The Streak Goes On…
Seven of the IPT leaders and participants (along with Pat and Alan Lillich’s daughter Meagan) are on the train to Kyoto for a few days of travel and nature photography and for the seven of us, some much needed rest. I am finishing this post at 6:45pm Japan time on Wednesday, February 26, 2014. That is 4:45am on the same day in Florida or in New York. We will likely get to the Best Western Kyoto at about 9pm tonight.
This post marks 89 straight days with a new educational blog post, a record by far that should be extended for at least another day or so, or not. Or more…. To show your appreciation for my efforts here, we ask that use our B&H and Amazon affiliate links for all of your B&H and Amazon purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store. We sell only what I use and depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.
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This Snow Monkey image was created on what was effectively the last day of the Japan in Winter IPT with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (with the internal extender in place at 311mm) and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops off the ice: 1/1250 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode was a slight over-exposure. Color temperature: AWB.
Central Sensor/AI Servo-Surround/Rear Focus AF totally missed the monkey but kept on tracking. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.
Jumping Monkeys; There’s More to it Than Meets the Eye…
We pretty much wrapped things up on February 25, with our second full day at the Snow Monkey Park. Both Denise and I enjoyed meeting fellow professionals Ben Cranke and Wim van den Heever of South Africa who were also co-leading a photography safari. They kindly invited our group to join their group for an afternoon jumping monkeys photography session.
After they had their group positioned up front with short lenses we chose our spots. Folks with longer lenses like Zorica, Denise, and me stayed well back while the others took peripheral positions. The regular monkey feeder began his rounds with large numbers of Snow Monkeys following him up the hill. Then he walked down the hill towards us on the other side of the river and continued feeding. The idea was to concentrate the monkeys on the far side of the small stream and then feed them on our side of the stream and have them jump across the rocks. At about 3:40pm the final phase of the operation began while Wim and Ben’s Japanese guide sat on the board that the animals usually use to cross to prevent them from doing so.
Results were sporadic at first. A few monkeys jumped across to the desired spot where a bit of food had been placed. It was difficult to get in tune with the rhythm of the jumping monkeys and framing the images was even more difficult. Then they simply quit for ten minutes. Then along came what looked like the head maintenance guy in his green coveralls. He shooed most of the monkeys to the opposite side of the stream and then began to toss small bits of special food to the perfect spot on our side of the river. The monkeys responded quite well. When he quit tossing the special tidbits, the action slowed to less than a trickle. After ten minutes without a single jump I decided to fold up my tripod and pack my gear. Immediately four monkeys took flight and shutters fired. I headed back to a much worse spot than I had had.
After five more minutes with no action, I decided once again to leave. I walked up to the spot where Ben and Wim were seated and asked each for a business card. Within seconds a stream of about 10 monkeys came jumping across the stream. Totally defeated I stood by with no camera and no lens as everyone fired away nonstop. Talk about bad timing….
I was, however, happy with the image above.
Truth in Nature Photography
Thirty-five years ago when I first began noticing great nature photography images, it was only natural to assume that each and every image was in fact an image that was created in a totally natural situation. Today, those boundaries are tremendously blurred. Songbirds are fed and enticed to perch on branches selected for their character and beauty. In many areas the taped calls of songbirds are often used to attract a variety or species into photographic range. Cabella’s Owls are mounted atop Radio Shack antenna poles to draw in migrating raptors. Herons, egrets, pelicans and eagles are baited with fish. Snowy and Great Grey Owls and other raptors are routinely baited with live pet store mice. Prey items are killed with a shot gun and hung in a tree to attract raptors. In Finland and other locations, carcasses are placed in front of photography blinds to attract bears, Golden Eagles, and other raptors.
And let’s not forget outdoor studio lighting, camera traps, and remote triggers.
Don’t get me wrong; I am simply playing Devil’s Advocate here. Heck, at the Jigokudani Yaenkoen Snow Monkey Park the animals are called in with a whistle, fed several times a day, bathe in a man-made onsen (naturally heated pool), and can even be coaxed into jumping across a small river…
Feel free to let us know your thoughts on the current state of nature photography.
Note: as many of you know, I have used several of the techniques described above to help me make better images. I always make sure to let folks know the situation.
Images copyright 2012: Denise Ippolito & Arthur Morris. Card design by Denise Ippolito. Click on the image to enjoy a spectacular larger version.
Holland 2014 7 1/2-Day/8-Night: A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART/Tulips & A Touch of Holland IPT. April 17-April 24, 2014: $4995 Limit: 12/Openings: 5
We still have room for 5 more flower photographers on this great trip.
Join Denise Ippolito, Flower Queen and the author of “Bloomin’ Ideas,” and Arthur Morris, Canon Explorer of Light Emeritus and one of the planet’s premier photographic educators for a great trip to Holland in mid-April 2014. Day 1 of the IPT will be April 17, 2014. We will have a short afternoon get-together and then our first photographic session at the justly-famed Keukenhof. Most days we will return to the hotel for lunch, image sharing and a break. On Day 8, April 24, we will enjoy both morning and afternoon photography sessions.
The primary subjects will be tulips and orchids at Keukenhof and the spectacularly amazing tulip, hyacinth, and daffodil bulb fields around Lisse. In addition we will spend one full day in Amsterdam. There will be optional visits the Van Gogh Museum in the morning and the Anne Frank House in the afternoon; there will be plenty of time for street photography as well. And some great food. On another day we will have a wonderful early dinner at Kinderdijk and then head out with our gear to photograph the windmills and possibly some birds for those who bring their longs lenses. We will spend an afternoon in the lovely Dutch town of Edam where we will do some street photography and enjoy a superb dinner. All lodging, ground transportation, entry fees, and meals (from dinner on Day 1 through dinner on Day 7) are included. For those who will be bringing a big lens we will likely have an optional bird photography afternoon or two.
Click here for additional info or to register.
Join me for the 2014 Tanzania Summer Safari!
2014 Tanzania Summer Safari, 14-day African Adventure/leave the US on August 9. Fly home on August 24: $12,999.
Co-leaders Todd Gustafson & Arthur Morris. The limit is 12. Three photographers/van; you get your own row of seats. Our trip is a bit more expensive than the average safari for good reason. It is the best. We have the best driver guides with a total of decades of experience. They have been trained over the years by Todd and by me to drive with photography in mind. We have the best and most knowledgeable leaders. We stay in the best lodges and camps. We hope that you will join us for what will be Todd’s 35th African safari, and my 8th.
If you are seriously interested please e-mail me; I will be glad to send you the illustrated PDF with the complete itinerary and deposit info.
What else makes this expedition unique?
•Pre-trip consultation and camera equipment advice
•Award-winning photographers as your guides
•A seamless itinerary visiting the right locations at the best time of year
•Hands-on photography instruction in the field
•Specially designed three roof-hatch photo safari vehicles
•Proprietary materials for preparation, including free copy of “A Photographer’s Guide to Photographing in East Africa.”
•Post-safari image critiques
All-inclusive (double-occupancy) except for your flights to and from Kilamajaro Airport, bar drinks, soda & water (except at the Intimate Tented Camp where everything is free for our entire stay), tips for drivers and camp staff, personal items, and trip insurance.
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…
If you would like to explore the possibility of joining me on the Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris Antarctica/The Extended Expedition Voyage< trip: Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and Falkland Islands: December 13, 2014 to January 10, 2015, click here for additional information and then shoot me an e-mail.
The DPP RAW Conversion Guide
To learn why I use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) to convert every image that I work on, 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.