Monday, March 24, 2014

March Madness: Nature Photography

Collegiate basketball fans unite once again in front of their high definition TV's and in sports bars cheering on their teams and players.  Pre-game predictions, post-game analysis, office squares and water cooler verbal volleys resonate everywhere you turn.

In Michigan, it's really heating up indoors now that Michigan and Michigan State are in the Sweet Sixteen.  And that's about the only place you'll find heat in Michigan this year.  Our chilly, snow-laden winter has extended from November through today. March 23 was a not-so-sweet sixteen degrees this morning.

There are advantages to a late winter thaw in March.

Red-neck Grebe has a Catch
Nikon 7100, 150-500mm, f/9, 1/500 sec, ISO 250
Last week at Stoney Creek Metro Park, it was another bitingly cold morning.   A Red-necked Grebe delighted in frolicking and fishing in icy waters for his morning breakfast. As much of the lake was frozen, this pushed a diving duck into closer photography proximity.  A major score as a photographer and a new addition to my birding life list.

The teams that make it so the Sweet Sixteen don't get there with luck.  There are countless hours studying game plays, listening to the coach as he lays out the strategy, watching tapes of their opponent, athletic conditioning drills and time on the floor.  The players spend many hours training with their teammates and many hours individually honing their skills.

As evolving photographers, we commit to hours of studying, practice, time in the field and then back in front of our computers reviewing our game day in the field.  We play in conditions that sometimes other seriously think we have achieved our own level of  'madness.'

In the serious cold, our field time may be a little bit shorter.  This can be readily be replaced by reviewing 'game tapes' that can improve our editing skills.  We spent a lot of time snapping nature, let's ensure we bring out the beauty that captured our eye in the field.

Easy to find post processing tips can be accessed on You Tube.  Type in your topic and a whole host of videos will emerge.

Additionally, as a Lightroom 5 user, I recently discovered from another photographer friend, informative, easy to understand videos that have quickly enhanced my post-processing skills.  The George Jardine video tutorials contain 23 different segments concentrating on the tools in the Lightroom 5 Develop module.  You can easily select which one you want to review or playback again at any given time.  Time spent with these videos can help you produce a game winning image.

Female Wood Duck
Nikon 7100, Sigma 150-500mm, f/9, ISO 250, 1/800 sec
Today I drove back to Stoney Creek Metro Park only to find that the thaw had started from warmer temperatures this past week.  The Grebe moved on.

Initially, I planned to head back home.  If I had succumbed to my inner voice of "it's too cold to be out here,"  I would have missed another wonderful March Madness nature moment.

My game strategy for the day needed be altered.

I executed a course correction and headed to Paint Creek Trail in Rochester, Michigan.  Hoop there it was!  Moving among many mallards, was a sweet and beautiful female wood duck.  The equivalent of a three-point shot.

Happy Shooting and enjoy March Madness!