Category Archives: Blog

Where all the writing and information sharing happens.

4 Simple Facts About Bird Photography Explained

A white ibis runs for the shoreline in a crashing wave.  He appears to have received the business end of a large wave and in his panic forgot he can fly. No doubt from a birds point of view the act of trying to find lunch in the crashing surf is a frustrating experience. I’m positive it’s almost as frustrating as actually getting that perfect bird picture.

If your one of those people who wish to hone their skill of photographing live birds, then this list may just help you.

1.  Equipment Matters-

 Equipment is at least 50% of your chance in getting a great action shot with birds. The Iphone will fail you as bad as most of the point and clicks on the market. Why?   The lens. A wide-angle lens is great for portraits, landscapes, and the weekend BBQ. But birds are small, and small means that you need some form of telescoping lens to get the bird nice and close. Unless your subject is a large Canadian goose looking for a handout, you’re going to scare your quarry before you get the shot. Your best bet is a DSLR and a nice telescoping lens that will close the distance between your subject and you.

Ibis in the Surf - Bird
Ibis in the Surf

2.  Fast Shutter Speed-  

One of the advantages of a DSLR is the ability to adjust the shutter speed of your camera. This changes the length of time your camera has its shutter open, thus allowing light into the camera. The quicker the speed, the better chance of capturing non-blurry action shots. Birds tend to be very quick. As a person who’s experienced being chased by a full size turkey, I can personally attest to how quick they are.   Notice in the ibis picture that the water from the surf seems to freeze mid-air. That’s what a quick shutter speed will give you.  How fast? The real answer is “as fast as your light conditions allow you to without underexposing the picture.”

3.  Aim for the Eye-

Remember that telescoping lens?   You don’t just pick up your camera, aim it at the poor creature and start shooting. Well you CAN, but your just wasting your time. No, a good picture takes a good deal of forethought. Once I have my camera set at an acceptable shutter speed. The very next thing I do is aim for the eye.   A focused eye is almost always a good start to an excellent picture. But, an out of focused eye is always a bad picture. Humans are rather finicky about faces. We have to see the eyes. Even animal faces are susceptible to this psychological need of ours. If you don’t get the eyes, you don’t get the picture.

 

4.  Prepare for Failure-

Yeah, patience is definitely needed. Remember that for every great photograph of a beautiful bird, especially an action shot, there are at least 200 pictures of out of focused blurs, wing flaps, moved heads, blurry feet, and tail feathers. You’re taking the picture of a living-breathing animal. This animal does not care that you are taking a picture. They do not listen to your directions to stay still. They are quick, they are small and they are almost always in movement. If you get one good picture out of an afternoon of bird watching then you’ve had a great day!

Remember that the most important thing about photographing any animals in the wild is to respect nature. Respect your subject and while you may not get that epic shot on the first try, there will be always a chance for a second, third, or even 100th try.

 

 

Luck Loves a Lady Cardinal

Once again the winter months arrive and bring with them the opportunity to see a greater selection of animals. In Florida, in the dry season the weather is nicer and the mosquitos are no longer swarming making life miserable. It’s a great chance to capture birds and other fauna. This beautiful  bird is a female cardinal.

The female uses a brown plumage with red highlights and not the bright red plumage the male does and therefore is not as easily identified. At first glance this might seem rather unfair to the female of the species. I mean everyone knows and loves the little bright red males. Myth and lore surround them as bringer of good luck and there is even sports teams named after them. But in reality, it’s actually the female that may have the luckiest plumage.

Lady Cardinal
Lady Cardinal

Cardinals tend to live in the underbrush and low trees due to the fact that they eat off the ground and the occasional backyard feeder. They also use those bushes for nesting and incubating their eggs.   So, which plumage would you rather have if you’re sitting in a low-lying nest reachable by snakes, and Fluffy the killer house cat? I think I’d prefer to blend in with the drab browns.

As for our particular model, it’s true that cardinals do not migrate which means that our lovely little lady Cardinal probably lives near this spot with a male nearby. This bird was obviously curious to see if I had any saffron or sunflower seeds with me. She paused on the wooden rail and eyed me for any chance of a free meal.   Unfortunately, for her, I don’t bait wildlife to get a shot, so no easy pickings for her.

 

The Meaning of Fuzzy Dice ala Thunderbird

Folklore says the fuzzy dice you find in antique cars owe their start to the fighter pilots of WWII. Pilots would drape a pair of dice over their mirror or instruments in the cockpit for luck before flying on combat missions.

The dishevel of American society caused by war resulted in celebrating rebellious nature against the status quo. This social rebellion not only resulted in the modern-day biker stereotype, but also  hot rods and fast cars finding a place in American culture.

Thus, it was only a matter of time before the little symbol of luck changed and came along for the ride.   During the 50’s and 60’s fuzzy dice appeared as a symbol of rebellion and dangerous racing.

The fad, like most, did not last.   By the late 80’s the dice began to take on a new meaning to the aging population of original hot rodders.   It wasn’t a symbol of rebellion as much as a reminder of the past.

As the decades passed, the feeling of nostalgia only became stronger.  A reminder of past times when fast cars driving with the windows down on winding roads on the way to the local drive thru was born.

Artist Comments:

Fuzzy Dice ala Thunderbird
Fuzzy Dice ala Thunderbird

I endeavored to tap into this feeling of nostalgia while creating this piece. The long black and white panel and steering column of this Ford Thunderbird embodies the past stretching in the distance. The bright red of the dice hanging on the mirrors dramatically rivals memories of past exploits and summer travels.

The bright red dice, shown in full sunlight, is slightly off-center.  I used the color  as a natural draw denoting the struggle we feel coping with the present and future. They become a vivid reminder that the future is bright, colorful, and inviting yet now quite here yet.   It gives hope.

 

 

Do You Enjoy Seabirds?

While people in the northern hemisphere are celebrating the summer, we offer up our thanks to a

Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull

favorite destination during the season by visiting the beach. Sun, surf, and sand continue to be the well-known staples of a Floridian summer experience. Therefore, we would like to introduce the Summer Seabird Collection.   This new collection of seabirds from the sunny coast of Florida reminds us of those special days of warm sunny mornings searching for seashells and suntans.

The first addition to the collection was the premier work Two Pelicans is a principal component of our new

Two Pelicans
Two Pelicans

collection.  These two pelicans will swim confidently together from a local mangrove inlet into your personal collection.    Wildlife is found year round in the tropics but our new collection allows you to experience and share those special moments anytime and anywhere.

 

American Oystercatcher
American Oystercatcher

In another work, an American Oystercatcher looks on with steady bright-eyed intent. He is a captivating flash of color in a sea of black and white texture. This work was very difficult to accomplish, as these seabirds had little to no tolerance for any human getting a good shot of them. Further, they insisted on nesting among the seaweeds blending into the foreground and thus making a strange and uniquely textured shot.

Even the Royal Terns nap gracefully on the beach

Royal Terns
Royal Terns

knowing the beach is the place to be, well after a visit to our gallery of course!

In Other News

In other news this month, we’d like to introduce a new development in the history of the gallery. A&A Photographic Arts has entered an outlet vendor deal with a special art dealer. Fotos by Fritz of the Tampa Bay Area will now display and sell a specifically curated selection of photographic artworks. This kind of outlet market is perfect for our growing gallery. We now offer one of a kind artist proofs, cards, reprints, and smaller prints to a whole new group of art lovers.

 

Shop our Store

[shopify embed_type=”collection” shop=”a-a-photographic-arts.myshopify.com” product_handle=”summer-seabirds”]

Which Print of Pelican Do Other Artists Say to Buy?

April is a very busy month in the art world.  There are a lot of public shows and a few private ones. For example, the work Pelican recently showed at an exclusive art show with the Tarpon Springs Art Association in Tarpon Springs, Florida. These private or member only art shows really test an artist’s nerve. It is like presenting a scientific paper at a medical symposium. There is no place to hide if something goes hideously wrong and your colleagues are going to scrutinize your work with every critical bone in their body.

The story behind Pelican is a rather simple one. I was sitting on a dock watching a local fisherman filet a large fish, a large friendly pelican suddenly showed up to see if any scraps accidentally fell in the water. It was like watching a family pet begging at the dinner table.  In the end it did not leave disappointed.

Pelican
Pelican

When I was in the process of choosing the type of print for the show, I discovered archival prints of this work look good. The work printed on canvas really has a classy artistic look.  But, nothing beats out the absolute beauty of Pelican printed on metal.   The gloss of the aluminum lends itself to showcase the pure whites in such a way that it looks almost self-illuminant. There is a serious wow factor to the print.

Pelican
Pelican

I soon found out I was no alone in this thought.  In fact, the biggest complaint or critique I had on presenting Pelican was a comment that the print on metal was actually too good for local fare. Other artists told me that if a patron has a white or black furniture theme in the home or office, then a metal print of Pelican is the print they should get.  It was the type of complaints that any artist wants to hear.

In Other News:

The gallery has experienced some very exciting growth opportunities recently by expanding its exhibitions

Monarch Butterfly 3
Monarch Butterfly 3

beyond the Texas border.   The newest members of the butterfly collection made a special appearance at the Tarpon Springs annual Art on the Bayou festival. White Peacock Butterfly 2 and Monarch Butterfly 3 was well received by both the public and other artists alike.

White Peacock Butterfly 2
White Peacock Butterfly 2

Future Happenings:

The gallery will exhibit local photographic works in a new two-person art show at the Susan Dillinger Art Gallery in the New Port Richey City Hall from May 2nd – May 31st.  The works will be on display during regular business hours.  There is no cost to attend and enjoy the art.  All art will be available for purchase.

[shopify embed_type=”product” shop=”a-a-photographic-arts.myshopify.com” product_handle=”pelican” show=”all”]