Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark

It took me a while to sit and wait in the car in Florida to get a good shot of this bird. The Western Meadowlark is pretty easy to spot and photograph here in Colorado – I can often get pretty close to them without scaring them away.

Eastern Meadowlark

Shot with Nikon D3s and Nikon 300mm f/4.0 AF-S lens in aperture priority mode, Auto ISO with Minimum Shutter Speed set to 1/1000th, f/10 for increased depth of field.

Great Photo Walk 2010!

Photo Walk 2010

The Photo Walk 2010 was a total blast! My group was almost full and we had a good turnout this year with about 35 participants. Lola participated in the Photo Walk as well this time and she really enjoyed it, said she would do it again next year. Here is the group shot before more people arrived:

Photo Walk 2010

I have not had a chance to work on the photos yet, but I will hopefully do that at the end of this week and post our best images from the Photo Walk. Did you participate in a Photo Walk this year? If yes, please post links to your photos, would love to see them!

Female Grackle

Female Grackle

Grackles are very common in Florida. During my last visit, while I was photographing birds near Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a female grackle landed on a nearby bench and started showing off. At first, I did not pay attention, since I normally do not take pictures of common birds. But this one did everything it could to get my attention…it probably was asking for food, which it wouldn’t get from me anyway, since I don’t feed wildlife. After a short while, I turned my camera (Nikon D3s with Nikon 300mm f/4.0 AF-S + 1.4x TC) from the beautiful Roseate Spoonbills to the grackle and took a shot:

Female Grackle

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Reasons to join the Worldwide Photo Walk

Worldwide Photo Walk
Worldwide Photo Walk

Less than a month is left until Scott Kelby’s 2010 Worldwide PhotoWalk takes place on July 24th. With close to a thousand photo walks all over the world and almost 20 thousand participants, this annual event is the largest photo event in the world. This year is my third year leading a photo walk and because I have some experience with the process, I wanted to point out the reasons why you should join a photo walk near you. Just for clarification, I am not here to advertise Scott Kelby or his websites – I do not get any commission from him or his affiliates, this is purely my personal opinion and my suggestion.

Reasons to join a Photo Walk

  1. It is free – that’s right, you just need to sign up to an existing Photo Walk and show up. No surprises here.
  2. Minimum requirements – you don’t need a fancy DSLR to participate in the Photo Walk. You can take pictures with your iPhone or your point and shoot and you won’t be judged by others.
  3. Have fun – going to a photo shoot with photographers like you is a lot of fun, even if you do not know anybody. The Photo Walk ends in a local restaurant, where you will not only enjoy great food, but also get to share your photographs and make many new friends. Overall, the Photo Walk is all about having fun!
  4. Learn – depending on the size of your Photo Walk, in most cases you will find at least one knowledgeable photographer who is ready to share his/her knowledge with others. I have personally learned a lot from other photographers and other participants also found the Photo Walk to be a good learning experience. Think of a Photo Walk as a mini workshop, where everybody gets to learn.
  5. Network – getting to know other photographers by asking questions is a great way to network with people, especially if you have plans to become a pro someday. Exchange business cards and get connected with others through Email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. – who knows, maybe you will partner with some of them in the future.
  6. Review photo gear – what happens when many photographers meet in one place? They obviously discuss their equipment :) During my last two Photo Walks, it was great to see that most people did not mind sharing their equipment with others and giving honest opinions about their gear. One of my good friends showed up with a fisheye lens last year, after borrowing it from another participant and trying it out during the 2008 Photo Walk.
  7. Try a different style – photographing streets and people is fun, something I am definitely not good at. The Photo Walk is all about street photography, so if you have never tried it before, now is your chance to try something different. Besides being a good learning experience, it is also a great opportunity to reevaluate your photography style.
  8. Great prizes – while the Photo Walk is not about winning a prize, if Scott Kelby likes you picture, you might get rewarded with a grand prize (which was worth $11,000 last year) or “honorable mention”. If your image does not make it to Scott Kelby’s favorites, you might be chosen by your Photo Walk leader, in which case you will get one of Scott Kelby’s books as a prize.

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Great White Egret in Flight

Great White Egret in Flight

I have just finished reviewing images from my recent trip to Orlando and I will be posting some images of birds tomorrow. I figured it is a good time to do it now, since I will be heading back to Orlando next week again. Here is one of my favorite shots:

Great White Egret in Flight

This above image was shot with the Nikon D3s + Nikon 300mm f/4.0 AF-S lens with a Nikon 1.4x TC @ 420mm. To freeze the bird in flight, I had to use a shutter speed of 1/1600 of a second at f/5.6 aperture (wide open with the 1.4x TC). ISO was set to “Auto ISO” with minimum shutter speed set to 1/1600 and maximum ISO set to 6400 and I shot in Aperture Priority mode. As for metering, I used spot metering – my normal metering mode when shooting birds.

iPhone Panorama

iPhone Panorama

While driving through a local state park with my family, I saw this beautiful sunset and decided to take some pictures of it with my iPhone (I know, I left the real camera at home). I took a few shots and then realized that the scene did not quite fit the frame, so I put the phone in vertical position and took a few vertical shots using the same technique I describe in my “Panoramic Photography Howto” article. The only problem was, I could not lock the exposure or change white balance on the phone… So, here is the result:

iPhone Panorama

iPhone Panorama

I stitched the panorama in Adobe Photoshop CS5, then brightened up the grass a little and slightly increased contrast. I think the result is OK, although the colors are a little out of whack…still not bad for a crappy phone camera (the new iPhone 4G is supposed to have a much better 5 megapixel camera). As Chase Jarvis puts it, the best camera is the one that is with you :)

Puerto Rico and Sand Dunes

Puerto Rico Wallpaper

Two more wallpapers from Puerto Rico and Sand Dunes for those who want to download and use them as backgrounds. Both panoramic images were shot hand-held with the Nikon 24mm f/1.4G and stitched using the method described in my “Panoramic Photography Howto” article.

Puerto Rico Wallpaper

1) Puerto Rico 1920×1200 Widescreen Wallpaper

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Puerto Rico – Part 3

San Juan #18

This is the final part of my trip to Puerto Rico and the last images from the beautiful Old San Juan and the fort. Part one can be found here and part two is here.

The Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G is very wide on FX – so wide, that it can fit lots of foreground in the frame. On one side, it is very nice, because you can highlight the front objects, but at the same time it can be a little negative, since it makes background objects look tiny. Here is where a large cannon used to stand before:

San Juan #18

And by walking a little closer to the shore, I got this beautiful view:

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