What’s Wrong With This Photo?

Rough-legged Hawk / Photo by Vic Berardi

Rough-legged Hawk / Photo by Vic Berardi

This is a photo of a Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus). It breeds in the arctic and migrates southward down into the far southern areas of western Canada and throughout much of the United States where it spends most of the winter. Its journey southward and back again is long and arduous. This particular photo was taken in southern Wisconsin in early March.

Before we get into what’s wrong with this photo, let’s discuss a few good things about it.

At first glance, this is exactly the type of photograph that gets the most attention on forums, listservs and social networks. It might even be a photo that could potentially win a photo contest. Why? Because it captures a dramatic scene that instantly makes the observer feel some kind of emotion. [Read more...]

Nature Photography In The Least Expected Places

Photo by Vic Berardi

Photo by Vic Berardi

It’s the dead of winter, you live in an area that doesn’t have classic winter scenery, then you look outside and see that it’s cold and dreary. The last snowfall was at least a week ago, so taking photos with beautiful fresh snow in the background or foreground isn’t an option. So, you decide to stay home and wait for a better day…you shouldn’t. There are opportunities out there on any given day to take nature photos, if you just look hard enough.

A couple of weeks ago I ventured out on such a day and after becoming exhausted at trying to find something to photograph, I happened to drive over a small creek and stopped to look and see if any water was moving. There wasn’t but something else caught my eye: autumn leaves & ice! I pulled over to the side of the road, got out with my camera and tripod and slowly looked at all the small scenery along this very small and mostly frozen creek. What I saw was limitless in compositions and beauty! [Read more...]

How To Photograph Birds In Bad Light

Photo by Vic Berardi

Photo by Vic Berardi

You’ve probably said it yourself and you’ve heard it said many times, “I decided to stay home today because the lighting was so awful.”

If you’re like many beginning bird photographers, then you check the weather forecast hoping it calls for sunny blue skies. But, then you get depressed when the forecast calls for “mostly cloudy skies” and a chance for rain or snow. You begin to wonder why you have all that expensive camera equipment!

But don’t fret too hard about it! Yes, it’s true that deep blue skies can be great for photographing birds in flight, but it’s actually cloudy skies that create the lighting situations for the most dynamic or dramatic photos, especially those of perched birds. [Read more...]

A Fun Way To Improve Your Wildflower Photography

Photo by Vic Berardi

Photo by Vic Berardi

As spring approaches and the dreary overcast days of winter are still upon us, we anxiously await going out in the field for some wildflower photography. But, while you’re waiting for those flowers to pop up, you can still do something to help you prepare for those wildflower photos.

Over the winter, I picked up several excellent flower photography books and a few showed some techniques for indoor photography. So, I thought, why not give this a try and see if I can apply what I learned to outdoor wildflower photography. I didn’t have any studio lighting, so I decided to experiment with what I already had. [Read more...]

Evolution of a Nature Photograph

Fringed Gentian / Photo by Vic Berardi

Fringed Gentian / Photo by Vic Berardi

Sometimes when you come across a subject, you immediately know how to photograph it and create a pleasing image. But, other times (and perhaps, most of the time), it takes some thought and experimenting to find that image you’re looking for. You start off with a basic shot, and continue tweaking or evolving it, until you eventually obtain that image you set out to create.

For example, one day earlier this fall, I set out to photograph one of my favorite fall wildflowers: the Fringed Gentian (Gentiana crinita). They’re generally found in open areas next to higher quality wetlands, and usually grow in clumps of a hundred or more flowering plants.

Photographing them can be challenging since their habit of growing in clumps can make it hard to isolate one or a few of them in an image. Nevertheless, the Fringed Gentian is a beautifully delicate wildflower that deserves the very best attention in depicting that very beauty and fragility. [Read more...]

How Do You Know When to Upgrade Your Equipment?

For the past several years my main bird photography equipment has been one of Canon’s xxD bodies (30D, 40D, 50D and the recent 7D) along with either the Canon 400mm f/5.6L or the Canon 300mm f/4L IS. Sometimes I’ve also used these lenses with the Canon 1.4x Extender.

Both of these lenses offer superb image quality with impeccable sharpness. But, there have been times over the last few years when I missed out on photo opportunities because neither one of these lenses would perform adequately.

What kind of conditions am I talking about? When there’s poor lighting and little time to get the shot. The photo below is a good example. It’s a shot of an adult Red-shouldered Hawk that was taken very late in the afternoon. The sky was heavily overcast, causing some dim lighting conditions. [Read more...]