Frustrated Bull

You cannot see it in this photograph, but there is an entire field of cows very close to this bull. The problem for this bull is that none of the cows are ready to mate. So, this bull is frustrated.

I’ve watched bulls in the rut for many years now and there is a pattern which repeats itself over and over. A bull will follow a cow, sniffing to see if she is in heat. Typically the cow will trot or run away. This leaves the bull frustrated and almost every single time he will bugle at this exact moment. This is the time to be ready with your camera, which is exactly what I did here in this photograph.

Watching and observing animals is not only enjoyable, it can teach you to be prepared for the best photographic moment!

No Photos but Wow, What an Evening in the Field!

My son, James, and I recently purchased a portable blind at Cabelas. The main reason for the purchase is so I can photograph the birds here in my backyard. I inadvertently left the blind up in the mountains on a previous trip, so we decided to put it to use this past Wednesday evening. We practiced setting it up and packing it up while we ate supper around the campfire. It is not a fancy blind but it seats two comfortably. So off we went to give it a try. We assembled the blind and weren’t in it very long when James said, “There’s some elk.” Sure enough, there were four cows over on a distant field and then we spotted a bigger herd of elk just to the right of these first four. There were 40 elk in all! We also had deer come to within 50 yards of our blind. It was a very productive field test and we had a great father/son evening on the mountain!

We did see some elk this week. The highlight was Thursday morning when we saw an 8×8 bull–the biggest bull we’ve seen so far this year. Unlike our previous trip, we did manage to see more bulls, for which we were thankful. Their velvet is coming off and the bulls look uncomfortable with strings of velvet hanging all over their antlers and down in their eyes!

I will post some photos of our trip this coming week, but I think I jinxed myself. My most recent blog entry was about preparation. Well, I guess I jinxed myself because I got to camp with James on Monday around midnight only to realize I forgot my D300! I’ll bet Moose Peterson never did this! Thankfully, I did have my backup body–my old D70 and James let me borrow one of his lenses. I will post some of my photos in upcoming blog posts, but James definitely got much better photos than I did this trip! I guess I was just so excited for this trip that I overlooked grabbing and packing my camera bag into my truck. I even had it on my packing list! I can think of several words to describe what an idiot I am, but none of them are printable!

Now I really can’t wait to get back to the mountains of Elk County!!!

Preparation, Anticipation, and Preparation

Getting prepared for a photo outing is sometimes a lot of work but necessary work nevertheless. It’s the anticipation that helps motivate me to do the necessary preparation.

Checklists are made and double checked, bags are packed, and as gear is loaded the anticipation for the upcoming photo shoot keeps me going. I even imagine the kinds of images I hope to capture on the upcoming trip: let’s try to get some nice close-ups, how about some wide landscapes, and maybe some beautifully lit subjects at dawn or dusk. You see the anticipation not only drives the necessary preparation, but even makes it more manageable.

What do you do to prepare for a photo shoot? What does your routine look like? Do you imagine yourself out there in action before the action begins? It seems to me that mental preparation is about as important as the physical preparation.

I am ready to go shoot!

Keeping Up

I remember when I was a little boy. My dad and I would go on long walks behind our house in the fields and woods. It was difficult for me to keep up with dad. His legs were longer and he was stronger. My little legs worked okay but just couldn’t keep up. My lagging behind might also have been attributed to any number of distractions that sidetracked me, too!

Keeping up with one photo shoot after another is not always easy. Good intentions are not enough. Part of the problem is time. You get back from a photo shoot and are tired and hungry. You need a break, so you put your equipment in its place, kick up your feet, and relax. Or you get a bite to eat, start talking with your family, and completely forget about the flash cards that need uploaded.

Two days ago I had to upload several flash cards that were well overdue for attention. It turned out that I did upload about half the batch, but it was a pain to take the time to go through them to double-check and upload the previously forgotten cards.

Getting into a routine is the best approach. It is similar to how we actually approach a photo shoot. Before we leave the house we go through a checklist to make sure we have everything. Then, on a photo shoot, we again step through a well-planned routine to help us capture the right moments. So why do we get so lax at the back-end of a shoot?

Prudence is the key for a successful photographer. Don’t be lazy. Do it now or you going to have to do it later, and it will be more difficult and take more time.

Keeping up isn’t always easy, but it is important! Just ask my dad!

There’s Always Something to Do!

Photography is a strong passion for me and one thing is for sure–with an interest and passion like photography there is always something to do! Here is a short list: go on a photo shoot, plan for an upcoming trip, edit photos, keyword and organize photos from past trips, scout out new locations, read photography blogs, watch photo software tutorials, make prints, create photo slide shows, clean equipment, shop and dream of new photo gear, browse through coffee table photography books… the list goes on and on!

So what do you do with your passion of photography? What are your favorite tasks? Are you willing to admit your least favorite photo duties? What do you enjoy the most? What you like the least? What gets your passion ramped up? What excites you in the world of photography?

There is always something to do in our field of interest and it seems to me that it can be valuable to share with each other what we enjoy the most about our photographic passion. This thought motivated me to create a simple poll that I will post later today. It seeks feedback from fellow photographers about what you all like the most about photography. I hope you will take a minute or two to think about this and respond to the poll or comment here on the blog. My thinking is that we can always learn from each other and also motivate one another as well.

In-Between Photo Shoots

What do you do on a day when you don’t have a photo shoot? Do you dream of the next photography shoot? Do you just relax and forget about photography? What do you do in=between photo shoots?

I cannot sit still. Today I had to pack all my photo gear for a photo shoot I am scheduled to do tomorrow, but there is no assignment for me today. Still, I am thinking a lot about photography today. I just can’t help it. Maybe it’s in my blood; maybe I have ants in my pants, as my grandma used to say; or maybe photography is a passion for me!

After checking my favorite websites and blogs this evening, I will sit down and read through some of the photo books I packed along on this trip. Thankfully, I am staying at my in-law’s and they have a computer with an internet connection. This means I can get this blog entry out tonight quite easily even though I am on the road. My in-laws are great! They let me stay with them and even give me awesomely delicious food to eat. I love my in-laws!

So I might be in-between photo shoots, but I am still thinking about photography. I went for a bike ride earlier this evening and was wishing I had my camera with me to capture what looked like an upcoming perfect sunset. Oh well, at least I could imagine myself with the camera, adjusting to the proper exposure, and composing the sunset in my viewfinder.

Yep, I might be in-between photo shoots, but I am sure I will be ready for the next one. Preparation and mental rehearsals are key!

What to Look for in a Wedding Photographer

I just posted an article on my website that attempts to answer this question. Many details have to be worked out prior to your wedding day and choosing a photographer is one of these important details that cannot be left to chance. Knowing what you are looking for and asking the right questions can make this selection easier.

In the article I address critical issues that you should know before selecting a wedding photographer. This is way more important than many people realize and paying attention to these details will go a long way in your satisfaction of your wedding photographs.

Read the article, share with your friends who may be looking for a wedding photographer, and let me know what you think.

Don’t Wait – Reformat that flash card now!

I am a procrastinator and this gets me into trouble in a variety of ways. And as a photographer it does not pay to be a procrastinator.

Take, for example, the simple task of uploading photos from a flash card to a computer. This is a simple step and only takes a few minutes, so why wait to do it? As soon as you get back from a photo shoot it makes sense to start this process. Then, once the photos have been transferred and backed up, reformat that flash card. Don’t wait!

Here’s the danger. Let’s suppose that you have an unexpected photo opportunity early one morning that came from out of the blue. You didn’t know it was coming and your flash cards are full. Did you back up the photos on these cards? Is it okay to reformat these cards or are there important photographs on them that need to be transferred? See the problem? If you had just transferred the photos right after the last shoot and reformatted the cards you wouldn’t be facing this annoying dilemma.

So don’t wait. Process your photos, back them up, and reformat your flash cards as soon as possible. One day you’ll be glad you did!

What Christmas Tree?

The plan was to put the Christmas tree up but a lot of interesting distractions got in the way!

My son, James, and I started going through all of our trains and we got distracted. After all, we had track to lay, accessories to locate, and engines to test. There is nothing more exciting than watching a steam engine chug down the line with smoke circling out of its stack!

Lydia is not happy that we haven’t progressed to actually putting the tree up yet, but it is coming–I promise. So are some photos of our trains and the tree with its lights and decorations. Christmas is fast-approaching but we will be ready, I’m pretty sure.

Ever notice how life changes our best-laid plans? That’s been the story of my week, but I like trying to handle the curve balls that get thrown our way! This happens in photography, too. We plan and plan for a specific shoot–trying to imagine every possible thing that could happen. Then the big day arrives and something pops us that never saw coming. Learning how to handle these surprises is what makes us successful. The alternative is we let the surprises take over and we merely complain about them. No, this is not the approach for me. Deal with the surprises and unexpected trials that come our way. In the end, we will learn and be much better for it. Bring it on!

Get the Little Things Out of the Way

Most of us photographers like to spend time behind the camera. After all, we are photographers so this is our rightful place, isn’t it?

The problem is there are so many other details and little things that can distract us and prevent us from spending time behind the camera. Think about going on vacation for example. Just to get away there are a ton of things that must be done. Our to do list grows to enormous size and we have a lot of details to wrap up before can leave.

Even preparing for a photography-specific vacation requires paying attention to a lot of mundane details: did you charge your batteries? Did you pack enough spare flash cards? What lenses are you going to bring? Do you have cleaning supplies packed? How will you backup in the field? Do you know exactly where you are going? Do you have enough money for everything? Did you put on clean underwear? (Opps, that was bad!)

But in all seriousness all these little details can get in our way. So sit down, make a list, and begin checking these items off. The sooner you take care of the little things the sooner you can focus your camera!