Wednesday, April 27, 2011


In doing the Hawk Picture nearby, I sadly was reminded of the differences between the capabilities of two packages.  Lightroom version 3.4 was announced today.  Don't know if it solves this problem.  It wasn't obvious in the press release.

Here is the first image of the hawk, done the deliciously quick way using Lightroom's adjustment brush.

BUT... there is a catch...Using adjustment brush in Version 3.3 adds the hideous artifacts below upon close examination, especially if you need to go toward the midrange of tones or further.  Completely unacceptable performance.  I HATE HAVING MY TIME WASTED.

This was edited using CURVES in PHOTOSHOP CS5

Here is the closeup.  Major difference.  San Jose, we have a problem.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How to Photograph Hawks

How to Photograph Hawks.  A brave title.  Luck is involved.  Timing is involved, preparation of batteries and cards is assumed.  OK, the basics.  YOU MUST have a 400mm or better lens on a fast acting, fast focusing D-SLR.  Image Stabilization is important and "dual mode" stabilization may make the difference.  I use a Canon 70-200 with a 2X converter on Mode 2 setting.  Set on IS Mode 2 to account for the camera swing as you follow the bird.  Mode one assumes you are still and folllowing a still creature with a slow shutter speed. 1/500 is a minimum shutter speed.

Here the hawk, caught at 9:00 am in Staten Island, clutching a thouroughly executed prey bird is headed back to the nest in an arresting sight.

Go at least one stop overexposure compensation to account for the bright sky.  In Photoshop, will need to enhance the feather tone.   Point and Shoot users, sorry you are out of luck for flight, but don't give up hope.

Still, good shots are still possible.  STALKING skills beat shooting skills here.  Knowing bird behavior and a sense for their "spook distance" are critical for getting in range.  Change position.  This is likely the same bird above, hours after the catch above.  While shot with the same lens & Camera combo above, the bottom shot could easily have been taken with a long zoom EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder / Interchangeable Lens) Camera or a PowerShot SX30 IS Digital Camera with its long zoom.

Here is my Bird Gallery.

To buy Birds Shirts, click here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


In my Photographic Creativity course, "A Whack on the Side of the Head" by Roger von Oech is one of recommended reads.  Here's why.

I often hear folks say "I'm just not creative."  Nonsense.  Creativity is a process, and any process can be repeated and learned.  You just need practice and good coaches. 

Right off the bat, I like von Oech's first premise: Creativity is Mental Sex.  "It's a lot of fun...indeed I like to think of creative thinking as the "sex of our mental lives."  (Page 5 of my edition)

Some chapter titles:
1. The Right Answer
2. That's Not Logical
3. Follow the Rules
4. Be Practical
5. Play is Frivolous
6. Tha't not my area
7. Avoid ambiguity and so on up to chapter 16

Obviously, von Oech has a fine sense of sarcasm as he explodes all myths behind all the rules we have been "taught" by our teachers, managers, or other "handlers" in life.

Photographic creativity is NOT the cental thesis of the book, but the concepts are crucial, like Cross Fertilization on page 104.  I am always on the alert for life's surprises.  For inspiration for Underwater photography, I look to other masters for ideas, rather than trying to repeat the work of the Nat Geo Bubble-Blowing legends.  Likewise, Land photographers may benefit from studying the work of the Underwater Masters.

A lot of my creativity lately has been going into the design of t-shirts.  Click here to buy one.

 Click here for some other shots I consider creative.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


We gave the presentation on basic Editing last night.

Click here to get the best Amazon price on Photoshop Elements.