Hi and happy new year. I hope you all had a wonderful and merry Christmas, holiday and new year. Next up… each year I do a post of my favorite photos. It’s fun to do, and it forces me to look back at photos I may have forgotten about, and even do a little organizing and deleting as I go through things. Keep in mind though, this is just SOME of my favorites – It’s not all of them, but as always I’m a believer in JUST GET THE JOB DONE!
And I’d hope if you’re going through your photos to get your favorites together, you have the same thought. Rather than take weeks and weeks to do it perfectly – my favorite saying is “Perfect is the enemy of Done”. And now I can consider this job done. The exercise did it’s job for me, and I can move on to the next task 🙂
Settings, Processing and Other Common Things
A few notes on the photos below. First, they were all taken with my Sony Alpha 1 and various lenses. They were all taken on Manual Exposure mode with Auto ISO, matrix metering, and other settings are posted below the photo.
They were all edited using Lightroom Classic, some Photoshop for removing distractions, and Topaz DeNoise or Photo Ai for noise reduction (which automatically does a little sharpening as well so I don’t usually do any sharpening).
Bird Identification – Finally, while some photos are obvious what the bird is, others may not be. I can’t promise I’ll name the bird in all of them because it simply doesn’t matter to me and I don’t know the names. I realize it matters to some of you and feel free to send to a friend, or look online what the name is. But it’s important to understand that I take a photo for one reason – to make me (and hopefully others) say “WOW!”. I’m not a birder. I don’t have a desire to Identify species I see. To me, it’s like needing to know the name of a beautiful mountain in order to post a photo of it. And I don’t take photos for conservation or historical documentation, or tracking purposes. So, for me, the image is all that matters.
Okay…let’s get to it!…
Eagle Fight – I’ll lead off with a couple of eagle photos in a mid-air battle. These are always amazing to see, and I can get lost when going through my hard drive and looking at the hundreds of photos taken before and after this exact moment. It’s just fun to look at and watch the progression, but here are two favorites.
Yellow Legged Thing pulling gooey thing from ground – I follow these little guys around often when I’m out shooting. Every once in a while they get into a little scuffle with each other and it’s fun to capture. This time, I got one pulling a gooey thing out of the ground (yes, I’m sure the gooey thing has a name but I prefer mine better).
Osprey with a Fresh Catch – I took this photo while out on a boat tour with my buddy Dick (Dvwildlife.com). The Osprey had just dove and caught the fish. I actually missed the shot by a few seconds. But I was able to capture right after, with water drops still in the air, and the osprey flying away with its fresh catch. Again, not my best Osprey photo, but my favorite of 2022.
Reddish Egrets Dancing – The next few photos are of Reddish Egrets (yes I know the name) 🙂 These birds dance and jump around and put on quite the show for the people that see it. It’s actually not very hard to capture the photos because the egrets are at this beach (Ft. Desoto near Tampa FL) quite a bit.
But, the hard part is getting the right light and right shooting angle on them. Remember, we usually want the sun behind us and I like it when it’s still pretty low in the sky, so the light is softer. However, I also want some background separation so the egret pops from its backdrop. These egrets look for fish in many areas on this beach, so putting that combination together (light, angle, good action) and having the egret in the right spot isn’t always something we get. But I got lucky a few times last year where everything aligned. I just love the soft warm light and that buttery soft background in these shots, as well as the various poses of the egret.
Eagle Taking Off – Here’s another I took while on the boat tour with DVWildlife.com. I love Eagle takeoffs. And this one made it to the favorite list because I liked the trees around it. It’s not just a bird in the sky, but you get a better feeling for the environment here and it just fills the frame better.
Long(er) Exposure Juvenile Mullet Rocker – I was out teaching a private session with some one earlier in the year and we didn’t find much to shoot that morning. We practiced quite a bit though. Then, at one point I suggested we move to this pier that usually has a lot of action around it. Well, it was REALLY windy that morning and the birds weren’t moving a lot. This Juvenile Mullet Rocker was just sitting there and posing for us. Then it hit me… if we kept the camera really still, we could use a long(er) shutter speed (1/50th of a second) to get motion in the birds feathers. I thought it was an interesting shot and something you don’t see often with wildlife.
Cute Baby Owls – There were 3 baby owls at a park near where I live, and they attracted quite the photography crowd. I was never able to capture them in great light, but I thought the poses were fun so these two also made my favorite list. Sadly I found out that all 3 of the babies (and I think even the adults) died soon after. Apparently the adults bring food back (usually dead rodents) for the babies. And I guess the rodents had been killed with some type of rat poison, which the owls then ingest and die from. Hopefully more owls make their way back to this area though, as it was nice to watch.
Side Note and Mini Rant: I learned recently that there are safer ways to get rid of rodents than rat poison (which is what I would have used). In addition to teaching me that lesson, it also taught me that people sometimes think all humans are just bad, and that’s not the case. I saw multiple animal conservation groups chastising neighboring houses for using rat poison – but I don’t think they knew any better. I didn’t. People aren’t bad – they just don’t know. But the ultra-conservationist groups post this stuff on the photography and birding groups, the comments take on a life of their own on how bad people are – and in some ways it’s sad because it is just preaching to the choir – because most of those people already know. It’s the neighbors to the right and left and across the street from me that don’t have any interest in birds, that have no idea what rat poison can do. So my mini-rant is… don’t assume all humans are bad and we all want to kill owls. Sometimes people innocently just don’t know – and I wish local news outlets, stores, etc… did a better job of educating, rather than conservationists just posting to bird groups that probably already know.
Green Heron Fishing – This series made my favorites list, not because of the wonderful photography, but just because it was fun to watch this green heron fish. Watching it defy gravity hanging from a brach and then diving into the water was definitely interesting to see.
Owl on a Stick – It’s just a bird on a stick. But who doesn’t love a gorgeous owl portrait? There’s something about owls. Maybe because we don’t see them a lot, but I just have a hard time not taking a photo of one when I see it – even if it’s just sitting there.
Black Skimmers – I always enjoy photographing the black skimmers, especially when they’re skimming the water or turning and banking with the clear blue water and sky behind it. And how doesn’t love a little baby fluffy looking thing. The problem is they’re SOO dark they’re hard to edit to actually see the eye. Here’s a few of my favorites.
Bird Picking Up a Snail – In my defense I do feel like I did know the name of this bird at one time but it’s escaping me. And I know from reading comments that some one will undoubtedly not be able to resist the urge to name all of these birds so I’m sure we’ll find out soon 😉 Anyway, this was my first time photographing them, and it was a lot of fun to watch (and really beautiful birds too).
Another Yellow Legged Bird – As I mentioned, I really enjoy watching the curious and tenacious nature of these little birds. This one happened to have a cool pose, in great light and a beautiful blurry backdrop so it made my favorite list.
And Last But Certainly Not Least… a few Landscape photos – Many of you know that I used to photograph landscapes exclusively, and in the last 5 years I’ve shifted toward wildlife. I still love landscapes though. It’s just that if I have a limited time for photography, right now I find myself choosing wildlife locations rather than landscapes. For me personally, I enjoy a challenge and right now I just find it more challenging. Things change, people change, moods change, and all that… I’m sure this phase will change as time goes on, but for right now it makes me happy.
Anyway, Sony had a big event in Idaho for its Artisan Ambassadors this past August, and I made some time to photograph a nearby lake at sunrise.
Thanks so much for taking a few minutes to see my favorites for 2022. As I mentioned earlier, if you take away one thing from this it’s that I think this is a good exercise for everyone. Even if you don’t share them online, make yourself a folder on your computer or collection in Lightroom, and put your favorites in it. It’s a great exercise for finding photos you missed, cleaning up your hard drives and letting you know your accomplishments (or maybe even the lack of them) for the year and areas where you can improve. Enjoy!