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Yellowstone Wildlife Photography

On our recent trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, Rochelle and I learned some hard lessons in mastering the art of wildlife photography, and while neither of us claims to be anything close to a master at it now, we did pick up some valuable, hard-earned knowledge.  And I’d like to pass on some of our experiences to you, in the hopes that you can avoid some of our trials and most of our errors.

Before we get into the whole “photographiness” of the story, I have to remind you, as I reminded myself over and over again, it really doesn’t matter all that much if you get a perfect photograph of a bear, a moose or an elk.  What is much more important is taking the time to see and experience these magnificent animals in their natural habitat.

Yellowstone-
A Bison Calf having Breakfast.

We visited the two parks in late June, and there were animal babies all over the place.  Watching the interaction between the mothers and the babies was a priceless experience and when I think of the time I spent looking at them through my viewfinder, I remember how personal each of those experiences was, not only for them, but for me too.  So, my advice is to be patient, enjoy the experience, and if you happen to get a couple of good photographs, just consider them to be icing on the big cake you already have sitting in front of you. Continue reading

Photography Fun Doesn’t Stop After Dark.

Everybody shoots sunsets.  I doubt if you could find a photographer, or any traveler with a camera, who hasn’t tried their hand at capturing that last light of the day.  And I don’t blame them.  I’ve shot more than a few sunsets myself.    But unless you’re presented with a wonderful sky full of dramatic clouds, or some exceptional reflected color, your sunset shot isn’t going to turn any heads.

That’s why Rochelle and I try to study other astronomical events to see if we can incorporate them into our photography.  And it turns out our favorite celestial body is often not the sun, but the moon.  But before I get into the ins and “mostly” outs of shooting the moon, let me tell you a bit about our most recent weekend in Yosemite. Continue reading

There and Back Again, a Photographer’s Tale

Yes, I did steal the title from the Hobbit, but I almost named this “Beauty and the Beasts” which would have been an even more blatant rip off.  I hope I don’t get sued by Tolkien or Disney because both titles are perfect for this story.  You see, I have just recently gotten hooked on nature wildlife photography and I have already found out two very important truths; you do often have to go “There and Back Again” to get the right shot, and there is plenty of beauty, and more than a few beasts to photograph when you do.

backyard deerI have to preface this story with the news that Rochelle and I just picked up two new lenses.  For Rochelle, who is a bit of a speed freak when it comes to glass, the Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 fit the bill perfectly.  I, on the other hand, wanted a bit more range, so I went for the 70-400.  So my lens is a bit slower than Rochelle’s, but covers more distance.  They are both Sony G lenses, which mean they’re ultra-quiet and super sharp.  So we both got what we really wanted, and of course, being married, we share both lenses equally.  Right.  Sure we do.

Before we went on our first wildlife photography hunt, I decided to do a little practice shooting at home.  Luckily for me, there is plenty of wildlife right outside the door.  This young buck was my first conquest.  I was happy with the shot, but I realized right then that I wouldn’t have a front porch railing to brace the camera on out in the field.  And I would need some kind of a brace because my new lens is very, very big and heavy. So, I made sure to pack both the tripods and the monopods for our first trip. Continue reading

No Snow. No Problem. California has Beaches too.

We’ve had a dry, dry winter so far in California.  And while the dry and unseasonably warm weather is playing heck with our ski season, our winter snow photography, and more importantly, the State-wide drought situation, it has allowed us to quickly dewinterize our Class B Roadtrek and hit the road. 

Fortunately for us, we’re only a few hours away from some amazing scenes. Some we’re very familiar with, and some we’ve only just begun to explore.  I thought I’d use this post to let you know where we’ve been and give you some of the inside dope if you decide to travel there yourself. Continue reading

What Kind of Photography do You Like to do?

Before you make an investment in new camera equipment, it’s a good thing to know what you plan to do with it.  I know it seems like there’s an obvious answer.  You’re going to take pictures with it…duh!  But, if you look past the obvious, you’ll realize that every time you buy a new piece of equipment, you’re also making an investment in the time it takes to learn how to use it, in the storage space it takes to carry it, and the additional add-ons you’ll need to buy so it works the way you want it to.

So before I buy new photo toys, I try to figure out how the new equipment will fit into my lifestyle.  Will I use it a lot?  Will it make my photography better?  Can I do something similar with the equipment I already have?  I know I have a limited amount of accessible space in my Roadtrek Agile motorhome, so I need to make sure I get the biggest bang for my buck.

But this story isn’t about what I would buy.  It’s about you. So, take a minute and think about the subjects you really like to photograph.  If you’re the type of photographer who only likes to take pictures of one thing, such as birds, or landscapes or your grandkids, you’ve got some easy, though not necessarily cheap, choices to make.  But if you’re the type of photographer, like me and my wife Rochelle, who like to shoot anything and everything, your choices are much more difficult.  Continue reading

So You Want a New Camera?

I don’t know many RV travelers who purchased a motorhome just to park it in the driveway.  Nope, the main reason to get a motorhome is to go out and travel – to visit beautiful places, enjoy the scenery and to pack in as many unique and exciting experiences as possible.  And the best way to remember all of your travels is with a camera.   But what’s the best camera to have when you’re travelling in a motorhome?  Well, that depends on how much time, money and space you’re willing to devote to your new hobby.  So, to help you make up your mind, I’m going to tell you about all of the types of cameras available today.

For all of us who didn’t get a new camera for Christmas this year, there’s no need to fret.  Most of the big camera manufactures don’t come out with their latest, wiz-bang technology until the first of the year anyway.  And if the early rumors are correct, 2014 looks like the wiz-bangiest year for camera technology yet.

But before you start pouring over product announcements, reviews and specifications, it’s a good idea to narrow down your wants and desires so you end up buying the camera that best suits your needs.  And to do that, you need to know a little bit about the types of cameras that are available. Continue reading