Laurie On Layers TV

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Check out this episode of Layers TV where I make a special appearance. I was in Florida filming two training sessions for Kelby Training on the Nikon D300 and D3 when RC asked me to stop by Layers TV for a visit. If you don;t already watch Layers TV, you should.

Learning From The Past

As my So Texas safari approaches, I find myself going back through my files from last years visit. With the wonderful capabilities of digital and EXIF data, I can study my images and the camera settings I chose to see what images I like and what I want to improve upon.

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Great Kiskadee captured with Nikon D2Xs, AF-S 600mm F4, on Lexar Digital Media. Shutter speed 1/500 @ F5.6, -1 stop EC. With this information at my fingertips, I can study my techniques to see if I need more or less depth of field, how my exposure looks, whether or not I had a long enough lens…or, too long a lens. This information was not nearly so available to us in the film days. We either had to carry around a notepad or a tape recorder to log our exposure, lens, film data and I, for one, always seemed to get caught up in my photography and at about frame number six I would forget all about logging my data. Yipee, let’s hear it for EXIF data.

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Long-billed Thrasher captured with Nikon D2Xs, AF-S 600mm with TC-17E on Lexar Digital Media. Shutter speed 1/200 @ F8 -1 Stop EC. I was closer to the Thrasher in this photo and needed a little bit more depth of field. Since he was still, I was able to reduce my shutter speed and still capture tack sharp eyes…and that eye is right in your face!

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Harris Hawk captured with Nikon D2Xs, AF-S 600mm on Lexar digital Media.

I look for behavior shots, like this Harris Hawk with it’s beak open in mid call.

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Magnolia Warbler captured with Nikon D2Xs, 600mm with TC-17E on Lexar Digital Media

or, this Warbler taking a bath.

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Groove-billed Ani captured with Nikon D2Xs, AF-S 600mm on Lexar Digital Media

Be alert! Don’t let your guard down or you might miss a rare opportunity. When this Groove-billed Ani appeared, even though I had never seen one in person, I knew immediately what it was and how rare a sighting I was graced with. I captured 8 frames and he was gone so fast that had I not captured him on my CF card I would have wondered if I was imagining things.

Now that I have a D3 with the FX sensor, how will this change my approach to photographing the birds of So Texas? I have new technology available to me that I did not have last year…the FX sensor as I already mentioned, a new AF-S 600mm f4 VR lens that not only has Vibration Reduction but, it focuses several feet closer than my original AF-S 600mm. So many thoughts go through my head as I re-visit these images and take a trip into the past. Memories come flooding back, to a wonderful adventure with some really terrific photographers. I learn so much from my images…and they inspire me to go out and bring the wonders of the world back to share with others…my vision of the world captured one split second at a time. Those special moments, rare sightings, knowing that I “nailed it” fill my heart and I look forward with great anticipation to sharing this bird photographers mecca with some new friends.

So Texas Bird Safari

Want to take your bird photography to the next level?  Join me in So Texas as we photograph more species of birds in one morning than I usually find in a week at other locations.   There is still availability in the May Safari.  For more information visit my website.

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Image captured with Nikon D2Xs, AF-S 600mm f4 on Lexar Digital Media.

Creativity Doesn’t End With The Click Of The Shutter…

While I do believe in getting it right in the camera…exposure, composition, lighting…I know there are so many creative possibilities in the digital darkroom. Enter my favorite creative plug-ins…from NIK Software. Not one of my images goes through the digital darkroom to be finished without seeing a NIK product or two applied. Noise? No worries with NIK Dfine…and no loss of detail in the process. Sharpen for output? NIK Sharpener Pro 2.0 is my sharpener of choice with it’s selective sharpening for paper type and image size. Selective control over exposure or color? The new Viveza is oh, so powerful and oh so easy to use. But, my personal favorite is the NIK ColorEfex 3.0 filter set. I can get lost for hours playing with the different filters and learning their strengths, when to use which filter for a certain look. And sometimes, I find one image that looks great with a variety of NIK filters applied…

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Image as shot…no adjustments applied. A nice, soft light image of a Great Egret in early morning light.

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NIK ColorEfex 3.0 Contrast Color Range filter makes the Great Egret pop from the blue background.

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Apply the NIK Midnight filter to add drama to the image.

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And, my personal favorite…the NIK B&W Infrared filter.

While I have a good idea of how I am going to finish my images when I am in the field, it’s those happy surprises back in the digital darkroom that really light my fires. B&W Infrared was not on my mind when I was creating this image a few weeks ago at Fort DeSoto. I was simply allowing myself time to play, let the creative juices flow when I clicked on the B&W Infrared filter in this image. To say it knocked my socks off was an understatement. While the image has a lovely color and softness to it in the original, it’s the very dramatic look of B&W Infrared that really speaks to me in this image.

If you don;t already own the NIK Creative Suite of filters, you owe it to your creative side to give them a try.

Image captured with Nikon D3, AF-S 200-400mm, TC-17E on Lexar Digital Media