Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

October-November 2008

Tip of the Month

Explore Every Angle


On our recent Yellowstone Fall Photo Tour, 2008, wildlife was a bit harder to find than we have usually experienced, so rather than waste gas and drive endless miles fruitlessly (as many photographers did), we had a great deal of fun working landscapes and scenics. Aspens, with their vivid white bark and interesting black markings, make compelling images, and we spent some wonderful time working various aspen groves.
A five minute stop to take a couple of snaps of aspens simply never happened, as our groups worked the aspen groves, not just for traditional images but also some very wierd, but rather interesting, slow shutter speeds that involved using push-pull zooms, camera movements, and pseudo double exposures. You may not like anything posted below, or, conversely, your imagination may be stimulated and you too may be motivated to try something new and different. Here's how some of these shots were made:


Far Left: Using a 16-35mm wideangle I laid down on my back and pointed upward, letting wide-angle convergence and distortion work for me. The trick in shooting up is to find symmetry, so that the image seems balanced. I felt that this image, even though weighted heavily on the right, still worked.
Middle Left: Moving to another section of the woods I found a group of trees that filled most of the frame and converged into a small circle of blue in the center of the frame. This works, too, if a bit trite and overdone, but nonetheless it can be a refreshing look in a slide show or portfolio.
Middle Right: Using that same set of trees I used a very slow shutter speed, using the Singh-Ray Variable Neutral Density Filter, to spin my camera in a circle. I was hand-holding the camera to do this, so the trick, really, was moving smoothly so that the blur did not look 'stuttered' or jerky.
Far Right: I either zoomed the lens or simply held by camera high overhead and then pulled straight down, earthward, to create this blur.


To create these 'streaky' blurs, we used very slow shutter speeds and moved the cameras up and down. That seems simple, but people are so accustomed to shooting only when a camera is motionless that you actually have to concentrate on firing the camera as you move. The effect is quite painterly, and can make wonderful backgrounds for title or text slides.

We feel that there is always something to shoot, and, with digital, experimentation is really painless since there is no cost involved. If you don't like what you're getting you can always delete those image files, and it hasn't cost you a cent. But you may also find that you discovered magic, and that you're making shots that really excite you. Perhaps another value here is that playing or experimenting will keep you in the field, and I can't tell you how often we've then lucked into incredible shooting opportunities simply because we were at a location where we had been playing. Try it, I bet you'll like it!


Our Past Photo Tips of the Month:


RAW Shooters Beware!
DEC - A solution to the Digital Dilemma

Western Digital portable external Hard Drives

CS3 Upgrade

Framing with a Telephoto Against a Desert Sunrise

Adobe Photoshop LIGHTROOM
Workflow and Workload - You Can Keep Ahead
Bring along a Point N Shoot

Backing Up Your Digital Files - you'll need more than you think
Action Wildlife Photography Camera Settings
maximizing depth of field digitally
Capture 1's Most Useful Features
DIGITAL Photographing scenes with extreme exposure values
Effective Cloning in Adobe CS2

Watch Your Backgrounds - The potential of composites or shooting in RAW format
DIGITAL -Shoot for the Future
DIGITAL-Shoot for the Future, Part II
The Helicon Focus Filter Revisited



Smell the Roses
Frankly access your skills before deciding upon a workshop

The Songs of Insects
- a super book on katydids, cicadas, and grasshoppers
A Great Insect Field Guide 
Action Wildlife Photography Camera Settings
The Pond-A Must-See shooting Location in southern Arizona
Don't take in baby wild animals
Seize the Moment!
Take a Workshop First
  Luck, what is it?
At the Pulse of Life by Fritz Polking
Carry-on Luggage for small commuter flights


Three New Products
Two New Ballheads from Acratech
Lens Coat equipment covers
The Ultimate Long Lens Case - McDonald Safari Bag
Positioning your Roll-on Carry-On bag
New Lens Covers for Long Lenses
The Best All-Around Lens
Keep Your Head Up
Save Your Equipment from Crashing!
The L-Bracket, the ultimate camera bumper
Visual Echos Tele-Flash for the 580EX Flash
Testing your Flash's Aim
The Ultimate Flash Bracket
Using TTL flash with Hummingbirds
Specular highlights and the flashing frog

Geared Focusing Rail for Macro Work
Shooting in Inclement Weather
Low level tripod work
Sighting in a very, very long lens
Padding Your WimberleyTripod Head
Using The Wimberley Gimbal head with a camera body

Wimberley 400 and 600mm IS plate
How do we protect our gear from dust, and carry our gear when on safari
How do you shoot the Moon?

If you see it, it's too late -- a lesson in anticipation
Protecting your long lens from SAND, the pleasures of beach photography
Maximum Depth of Field and Hyperfocal Distance - they're not the same thing!
A great depth of field guide
Carry Your Gear!
Custom Function 4-1 for Nikon and Canon shooters
Sigma's 120-300 f2.8 APO zoom telephoto lens


A Car Tip that could Save Your Life
A Great Website for Information - the Singapore Nature Photography Society
Airline Carry-On Luggage -Let your concerns be heard!

Ask Questions Before You Go
Liquids in your Levels - TSA Warnings!

Disconnect -- travel precautions
Photograph America Newsletter
Obey the Rules
Wildlife Portraiture
Drying out boots with newspaper
Removing Cactus Spines

The Ti Chi Stalk
Photographing Critically Endangered Sites
The Sibley Bird Guides



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