Welcome to the blog portion of my website. Check back often to see what tips, tricks and rants I have about photography.
Tip #49: Photograph wildlife the day after a storm
Although a windy day might be tough to find wildlife to photograph, the day after a storm, or shortly after a storm ends, can be one of the best times to find and photograph critters. They have been hunkered down to avoid the wind, rain or snow, and are now hungry and need to get up and stretch. Think of how stir crazy you can feel after a couple of days of being inside during a storm, and how good it can feel to get back outside when the weather clears up. Wildlife gets the same way.
Birds of prey will start preening their feathers shortly after rain or snow stops. Once the sun comes out they will stretch their wings to warm back up in the natural heat. Tracks in fresh snow can be much easier to see so use them to find the coyote searching for a tasty meal or the snowshoe hare moving from bush to bush.
Tip #48: Avoid photographing wildlife on windy days
My photographic passion is to take pictures of wildlife. In particular, I enjoy trekking to the high latitudes and altitudes the most where the cold loving critters live. These extreme locations are frequently windy so I adjust my wildlife search to avoid the wind. For example, on windy days at the edge of the alpine tundra I will look for white-tailed ptarmigan on the leeward side of the willow bushes where the branches block the wind for the birds.
I have found over the years that animals just don't like to be out in the wind. Wind zaps them of their energy, especially cold wind in the winter (think of how dried out and beaten you feel after being out in the wind). It can prevent them from hearing or smelling approaching predators or from finding prey. A really windy day may kick up a lot of sand or snow that can get in eyes and ears (and camera equipment).
So of all weather conditions I have found windy days produce the least amount of stunning wildlife photos.
If you do decide to photograph wildlife on a windy day (or that is the only day available to you due to a work or travel schedule), by all means, go out and take the pictures but adjust your search. Look for animals behind objects that will block the wind for them, such as buildings, bushes, or hills. And be sure to protect your equipment by putting something around your camera, such as a LensCoat.
Tip #47: Enjoy your work
Photography can be a very difficult way to make a living. The price for stock photography has dropped considerably since the availability of photos on the Internet. Digital camera equipment has made the photographic pursuit much more available to a larger group of photographers.
As soon as you change your photography to photographing what sells versus what you like to photograph you may start to see a change in the quality of your photographs. Your passion may disappear from the subject matter and that can surprisingly show up sometimes in your work.
So even if you want to pursue photography as a career, or want to keep it as a hobby, find your passion and stick with it. Get out and take pictures to enjoy taking pictures and enjoying the outdoors.
Tip #46: Set your camera to auto white balance
Light in different conditions or from different sources emits different colors or tones. This is referred to as color temperature. Clear blue skies and cloudy days give off a cooler blue tone. Sunset light tends to be warmer or red. Tungsten light emits a yellow tone while candlelight emits a red tone.
All of these variations in color temperature will affect the overall appearance of your photograph.
Over the course of a day or even in a few minutes of photographing outdoors, the color temperature of the light can change drastically. Think of a partly cloudy day when the clouds pass in front of the sun blocking the warm light and then the light changes just as fast as the sun reappears from behind the clouds. Adjusting for these drastic changes in light can be difficult to react to quickly.
The simple solution I have found is to leave your camera set to auto white balance, a feature found in the main menu of your camera. By using this setting, your camera will automatically adjust for the color of light through changes in the white balance.
Of course, selecting your own white balance setting can create some very interesting artistic effects, but may make adjusting for the color balance in post-processing more cumbersome.
Another option is to set your camera to auto white balance and then create different variations in post-processing by using the different white balance presets found in most post-processing software.
As with previous tips, if time and the situation allow, try different settings. You just never know what kind of creative photo you may come up with depending on the conditions at the time.
Tip #45: Have an Open Mind
Photography, like many forms of art, is very subjective. Our best friends may love our work yet the professionals may bash it, or vice versa. So be open to critiques and take all that people have to say - whether it is positive or negative - and think about those suggestions, reviews and ideas each time you snap the shutter.
You would be amazed at how often that little comment about a distracting blob in the lower portion of your photo starts to pop into your head when you are photographing an animal in a busy landscape. Or that comment about how the eyes looked off of the image rather than into it.
There are a thousand comments that could be said about a photo. Sometimes the comments can be harsh and sometimes the comments can be very inspiring. Take each one and store it away in a brain cell. It will pop into your conscious mind on occasion and make your photo just a little bit better.