Dec 302010

Cheney Winter1

Have I mentioned that I love Cheney, Washinton?

It’s winter here.

Drove up from Sunnyside today.  Ran from the problems, stress and PEPSI freaks there.  The new store in Sunnyside is open today.  Not by any stretch the hardest to get open.  Just the most aggravating.  Working with the local Pepsi bottler was like teaching a cat to read.  No response and did whatever they wanted.  Someone was lucky a jim volcano did not erupt.  Too long a story to tell.  Buy Coke when in Sunnyside, Washington.

Traveled all week with camera gear in the front seat.  No time to shoot. (Chasing a Pepsi rainbow)  Until tonight.

Man was it beautiful here.

Just like the Holiday Inn Express here in Cheney.  It’s nice.  My new favorite.  The frosting on the cake…..the GM.  Ms. B. Smith!  When walking in tonight I think she recognized my anti-PEPSI mood and aggravation.  “Welcome home”  she said!  This place is amazing.  Through the doors is a distinctive smell.  A good smell.  The same smell everytime I think.  Perfect details right down to the TV that sits ON TOP of the chest.  Even anti-bacterial dispensers at the elevator.  Holy cow!

Ms. Smith is a peach and does a wonderful job with her staff here.  Hope to get back soon!

 Posted by at 9:38 PM
Dec 262010

merganserrunHave you ever had the smartest person you know ask you to help him/her with a question?


It happened to me today.  Mr Petersen approached me about a photography question.  This is the guy with the photographic memory.  Why even own a camera he can just recall it.  Turns out he is not perfect …he owns a Canon.  So here is my humble attempt to help …….

To capture a bird in flight does take some practice.  For years I have held my camera up and followed birds without shooting.  Practice is a big part.  The next is anticipating a birds actions.  Waterfowl are notorious for standing on the water after preening.  So in that case patience is in order and watching for them to stand on the water and spread their wings.


Birds of prey  have their own behavioral traits.  They don’t like people or cameras.  When shooting at the wildlife refuges the more experienced photographers rarely get out of the car to photograph.   Concealment is critical.  Or what sometimes works is when a bird is focused on prey their peripheral seems to diminish.  Many times I have approached Hawks when they are hunting and have been fortunate to get a good shot.


Finally and maybe the most important is the camera settings.   The look of a photograph is going to be determined by each photographer.  We will all see the shot a little different.  Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me:

I always shoot in aperture priority.  And I shoot wide open.  My 600 is almost always at f/4.  I like the short depth of field that a large aperture creates.  It helps separate the subject from the background.  Makes for great Bokuh!


In the case of the Hawk in the photo above I also added blur to the photograph.  I felt the tree was too “busy” for my taste. Others may want to see the tree.  That’s the creative part that makes us all different.

The shutter speed must be pretty high if you want to stop the action of a bird.  Wide open lens, aperture priority and a high ISO.  Of course the amount of light drives the ISO.  All the shots on this blog were shot this morning.  An overcast and dark morning.  To get my desired shutter speed of at least 1/3000 second my ISO ranged from 1200 to 3200.  The trade off is what we called in film days “grain”.  There will be more noise with higher shutter speeds.  I am very blessed to shoot with a D3s(s).  At higher ISO’s there is little grain or noise.


The first to get my camera up this morning was a bald eagle.  It was quit dark.  ISO was at 3200.  Makes for a little bit of a surreal look.  My blogs over the past while would lead you to believe my passion was birds.  It is photography.  Especially big game.  However I can be at the wildlife refuge in less than 15 minutes from my home.  There is always a new setting, different birds, new personalities and fun.  Though big game photography requires less skill for fast moving objects, It has it’s own challenges.  Either way if I can be out with any of them I am very happy.

 Posted by at 6:02 PM
Dec 182010


Today was a day to fly home on a Saturday.  Not too often.  Travel a lot.  Just not away on Saturday usually.  Cheney, Washington has been a neat little place to get away (and we are going to build there!).  Incredible photo op’s. From spectacular rolling farms to a Wildlife Refuge only 5 miles from the city.   Did I mention we are going to build there?  Cheney is the home of the University of Eastern Washington.  The Eagles.  Last night they played a semi-final game on the road to a national championship game.  They won.  Clear skies.  Twenty-five degrees at game time.  Fun place to be after a big win.  By the way Cheney has a population of about ten thousand.

First look out the window this morning window and it was a nice day.  Second look was when I checked out.  A blizzard.  Really!

luggage loader

The drive to the airport was crazy.  The walk from the rental car was insane…by the way don’t rent from thrifty in Spokane if you don’t like long walks in a blizzard.  Safe inside.  Plane was a half hour late.  No big deal.  We boarded our big and spacious 737.  The door shut.  “all electronics must be turned of”.  Then the Captain – ” we have been told by the tower the airport is being closed”  Time for a XANAX!!!!!!

snow flight

Eventually (an hour later) we took off and I made it home.   When you have claustrophobia as bad as I do there can be consequences when the doors shut and it is announced no one is leaving!    I am glad Xanax works fast………

 Posted by at 8:01 PM
Dec 142010

Farm line up


Swings moods, decisions, and PHOTOGRAPHS!

The first thing I told my daughter was that I was not taking photos at her wedding!    Too much pressure and too many opportunities to sit front row at the critics club. So she hired a …..person?  I think she is claiming to be a photographer.  I will not mention names.  Mostly because I don’t know her name.  BUT to say the least it would have been easier if I took the photographs.

So why the line up of farm tractor?  No pressure no hype!  I love wildlife, scenics, nature and anything but portraits.  Would rather have ketchup on my cheesecake.    My daughter brought the photographs to me that the “person” had taken.  One in particular that caught my eye was a full body or what is called a bridal shot.  In the shot my other daughter had held up the vail and let it drop to give the impression the wind was blowing.  Now I am talking about the photographs that the “person” had reviewed, edited and returned to my daughter.  The photograph included my daughters leg and arm.  Yes the daughter NOT in the wedding dress.  Are you kidding me!!!!!  I can’t post the pics because my future son in law may see my daughter in her wedding dress.  ( I guess that is a No No).  Well…… you be the judge;

Before i worked on the photo………………


After I removed the STICKS!!!!!!!!!…….


No matter what my daughters beauty came through.    Here is a couple of pics DAD took…



 Posted by at 11:05 PM
Dec 082010


Lots of birds.

Smart ones at that.  They know where the no hunting areas are.  Uplands.  In the middle of town in a field  of cut corn.   Quit a site when they take off and head out!!!

 Posted by at 4:20 PM
Dec 072010

Blue Heron in weedssmall

My time at the Farmington Wildlife Refuge continues…..

Right now the hunting season is still open.  The refuge has random check points for the hunters.  I guess to keep them honest but more importantly so the DWR has an idea of the “harvest” each year.  The hunters have been going out there for generations.  In fact the refuge is really the culmination of hunters groups efforts.

The photographer population is growing dramatically.   Especially when  HUNDREDS of Bald Eagles arrive.  The refuge is well known in several states for the photo opportunities of Bald Eagles.  A big attraction.  Just a few years ago the photographers were thin if not rare.  Now the single dirt road may have a line of cars.

Some photographers have made a name for themselves.  Not in a good vain.  My son and I spoke with a DWR employee that through our discussion mentioned that the hunters are respectful of each other and the area.   Few problems from what he was saying.  When I asked about photo opportunities his blood pressure began to rise.  “Photographers are a pain”  I mentioned that a photographer had won an international contest with a photo that he took at the refuge.  “Do you mean……”  He knew the photographer by name.

” A pain in the ass” he proclaimed.  He noted that photographers want the whole place to themselves.  This one particular photographer even goes as far as to put up signs he has produced.  Instructing other guests of the refuge as to how to act in presence.  It was clear that his arrogance was unbecoming of him.  The DWR employee stopped just short of saying that he wished photographers were not allowed in the refuge.


If you follow my blog you know I live out there (at least on sunday mornings and short stints after work).  I have expressed my frustration with photographers that are not considerate of others.  I have never said anything to other guests or posted signs.  (though sometimes I wish I could)  When a photographer invests a minimum of 20k in photography gear shouldn’t they have the advantage?  NO.  We already have the advantage with the reach of our lenses.  Mine being the longest Nikon at 600mm.  Photographers must be willing to do what the hunters do. Get up early. Dress appropriately.  Walk sometimes great distances. Find an area away from the traffic area and most populated areas by guests.  That’s where the real opportunities are.

The arrogant photographer that the DWR employee was talking about shoots from his car and a blind set up by the road side.  Is he really expecting every guest to accommodate him when he is making no more effort than any other guest?

I shot the photograph above from my car.  No blind.  Roadside.  Cartography.  It’s one of my favorites.  Bottom line?  I did not notice any other guests.  Though they were all around me.  The shot was made with a 600mm lens and a 2x converter.  Net 1200mm.  Really I was the only one that saw the Heron.

 Posted by at 6:29 PM
Dec 052010


Sunday Morning


My first sighting of the annual EAGLE migration to FBBR!!!!


The very low light, fog and my 600mm attached to a 2x converter required a monster ISO to stop this Red Tail Hawk flying right at me.    24,000 to be exact!    Not real happy with the noise.  I will definitely be looking for the same shot in bright sun.

 Posted by at 9:32 PM
Dec 012010


I am in Meridian Idaho.  Land of the Geese missing homeland.

Tonight right in front of the hotel was a few acres of agricultural land.  It was filled with geese.  This valley not too long ago was uplands for geese.  They still come by on their routes.  Not much land left for them to rest and eat.  As we approached the Hotel we noticed thousands of geese circling specific areas.  Circling areas that must have been an acre or two of raw land.  Flying over houses, businesses and schools. What used to be home.  Had to get a shot of a few of them……

 Posted by at 11:19 PM