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Latest articles
From tips & techniques to location & gear reviews, to conservation issues.
Creating a Modern Photographic Field Guide
by Iain Campbell | April 11, 2014
I am old school. As a birder I have always much preferred plate based nature field guides with paintings rather than photos. For me there was just never any comparison between the highly illustrative paintings of the National Geographic and Sibley guides and the shabby images in books such as the Kaufman guides. But two things changed my mind. The first was when I saw the superb Birds of Southern Africa: The Complete Photographic Guide by Sinclair and Ryan, and then when I saw what Richard Crossley was trying to do with the ground breaking The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds. Photography had reached the point where we could use it for field guides every bit if not more effective than plate guides, and I was sold. When the opportunity arose to do a new field guide to Australia, I jumped at the chance. I had a hard choice to make. I could go for the exciting Crossley format where you have one species per plate, showing many different angles, plumages and sizes. This is done by superimposing different shots onto one background and a massive amount and skill in Photoshop to make it look “real”. The problems with making a guide like this is that it becomes very bulky when dealing with a whole continent of birds, and the more pressing one of there just not being enough images of many species in Australia to make this exercise possible. The second option I looked at was to use the WILDGuides series type format. Theirs is a brilliant format of having larger images for the more iconic and visible species, and spending much less text and photo space on those species that the casual birder was less likely to see. As a portal to get people excited about visiting an area, it is hard to improve on this style, but it does not suit itself well to showing a vast number of species across a continent and describing how to tell them apart. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] A New Holland Honeyeater from Western Australia[/caption] Continue reading »
Exploring Inis Oirr
by Peter McCabe | April 04, 2014
The Island is buzzing, tri-colors are flying, a TV crew has been spotted, and clinking champagne glasses can be heard in the local pub. Sadly, despite the six-minute flight from Connemara this isn’t all for me! The Irish president, affectionately known as Michael D. is paying a flying visit. Despite the temptation of clinking glasses, I am off up a hill and down the meandering dry stone wall lined lanes to explore the Inis Óirr coastline. Continue reading »
My Changing Shooting Style
by E.J. Peiker | April 02, 2014
I have been a photographer for most of my life and throughout my 46 years or so of photography, my style has changed many times. When I first got heavily into bird photography about 14 years ago, the trend in North America was towards shooting birds as big as possible in the frame and I followed that trend taking at least 100,000 birds that were, what I now consider to be "stuffed" in the frame. In recent years photos like this have become less and less satisfying to me but I continued to take photos where the bird took up the vast majority of the frame. Part of this was driven by the pixel counts of the era. With 4, 6, 8 and even 12 megapixel cameras, in order to get enough pixels on the bird for larger scale reproduction, it was necessary to not "waste" too many pixels. But as cameras advanced to larger megapixel counts like 24 and now 36, it became possible to include a lot of the surroundings and still have plenty of pixels if a publisher does need a tight shot. Even though I teach photo workshops, every year I attend one or two workshops as a paying participant with photographers that I respect, admire, and can learn things from. One should never stagnate in their craft! Last Spring I attended Alan Murphy's and Brian Small's Warbler Migration workshop on the Texas Gulf Coast. There is no better bird photographer in the world than Alan Murphy and Brian Small is one of the top experts on birding, birds in general and bird photography in the world. I am happy to call them both friends for years now. While photographing an amazing array of birds during this workshop, it hit me that I am not taking nearly as many shots with teleconverters and that I am taking a lot more shots with more of the perch and the environment included in the frame then I did in the past. As I thought more about this, I concluded that the reason for this is that we now have the tools that allow me to take the types of images that I find more visually pleasing but at the same time leave me the option to use those photos for editorial purposes where the only thing that matters is the primary subject. Continue reading »