added a vignette. As hard as it is at times to get your image critiqued, there is often a lot to be said for the process. And this image is stronger because of it. Nikon D200, 200mm, 1/1250 sec at f/5.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull photographed February 27 in Galveston. I'm not sure if this was a yawn or a squawk because of the irritating photographer nearby. As I recall, it was pretty loud so probably a squawk. And when there are 20-30 of these gulls around --- it does get loud. Nikon D200, 200mm, 1/3200 sec at f/2.8.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Great Egret

Here's another photo from the same location as the previous two posts of the pelican. This great egret was actually there first, but the pelicans ran him off pretty quickly. When I first came to this location I noticed there was a palm tree overhead, which caused some dappled light. And whenever I run into that, it never fails that the shadows and highlights fall exactly where I don't want them. In this case, however, the highlight fell right across the egret's head and shoulders. No flash or Photoshop here. This is all natural light. I also thought it was a bit early for the egret to have breeding plumage, and with the wind that day, it added a little visual kick at the bottom. Nikon D200, 200mm, 1/4000 sec at f/4.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Another Take

After Doug's good suggestion of including eyes in the composition of this brown pelican, here's one of the many I shot more traditionally -- profile and with a catchlight in the eye. Nikon D200, 140mm, 1/3000 sec at f/2.8.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Eye to Eye

This photo of a brown pelican was taken last Saturday in Galveston. Originally, I was taking photos of a great white egret at this location, but a couple of pelicans came along and took control of this spot near a seafood shop. I couldn't resist -- I sat down and started taking photos; 30 minutes later I realized I had almost filled up a 4 GB card with 200 images of an egret and a couple of pelicans. Sometimes you get caught up in the pursuit of the perfect picture. I've always admired Steve Mayeux's photo of a brown pelican looking straight into the camera. So as I worked this situation I realized I didn't have the great early morning or later afternoon light so I shot at f/2.8 to throw the background out of focus. Seems like the older I get the more likely I am to shoot at shallow depths of field. As the pelican turned, I kept firing hoping I'd get one where he was looking straight on. The background is the water and backs of a couple of shrimp boats. Nikon D200, 140mm, 1/2000 sec at f/2.8; sharpened and cropped in Photoshop.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Elissa Bowsprit

On Saturday I ventured down to Pier 19 along the Galveston Ship Channel. Before I began an epic search for interesting bird photos, I took this shot of the Elissa bowsprit. March in Galveston means Featherfest and Elissa Day Sails. It's a good time to be a photographer. Nikon D200, 170mm, 1/1250 sec at f/8; black and white conversion done with Nik Silver Efex.