Category Archives: Education & Tips

9 Image HDR + Panorama

I have been asked a bunch of questions about this image I made of the NYC skyline.

Manhattan Skyline Twilight Pano

This image was created from 9 separate images. I used a Really Right Stuff pano rig. This was my first time using a pano tool and I really liked the ease of use of this tool. What I did was wait for a time when no ships (or planes :-)) would be passing through the scene and set the shot up so that I took 3 bracketed images (1/2 stop apart) in 3 different positions on the pano plate.

I then processed (tone mapped) each of the 3 bracketed images in Photomatix Pro 4 and used Adobe CS5 to stitch those 3 HDR images together to create this one image. I did have to remove some leaves that would have been in the bottom right of the image because of some trees that are growing into the scene. Lastly I ran the whole image through Color Efex Pro 4. Just how I like my images, fast and easy!

Monday Musings – My 2012 Photographic Goals

I’m a strong believer in setting goals. I set personal and professional goals each year and regularly evaluate my performance vs. my goals. Before I jump into 2012, I want to share with you 2 video reviews of 2011 that I think are very well done.

My 2012 Photographic Goals

1) Know Your World – This is a personal project I have thought a lot about over the last year. What I plan on doing is spending a lot of time photographing wildlife, nature and landscapes. The only restriction for the project is that the images must be made within 10 miles of my home. I have a host of articles in my head that I think would be great magazine submissions around this idea. I also hope that at some point, I could enlist other photographers to do the same project where they live and possibly link all of the individual projects together to make a photographic quilt. If you would be interested in being part of this effort either as a photographer or a sponsor, please let me know!

2) Improve my vision – I have spent a lot of time learning software and improving my workflow. While I still have a lot to learn on the post processing side, I will spend more time improving how I see images, from composition to capture.

3) Increase my blog readership – I have some improving to do here. On some days my readership is high, others not so much. I need to review the content that people seem to like and cut the other stuff. If you have any suggestions on what you would like to see here, or not see, drop me a line (vincent at

4) Network more – I’m going to merge 2 goals into one here. I will add attending Photoshop World as part of this goal. My bags were packed and by the front door ready to go but a family emergency kept me from attending PSW in 2011 (the phone rang as I was going to the car)! I think my lack of networking has limited my photographic success and I need to make an adjustment here. I am including a review of my social networking strategy as part of this goal, its a biggie!

5) Make more images – I love making images. I don’t like spending time with them behind the computer. Included in this goal is improving my keeper rate while making more images.

6) Print more images – What good is making images if you don’t share them? Printing is a great way to share images. I also think becoming a successful printer makes you a better photographer. Images on a computer screen (transmitted light) compared to prints (reflected light) have very different properties. As an artist, you need to be successful at both to understand how it effects your images and those that view them.

So that is my list. I hope in some way, me detailing my approach helps you develop your own set of goals.

Gifts Suggestions For The Wildlife & Nature Photographer On Your List

I have been asked by family, friends and readers what gift suggestions I can make for photographers on their gift lists. I figured it was time to share those suggestions with everyone. In creating this list, I held 2 things constant. I don’t receive compensation from any of the product producers and they are products I use and love. I also kept the list to 5 products I use regularly. So without further ado……

1) The Blubb.


The Blubb is the tool that makes using your vehicle as a blind possible. Its a must have if you plan on shooting from your car or truck. I also use this on the window sill of my garage window allowing the garage to become a blind for a set of feeders I have a few feet away!

2) Aqua Tech Sensory Gloves.
Finding that balance between the ability to use the cameras controls and staying warm is something that all outdoor photographers struggle with. In particular, those of us that chase good light are always cold (good light comes mostly early morning and late afternoon. I wear these gloves regularly. They are however, not good for real cold climates. I have tried using thin liners on colder days with good success. However they are not for snowy conditions. For such conditions I recommend using Cross Country Skiinig gloves with thin liners.

3) The Art of Bird Photography I & II.
These 2 books are must reads for anyone that wants to learn about avian photography. Arthur Morris is one of the masters in this space. He provides tons of information on his website about wildlife photography.

The Art of Bird Photography I & II

4) Captured by Moose Peterson


This book is a compendium of Moose’s life as a wildlife photographer and endangered species expert. Its filled with information on how he has done it! When I say “done it” I mean everything. Setting up his business, networking, making great images, good and bad lessons learned. It’s all there in a gripping story, a great read.

5) Nik Color Efex Pro 4.
If you plan on doing landscape photogrphy this software suite is a must have. Its easy to learn and the suite of tools is incredibly powerful. This software will alow you to do things to your images that would require 100’s of hours of training if you were to use just Photoshop.
(Note): I do not enhance my wildlife photos. I follow photojournalism standards with my wildlife photograhy. However, I consider landscapes to be art and do utilize software to enhance the image in order to help relay the strory I am trying to convey. This decision is completely personal.

All Photos curtoesy of the website links provided.

Monday Musings – Master Your Location

Its that time of year again when I start thinking about where I would like to photograph next year. Having a location list is essential to making sure you don’t get stale. It also gives you something to look forward to and work toward. As I was kicking around some ideas with friends, one of them made a comment that I thought was worth writing about.

Great Black Backed Gull Wing Flap

The comment was along the lines of “I could never make images as good as you because I have nothing to photograph”. That comment made me wonder. How many others out there don’t get out and make images because they think they need to go to Yellowstone to find beauty?

Great Black Backed Gull Preening

I think one of the best parts of photography for me is mastering the landscape (buildings, wildlife, people, landscape, everything for that matter!) in and around where I live. Mastering your location is a tremendous learning experience. It helps hone your skills so that when you do spend the money to go some place you deem special as a photographic location, that you bring the skills necessary to capture more than just images that say “I was here”.

Herring Gull Yawn

These images were all taken this weekend at Greenwich Point Park. Most of you know that I am an emerging birder. One of the great things about photographing ones own community is that it improves skills other than my photography. How could that be you ask? Well, look at it this way. I spent a few hours at Greenwich Point searching for light and subjects. When I found subjects in good light, I started looking for gesture and biology to photograph in order to tell the story I was looking to communicate.

Herring Gull Preening

After making the images, I returned home and researched the birds I captured in order to learn more about their biology. If I hadn’t made the images, I wouldn’t have learned about the birds. There are hundreds of images in my files where the story is similar to this one. So the best advice I can give you is find things in your community to photograph that make you happy. Please don’t think you need to go to a special or exotic location in order to have a reason to make great images!

Images captured with Nikon D700, 600mm f/4 on Lexar Digital Film

Have You Heard About New Hampshires New Wildlife Guides?

Tufted Titmouse

Well Google+ has already paid some dividends. I started using “Sparks” and selected “birding” and “wildlife” as topics I was interested in. Sure enough the first story that came up was that the State of New Hampshire had just created a new wildlife website (

Available on this new website is New Hampshire’s Wildlife Viewing and Birding Trails Guide.

If you would like to try Google+ and need an invitation, I have a few left. Just click on this link: Google+ Invites

Monday Musings – Ever See an Osprey Being Harassed?

Its a known fact that Red Winged Blackbirds like to harass Osprey. This really isn’t an issue for just Osprey but Raptors in general.
I have documented this several times at the Osprey nests I visit. As one would expect this behavior is more common when the Osprey and Red Winged Blackbirds are sharing nesting locations.

Red Winged Blackbird Sneaks up on Momma Osprey
Red Winged Blackbird Showing Off

On a recent trip to one of the nests, I was able to capture this in flight pursuit.

Red Winged Blackbird in Pursuit of Osprey

What interests me most about this behavior is it seems to be specific to a few of the Red Winged Blackbirds. There are times I visit these nests and the birds all seem to coexist without any interaction. There are other times when the Red Winged Blackbirds are relentless in their pursuit of the Osprey, so much so, that photographing and observing the Osprey’s behavior (yes, observation is a major part of what I do when I go to photograph subjects) can be difficult.

Photos captured with D3x/D700 w/600mm f/4 on Lexar Digital Film

Monday Musings – A Morning with Yellow Crowned Night Herons

Yellow Crowned Night Heron in Front of Grass

Its rare that I go out on a photography hunt and come back with the exact species of wildlife I hoped to photograph, except for when I go to a nest. Its one of the things I like most about wildlife photography. You plan, plan some more and then plan again, and your trip presents you with something you didn’t plan on!

Yellow Crowned Night Heron Eyeing Breakfast

This morning I was not looking for Yellow Crowned Night Herons. In fact this was a new species for me.

Yellow Crowned Night Heron Plunge

But ALL I found this particular morning was Yellow Crowned Night Herons. I did not photograph anything else. The morning was glorious with great light and fantastic sunrise.

Yellow Crowned Night Heron with Crab Breakfast

I really enjoyed sitting at this location (about 2 hours) and watching these Herons hunt. The typical behavior…..shaking the leg while they feel for their prey. It was a great morning. And capturing this bird with a crab made the day that much more special. I wonder sometimes if I really like watching the behavior of my subjects more than actually getting the image. On second thought I definitely like getting the image :-).

Images captured with Nikon D700, 600 f/4 with 1.4 TCe-II on Lexar Digital Film.

Monday Musings – Feeding Frenzy

First of all, I would like to wish my fellow Americans a Happy 4th of July! I also want to thank the countless numbers of Americans who have sacrificed so much so that my family and I could enjoy the freedoms that we do today.

Putting in your time is an important part of wildlife photography. I am often amazed by how many people think I can walk up to a wild animal and just take its picture! Sitting and waiting, watching and learning, sometimes for hours is a normal part of the job for me. Sometimes putting in my time pays huge dividends and other times it does not. Putting in my time this past weekend had some really big payoffs.

Snowy Egret with Bill Full of Fish

I am an incredibly poor sleeper. I only require about 6 hours sleep a day to function at 100%. Incredibly fortunate for someone who needs to rise at 4:30-5:00 everyday. High tide in the Hamptons was running early this weekend. I used my local knowledge of the area to concentrate on a strip of Dune Rd. where I knew I would find some tidal pools. I hit the area right on the mark.

Snowy Egret Side View

These images were taken as the tide was just going out, trapping a large amount of bait fish in a tidal pool. Because I put in my time on a previous trip, I had a really good idea where to go. Within minutes, a large group of Snowy Egrets, at least 25, descended on the pool and provided me with the photographic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel!

Snowy Egret with a Big One

So next time you go out to find some wild creatures to photograph, make sure you come home with more than just images. Knowledge of your subjects is a powerful thing.

Images captured with a Nikon D700, 600 f/4 with 1.4 TCeII on Lexar Digital Film.

American Goldfinch – Ever So Close!

As I mentioned a few posts back (post here), I have been a little obsessed with making some images of American Goldfinches in garden and woodland settings.

Male American Goldfinch

As I mentioned in Monday’s post, I decided to use some fill flash to compensate for the flat,overcast, drama-less light that has been the large part of our spring here in New England. One of the benefits (definitely think it is a benefit here) of the really shallow depth of field is how the Goldfinches pop off the black background.

American Goldfinch Male Low on Perch

Normally, people only like the images of the male of the species this time of year due to their rich, explosive color. This last image of a female however has me captivated. Maybe its because there is a subtle beauty in her feathers against the black background and not the bold yellow seen in the male.

Female American Goldfinch on Perch

While these images are better than anything else I have taken of this species, I still think I have more work to do. 😉

Images captured on Nikon D3x with 600mm f/4 and Tce-II 1.4 on Lexar Digital film.

Monday Musings – Unintended Consequences

Lets face it. If you live in New England, the spring has been pretty terrible….weather wise. We have had a ton of rain. Every weekend seems to be a rain out. Now don’t get me wrong, lots of great photography happens during the most unappealing weather conditions. One of the great benefits of overcast days for wildlife (especially big game) is that animals coats exhibit a different texture and look, especially when wet. Another benefit is longer shooting day. The high angle of the sun during the period of the day when wildlife photographers work on their images (or sleep) is usually 10-3, the time light quality is considered poor. Unfortunately, since Connecticut is not considered the big game capital of the world, I have to work with what I have….birds. And frankly, bird photography is difficult in the rain and overcast conditions. The birds feathers just don’t seem to pop in overcast conditions. So what can I do to make some images this spring given the poor weather conditions? Introduce flash! I recently started using the Better Beamer flash extender. This tool allows you to extend the range of your flash.

House Finch without flash
House Finch Using Better Beamer

As you can see from the images above, the first one using just the natural light has 2 qualities on an overcast day you might not like in your images. The first being flat light and the second being little drama or detail in the color of the bird. In the second image, the one using the better beamer on my SB-900, you can see much greater color saturation and feather detail. One unintended consequence however is that the background now is out of the exposure calculation (the flash extender does not reach that far) and the background is completely black!

Female House FInch using Better Beamer

You can see from the image of this female, that the characteristics of the feathers are much more noticeable with the help of a little kiss of light. Look how the brown pops off the page against the black background. I mention kiss of light here for a reason. I am using the flash just to draw out a little color from the subject, not to “light” the subject. In this application the intention of introducing flash is only to provide fill flash. so next time bad weather gets in the way of your bird photography, try introducing a little flash!