great blue heron taking flight at sunrise with orange water aurora borealis northern lights photo with red bald eagle in flight photo colorado fall aspens photo marshall point lighthouse sunset
First Light Photography Workshops
Home Workshops Photo Galleries eBooks Online Classes Online Articles Bio Sponsors

FIRST LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER

JANUARY 2017

GREETINGS

Well, it's time to try and get caught up. Because I ended up not going to Japan this Jan / Feb, I have a bit of time at home to try and do some work on a few major projects. Several out of the way but a bunch to do. Work on a new book, magazine articles, new website work, stockc agency submissions,images to put on a new iPad and several others are enough to keep anyone off the streets. Luckily the weather here in Boise has been terrible with a record winter with snow and cold so not a lot of shooting. Enjoying seeing some different birds at my feeders and a few pests that show up from time to time. There's a few interesting items below so make sure you read through to see a response to an article a friend sent me and my annual Top 12. I have to find a few spots to get out and do some shooting but with us having just one car right now, it's tough to do coordinating for early morning shooting. Will get that resolved sometime here.

FAVORITE 12 OF 2016

For those who are new to the newsletter, each year I go through my keeper folders from each shoot / trip of the previous year and pick my favorite images of the year. I then whittle this down to my Top 12. Why 12? It's because of a quote I read years ago. Ansel Adams one wrote: "Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop." If that's a good thing for the master, then it's good for me. These may not be my absolute best shots of the year, but they are my favorites for one reason or another. Could be because of the setting and how the shot was found, could be the moment, the action or some other reason but it's what I came up with.

Usually after each trip I go through and select a batch of shots I like and put in a SELECT folder from that trip. It could be 10 shots or it could be 50. I went through each of these to start the process and picked to top couple from each shoot from the year. After going through these I then went through that folder to pick my 12.

Go through your own work from 2016 and pick your 12 favorite shots or maybe your 12 technically best images. There will probably be a difference between the two. There usually is with mine but for my list, I just pick my favorites. I also have an all-time Top 12. Each year I look at the images chosen from the previous year and then compare them with the all-time group to see if one is going to bump one out. Don't just add to the group, do a replacement. This can get very tough over time but makes for a very nice challenge. You should see lots of improvement in your work over the years. Some images may linger for a long time. I still have a film shot in my Top 12 as it has been my number one fine art seller at galleries for years and I have a very large print of it over the fireplace.

gentoo penguin jumping out of water
Jumping Gentoo - Falkland Islands (not an easy capture)

rockhopper penguins and crashing waves
Crashing penguins (a shot I knew I wanted to get given the conditions - waves crashing behind the penguins)

bald eagle landing
Landing on a Snag - Chilkat River (Loved the timing and position)
bald eagles fighting
Eagle Confrontation (Left paw to the jaw)
sandhill cranes territorial battle jumping
Snadhills Jumping (Good action clear from other birds)
hawaii luau firebreather
Firebreather - Kona, HI (Like the person dancing in the flames and flame out of his mouth - nice dinner with wife)
star trail at garden of eden arches np
Adam and Eve Star Trails (the lighting on the rocks using car lights)
downy woodpecker
Aurora (You know there has to be an aurora shot and this one catches my eye)
glacier on Lago Grey
Black Skimmer Fishing (A tough catch with it darting all over the place really fast - like the trailing water)

Lily Selective Focus (Like the overall softness and isolation of the focus)

Ibis Scratch (Combo of it with food in mouth and needing to scratch and itch)

White Sands Sunrise (Almost missed sunrise due to ranger being late, luckily I knew another spot to go to quickly)


EMAIL CONVERSATION REGARDING WILD HORSES

I got a link from a friend to a very interesting article about wild horses. The articles originally appeared in the Sierra Club, of all places, and gives a very good perspective to the situation regarding the growing number of horses on public lands. I suggest everyone with an interest in the subject visit http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/green-life/horses-gone-wild and read the article. By the way, there are several wild horse areas around the Boise area and I plan to go check these out at some point in time to see about getting a trip going to one of them.

The article follows the research of a natural resources advisor for the University of California Cooperative Extension and monitors the impact of an ever-growing wild horse herd in that state and the actual impacts they have on the land and resources. This was not a one-time look but a multi-year study to gather data. With 2.5 times the number of horses than the BLM ever expected of wild horses throughout the west, there is going to be some impact.

From the article: The questions surrounding the horses are thorny. Are they a native or invasive species? Are they deserving of the special status they’ve been granted? And do they damage the environment, or do they still have a place in North American ecosystems? The study provides a few answers but they all know it's a long road to viable solutions, especially when federal agencies and lawmakers are the one's who finally have to decide.

Here is my response to my friend who sent this to me - Interesting read. There's a balance that needs to be figure out. In some places you can see a problem with the numbers and their impact but in other places the impact is not as bad. The sight of the horses running free is something many people enjoy and it's fun to see their interaction with each other. You are always going to have people on the two extremes for protection and total removal. It's those in the middle looking from a realistic viewpoint that need to be included as well. As you say all we do is talk is so true. There has been action but all they do is take up space and government money and cause more research. There seems to be a place for them but what to do and how to do it is something that may never be figured out - as long as the government, researchers and advocates as the only ones involved. As a photographer, I enjoy seeing them and getting good action shots and also getting other people to see them. I know your wife enjoys them too and you won't go anywhere near them. What do we do? There probably isn't a realistic solution. You ready for a horse burger? Many poor families would jump at the opportunity but the majority of people in the country would be appalled even though it's done in other parts of the world.

PHOTOGRAPHING THE NORTHERN LIGHTS BOOK PRICE REDUCTION

Not sure why, but Amherst Media sent me a message with a link to Amazon announcing a reduction in price for the print version of my book. Go to https://www.amazon.com/Photographing-Aurora-Borealis-Northern-Lights/dp/1682032086/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484588734&sr=1-1&keywords=andy+long to order yours today for only $29.95.

FOR SALE - CANON 5 D MARK III

I'm looking to sell my 5D 3 body and giving subscribers the first shot at purchasing this. It's in great shape and just came back from Canon for a total clean, check and overhaul. This is a great body and still has a bunch of years life left in it. I've seen prices range from $1,600 to $2,300 for this body b ut I'm looking to get around $1,900. There's not a mark on the body and it will come in its original box (I think I know where it is). Call me at 303-601-2828 if you are interested.

If you have any equipment you'd like to sell, send me info on it and a contact and I'll get it listed in the newsletter for others to see.

TRIP TO BRAZIL IN 2018 FEATURING MANED WOLVES, JAGUARS, MACAWS AND MORE

The note I put in last issue about a trip to Brazil looks like it will be a go for 2018. I have three people interested aand with one or two more it will be a go and I shouild get that between now and then. I may do a scout trip there this summer so as to get all of the logistics figured out. It will be for both legs and in the near future I will have both the dates and schedule for the 2018 trip.

The trip will offer two legs. The one features shooting of wild maned wolves along with large flocks of hyacinth macaws, bearded capuchin monkeys and a large variety of other birds and wildlife, some just outside the doors of the bungalows we will stay in. The star of this leg, guaranteed close-up encounters with maned wolves, are the world’s tallest wild canids, and we will photograph them in a stunning landscape of tall red cliffs. This portion is for five days and four nights and for most people does not entail any layover nights at the point of arrival.

The second setting of this trip will highlight jaguars in the Pantanal. We would be going out daily on small boats down a river where these amazing cats are known to be seen with the guides being from the area and tracking their movements. There would also be a lot of other shooting opportunities in this area making for a great trip. This leg includes seven days and six nights. The guides have their own jaguar viewing areas not near parts of the river where there is lots of boat activity searching for jaguars.

Both National Geographic TV and the BBC have used this guide service to film in this area several times so you know you're going to be going with the best if you choose to go on this extreme wildlife trip.

Please get with me as soon as possible so I can start getting everything set up if you have any interest.

BIRDS OF FLORIDA 2017

The second boat trip on a lake that has about 50 nesting pairs of osprey is a go for this trip. This is a very unique opportunity and one you won't soon forget. This will be in addition to the boat ride we take to a rookery island in St. Petersburg during that portion. There is room for one or two more people for the workshops so don't delay to take advantage of this new shoot. Check out http://www.firstlighttours.com/florida-birds-workshop.html to read all of the details for this great workshop that is a staple of the schedule and so many people have enjoyed over the years.

KODIAK BEARS 2018

I know it's a ways off, but if you are interested in a Kodiak Bears trip in 2018 please let me know so I can confirm with a lodge I have enough people so it would only be our group there. From my past experience, the action and images available are going to be ones you will love and remember for years. We'll be right at the mouth of a river where the salmon come in and the bears are there waiting to gobble them up. When the tide gets too high for the bears, the seals move in for their feast. Contact to let me know of your interest and I'll work to get the dates and pricing together as soon as I can.

PHOTO QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“The beauty of nature is a spectacle to be enjoyed not just with your eyes but with your whole inner being, making it a true experience.”  ~ Andy Long

DIGITAL CORNER - PUSH YOURSELF IN 2017

If you never push yourself to try something new with your photography you will never grow and your images will always look the same. You may have a good time in the field, or so you think, but unless there is some experimentation you're getting left behind in your craft, no matter what it is. Look at your photography from the last year and compare it to what you were taking five, six or seven years ago. Hopefully you will see a good bit of improvement and new types of photography.

Over the last few years I have delved more into night photography with the Milky Way, using a 10-stop ND filter for longer exposures of water (even during daylight), different macro techniques and even some different things with post-processing work. Below is an example of using Glowing Edges in Photoshop I played with some flower images to step out of the box and try something new to teach on my flower techniques workshop.

This year, challenge yourself to learn a new technique, try a different photography subject, or use a new program to enhance your images differently to push yourself to have to learn in order to grow with your photography. You've heard me say it before - "If you're not growing with your photography, you're actually stepping back, not just staying in the same place."

snow goose flight - crop tooo tight

The advancements in equipment is making what was once impossible to do much more attainable. Take night photography for instance. High ISO cameras are allowing for pushing the ISO to extremes in order to capture the Milky Way in ways never before possible. This year when I go and do night photography testing I'm going to push it even further (think 10,000 ISO or even higher) to see just how far I can go in order to really bring out the Milky Way. According the the Dark Sky map, I have a bunch of areas outside of Boise I can do and do some testing. I'm also going to play with some very different forms of light painting. Night shooting is something I want to take to the next level so I want to see what all I can do with that.

Try a new subject. I've had a couple of people the last few years who were not much of bird photographers. In fact, one had never taken a bird shot before the workshop and now finds it thoroughly enjoyable. Find a new subject to explore to see if you might like like it. It could be birds, wildlife, macro, travel or something else. No, mine will not be people photography. I did see someone do some stuff with steel wool that might be interesting to try.

I'm also going to push my post-processing skills to new levels. Who knows, I might even get Lightroom and move away from Camera Raw.

bald eagle landing
This was shot at 5000 ISO in 2016. Next outing I'm going to double that or more to see what it does with the Milky Way as well as the noise it produces.

Bird photography - Although I count myself as a pretty good bird photographer, I'm going to try some new things this year. First, like night shooting, I'm going to bump upu the ISO even more than I already do. This isn't to get fast shutter speeds but to change the f/stop to get even more depth of field so all of the wing is sharp even for birds close to me. I'll take whatever faster shutter speed comes with it but I want to do this mainly for DOF.

I also want to go to three or three new places. With having just moved to Idaho that's going to be real easy as any day shooting spots I go to will be new, but I want to do to two or three new multi-day spots. Last year that was just one when I went to Hawaii, but this year I want several new places to explore. They maay or may not end up as workshops but I want to find some new shooting locations.

That's a partial list for new things for me. What about you? Try to come up with some new things you want to try. Who knows, it might be something I teach on one of my workshops.