Locations and Animal Behavior
Let's go talk about what we're gonna do for the next sessions this afternoon, and then the ones after that. We do a lot of scouting but first of all, somebody just asked a question about how do you know where to go? Well you do research. I'm not a crazy researcher and I don't have a staff of researchers. I see pictures, I see movies, I talk to people, I have an idea if I wanna photograph tigers, I wanna photograph elephants, I wanna photograph wildebeests but I tend to wanna go to a place and be surprised. I don't look at a lot of pictures and then have this thing in my head that I wanna get one like he got or she got, I wanna be more original. But then when you get there, I think okay, obviously the acacia trees are iconic to Africa Plains as are the wildebeests. When we get there, we drive around, we find it, we say let's go do sunrise in the morning or sunset, it doesn't matter. Let's find a great tree. We find five great trees then the next morning we go out and we see if there's a...
ny wildebeests by any of the trees. The wildebeests are over there and if we get over here, the sun is gonna come up there and this is all pre-planned in a way. The wildebeests don't always cooperate, the tree isn't going anywhere. That's the kind of pre-planning that I do and then you gotta be flexible because that same day we saw a pair of lions I was like hmm, let's follow the lions and then we got the three (mumbles). This year was a great year for elephant babies and a lot of the... There's a drought in Africa about six years ago about 40% of the herd died off in Amboseli because of the drought and then the poaching of course added to that. We were gonna go to Amboseli, we went there for three days and it was so great because there was a bonus of babies that rained the year before so then they just started... They had 100 babies in three months. (audience clapping) They were just pumping, it was unheard of. Cynthia Moss who's the elephant researcher told us the day we got there, they had their 100th baby and they were celebrating. We had a big glass of scotch. (audience laughing) We decided that this is a once in a lifetime chance. We finished the rest of our tour of Amboseli, and Tarangire and Ngorongoro and Serengeti. I wanna go back here because this is not gonna happen again for a while, or maybe never, you never know so we went back there for another week. Again, you have to be flexible, I mean, if you can be. Some people have jobs (audience laughing) You have to think, okay, we weren't just watching these lions and the rainbow showed up. We saw the rainbows we gotta find something to put in front of the rainbow. We drove around and here's this mating pair of lions that's sort of serendipity stuff when you go there during the rainy season. And then in Africa, people always think, okay, the big five, rhinos, Cape buffalo, elephants, giraffes but they forget about the birds. There's 1000 species of birds in pretty much any of the East African countries or South African countries, which are pretty much more than what's in the lower 48,000 species. This is where the 600 comes in handy and the 1.4, this is in Botswana actually on the Okavango River, carmine bee-eaters. Try to, again, think about what else is there besides the big guys or the head shooters. And this is in Alaska late August photographing bears, again there's a whole different gear situation. You had to wear waders. You gotta be really prepared for rain and you gotta take all your gloves and your hand warmers and your rain gear and it's a quite different situation. Alaska has all these different animals and then you think about pre visualizing this moose, we might see it later, maybe not, but it was over the hill here. I knew this pond and I saw the moose coming up the hill and I told my buddy, "let's go around that pond to see if the moose "will maybe come up there" it's about one in 100 chances, but what's another moose in the brush. We've got enough moose in the brush shots. Let's go for a broke. Let's go down here, see if we get the reflection. And matter of fact, he came up there, but as soon as you're ready to shoot the frame he laid down. I was just ready to shoot the frame, he laid down, oh jeez. I want to tell you what my friend said. (audience laughing) So he laid down he was, "oh man where are you gonna get up, "so we'll just wait." Actually it was really great because this was all in riffle. It was a little bit of breeze in the morning. And about ten o'clock that morning, this went dead calm, just like that other moose we talked about earlier he had three cows, the other one had 19, but he had three. This is one cow here, but just like that other moose, this cow got up, he stood up, looked around. This was dead calm at the polarized, one of the few times you're gonna use the polarizer clicked three or four frames and he went off. A lot of what we're gonna talk about is pre visualization, being in the right place and going for broke, not shooting another dumb picture of a moose in the alder bush. (audience laughing) This is a place in Alaska near Homer. Some of you probably been there called Beach Patrol and another one of my eagle photos, we're gonna talk about portraits versus animals in the landscape. Getting low to her perspectives. It's always better to be low. We can talk about that in different animals beyond their level or shoot up at them, especially things like penguins that are three feet tall, getting those intimate portraits, looking for that... we always like it to be... we always associate it with ourselves. Fair enough or not, I'm not sure. This is a male, female and there's a colony of macaroni penguins and there's a moment there. I shot maybe talk about how many frames, 500 frames, probably of just these two birds before (finger clicking) it clicked. And then you don't always have to have an animal in the landscape or anything. I have a lot of people say, "where's the animal?" (audience laughing) Well, okay. Once in a while you shoot things with just graphic, color, powerful. And then we have to be reminded that we're just like penguins. Can you imagine all of these... This is one of the beaches in Southern California, actually, those are people. (audience laughing) We're gonna talk about color and depth of field and shooting through foliage and back lighting and... This is our place in a big landscape. We have to be constantly reminded of our responsibility in the landscape and we'll talk about that next session. Patagonia, and again, intimate moments and dramatic moments and composition. This is taken with the D4S with the 14 to 24, no... was it a 28 millimeter, had two cameras set up with an intervalometer not camera trap per se, with a motion sensor, but its (mumbles) that we watch this cat. We didn't have a proper blind, it was very shy, but he'd killed this guanaco. This is the guanaco that they buried the guanaco so it doesn't attract condors and other foxes and things. So they bury it and we watched her for four or five days and we couldn't get close enough without her moving off. We decided to set up a couple of cameras, and I knew that she came every morning at daybreak and then she would feed for maybe an hour and then she would leave. We just set up the cameras intervalometer at daybreak, whatever time that was at six o'clock in the morning until like eight o'clock. And it went off every two... one camera went off for every two seconds. One camera went off for every three seconds. Then we had a 3rd camera later on, went off for every five seconds. We had 120 megabyte card and a 64 megabyte card so it went for a long time. These are just chance shots. (audience mumbling) Every couple of seconds, you're bound to get something more or less. That work, we're gonna talk about fog and mood and moisture and how that affects wildlife and of course, no one. Again, how the atmosphere changes things. Every once in a while you pretend like you're a polar bear helps, and don't think of polar bears just in snow and ice. This is taken in the summertime and that's what's neat about it. It's a polar bear in the summer and another intimate portrait with family. That moment is what I want you guys to learn how to do and to watch for and you don't have to go to all these exotic places. This is the New England a couple of weeks ago and we went to upstate New York Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and just chase Fall color. We had a great time and it was more or less, not quite in my backyard, but it was a trip that a lot of you people are probably closer to than I am. You need to learn to buck blinds if you're gonna shoot certain species like (audience mumbling) foxes or Prairie dogs, certainly Sandhill cranes. We talked about the best thing you can do is learn lots about animal behavior cause all this gear is not going to help if you don't know about animal behavior or where to be at the right time about weather, mood. Actually I'll back up one here. This is a pair of White-throated bee-eaters. He has a wasp or a bee enticing his female. I was photographing elephants, when I saw this happening with several pairs I concentrated for the next three days on White-throated bee-eaters. Elephants became secondary. I switched gears. This only happens for a week or so, they have this display with the razor wings, it's amazing and difficult to shoot, but anyway, I had to switch gears. Think about being flexible, courtship behavior. I knew when she did this, this is obviously a tree that's been scratched before I noticed that, I knew the cub would come over, so I just waited. Time of year, where they feed the Berry Patch in Jackson Hole, I know the bears come every year. The idea is to learn as much as you can about animal behavior and a lot of that comes from being out there. You can read a lot, watch a lot of movies, it's really important. Look at other people's work important, but being out there's no substitute for being out there and watching. Year after year, this is a common place that these bears go and wherever there's a den use a blind, be cautious. With long lenses, you don't disturb things. This is a picture I tried to get for about 10 years. I knew the elk cross river every night to eat in the Meadows every morning, they'd go back to the forest and they'd cross the river in the meantime. I figured out where the best angle was, where the trails were they went down to the river. I walked this whole river link for a couple of miles and figure out where the most trails were, where the shallows were and where the light came from in the morning. On the picture with the bear that you saw earlier, similar place cover of the book. When the sun was coming up and the mountain looked good, I would be in the place for that shot. When there was not a good sunrise on the mountain, I would go for the fog. Again, I can't emphasize enough about animal behavior and knowing that, and that's all the time. (Sandhill Cranes calling ) (soft music) Should be a Great Gray here as reported earlier, maybe three reported this morning. They're hunting here somewhere. (bird sounds) There they are right there. There's one flying behind the (mumbles) in the spruce area Let's go up there. Just wait here for a minute. They'll get used to us, they're really calm birds. The light's pretty poor. (camera shooting) Need a little bit of snow to make it look interesting and just beautiful right there. Right now it's against that white sky, so it's really difficult. I'm going to walk across here to shoot back into the woods where it's just nice and uniform dark. This is a perfect spot. It just landed there in the snow (mumbles). He's rattling this beautiful compass snow, this is perfect. You can see in here, doing some video now Is it beautiful, searching around for mice and the winds coming up and you get the wind in the trees. This is the kind of scene I've been waiting for like 15 years, the Great Gray and the spruce and the snow bows. We see lots of Great Grays but this is really what I've been looking for, for a long time. (camera shooting) (whispering) I hear some Red squirrels down there barking, tripping, and that's one of the things that Great Grays like to eat. I think it went down that way let's go follow the Red squirrel sound. They always give this little warning call when they have an owl. Those are the kinds of things that you're aware of when you're out in the field. You follow the sound of the Red squirrel and most likely you'll find an owl or Red-tailed hawk or something. But in this case I knew it was likely the owl. (camera shooting) (wind howling)