Eastern Box Turtle in Northern New Jersey

Eastern Box Turtle
Ringwood NJ
September 2021

The best way to “capture” wildlife is to snap a picture, do not bring animals indoors or home with you. Removing wildlife even temporarily from their habitat can impair their survival skills.

Green Heron at the Newark Watershed in Newfoundland NJ

Green Heron at the Newark Watershed in Newfoundland NJ

Green Heron at the Newark Watershed in Newfoundland NJ

If you’ve ever wondered what the inside of a Green Heron’s mouth looks like this is the video for you.

More info on the Green Heron – https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Green_Heron/overview

Filmed with the Canon SL2 + Tamron SP 150-600mm G2 Lens

See the behind the scenes making of this footage here – https://www.facebook.com/davidblinderrealtor/videos/288527362231277/

Harlequin Ducks At Rest

Harlequin Ducks At Rest

12/2016

Barnegat Light, NJ

While two Harlequin Duck hens took a break from the rough Atlantic Ocean, two Ruddy Turnstones approached from the background.

Tamron 150-600mm VC + Sony A7R + Manfrotto 055XDB tripod

#njphotography #njwildlife #njnature #njstateparks #newjersey #njbird #jerseybirders

Northern Harrier at Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge

Northern Harrier

Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville NJ

Winter 2009

“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

I liked how the silhouetted hawk in flight glided (searching for prey) just above the reeds. I also loved the pink sky tones signaling the end of the day.

Eastern Chipmunk at Allamuchy

IMG_4514 fbook.jpg

Eastern Chipmunk
 
Allamuchy Mountain State Park, New Jersey
 
I did a hike on the Red Trail aka Rangers Trail this morning which was a pretty good workout.

Birdscape: Vulture and Clouds

I went outside for a relatively short duration this morning, and with intermittent clouds and harsh late morning sun I envisioned it as time better spent photographing wildlife than landscapes.  Once I got to my destination I was excited to see three Red-tailed Hawks (our most common Hawk) flying near each other.  Unfortunately, they dispersed quickly so the photo opps were limited.  Shortly thereafter, two Turkey Vultures (common large scavenger) lofted above the treeline and into the clouds.  While not the most graceful or attractive bird, they are interesting in their own right and I will often photograph them if the conditions are right.

Cathartes aura

A Turkey Vulture soars through dramatic clouds in the skies above New Jersey. Image taken with the Tamron SP 150-600mm VC lens and the Canon EOS 7D.

This was my favorite frame of a Vulture flying from today.  I like this angle of its wingspan, and that its flight path is parallel to the seam in the clouds.

Photo taken with the tripod-mounted Tamron SP 150-600mm and the Canon EOS 7D.  Exposure settings: 1/1250 F/10 ISO 100

Image Optimization: An Eastern Chipmunk

I will precurse the photos with a disclaimer that I find it difficult to walk by the enumerated Eastern Chipmunk without taking a picture EVERY SINGLE TIME.  That being said, below is a peak at my RAW conversion workflow for a new wildlife photo.

nature photography photoshop workflow

Left side is with my saved Camera RAW defaults applied. Right side is my output image with contrast and further sharpening and noise reduction applied for web/general print.

The above composite is a megacrop created only for the purpose of showing my 2 minute plunderings in the “digital darkroom”.  Get the settings correct in-camera, expose to the right, and make sure the initial file is sharp.

New Jersey Wildlife Photographer

A small brown rodent takes a break from fattening up on acorns to ponder what the heck this human is doing.

1/80 F/8 ISO 400.  Taken with the Tamron SP 150-600mm lens, the Canon EOS 7D, and a Manfrotto tripod with fluid head.

I got lucky that the chipmunk paused just behind a couple of vivid fallen leaves.  To me, they are the icing on the cake and a fortunate happenstance.

New Jersey Bird Photography: Bald Eagle

Here is a recent photo taken less than 15 miles from my home.  While Bald Eagles are certainly not abundant in New Jersey, we do have breeding pairs that can be found in many counties.  Expansive habitats like the Delaware River are prime fishing areas for our national bird, but they can survive off of inland lakes and ponds if the conditions are correct.

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

An adult Eagle captured mid-air, this bird was circling a meadow on a warm Fall day in New Jersey. Photographed with the Tamron SP 150-600mm VC lens and the Canon EOS 7D.

Above photo of a Bald Eagle was taken in Morris County, New Jersey.  Equipment included the Tamron SP 150-600mm VC lens and the Canon EOS 7D.  Exposure settings were: 1/200 F/8 ISO 400 @ 600mm.

Selective Sharpening in Nature Photography: American Black Bear

My typical nature photo post-processing workflow is very short and sweet unless I have to remove sensor dust spots from shoot at a vary small aperture.  I do like to present my images as realistically and un-manipulated as possible.  My still image format is always camera RAW to get the best possible dynamic range and so that I can make my own decisions over noise reduction and sharpening.  I had the great fortune of finding a wild Black Bear descending a tree in Northern New Jersey today.

Here is my finalized and optimized image with my typical watermarks and downsized at 900px as I generally do for web usage:

ursus american

A wild Black Bear descending a tree in North NJ. Photographed with the Tamron SP 150-600mm VC, the Canon EOS 7D, and a Manfrotto tripod.

Taken with a tripod-mounted Tamron SP 150-600mm VC Lens and Canon EOS 7D.  I had no time to prepare for the shot or change my camera settings.  I had previously dialed in ISO 800 F/8.0 +2/3 Exposure Compensation in Aperture Priority Mode, so the shutter speed was to be determined by my camera’s meter.  In this particular shot my 7D did a good job of gauging the brightness and I was left with a shutter speed of 1/80th of a second and a good exposure.  In the world of wildlife though, this is a relatively slow setting and prime for blur of subject movement.

Below are 100% crops to reveal what is really going on behind the scenes in my “digital darkroom”

RAW versus JPEG

On the right is a very unflattering view of my unprocessed RAW at high magnification and on the left is a slightly more flattering view of my output JPEG at the same magnification.

As you can see the eye and fur definition is lacking on the SOOC file on the right.  The Tamron SP 150-600mm VC is very sharp near the 400mm focal length and at apertures like F/8.  Unfortunately AI Servo focus is often less accurate than One-Shot focus.  Other reasons for image softness may include: very slight subject movement, auto-focus sensor slightly off the bear’s eye, shooting in the shade (low contrast on subject), and perhaps the panning movement on my tripod head.

After my initial default global sharpening of the RAW file, I applied an additional low-intensity High-Pass Sharpening layer.  I still was not happy with the definition on the bear’s face.  I created an additional layer of global High-Pass sharpening, but this time I erased the effect off of the background to prevent introduction of widespread digital noise.  I also feathered the remaining sharpening a bit, by tracing the bear’s outline with an eraser tool set to 50% to maintain a natural transition from subject to foreground.  This is one method of performing selective sharpening to optimize images and get the best out of your photos.

Happy to answer any questions about my workflow if you leave them in the comments.

Expressing motion in photography: Laughing Gull in flight

Plenty of terms for the type of DSLR photography illustrated in the main image below and to tell you the truth I don’t even know what to call them.  Panning blurs may be the most logical terminology in my opinion.  Anyways, I often forget how much I enjoy looking at this type of capture.  It seems to boil the bird down to its very essence: shapes and colors.

Larus delawarensis

Photo demonstrating intentional use of a slow shutter speed along with panning of a telephoto lens.

Picture taken using a Canon EOS 7D and the Tamron SP 150-600mm VC telephoto lens.  Tripod lens collar is mounted to Manfrotto 055xProB tripod and Manfrotto junior fluid head.  Camera settings: focal length at 600mm, Manually set shutter at 1/30th, aperture at F/14, ISO 100, Camera RAW, Auto White Balance, VC On, Servo Focus Mode, High Speed Motor Drive.  Photography location: Ocean County, New Jersey.  Atlantic Ocean that is…

This type of photo can sometimes be performed in Aperture Priority mode by using a low ISO and large Aperture number to slow down the shutter.  The shutter speeds that usually work best for me are between 1/13th and 1/50th.  Your mileage may vary.  My goal when preparing for this kind of shot is to get a good amount of definition on the wildlife while emphasizing some motion (in this case the wing beats).  I also want a nice bright exposure that will retain a lot of details in the highlights but still have my histogram as far to the right as possible for maximum detail.  Compositionally speaking, I may be looking to place the bird prominently in the frame without cutting off any appendages or I may want try to include some scenery like showing the bird flying across the water’s surface.  There is a great deal of trial and error in this style of photography.  Patience, persistence, and studying other photog’s successful photos will go a long. way.