My Son, James, and his Photography

My son, James Shank, is becoming quite proficient behind a camera. He has his own Nikon D40 and enjoys going out with me on all kinds of photographic excursions. He thoroughly enjoys photographing the elk of Pennsylvania and lately we have been working on some winter landscapes. You can some of his photos here on his gallery. I think you will enjoy his creative technique!

Yesterday, my good friend, Dick McCreight, and I journeyed to the Upper Delaware National Park to try to find some bald eagles. The eagles winter in this park, which follows the Delaware River on the state line between Pennsylvania and New York. We did manage to see one bald eagle, but in my excitement I was not able to capture even one shot! This was a humble reminder to me that one can never be prepared enough. It was my lack of preparedness which resulted in me coming home empty-handed. We did manage to see some snow geese and a few turkeys as well.

My new Nikon D300 is performing beautifully. I created 3 custom banks of menu settings so I can quickly change to specific shooting conditions. The camera is solidly built and is user friendly in so many ways. The bigger LCD screen makes setting the menus and looking at the photos much easier. The menus make sense are easily navigated. And the buttons and knobs on the camera make for quick changes as shooting conditions warrant. I am extremely impressed with the D300 so far and I am sure this camera body will suit my needs perfectly.

My New Camera

I just received delivery of a brand new Nikon D300 this afternoon from our friendly UPS delivery man. I carefully opened the box and slowly took the camera out. I knew, and often live by, the old adage that a real man never reads directions. But this time that old adage went right out the window. The User’s Manual for my new D300 is exactly 421 pages long and I plan on reading many of those pages.

Of course, I could not wait too long to actually use my new camera, so I loaded a battery and inserted an empty flash card and went outside. It was 26 degrees Farenheit but that didn’t stop me from traipsing around the yard with my new camera! It didn’t take long for this camera to feel like an old friend in my cold hands. I just love the way Nikon places their controls on their cameras!

None of these first photos taken by my new D300 are going to win any prizes or even show up in my galleries, but almost immediately I could see why this camera has received such rave reviews. Compared to my old D70 the D300 has many more switches and controls to keep many options within easy reach, allowing the photographer to make many necessary changes on the fly without having to navigate through menus. It also boasts an impressive 6 frames per second, which should be very useful when I am shooting sports events.

I’ve only had the D300 for about 8 hours now, but it has quickly become my favorite camera that I’ve ever owned. Stay tuned to this blog to hear more about my impressions on the D300. I will also be posting photos from this camera, too. It truly is a sweet piece of photographic equipment!

Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience

Well, another Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience is in the books and we had a fantastic weekend! We arrived on Thursday to a cold day and over 18 inches of snow! The snowplow took care of making a drivable path to our cabin and we started the heater right away. It did take a while to get water into the camp because of the cold weather, but eventually the pipes thawed out enough to allow water to flow into the cabin. Elk were not as abundant early in the weekend as they usually are in warmer weather. We did see a few cows and a spike or two on Thursday. We also saw a number of trees that were stripped of some of their bark from the hungry elk attempting to find food in the snowy landscape. The weather began to get warmer as the weekend progressed and by Sunday it was downright warm enough to melt a lot of the snow! Elk became more abundantly seen as the warmer weather coaxed them from their hiding places. We did manage to see some nice bulls toward the end of the photo trip. These photogenic creatures offered us plenty of angles and poses to make our photographers happy. And on Sunday we had about 200 elk in the vicinity of our cabin! Cows were spread out all over the mountain and a couple of nice bulls put on quite a show for our guests. In-between shooting the elk we did see, we also found some beautiful landscapes and other subjects to photograph. One area in particular provided some frozen ice cycles and snowy scenes that had us switching lenses and trying creative techniques to capture its beauty. Our goal is always to find the elk and photograph them, but they are wild animals and can be unpredictable and difficult to locate. Fortunately, the elk range provides a variety of beautiful subjects and landscapes to provide us with chances to exercise our photographic creativity in those times when we are not seeing elk. You can look through my gallery for this photo trip and see some of the different scenes we were able to capture. The participants had a great time and we enjoyed being together, learning more about wildlife photography, and putting our photographic skills into use as we captured the elk with our cameras. I am looking forward to our Fall Photo Trip. This time of the year is my favorite for photographing the elk as they are actively in the rut. We would love to have you join us for this PA Elk Photo Experience, so check out the info here. We will feed you well and provide you with some up amazing sights of the Pennsylvania Elk in the beauty of the Fall colors. It will be a memorable experience!

Trip Prep

We are getting ready for our next “Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience” so I am beginning to prepare for the trip. I typically work with lists of things I need to get ready and a packing list so I don’t forget to pack anything. The excitement of wondering what all we might see and be able to photograph is enough to create plenty of energy and enthusiasm for this phase of the pre-trip planning!

Food shopping and menu planning are not unimportant matters because photographers work up an appitite and must find sustinence at the end of a long day. There are rumors that two feet of snow are blanketing the ground around our cabin. If this is true then we will be in for some interesting hikes! This causes me to wonder how the animals of the mountains are able to survive such harsh winters.

Here in the Poconos we’ve had snow on the ground for over a month now. It has been cold, too. Our lowest temperature in the month of January was -9.8. The weather is beginning to change now and this weekend is supposed to be much warmer. Forty-degrees in February is not bad at all. I am sure we will have some cold weather to deal with this week, but it could always be worse. Besides, anytime to be outdoors enjoying nature is a pure joy!

I will post another blog after we return from this week’s photo trip. In the meantime get out there and capture some photographs!

Photos from Chincoteague

I just posted some of the photographs I took at Chincoteague last week. You can view them here. I spent two days at this wildlife refuge and saw a lot of wildlife! I thoroughly enjoy this special place and the birds especially are amazing! I spent almost one hour watching two great egrets and one blue heron fishing and feeding on small fish. It was incredible to watch their sneaky tactics to find the swimming fish and then plunge their beaks into the water the catch their dinner! I also was able to capture of a few of the birds in flight as they were flying. This is not an easy task even with a good camera, so I was thankful for the few in-flight shots I was able to capture. Check out the photos and let me know what you think of them.

New Website Features

You now can order prints online from this website! Some of you have wanted this feature to make it easier to order prints with your credit card. Well, now you can do this! I have found a relatively easy way for you to order the prints you desire. When you get to the Order Prints page you just need to enter the photo ID number of the specific photograph you want to order. Then when you arrive at the shopping cart you can increase the quantity of that print or continue shopping to add other prints to your order. I suggest you either write down the photo ID numbers of the prints you want to order or make a list of these photo ID numbers in a separate spreadsheet so you can toggle back and forth to enter these ID numbers on the Order Prints webpage.

If you have any questions or problems with this new feature, please let me know. I continue to find new and better ways to enhance this website but your input is invaluable.

Next week I will be traveling to Ocean City, Maryland for a conference. I hope to arrive early and make a side-trip to Chincoteague to do some bird and wildlife photography. This will be a welcome change from the snowy scenery we have currently here in the Poconos! More snow is expected to fall tomorrow and we just had an ice storm this past week. Nature sure has a way to keep changing and providing beautiful photographs for us to capture!

Are you still using your camera this winter? There are some neat photos just waiting to be captured if you can brave the elements and endure the cold temperatures and windy gusts!

Wrestling Photographs

This past Saturday our nephew, Shane Rosenberry, was in a wresting tournament at Whitehall. It was my first attempt at shooting the sport of wrestling with my camera. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and learned a few things along the way! One obvious lesson was that the lighting in a gymnasium is not the best for photography. Even with my fast 70-200mm lens with an f-stop of 2.8 I had to bump up my ISO to 400. I was able to capture a few decent photos and you can check them out by clicking here. I continue to learn more and more about the fascinating art of photography!

Our upcoming PA Elk Photography Experience will be taking place the first full weekend in February. I am looking forward to this trip and I am sure we will have a great time! This past week, over the New Year holiday, we saw a lot of elk. The cows were herded up in large groups and stayed in the same area for two days before moving to a new location. We didn’t see all that many bulls, but we did manage to see 7 nice bulls. I will hopefully post a few photos from this trip in the next day or so.

Christmas Photography

Winter has definitely set in up here in the Poconos. Although we are currently enjoying a warm-spell, the past few months have been snowy and icy. I have been taking the usual Christmas photos as our families have gathered to exchange gifts and sit down to enjoy the Christmas meals. My family does not always enjoy the flash from my camera but somehow they always seem to smile anyway!

There are still openings for our two photo trips planned for February and September. They promise to be awesome experiences so sign up and join us for these unforgettable experiences. The elk have been active up on the mountain and our family will be celebrating the New Year in Elk County. I am sure we will have ample opportunities to photograph more of these majestic animals!

I hope that you had a great holiday season and have acquired some new photo equipment. I am saving up for a new camera body, so I have no recent acquisitions since I am saving my money for this. I am planning on purchasing the D300 and am looking forward to using it for wildlife and sports photography.

Have a happy and photographically successful New Year!

Holiday Boutique

This past Saturday, James and I attended the Holiday Boutique at Stroudsburg United Methodist Church. This was a craft fair and we displayed some of our wildlife photographs hoping that some would draw some attention and perhaps even be purchased. I was not sure what to expect because we never really put our photographs out on display before other than on the website. The website does draw a fair amount of attention, but the feedback there is minimal. So I thought the craft fair display would be a good barometer test of sorts for us.

Well, our photo booth did attract some attention and we actually sold 9 photographs! The “Egret Reflection” and the “Blue Heron Reflection” drew the most attention. We also had 4 people sign up for our upcoming “Basic Digital Photography Workshop.” This was a very good day for us and we are considering other venues in which to display our photographs.

If you like what you see on the website, please drop me a line via email. I’d love to hear from you. I am also considering a way for viewers to order photographic prints online. I like to surf the web and see the digital images, but there is nothing quite the same as seeing a beautiful 8×10 or 11×14 photograph right before you eyes! If you like the idea of online ordering let me know.

I also am trying to expand my email database. If you know someone in your family or circle of acquaintances, please forward their email address to me or have them be in contact with me via email.

In another week I will be up in the mountains of Elk County again and I can’t wait! Did you ever hear me say this before: “There is no place like the mountains!”