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caseymcq

How do you get those pictures?

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After looking at a lot of the pictures that those of you post here I have a few questions.

How much time do you spend sitting, watching, waiting for the photos that you get of wildlife?

It seems like a lot of the shots you guys/gals get aren't something that you would just happen upon. I am sure there are times when a person can get extremely lucky and one of those rare shots presents itself but I would have to believe those are few and far between.

Do you do any type of calling to bring in wild life?

Do you have spots that are usual producers or some sort of milk run that you have good chances of getting the type of pictures you are looking for?

These questions are all pretty much to kill my curiosity. I am not a good photographer by any means (I have many shots where my finger or the strap are in the picture) so it is amazing to me to see the pictures that are posted here.

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Casey, I know a lot of the folks who post pics of waterfowl here have Twin Cities area ponds (and in M. Cary's case, the Duluth Canal Park area) with open water all year around, and that open water concentrates what waterfowl there is in winter.

Many of my bird shots are around the feeding stations in my or other people's yards. But just as many are when I'm out in the woods sitting or walking. Some birds come in readily to any human activity (gray jays and chickadees), and others come in to "pishing" noises you make with your mouth. At feeding stations, a lot of bird photographers mount branches and other props against backgrounds of their choice so they get pictures of birds that have nothing but the bird and the branch in the frame, and with a very out-of-focus background. Many bird magazine editors prefer this type of portraiture, though I almost always prefer environemental shots that, even when the bird nearly fills the frame, show what type of habitat the bird is in. That being said, I do set up props now and then so I have those types of images when called for by clients.

For predators, I dress all in camo and call with a screaming rabbitt call. I did this as a younger man in North Dakota to hunt fox and coyote. Only difference now is that it's a camera, not a gun. And, of course, in wolf country, fox and coyote don't come in as boldly to the call as they did in the Prairie.

And I've set up over deer kills, too. Especially in winter, nothing draws in several types of birds and any animals that eat meat better than a dead deer.

As for flowers, I do have about 20 locations where I've gotten to know within a week what is blooming and when, and there are a few landscapes (not many up here) that I know will offer sweet views, so I target one or the other of those when it looks from the day that the light will be right.

I don't spend nearly as much time in the woods as I want to. Luckily, I'd been an outdoorsman for 30 years before I moved here, and concentrated as much time and effort as I had into looking for those places that tend to hold the animals/birds. Now, having a bunch of them, when time is short or I'm guiding clients I can go to that so-called "milk run" with a decent chance of finding good stuff. I'm far more inclined to find a good spot and sit there for an hour or five without moving around much than I am to keep moving. When you're "out there," much better to disappear into your surroundings and let things come to you. If you're moving/walking/hiking, you're telling those alert mammals and birds that you're there long before your senses recognize that you have (had) company.

Some say it takes a lot of patience to sit that way for long periods, but it doesn't feel like that to me. It's just what I like to do. I learn intimately the look, the scent, the feel of that little space I've chosen, just by sitting on a camo pad and using all my senses. Can't think of a better way to pass the time.

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Catfish already explained the duck situation here in Duluth. I have a good number of Chickadees that visit my feeder in winter (so that's where those come from). I also have a few places where my chances of seeing whitetailed deer are fairly high (although I don't do that nearly as much). I also watch wildlife listserves and I do a decent amount of research into wildlife 'hotspots' where I know my odds will be better. As an example, I came across a Northern Hawk Owl on my way to work about a month ago. I reported it to the Minnesota Ornitholigists Union's Rare Bird Alert. I could have kept it secret, but why? This way there are a few set of eyes on the bird and I happen to know it's still in the area. I periodically go looking for it and every once in a while I get lucky. My best shots of it were because a local birder that read the alert happened to find it and when I was looking he pointed it out.

The one thing that Catfish didn't mention is it took some equipment and a decent amount of time (both learning how to handle the equipment and out in the field).

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mcary mentioned the equipment and one of the most valuable tools is a quality lens, especially for the zoom levels that some of the shots require because of the great distance that some of the shots are taken at.

Getting near the subject is not always necessary with the right equipment.

I will be posting more of the pics I have for opinions. I have several pictures that I think are fantastic and only because I see something and think, that would make an awesome picture. None of the pics I've taken have any staging to them, but thats cause its nothing mroe than an occasional hobby for me. I use a point and shoot digital camera. 6.2 megapixel with a 5x optical zoom. I chose it mostly for those 2 reasons. With those I can make some dsarn good photos for under $250. The only other tool I've come to love is a lightweight tripod. A firm stand is priceless and also allows me to take long exposure shots like at night.

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Cool, powerstroke. Let's see your work when you're ready. Start a new thread on the board, and if you're looking for actual C&C from members and staff, say so. Otherwise it's basically just positive and supportive feedback. grin.gif

And I NEVER look down on anyone's equipment. A $250 point-and-shoot can take great pics. I've made prints to 20x30 with a 6.3 Mp sensor camera, too. It's the skill and eye and interpretation of the artist more than it's the equipment.

I mean, how many times when you ask a painter about his/her art do they go on and on about all their cool brushes and canvas and paint tubes and dump? Nope. Uh-uh.

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The one thing that I think that has got me a few of my shots is that I always have my camera with me sitting on the seat of the car ready to shoot or close to the door in the house ready to shoot.When ever I drive somewhere I am always road hunting for a shot. If I am going to the landfill I take the camera and take back roads. You never know what will appear grin.gif

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It's exactly the same with me, jimalm. I don't ever want to tell a story about the best picture I never took because my camera was somewhere else.

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I have looked at some of the quality of the pics...the mallards in flight, the wolf, etc...

I got a bit intimidated...and a tad discouraged.

I know it will take years of practice...but now I wonder if my equipment is even adequate???

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Quote:

I have looked at some of the quality of the pics...the mallards in flight, the wolf, etc...

I got a bit intimidated...and a tad discouraged.

I know it will take years of practice...but now I wonder if my equipment is even adequate???


No...what it will take is practice. Get out and start shooting pictures. The joy of digital is that you can learn in a very short time (instant feedback) what in film days would take a very long time. Take a good hard look at what you shoot and figure out what you can do to improve. You are generally your harshest critic. Learn from mistakes, adapt to changing conditions and keep shooting. Then you will start to see great opportunities and be able to capture them.

Don't get to hung up on equipment, in time you will figure out what you need to get the pictures you want, that is a sign that all the pieces are starting to fall into place and you have developed an understanding of what it takes to get photos that make YOU happy. The fun is in the learning. grin.gif

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Quote:

What Dbl said!

It's as much fun at the start as it is farther along the road. And the road never ends.


I second what Dan said and agree with Steve... I'd even go as far as to say it becomes something of an addiction and you start figuring out what to do to get better and more creative with it over time.

Quote:

How much time do you spend sitting, watching, waiting for the photos that you get of wildlife


I personally spend alot of time putting myself in position to get good shots... In the spring I set up a blind down in the MN river Valley and get some great oppoprtunities on birds and ducks that are making their way back through. I also realize that open water in the dead of winter attracts life and so I go to these places whether they are ponds full of ducks or rivers full of Swans. In the fall I duck hunt once or twice a week and bring my camera with for some great photo ops of the hunt (my favorite thing to do actually)... I am lucky enough to live in an area that is chock full of wildlife/birds... my backyard butts up against Murphy Hanrehan Park Preserve (alot of species) and Orchard Lake is across the street (Loons/ducks) so I can hike to the ponds or small lakes in the preserve and setup or take the boat out and troll up to water birds slowly. I have spent the last two years planting flowers in my yard that attract Hummingbirds and some where already there, but I have "set ups" next to a few of the feeders where I've figured the background to be good and move around based on the light angle... I also do this in the winter time with dead stumps that I sprinkle seeds onto or melt suet into... my blind is always set up somewhere. I also have a mouse squeeker, an Identiflyer bird song caller with many different bird songs (that really only works on a few species). I spend alot of time trying to make sure I'm in the right position and ready when the birds are around, if I just wondered around without a plan, I would be limiting my photo opportunities as well as the quality of the opportunity.

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I would like reiterate what the others have said. Practice is by far more important. Equipment limitations are not nearly as important as good technique. I learned initially on a point and shoot camera with manual functions. As I became better (and I'm still improving and will be for some time), I found that fast action shooting was not practical with my set up because of the shutter lag in most P&S cameras. I decided to 'bite the bullet' and buy a digital SLR and I'm happy I did. So don't get discouraged, today's P&S cameras are capable enough to allow a wide range of shooting capabilities and they can turn out excellent results. laugh.gif

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I agree....technique leads to personal expression.........I'm the type of person that wants individuality in my images..I'm not satisfied to have something that looks like "the next guys"(however perfect and nice that persons images are)...I think I have my own style and no doubt the people here have seen that..hopefully shocked.gif .....grin.gifjonny

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