Captive vs. Wild Images

Common raccoon

Common Raccoon / Photo by Jim Braswell

Today’s post delves into an area we photographers often find ourselves … dealing with photographic ethics. Photographers have to constantly contend with ethics. Do you need a model release? Do you need a property release? Am I about to shoot on public property, or do I need to obtain permission to be here? As with everything in life, we have rules and regulations that we must adhere to when conducting our business. One of the most “gray areas” we encounter in nature photography is one of photographing wild animals versus photographing captive animals. [Read more…]

How To Build Your Own Flash Bracket

Keeping on pace with my last post regarding external flash units, I’ve decided to show you one of my “do-it-yourself” (DIY) projects: building an external flash bracket. Having the majority of my lenses fitted with the same quick-release plates, this flash bracket mounts to all of them with ease and full versatility. Check it out:

Assembled Flash Bracket

Assembled Flash Bracket

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Need Help Identifying a Bird In Your Photo? Check out this website!

Photo by Steve Berardi

Photo by Steve Berardi

Have you ever photographed a bird and had no idea what kind it was? Sometimes it’s easy to identify it later by looking through a bird book, and sometimes not so much. And, even when you do identify it, it’s nice to get some confirmation from other people.

Well, we’re in luck, because a team of ornithologists and computer scientists at Cornell have developed a web app called Merlin that helps you identify the bird in your photo. And, it works surprisingly well! [Read more…]

Using Your Smartphone As a Post-Processing Playground

Photo by Steve Berardi

Photo by Steve Berardi

Post-processing is one of the most important steps of creating a powerful image (as my dad wrote about in a previous post). Ansel Adams once said, “The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score, and the print the performance.” In modern day digital photography, post-processing leads to the “performance” part that Adams refers to. A RAW file from your camera can go in so many different directions.

In the past year or so, I’ve been really trying to improve my post-processing skills (especially with landscape images), and I discovered that one of the best ways to practice is using your smartphone.

The great thing about the smartphone is that it’s a camera and a little computer built into one small device that’s always with you. There’s tons of excellent photo editing apps that have professional editing abilities—my personal favorite is Snapseed (available for iPhone and Android), but I’ll get more into specific apps in a future post. [Read more…]

Benefits of Using a Flash Extender

Flash ExtenderNote from the editor (Steve): This is a post by our newest writer: Robert Visconti. He primarily photographs wildlife (especially birds), and he’s got some really cool ideas for DIY projects and optimizing your camera gear. In this post, he talks about using flash extenders and how to make one work better.

A flash extender is just that: it extends the flash’s output to a much greater distance by using a Fresnel lens. A flash without the extender literally “floods” the entire subject area with light. The extender takes this conical shape of light and concentrates it into a beam, hence its name. [Read more…]

Photographing a Subject for Multiple Uses

Bluebell wildflowers blooming in the spring

Spring Bluebells / Photo by Jim Braswell

When photographing a subject, do you picture in your mind just how that photo will be used? Do you ever consider multiple uses? I got caught in the trap of shooting for a single use, early in my photographic endeavors.

When putting together a series of images for a nature calendar, I found some older images that would have been wonderful to include in the calendar. But these images were all shot as verticals (or, “portraits”) and were not able to be cropped to a suitable horizontal format. In some cases, you may be able to re-crop a vertical into a horizontal, but sometimes the result is not what you are looking for. In this post, I’ll share a few things I learned along the way and how I try to shoot all my nature subjects today. [Read more…]