Thursday, February 27, 2014

Some Random Stats from my new Book

The new edition of Under the Endless Sky will be out soon. Aside from being a nature photographer, I also like to play with numbers on occasion. So I put together some stats on the images included in my new book.

When were they taken?

Sadly, based on the images I selected for the book, I did my best photography in 2002-2004, since 43% of the photos in the book were taken in that three year period. 2006-2009 was apparently a major dry spell in my landscape work.

2002-2005 also corresponds with the time period when I was shooting with my Mamiya 645 Pro using Velvia 50 film (see below). There was nothing like that camera and nothing like Velvia for color. I do miss it.

By month, things are a bit different. Though you might think that the majority of the images might be taken in the spring and summer, nearly two-thirds of the images were taken between December and March. This makes some sense given that wildlife are most abundant in the winter (December-January) and the orchards bloom in February and early March.

Where were the images taken?

You can see the distribution of images on the map in the book, but breaking the images down by county, it becomes clear that Butte County is a favored location, partly because it's close, but also because it has a mix of farms, orchards, foothills and mountains that is quite photogenic. Table Mountain was the single most popular location for images in the book.

What about all that camera stuff?

As noted above, I took more photos in this book with my Mamiya 645 than with any other camera, even though I only used it for a little over 2 years.

Here are a few more esoteric graphs, breaking down images by shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Not much terribly revealing here, other than the fact I don't seem to like shutter speeds between a 1/30th and 1/60th of a second, and that I took a lot of photos using Velvia 50 film (that accounts for all of the images at ISO 50).

Only a true camera nerd could be interested in these graphs.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Under the Endless Sky, Second Edition Map

I've finally finished the new edition of Under the Endless Sky, my book of landscape photography of the Sacramento Valley! Yay! 

In the new edition, I've added a map of where each of the 92 images (edit: I added two extra images after I created this post, so it's really 94) in the book were taken. You get a sneak peek at the map here.

The base map was provided courtesy of the Sacramento River Watershed Program.

Monday, February 17, 2014

When do the Almond Trees Bloom?

I was recently talking to a agricultural finance company about working with them on some images of their farm clients, and they wanted to know when the almond trees in the Sacramento Valley bloom. "Mid- to late-February," was my off-the-cuff response.

But I actually have better data than that. I've been photographing the almond bloom virtually every year since 2002 (see the chart below), and have an extensive library of images - complete with the exact date each image was taken.

Over that decade plus, I have nearly 140 almond bloom images in my library. The earliest I've ever taken a photo of the almond bloom was February 12th (in 2011 - a particularly early year). The latest was on March 8th. Of course, the orchards probably begin to bloom a bit earlier and last a bit later, because I try to shoot at the peak of the bloom.

You can see in the chart below that the peak of the almond bloom typically falls in the last week of February or occasionally in the first week of March.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Under the Endless Sky - 2nd Edition Coming Soon!

I'm currently working on the second edition of Under the Endless Sky - Landscapes of the Sacramento Valley, and I'm incredibly pleased with the book.

I've finished selecting the images and updating most of the text. The cover design is finished.

About all that remains is proof reading and taking an updated photo of myself for the fly leaf. The only photo I have of myself in the field is 12 years old, and, according to my wife, I look 'mean' in it:

What's new in the 2nd edition? The main differences are that the book has been reformatted to a larger format and expanded from 59 to 92 images. Many older images have been replaced by newer (and IMO better) images. Several new chapters have been added, including chapters on valley wildflowers, wildlife, as well as expanded chapters on farmland and orchards. I've also added a detailed map of the locations of all of the images in the book.

Comps are looking great, and I hope to go to press in the next month!

Stay tuned for more updates!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Wildlife at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge - Part 2

The second day of wildlife photography at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge was a bit different than the first. A strong north wind had kicked in, and I was concerned about what that would do to the birds.

What it did was cause the ducks and geese to form tight groups deep in the reeds, far from prying eyes and difficult to shoot. However, the wind also made them skittish, and entire flocks would suddenly burst into the air when one bird got disturbed.

A flock of snow geese take flight.
With some patience, I was able to get a number of good images of the geese both taking off and landing.

Snow geese come in for a landing.
Overall, the wind had the effect of keeping the birds on the ground. In the case of the geese and most of the ducks, it meant they were far away and hard to see, but for other species, it made them easier to shoot, because they were reluctant to take off. So, overall, the two days balanced out in the opportunities and images they provided.

Mallard couple
Great blue heron
Great egret
Great egret with feather ruffled by the wind.