Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apple's iPad and Photography!

I see the iPad as a great photographer's tool, especially showing your portfolio to potential clients!

I am an Apple Addict.. I am "in"!   I will post a review in the future.

Check out Apple's iPad here!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Here is one whale of a fish (eagle) story "caught on tape"!

On the last day of my Iowa trip, I stopped by to see what was going on with the eagles.  It was me and 4 other people. The other folks were a couple hundred feet down the boardwalk from me.

I was looking for "multiple eagle" shots, something different.. when suddenly, two eagles took off from the tree they were perched in. I followed them visually first as they flew up and away from me by several hundred yards...I noticed the two eagles getting closer (for a cool image) so I just started shooting this event...the eagles were so far away, I didnt realize what I was photographing until I heard one of the other photogs exclaim" Ohhhhh he got it!"..... and I thought, what is he talking about?

This event happened in a matter of a few seconds. The one photog was watching the event (not photographing) and told me that the one eagle clipped the other (which had a fish), the eagle lost his fish in mid-air then snagged it again on the fly.... I got every frame BUT the last frame showing him with the fish in his talons as he recovered it....had I had known what I was actually photographing at the time, I would have shot a few more frames...  Nonetheless, here are 5 images that show you how the event unfolded. I cropped the images by 50% or so. I apologize for the poor image quality but enjoy!

Note: Eagles are lazy and they often try to steal another's fish. I saw this happen more than a few times...In this case, the eagle with the fish initially retrieved his own fish!

Top to Bottom: (click on each image to enlarge)
Photo 1 - The two eagles are flying together..the eagle with the fish is on the bottom.
Photo 2 - The eagle (top) without the fish overtakes the eagle with the fish
Photo 3 - The top eagle "clips" the eagle with the fish and causes him to drop the fish in mid-air
Photo 4 - The eagle (who had the fish) immediately pursues the free falling fish
Photo 5 - The eagle with talons open is about to reclaim/snag his fish in mid-air... and he does! (trust me).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 6: The Iowa Bald Eagles (Final)

The ice storm has come and gone. It took me 20 minutes to "de thaw" my ice encapsulated car.

Of course, I just had to go visit the eagles one more time before I left for Rockford, IL today.  When I arrived, I was the only one there.... just me and the eagles PLUS more overcast, grey, ugly skies! Is there a sun?

Over the next hour or so, 6-8 people showed up including two guys from California with 500f4s.

There were only 6 eagles or so in the area (that I could see) but there was a fair amount of action for the small number of eagles. There were 4-5 eagle fishing events... some very close, some far away in the middle of the Mississippi River.  We did have two eagles take off.... one with a fish and the other chasing him.. the one eagle dropped the fish and the other eagle snagged the fish in mid-air! I do have some frames of the event! I have to look closely and see what I captured.

This location for eagles is awesome!  You are very close to them... and even with 300mm, you will get a few images to be proud of!

The eagles are there until early March then they start to migrate back up north for the spring/summer/fall...until they come back in December...

If you love bird photography, love eagles and want to be a personal witness to one of the most majestic birds you will ever see.. then the Iowa Mississippi eagles is the ticket!  Buy your ticket and smile the whole time!

I will post 3 pics today.... one of 3 eagles in an icy tree this morning... an adult having a snack.. and a red -tailed hawk who just showed up chasing gulls.... I get the impression that the hawk knew his picture was being taken? Ya think?  CLICK on each pic to enlarge!

Thanks for sharing my Iowa eagle experience...  I have 150 GB of images to sort, catalog and post-process! I hope to have some "finished images" posted here this weekend!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 5: The Iowa Bald Eagles >>> ICE STORM TODAY!

One word describes today... Ice!

My customers cancelled today and tomorrow. All Iowa schools are closed. The entire area is under an ice storm warning for the next 24 hours. My car is iced over. I am stuck inside in Iowa. I hope to depart Thursday as scheduled for Rockford, IL. The winds are gusting to 30 mph, the Mississippi River is rough, and I assume the eagles are hunkered down as well.

There will be no photo ops today.

Another cool thing about traveling and photography is that you meet other photographers from all over the USA.  Here, I met photographers from Ohio (Cincinnati), Illinois, Wisconsin and yes, even California!

I asked the guy from California, "wouldn't it be closer for you to go to Alaska to shoot eagles instead of Iowa ?"... He said, "Yes, it would be closer but it was far less expensive to travel here than Alaska"...

Bottomline: If you want to shoot eagles, live in the midwest and can't afford to go to Alaska, then Iowa/Mississippi River is THE PLACE to be in January/February each year ! I agree, except for the weather being less than ideal...I have been very happy with my first trip here.

Look at the bright side (no pun intended) with this weather, I didn't have to worry about blown-out highlights and shadows!

I am posting two pics today. The first one showing photographers lined up along the Lock and Dam boardwalk on Sunday, January 17. The second pic (from yesterday) shows the split second an eagle snatches a fish from the water! Click on the pic for a larger view.

I will post a final installment (Day 6) tomorrow night.

Thanks again for following my blog!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 4: The Iowa Bald Eagles

This morning I could see the other side of the Mississippi River which was a good sign. The fog had lifted as the temperatures dropped. The trees were all frosty. On my way to customer appointments this morning, I saw bald eagles in trees along the way....kinda cool.

The sun peaked through briefly and the skies cleared by sunset but for the time I spend with the eagles today, the skies were still grey with some patches of blue skies here and there.

Tom and his wife left today after he spent an hour or two with the eagles. I arrived shortly before he left. There were only 3-4 photogs there (including us). Maybe 6 eagles in the area (that we could see). 4 eagles sat in the trees by the locks for a long time. Every once in  a while one would fly down, grab a fish then fly back up to his perch...but compared to the other days, the weather was better but it was dead (eagle activity wise)....Nothing was going on.... I even contemplated packing it in for the day...

> Then all hell broke loose!!

I was speaking with a photographer (Bob from Chicago) and his friend when suddenly the Lock and Dam folks opened up the locks of the channel where the eagles usually feed.... water rushed in for a few minutes and OUT OF NOWHERE in 1-2 minutes...we had eagles coming from ALL directions with a massive feeding frenzy of (we counted at least 10, I bet 15) eagles diving/fishing all at once.. it was the most unbelievable thing I have witnessed.

Bob and I were stunned. We didn't know what/who to photograph.. it was complete eagle chaos!  We had no warning or time to think. I had to change CF cards in the middle of this craziness with frozen fingers. My thumb was so numb (from the cold) and I couldn't feel to press the AF button any longer. It was wild! My heart was pounding....

After things settled down, another local photographer (who just arrived) told us a friend of his who works at the L&D called him and said they were going to open the locks and to get down there soon... but he arrived too late!  I guess the churning water makes the fish more plentiful, easier to catch thus causing this feeding behavior...not only for the eagles, but gulls and ducks had a feeding field day too!

The eagles were so close, it was difficult to track them... not to mention my fogged up viewfinder to make things more crazy... shooting when you can't see !

The guy said they only open the locks a few times/month so we were lucky to be there....

Tomorrow (weather wise) doesn't look good as an ice storm is coming. There may be no photos ops for Wednesday. I will have to play it by ear.

I posted two pics below. Both eagles (adult [top] and a juvenile) were part of the feeding frenzy. They were shot with the 500f4. These images were NOT cropped and unprocessed. RAW images converted to JPEGs for posting purposes.

Note: the look in their eyes.... It's dinner time!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 3: The Iowa Bald Eagles

Well, weather wise, today was more of the same... foggy,  overcast, grey skies. I still haven't seen the sun since I arrived on Saturday. Maybe , JUST maybe, some sun tomorrow?

Kirby left this morning. Tom and I spent another 4 hours with the eagles this afternoon. Here were far fewer photogs today, maybe 15 at the most. Though we did get some decent images today ( I only shot 40GB today), the eagle activity was less today. We had about the same number eagles around us. At one time, 6 (in a row) took off across the Mississippi River with a leader.. the lead eagle harassed a duck with a couple of passes then gave up, flew back to west shore and the other 5 followed him back... too funny!

I met a local photog today and he said the eagles will be around until early March then a large number of pelicans arrive in April/May and will hang around until the Fall.

I got a nice shot of an eagle (who was perched for a long period of time) then suddenly he swooped out of the tree down to the river, "snatched something" and flew back to his perch. I didn't see anything in his talons but I zoomed the image and he nailed a fish with his beak and ate it on the way back to his perch! Thats what I call drive thru take-out!  The agility and accuracy (of their hunting skills) is nothing short of astounding!

The highlight of the day was two adults started flying together, then separated, then flying together in essence "chasing each other" around the tree tops, over our heads (just several yards above us), at a high rate of speed, darting and dodging... They were very difficult to track through my camera viewfinder as they were so close and so fast... I was able to snap a few with the 500f4 and felt lucky to get this image below.  I never get tired of watching eagles....

Please check back for Day 4 tomorrow... I hope for better light!

Here is an image of the two adults flying together right over my head....

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 2: The Iowa Bald Eagles

It was a foggy start today...the fog lifted around noon but we had grey skies all day. The weather didnt stop the eagles... We had about the same number of eagles today (vs. yesterday) and again,  lots of activity! At one time, we had 3 eagles fishing one right after the other.. like airplanes coming in for a landing... it was really something to watch and photograph!

MPEGer Tom and his wife arrived today.

There were several photogs there today. We saw more juvenile eagles today than yesterday. I have a few nice tree portraits of some juveniles.

Tomorrow's forecast is the same, cloudy... but it really doesn't matter as just being around these awesome creatures, makes the sun shine in your spirit!

Be sure and check back tomorrow for Day 3. I am hoping to see the sun before I leave here Thursday.

BTW, I have another 40GB of images from today!  Good thing I bought a 1.5 TB HDD recently!

Here is a pic from today of an adult bald eagle with his dinner!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 1: The Iowa Bald Eagles

I am here! I left Cleveland at 5:34 am EST this morning and arrived at my Iowa location at 12:15 pm CST. It was a 488 mile very easy drive from Cleveland. It was cloudy/grey when I arrived and remained cloudy the rest of the day so the weather was not the greatest (of course) but the excitement was there as I saw a bald eagle in a tree as I drove into the Lock and Dam area.

As I drove into the parking lot, 6 eagles were in the trees around me, chatting with each other. There were 2-3 other eagles in other trees for a total of 6-10 eagles, both adults and juveniles, at any one time.

The activity of the eagles , flying over, fishing, trying to steal the other's fish (I have a great pic of two juvis mid-air sparring for one fish!). Some time there were 2-4 eagles fishing at one time, and it was difficult to decide which eagle to follow and photograph. I used my 500 f4 and had the Canon 50/100-400mm on my hip... many times the eagles were so close, I used 300-400 mm. Kirby arrived about a 1/2 hr after I did. We shot until 4pm CST as the light was getting dismal.  I shot 40GB of RAW images today... downloading them to my Vosonic now and then will be ready to go again tomorrow....

I am very happy with this location... the eagles are very close and very active! These truly are amazing birds... and to watch them fly over the water..looking for a fish.. and then they SUDDENLY drop their legs/talons and snatch the fish with precision.... one of nature's truly outstanding events to witness!

Tomorrow is suppose to be partly cloudy so hopefully we will have some blue skies /decent light? Please check back for Day 2.

Here is a pic of one of the eagles in a parking lot tree... very easy to photograph with 300mm or so!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Follow Me Here Daily - Jan 16-21, 2010!

I will be in Iowa and Illinois photographing the "Masters of the Sky", the majestic wintering bald eagles of the Mississippi River each evening! I plan to blog daily during my visit... Enjoy!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

HDR Photography is Everywhere... Love it or Hate it ....but it's Everywhere....

I visited a Barnes and Noble this week while I was on the road. I make two stops at least. The first at the magazine rack to see what's new in photography magazines (boy, the UK sure puts out alot of them!) and I stop by the digital photography shelves and see what's new there....

At the magazine rack, I saw at least 4 magazines this month with HDR (high dynamic range) photography on their cover as a main article inside. The articles speaking about realistic HDR vs. surreal, etc.

The book shelve has titles like Practical HDR, The World in HDR, HDR Photography workshop, Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Photography and now, they have High Dynamic Range Photography for Dummies!  I own them all...

I have been doing HDR since 2007. I use Photomatix Pro ($99) . I have tried other software but Photomatix Pro is still number 1, IMHO. HDR Soft now offers Photomatix Light for $39.00

You have to love it!  HDR is nothing more than a technique to allow you to capture the high dynamic range of a scene (what your camera sensor can't do with a single image) to reveal details in the shadows, midtones and highlights!

Embrace HDR .. it's easy!

Here is an example of what HDR can do for you....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Change Your Location!

My nature photography friends often "complain" that they have "nothing to shoot". The reality is you can only shoot your "backyard" so much and then you have to change your location!

Even if you lived in Yellowstone, at some point, you will want to change your location!

Changing your location means walking, hiking, biking, driving, flying to somewhere photogenic that you have not shot before and shoot something new! Great photo ops just don't fall into your lap, YOU have to plan and develop them. It may cost you money to change your location.. gas, airfare, hotel, etc...but if you don't change your location, then you have nothing new to shoot!

Visit a State/National Park, National Wildlife Refuge, Wildlife Areas.. there are MANY places to go and shoot.. Go find them and take great, NEW photos!

Short Eared Owl ( Killdeer Wildlife Area, Harpster, OH)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

RAW Workflow- Software and Plug-Ins

Folks ask... Whats your RAW workflow?

First, except for sports and casual shots, I shoot full RAW (no sRAW, etc.). I want ALL the information I can get out of a digital file.  Yes, the RAW files are bigger and you need more harddrive space but if you are serious about your photography, RAW is the only way to go! Simply put - RAW ROCKS! 

Reminder: Always try to get the BEST possible exposure in camera! The fewer adjustments you have to make in the computer, the better, IMHO.

My workflow is as follows:

(1) Import RAW images into Adobe Lightroom
(2) Make any necessary adjustments like exposure, WB, and picture style in Lightroom. I do not denoise or sharpen in LR.
(3) I denoise EVERY image using Nik Software's, Dfine.
(4) I make further adjustments using Nik's, Viveza 2 (Great software!)
(5) If need be, I make further tweaks/enhancements using Nik's ColorEfex Pro, Silver Efex Pro, Topaz Adjust, Topaz Detail, OnOne's Photo Tools Pro, FocalPoint 2 and/or Photoshop CS4.
(6) I always sharpen LAST. I use Nik's Sharpener Pro.
(7) I print from Lightroom.

Lightroom 3.0 is expected to have many improved features like Denoising and Sharpening. Perhaps my workflow will change with Lightroom 3.0?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Gadget Bag: Field Storage - Outdoor Photographer |

I use a Vosonic MSV, the VP8870. I found the Vosonic VP8870 to be inexpensive and it does the job. I download my RAW images to the Vosonic at the end of a day's shoot (like in Yellowstone). I view the images for sharpest and histogram viewing. I use the VP8870 only for photography. Uploading images from the VP8870 to my iMac (into Lightroom) is fast!

You have to be careful with the CF slot as the pins can easily become bent if you are careless about inserting and taking the CF card out of the slot (been there, done that!). The small battery doesn't have a long life/charge. You can purchase extra batteries. I keep the battery charged with a car charger during the day.

For the money (approx $200-300 USD depending on the HDD size). The Vosonic VP8870 is a winner! The Vosonic is sold here in the USA.

Gadget Bag: Field Storage - Outdoor Photographer |

Thursday, January 7, 2010

GalloImages website has some big changes!

Check out the new changes to my website, GalloImages!

Please sign my guestbook!

Top iPhone Apps for Photographers | Virtual Photography Studio - Digital Photography Business Guide To Resources, Products and Information

Top iPhone Apps for Photographers | Virtual Photography Studio - Digital Photography Business Guide To Resources, Products and Information


MPEG member, Jim Delahoyde sent me this acronym he devised to help remind him about checking his camera settings before/during each shoot. How many times have you forgotten to do this and got burned? I am guilty and I even teach this stuff in my nature photography seminars!

Thanks Jim!

W = Check to insure correct White Balance
 I  = Check to insure ISO is set correctly. Your last shot may have been at night ISO 1600, and now you are in bright sunlight
 S = Check Shutter Speed to match what is being capture.
 E =  Check Histogram for applicable Exposure Compensation.
 D = Check (aperture) Depth of Field to insure what you want in focus is in focus.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My new bean bag works well at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge

I received my new bean bag support as mentioned in the 1/1/2010 blog post.  I am in Southern Indiana and stopped by Muscatatuck NWR about an hour before sunset tonight. I made the auto tour rounds with the bean bag on the driver's side window sill and the Canon 7D/500f4 rested on top of it as I drive around looking for raptors.

The idea is to use my car as a blind and be camera ready to get those shots I have been missing by getting out of the car, etc. I filled the bean bag product with bird seed for two reasons, if I need to dump the contents (to reduce weight), the bird seed is a benefit to the birds as food and I have bird seed readily available if needed for set-ups.

The bean bag is heavy. It feels secure thus no fear of it flopping around or sliding off.  The bean bag provided a steady camera/lens support in lieu of a tripod or monopod. I would highly recommend it. I am very happy with this bean bag.

I saw one bald eagle.. I didn't get a decent shot of it (as it was flying over my car when I saw it). I found several hawks (6-7) mostly red-tails.

Here is an image of a red-tailed hawk taking off from a tree today. I like his head poking out from the wings. I feel I could have used a little higher shutter speed. This image was at 1/1600;  f5.6, iso 400 at 700mm and the image was cropped.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Me and the Canon 7D / 500f4 L shooting at North Chagrin Reservation

photo by Karl Hassel

My first trip to the Mississippi River to photograph bald eagles!

In two weeks, I will be making a trip to Iowa (along the Mississippi River) to the various Locks and Dams to photography bald eagles. One of my fav subjects to shoot. These birds are really amazing to watch. The Mississippi River is a winter migration spot for bald eagles from Canada and Minnesota.

Here is a cool link for Mississippi River eagle lovers!

I have seen eagles move people to tears as they watch... in awe... as their first bald eagle majestically flies low over their head.

I will be blogging daily here during the trip with sample images each day. I will be there for 5 days.

Please check back!

Here is an image from May 2009 in Sandusky. Here is a link with a Tribute to these eagles!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

My Take: Avatar 3D

I saw Avatar 3D this afternoon. As a sci-fi fan, it is a SPECTACULAR  sci-fi movie. It has love, hate, adventure, creed, action, excellent CGI.. you name it!

Even if you are not a sci-fi fan per se', I believe you will enjoy and appreciate the movie. I would suggest you see it in 3D. I give it a Grade A! It's "right up there" with the Lord of the Rings Trilogy..

I can only guess that this will be one spectacular, "must own", blu-ray disc. If the AQ and the VQ isn't top notch, I will be shocked!

Run, Don't Walk to see Avatar 3D ASAP... Trust me!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year 2010!

Happy New Year Everyone!  Let's hope 2010 is a better year for you and your family!

Speaking of hope, I hope to get better pictures (well, I would be happy with A picture) of raptors from my car. I had to find a way to work smarter.

As I drive through these wildlife areas looking for bald eagles, and other raptors (winter is a good time to do this..), I come across some real beauties on a tree limb, fence post, etc... and then the trick is... getting a good picture with a long lens. I have tried to be "sneaky", stealthy, go slow, don't make eye contact etc.... but as soon as I open the car door (ever so slowly) or roll the window down... pooooooffff they are gone! These guys are smart... and Skittish is the word.

So, I purchased a bean bag support for a long lens. I should have it in a day or so. I believe this will help me use my car as a blind, avoid exiting the car, etc. thus get those images that I am missing otherwise.  I can use this on my window, hood, the ground, etc. This product was highly recommended.

I am eager to try it out... and I will post some "bean bag supported" images here for evidence!