Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Quick Blind

Because today was a bright sunny day and the birds were bathing in our water feature, I felt the need to take their photos. This was the type of day to set up and learn how to take a good photo of a bird which should be easy, right. All I needed was my burlap, tripod, camera and shutter release cord. I did say burlap. I use this as a simple blind and I mean simple.

I started out by observing where the most activity of the day seemed to be. This happens to be the water feature of our pond. Because it holds some water while spilling the rest, it draws in the birds. They like to bath and drink in it and sometimes fight over it. So I set up my camera on the tripod as close as I could. I only have an 18-135mm lens to use so I need to get close. Because I am close it would be ideal to have a radio remote shutter release but I don’t. I just have a 2 foot long shutter release cord and as close as I am, all I’m going to get is a whole lot of nothing. This is where the camouflage burlap comes in handy.

Last winter I got a camouflage burlap screen in hopes to set up a blind which I didn’t. But this did work out for the better and this is how. After setting up the camera I grabbed a chair and the burlap and placed it over me. I stretched it out so that I have no real shape and because it is rather easy to see through all I had to do is watch and wait.

In a few minutes the birds started to survey the area. They would look hard at the lump and be kind of spooked by it. Eventually one of the birds got brave, went to the water feature and began to drink . Once the bird was drinking I started shooting. The birds did not mind at first but after a few clicks they took off but by then it was too late, I got they’re photo. The birds finally got comfortable enough they did not even pay attention to the click of the shutter. I got a lot of photos but of course most were slightly soft or blured by action. So I made some readjustments and went out shooting again. Got a few more shots and called it a day.

Now most of the birds around the area are sparrows and for the most part they seem to tolerate a lot. I would like to try this out at different times of day because of the different birds that congregate. I am hoping that this set up works for them as well.

So if you’re looking for a quick cheap blind, don’t rule out an inexpensive piece of burlap. If they can see you they don’t know you’re there.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Project Started

I have recently crested the age of, well old, and with each passing birthday I have taken a hard look at my year past. I measure up what I have accomplished with what is still needed to be done. Well at this time I feel that I have not completed much and it is not for a lack of trying. No my problem is procrastination. I love putting off what I could do today for tomorrow, just ask my wife. However I do believe that I am getting better at completing tasks that I don’t always like but I still have to work at it. The proof is in my long honey do- list that is brought out by my wife from time to time.

With the passing birthday I have set out to to do that one thing I have always wanted to do but felt I was not sure where to start. I have thought about it, people have told me to do it, and now it is time to do it. With pencil to note pad I sketched out a plan to work into a large project like this. It is not easy to start photographing a project this size without a plan...Right? Not having a plan is one of the principle reasons I have not attempted this earlier but now that I have a plan why not try. I can always change and update what I am trying to do and in the end I am creating the images for me with the hope someone else might like them too.

I have admired a lot of different photographers in my life time. I was drawn to the striking black and white images of Ansel Adams, the beautiful color of the prairie captured by Michael Forsburg , the Nebraska Images of Joel Store and Jim Brandenburg’s wolves and ravens. Not to forget the images of Texas that Wyman Meinzer that did .My dad had sent me that link. All those images have all filled my head and moved me to want to in some way recreate that. I can’t, nor do I wish to but instead I would like to accomplish what they have done in the state I live in.

So my goal this year is to start photographing Iowa and capture the images that best reflect the way I am moved by the beauty of this state. I plan to do this in both color as well as black and white. Try to reflect the life and all that goes on. Yup I just might have just bitten off more than I can chew but I have to give it a try. Life is short and that is no more apparent than when you work in a hospital, so I have to try. Otherwise I fear that on my death bed I will be saying, “I should have tried” instead of “I did what I wanted to do.”

So today I started on my quest with a trip to Kepler State Park and walked around with no intention to photograph anything. I just wanted to see the park and get familiar with it. I have always found my best work comes from what I know best. I figured that if I get to know the area in and around the park then I could get some great images. And as time moves on I can radiate out from there until I have covered the state.

The other thing I am trying to reconcile is whether to display my images as I finish them or hold them back for later. The great thing about showing them off on the internet is the immediate feed back but the surprise or freshness of the image is gone at the time of display. I am afraid that I will get caught in the need to shoot more to fill the book or show when I have the photographs already. I guess I will try to meet in the middle somehow.

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