Inspiration – the Key Ingredient!

In my last post, I talked about luck (right place, right time, right settings) and the importance of being prepared.  In the last month, I’ve discovered another ingredient that I feel is key to the creative photography process – inspiration!

Inspiration comes in many forms and governs everything.  For example, I have to be inspired to go out with a camera, inspired to stop and make an image, inspired to spend time processing an image, and then be inspired to share the image.  In the last month, my inspiration (and sometimes lack of inspiration) has been all over the map.  I’ve been excited to fire up the PHOTORANGER and go looking for subjects.  I’ve just stayed home because I just wasn’t ‘feeling it’ that day.  I’ve pulled over for something I liked, and often driven on and sometimes missed a shot.  When I’m back home and downloading images from the day, I’ve said ‘yuck’ to everything (you don’t see those!) and resolved to correct technical errors or find better subjects, and resolved to get out there again.  And then a whole month passes between posts (I really need to work on that).  You know how the inspiration roller coaster works.

In the last week, the inspiration peaks and valleys have become less extreme – returning to almost normal, in fact.  Subjects have been plentiful and my settings have been good, improving my images and increasing my inspiration.  Here’s some images from the last few weeks.  I hope you enjoy and are inspired by them!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

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Every winter, the eagles visit the Carson Valley for calving season. I found this Bald Eagle along US 395 a couple days ago.  Eagles & Agriculture is only 3 weeks away!

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This Bald Eagle was hunting along Foothill Road, on the west side of the Carson Valley. Not sure he knew about his ‘shadow.’

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This juvenile Bald Eagle was in the southwest part of the Carson Valley.

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I’m not sure what these two were discussing, but they sat for pictures for quite a while.

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I found the Carson River Road turkeys in the trees a few weeks ago.

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Remember that ‘right place right time’ discussion.

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These two are part of another turkey flock, generally found just over the California line.

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I’ve seen this nest many times, but didn’t see an occupant until the last couple days. I’ll watch and see what develops.

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This little fella’ flew from fence post to sign to sign while I followed and took pictures. I’m not sure if he’s sending a message here…

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Remember that ‘right place right time’ discussion? I forgot the ‘right settings’ piece, as I was zoomed in too close when this Hawk took flight…

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…but I got this Red-Tailed Hawk just fine.

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This Blue Heron was focused on his next meal and didn’t worry about me as I got closer and closer…

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While he looks unconcerned, he never took his eyes off me.

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I don’t normally take pictures of geese, but I was inspired when their flight path brought them close to me.   Jake’s Wetlands, Minden NV.

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This is KC. His mares are known as the Sunshine Band.

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One of the Sunshine Band. I like this composition.

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Peeking through the trees…

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Next to an eagle shot, new foals are great inspiration. This little one is about a week old, but has not been named as the Pine Nut Wild Horse Advocates are waiting for confirmation of the sex. That’s Mom on the left.

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New foal staying close to Mom, Suzie Q!

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And Suzie Q making sure I wasn’t too close.

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This family portrait shows Shorty, the sire, keeping a close eye on me while the foal nuzzles Mom. This picture has gone viral on Facebook! Thanks everyone!

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It’s hard to top the ‘family portrait,’ but I wanted to share this panorama of Jobs Peak (second peak in from right). It’s a little different view of the Sierras.

…and 2015 starts off with a BANG!!!

My first week of 2015 was wonderful, from a photography perspective.  I enjoyed many ‘firsts.’

My lovely bride gave me a wonderful Christmas present – she enrolled me in a 52 week Photo Challenge.  This class teaches photography techniques through a series of challenges.  The first challenge was ‘selective focus.’  Without getting too technical, this technique uses aperture to control depth of field (the amount of the image that is in focus).  As a nature/wildlife photographer, this technique is the staple of what I do.  I submitted this image for the challenge.

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Notice how the Hawk, brush, and fence posts near the raptor are in focus, but out of focus in front of and behind the raptor. This is a shallow depth of field, and is caused by opening the aperture as wide as it will go. I use this technique to emphasize the subject and reduce clutter in the image. You will see this in many of my images.

I’m excited to continue the challenge and moving forward on my journey to better photography.  You will hear more about the challenge in the coming year.

I found an American Kestral for the first time – actually two!  They are a small Falcon, formerly known as a Sparrow Hawk.  They are colorful and make a great image, if you can find them and have them sit still long enough!

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My very first Kestral. This one was on a utility wire along Mottsville Lane.

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This one was north of Genoa on Foothill Road. I had just finished photographing some Golden Eagles and almost missed it.

I participated in the National Bird Count Day for the first time.  My partner was an experienced birder who had done bird counts in California.  He taught me how to ‘see’ the smaller birds and helped with identification techniques.  Here’s one of my images that day.

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I’m not sure what this is, but I sure like the detail and composition.

The next day, Susan and I were heading out and I found this beautiful bird in a tree near our mailboxes.  I thought it was a Merlin, but I was subsequently told it’s a Cooper’s Hawk.

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I’m trying to learn how to identify birds and have purchased a couple books, but I obviously need more practice and training.

And then there’s the Wild Turkeys in the Carson Valley.  I found them in a snowy field on the west side of the road – great light, although I don’t know if I used the natural light very well.

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And what week is not complete without some Eagles?  I found a beautiful Bald Eagle south of town, and a pair of Goldens north of Genoa.

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This Bald Eagle was a some distance away, but I still managed a decent shot.

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This Golden Eagle was in the tree but, using Selective Focus, I was able to make this image.

And so, the year started great.  Thank you for following my blog and being a part of my Journey!

Enjoy – Photorogr

Better Lucky Than Good…

One of the ways I try to improve my photography is learning from others, and I subscribe to a couple great photography magazines that give helpful information.  These magazines offer opportunities for photographers to submit work, generally showing a specific subject or technique.  The other day, I saw the winning photograph in the ‘Better Lucky Than Good’ category.  Wow – I could enter a picture in that category!  I feel like that’s my modus operandi (m.o., for short).

I get in my Expedition and go trolling for pictures.  When I head out, I go to places looking for subjects  -wild horses, eagles and other raptors, bears, etc. – but I rarely go looking for a specific image.  Thankfully, I live in an area that provides the subjects I like to shoot.  Or, maybe I like these subjects because of where I live.  That concept is just too deep and profound for me (at least today), so I won’t spend time on it.

Let’s just go with this – for now, I’ll go looking for subjects and make the best image I can.  I’ll be flexible so I don’t miss that great Coyote shot while looking for Eagles or waterfowl.  Maybe someday I will plan my shots, rather than taking what is given to me as I drive around.  I’m good with that!

Here’s a few of my ‘accidental’ images from this week.

Enjoy – Photorogr

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Deer are a common sight in Genoa, Carson City, and around the Carson Valley. I found this group grazing on the lawn of Genoa State Park, with Snowshoe Thompson’s statue.

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Just like the Hawks, I can’t seem to sneak up on anything.

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I was visiting an area where I’d seen a juvenile Bald Eagle (see below). This Hawk sat for me for several minutes – long enough to try different settings and different compositions. This is one of my favorites.

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He could have been closer to the building, but Hawks just don’t move where you ask them to. Generally, when you ask, they just leave!

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This juvenile Bald Eagle is between 3 and 4 years old. I found him (her) just south of Minden NV, over the CA line.

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There are lots of wild Turkeys in the area. This is the first time they’ve been close enough to the road for me to get a good picture.

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And this Golden Eagle was a couple miles south of our house. I’m going to learn to remove the utility wire and improve the picture. Someday…