Saturday, February 20, 2010

MPEG Iowa Eagles GroupShoot: Day 2 (Final Day)

Today, despite the overnight snow and the fog that lingered throughout this cloudy day, we had really good eagle activity!  We had some very unique ops like 3 eagles fighting over a fish on the ground, eagles on the ice, a mating ritual in the sky plus many eagle fishing events!  There are some really beautiful juvenile eagles here.

A few members left today because of the impending snow storm but 16 in total will be celebrating a great GroupShoot with a MPEG Party tonight at Happy Joe's (Pizza) in downtown Le Claire. We have a private dinner room waiting for us.

There were a lot of smiling faces throughout the GroupShoot as members were getting amazing eagle photography ops for the first time!

The rest of us are headed home tomorrow to beat the snow storm, and of course, we are looking forward to sorting and post-processing THOUSANDS of bald eagle images.

Everyone is looking forward to Winter 2011 for the next MPEG Iowa Eagles GroupShoot!


Here are two images from today. Essentially unprocessed, RAW converted to JPEGs.
Click on the pics to enlarge!

(1) Eagles on the ice
(2) A juvenile shows off his beautiful body!

Friday, February 19, 2010

MPEG Iowa Eagles GroupShoot: Day 1

We made it to Iowa! We have 15 MPEG members for a total of 21 in attendance.

We had decent light (bright overcast) for today with many eagles and good activity... many fishing events, aerial battles for fish, etc. and some great portrait ops.

Tonight, 1-2 inches of snow forecasted, snowing ending in the morning and we expect mainly clouds tomorrow after 1:00 pm tomorrow.  A snow storm is headed here Sunday evening but all of us will be on our way home Sunday morning with the storm following us to Cleveland!

Overall, it was a good day and many members are realizing how difficult it can be to photograph eagles as they move 50-100 mph in their flight activities.

Here are two images from today. Click on each image to enlarge it.
(1) An eagle retrieves a fish in the snow.
(2) An eagle calls for his mate in a tree overlooking the Mississippi River.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

10 Random Facts You may not know about the Apple iPad!

1. It will pair with any Bluetooth keyboard
2. It’s smaller, lighter and cheaper than some Sony Vaio netbooks
3. People say the iPad won’t allow multi-tasking but it appears that it will – at least when you are using some Apple apps
4. A base model iPad will hold approximately 22,000 1024 pixel photos
5. You can indeed output the iPad video to an HDTV
6. You will be able to connect USB devices to the iPad through an adapter cable
7. You will be able to read SD/CF cards onto an iPad through an adapter cable
8. The iPad is similarly priced to the less powerful, mono-screened Kindle DX
9. Most (if not all) external batteries for iPods and iPhones will also power the iPad
10. The iPad is not supposed to replace a laptop or a net book – it’s a new class of device

Source: PadPundit

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Back to Iowa Again... The third and final time for this bald eagle winter season!

I am returning to Iowa again this weekend along with 16 MPEG members in tow (with some spouses and SOs) for total of 23 eagle fanatics!

It should be interesting... stay tuned.. I will probably blog daily!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Apple's Aperture 3.0 vs Lightroom 3.0 ?

As you know, I am a current Lightroom (LR) user . I use LR to catalog my images, sort, and make basic exposure adjustments.  Up until the release of Aperture 3.0 a few days ago, Lightroom (IMHO) was the better product.... but I  believe Aperture 3.0 has caught up to and maybe surpassed Lightroom.

Now, we all know that the final version of Lightroom 3.0 has not been released yet (April 2010, I believe) and maybe the final LR 3.0 version will surpass Aperture 3.0?

I have both software programs. I did upgrade to Aperture 3.0 for $99.00 yesterday. I am eager to try Aperture 3.0 out while awaiting the release of Lightroom 3.0.

Competition is good and Apple just rattled Adobe's LR cage with Aperture 3.0, IMHO.

I bet there were some "intense LR team meetings" going on at Adobe last week.

Time will tell......

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Out on a Limb"....

A juvenile bald eagle overlooks the Mississippi River at sunrise...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day 3: Return to Iowa! (FINAL)

Lo and Behold.. Two sunny days in a row so plenty of light... and PLENTY of eagles! I would GUESS 50-60 eagles in the area! They seemed to be everywhere at times.

We started out early this morning. It was 1 degree F. The Mississippi River had sheets of ice floating by the hotel. We arrived and saw maybe 6 eagles in the immediate area.  Everyone was cold... us and the eagles and they (the eagles) didn't move for most of the morning. When it is really cold, they prefer not to fly to conserve energy. We went over to the ice area but saw no eagles on the ice at the time we were there. One landed on the ice briefly then flew off.

We then made back to the boardwalk area.. again no movement. I spend time getting some nice front-lit portraits of the eagles in the trees.  From what I am told by the local photographers, the mornings are typically "dead" (little activity). We went to lunch and returned around 12:30pm. More photogs started showing up. We had a crowd of 40 or so photogs by 1:30 pm. One of the local guys brought some fish to throw out into the river to get the eagles off their duffs!  Within 5 secs, 4 eagles were circling and checking the bait fish out...

THEN around 3:00 pm... someone rang the dinner bell as numerous eagles started coming from all directions, fishing, circling, flying overhead, tree to tree, etc.... and then a period of maybe 30-45 mins, NOTHING again... then all of sudden eagles appeared out of thin again... this went on until sunset... everyone left by 5:15 pm (sunset was 5:30pm) Myself and 2 other people were just leaving and BAMMMM... eagles everywhere again... fishing... they must have realized they better get their supper as it will be dark soon! It was non-stop for 15 minutes...

It was damn near dark and I am shooting @ f4, ISO 1600, +1 EV just to attempt to capture the action.... I was lucky to capture an attempted "fish-jacking" as an adult and another juvi tried to steal a juvenile's fish from him! The one adult is flying upside down with talons up in an attempt to grab the fish but he was not successful! The juvenile got away and flew to a nearby tree to eat his supper. See image below.

It was a "shoot out" at the OK Corral as I netted a total of 100GB of RAW images!

I am looking forward to leading the bald eagles MPEG GroupShoot there soon as I want the GS attendees to experience the Midwest's ultimate location for bald eagle photography too!

I am posting 3 images today:

(1) A tree (or more) full of eagles! I counted 16 in this image.
(2) The fishjacking!  An adult and another juvi ganging up on a juvenile eagle but they were not successful this time.
(3) A juvenile eagle flies right at me and over my camera lens.

I apologize as the images are RAW converted to JPEGs with no routine post processing. Click on each pic for a larger view!

Thanks to all of you following my blog!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 2: Return to Iowa!

On my way to customer appointments today, I saw at least 10 bald eagles either in the trees along the road or soaring overhead. At one point today, 6 eagles flew out together (out of the nearby hills) so the "hills are alive" with these guys.

The BIG news of the day!... the sun does shine in Iowa! In fact, there was a cloudless, sunny sky all day.... which of course, is not "ideal" for nature photography either....but I'll take it. I had about 15-20 eagles all around me this late afternoon with some pretty good activity.  I was happy to finally take some eagle images with some decent light and the light sure makes them pop!  Something about light and photography that go together, huh?

I spoke with some local photographers and they showed me a good spot to see eagles on the ice eating their fish in the mornings.

Hopefully we will have good weather for the upcoming MPEG GroupShoot here!

I am posting two images that illustrate the nice late afternoon light today. The top image is a juvenile bald eagle and the second image is an adult bald eagle. Click on the image for a LARGER view.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 1: Return to Iowa!

We made it!  It snowed overnight in Joliet (about 3 inches), short of the predicted 6 inches. We left Joliet ... headed to Le Claire, IA via I-80W. I-80W was clear and dry for the most part. No travel issues at all. Smooth sailing!

We arrived in Le Claire around 1:00pm CST. We went straight to the eagle location.  It was snowing pretty good the whole time we were there (about 2 hours). There were 5-6 eagles in the area. They were hunkered down because of the weather but on 3 occasions we were treated to some eagle fishing, some eagle aerial play with other eagles, an eagle chasing a gull....but the snow made photography a challenge.. keeping the snow off the lens, off the view finder, autofocusing on the BIF through the snow... I used manual focus for some portrait shots in the trees.

Tomorrow's weather calls for AM Clouds/PM Sun. I am excited about seeing the sun in Iowa tomorrow for the first time!!

Stay tuned!

The pic below is a snowy pic of an adult bald eagle landing through the snow in a tree. Click on the pic for a larger view.

February 9-11, 2010: Return to Iowa!

As you know from my last trip to Iowa, I had an ice storm the one day which wiped out my customer appointments and eagle shooting for that day. I rescheduled by customer appointments for Feb 10-11.

My son, Jared (and MPEG member) is traveling with me this time.

The original plan was to leave Cleveland, Tuesday, Feb 9 around 6:00 am for Iowa. We would arrive around 1:00 pm, shoot some eagles, go to dinner and then Jared is treating me to a Gov't Mule concert Tuesday night in Davenport, IA. Ever heard of Gov't Mule? Could this concert be more exciting than shooting eagles?

Anyway, the NEW midwest snow storm changed our plans. I debated whether to even make the trip....but after some analysis of weather along the way, I decided that we should leave Cleveland today no later than 4:30pm EST and get to Joliet, IL by 9pm CST before the snow hits here.  From Joliet, we are only two hours away from Le Claire, IA.....

We left Cleveland at 4:13pm EST and arrived in Joliet, IL at 8:57pm CST and not a snowflake to be seen... We then headed to a late dinner and while at dinner, it started to snow around 9:15 pm CST.... and still snowing!...........

We are expected to have at least 6 inches of snow by morning here in Joliet. Jared and I are placing our faith in the (Illinois) IDOT and (Iowa) IDOT in keeping I-80 very drivable so we can head out for Le Claire no later than noon and arrive between 2-3pm CST Tuesday. I should get a few hours of eagle shooting in provided it is not snowing when we arrive. The weather for Wednesday and Thursday looks good (partly cloudy)!

If we had waited to leave Cleveland Tuesday am, it would have been a very long and messy/snowy drive from Cleveland to Le Claire!

Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Topaz Remask 2: Replacing a boring sky

I enjoy using Topaz Lab's plug-ins, I have Topaz Adjust, Topaz Detail, etc. I recently purchased Topaz Remask 2 knowing it would come in handy sooner or later...and the sooner is here.

During my recent Iowa eagles trip, the skies were overcast everyday. I didn't see the sun for 6 days (I am looking forward to seeing the sun this week in Iowa during my return trip.)

I have a ton of nice eagle images but the skies in the images are boring....gggg...ggg!

Topaz Remask 2 to the rescue!  Topaz Remask is very to use by masking out the eagle in seconds, (cutting out the sky) and then simply dragging in a new sky background via Photoshop.

The new images below are BEFORE and AFTER.

Never fear an overcast day again when shooting eagles! I also "re-positioned" the eagle for a better composition in the AFTER image.

Pretty cool, huh?



Tuesday, February 2, 2010

HDR PhotoStudio Announced Today for the Mac!

Dang... I just gave a HDR presentation tonight at the Canton Camera Club and when I checked my email after the presentation, I have an email from Unified Color Technology that says HDR PhotoStudio is now available for the Mac!

UCT claims HDR PhotosStudio is better than Photomatix with color!  We shall see... I am eager to try this one!

Click here for HDR PhotoStudio for the Mac!

I will be back soon with my experience!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The January Iowa Eagle Trip: 150 GB, 4000 images and....

the 4,000 was narrowed to 1,500 and in those 1,500 images, I have post about 50 keepers thus far but  I have a few more to go.... therefore I had about 1-2% keepers, which I thought was pretty good! I posted one of my favs below.  You can see the entire eagle slideshow by clicking here!

I am headed back for "more"  Feb 9-11 and then again Feb 19-21 leading a MPEG GroupShoot!