Monday, January 28, 2013

Winter Wildlife Photos - Part 3

The third day of my winter wildlife shoot was predicted to start clear and then later turn to rain, so I headed out before dawn hoping to get my shooting in during the morning.

It was bitterly cold, and already mostly cloudy by the time I got into the rice fields, so I opted to try to capture the sunrise and then see what happened after that.

I found a good rice field, set up my tripod, and was rewarded with a beautiful, still sunrise.

Sunrise west of Richvale
Unfortunately, that was it for the day. The clouds closed in, and I headed home.

The next day dawned sunny and clear, so I decided to head to the Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, where I've gotten wonderful images in previous years.

This time, the wildlife were much shier than before, and I was only able to get a couple of good images.

White-fronted Goose, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge
Pintail Duck, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge
But I still had plenty of daylight, so I headed back up the road to the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, where I met with greater success.

There are a lot of pheasants at the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge, but they are typically very skittish and rarely let you get close enough to photograph them. Today, I was very lucky, as several pheasants pecked near the side of the road and let me creep close enough for some nice portraits.

Ring-necked Pheasant
Of course, there are plenty of Snow Geese here.
Snow Geese
One of the best parts of the shoot was watching a Great Egret hunt patiently for its dinner. I watched this bird for about 10 minutes before it suddenly skewered a small mouse or a vole on its beak and swallowed it whole for its dinner.
A Great Egret on the hunt
The egret catches a vole or mouse for it's dinner
The Great Egret after it swallowed its dinner
The setting sun is reflected on the water and silhouettes a Snow Goose
All in all, this year's winter wildlife shoot was a great success!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Winter Wildlife Photos - Part 2

One the second day of my winter wildlife shoot with the 800mm super telephoto (see previous post), I headed out to Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, a state-managed wildlife refuge just north of the Sutter Buttes.

While there are many of the same birds here, there were a few, like the Black-necked Stilt, that I rarely see at other refuges. Click on the images to view larger.

Red-tail Hawk up close and personal
One of the best images I was able to capture was a close up of a Red-tail Hawk. It was so intent on hunting a small vole (as it turned out when it later pounced on it) that it allowed me to get very close without flying away.

Black-necked Stilt
Great Egret taking a stroll
Another Great Egret
A Great Blue Heron resting as sunset approaches
On the way out of the refuge, we passed by flooded rice fields reflecting a stunning sunset. I had to stop and at least capture a few frames.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter Wildlife Photos - Part 1

Every year for my birthday, I rent a super telephoto lens from (a great company BTW) for a few days and head out to the various wildlife refuges around the Sacramento Valley to shoot the millions of ducks, geese, and other birds that winter here in the refuges and rice fields.

This year I rented a Canon 800mm telephoto. This is a fantastic lens! When hooked up to my Canon 7D, it gives an effective focal length of 1280mm - a truly awesome reach that allows me to get amazingly close to the wildlife.

The weather was beautiful this year - clear and cold.

The first day out, I decided to visit my favorite place to shoot wildlife, the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, south of Willows and was able to capture some wonderful images (click on the images to view larger).

Great Blue Heron
Snow Geese in flight, with the snow-covered Coast Range in the background.
A Red-winged Blackbird calls out as sunset approaches.
White-fronted Goose
The sunset is reflected in the water as a Snow Goose swims by.

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Ten Favorite Photos of 2012

Every year I post my ten favorite photos for that year. You can view my favorite photos of 20112010 and 2009. 2012 was a much more productive year than 2011 (partly because I wasn't in the middle of buying a house), and I did a much wider variety of work in 2012 than in 2011.


I actually did very little architecture work in 2012. However, I did take a number of images of our new house.

The two images below were part of series of images that I did of our house during the year. Both of these images relied on using a 24 foot tall camera stand and multiple layered exposures to get the shots. I wrote blog posts on both of these images here and here.


The image below was taken for Valentine's Day, and is one of my favorite food shots ever. There is a blog post on this shoot here.

What I love about this shot is its simplicity and the play of color and texture. I did a post on this shoot here.


I didn't do as much landscape work this year as in other years, but I did capture some dramatic images.

This image is a composite of 30 images taken over the duration of the annular eclipse of the sun that occurred on May 20th.

I also captured a couple of stunning sunsets over the rice fields. The first was taken in February, just before they drain the rice fields, and the other was taken in early December, right after they flood the rice fields.


In February, I took my studio strobes into the field to record the almond bloom using studio lighting. The shoot resulted in some unique images.

I also had the opportunity to do some baseball still lifes with a nostalgia theme. This was a very fun shoot, partly because I got to buy a lot of beat up old baseball gear on eBay.