The Amazing Streak Continues; I Gotta be Nuts.
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Quasi-Snowy Owl. The base image was created at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, New York this week with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode confirmed via histogram/blinkies check.
Central sensor (by necessity) Expand/AI Servo Rear Focus AF on the ice column and re-compose. Click here if you missed the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.
Snowy Owl Hallucinations…
The afternoon after getting to Long Island was sunny and bright so I made the 45 minute drive to Jones Beach after getting dressed properly for the bitter cold. In search of a Snowy Owl I walked south and then west to the jetty, about a mile or so. Searching for a Snowy Owl in the white dunes can be frustrating. You see a white plastic pipe or a Clorox bottle and your mind begins to play tricks on you…. So when I saw a column of ice on the jetty a good distance away my heart began to race; a Snowy Owl Owl on an ice-encased jetty? You’ve got to be kidding me…. As it turned out, you were :). But as I got closer to my Ice Owl I came up with an Out-of-the Box idea for creating a quasi-Snowy Owl in Photoshop. You can see the eye-donor Snowy Owl–my favorite ever of this species–by clicking here.
After creating the base image I headed north and then east and continued looking for a white owl. My cell phone rang. It was good friend Tom Pfeifer. He met a guy with a lens in the parking lot. The guy told him that there were several owls to the east…. Bummer. I had followed the ageold advice: go west young man. So I hustled my way another mile plus down the beach until I hooked up with Tom and old freind Jimmy G. They were watching a photographer and an owl yet another mile down the beach, another mile farther from the car. As the owl kept flying east as the guy approached it, we all decided to pass as it was getting late in the day.
On the way back to the car I decided to take a short cut, angling towards the parking lot. I became trapped in acres of very tall phragmites. The going was touch and slow. I came upon a small frozen pond. I made my way around the edge even though I was sure that it was frozen solid. BTW, did I tell you that had I found an owl I would have had to hand hold my 600 II? Why? When I got to Jones I realized that I had left my tripod in the back of Mike Lotito’s truck that morning…. I relaxed a bit when I got to the northern shore of the pond. I could see my car in the lot just on the other side of a smaller stand of the difficult-to-traverse phragmites. On the next step I broke through the ice into about a foot of water and lost my balance. By sheer luck and determination, I regained my balance after a few crashing and uncontrolled steps. I am pretty sure that I was motivated by the thought of my 600 II/1.4X III/!D X winding up in a foot of water.
By the time that I got back to my car I had walked a good three miles. I was exhausted as I headed back to Mom’s photographically empty-handed. That’s the way it often is with Snowy Owls; here one day, gone the next….
The original bait bucket image was created on a December trip to Long Island several years ago at Jones Beach State Park with the predecessor of the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Autofocus lens and EOS-1D Mark IV (now replaced for me by the Canon EOS-1D X digital SLR ). ISO 400. Evaluative metering + 1 stop as framed: 1/500 sec. at f/8 in Av mode.
Different Year: Same Story
The year was 2008. The story was quite similar only on that day I wound up walking almost 5 owl-less miles. When you search too long for Bubo scandiacus everything start to look like a white owl. Bubo is Latin for owl. If anyone can come up with the Latin translation of scandiacus please do share. I think that it might be related to the word “arctic” but was not able to verify that despite a long web search.
The Photoshop Creation Process
The Photoshop creation process for each of the images above took only a few moments. For each I painted a Quick Mask of the owl’s eye and bill from two different images and placed that on it’s own Layer. I moved that layer with the Move Tool (V) onto the base image, added a Regular Layer Mask, and fine-tuned the selection. Just basic Layer Masking composite technique.
All of the above of course as detailed in my Digital Basics File, an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips, several different ways to expand canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro basics, my killer image clean-up techniques, Digital Eye Doctor, and tons more. Learn the details of advanced Quick Masking techniques in APTATS I. Mention this blog post and apply a $5 discount with phone orders only.
Breathe deeply, bite the bullet, and live life to its fullest; we all get only one ride on the merry-go-round… Join me on this great trip.
Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.
The Southern Ocean…
There has already been a ton of interest including that from some long time wonderful Happy Camper BIRDS AS ART folks. Mulitple-IPT veteran Michael Viljoen of South Afirca has already committed to making the trip with his son. He and lovely, smiling wife Lyndsey were with me on the memorable and wonderful October 2012 Cheesemans’ South Georgia Expedition. Repeat-clients–I like to call them recidivists–are a good sign that you are doing something right.
Last Year’s Grand Prize winning image by Lou Coetzer
Important Contest News
Contest Deadlines Extended!
BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition
New Entry Deadline: January 31, 2014; see additional details below
With so many folks signing up at the last minute and with so many folks having trouble uploading their images due to server overload the deadline for entering the contest (registering and paying) has been extended until January 31, 2014 and the deadline for uploading images has been extended until midnight Eastern time on February 10, 2014. Take advantage of this extension to have a crack at the great prizes.
Learn more and enter the BIRDS AS ART 2nd International Bird Photography Competition here. Twenty-five great prizes including the $1000 Grand Prize and intense competition. Bring your best.
Register and Pay
To register click here.
To learn of payment options, click here.
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Many of our great trips are filling up. See especially info on the South Florida, Holland, and Nickerson Beach IPTs. Two great leaders on most trips ensure that you will receive individual attention, have all of your questions answered, and learn a ton including how to think like a pro, see the situation, and get the right exposure every time. In addition you will have fun, and make lots of great images. Click here for IPT details and general information.