Sunday, June 12, 2011

How Sweet It Is...

This squirrel was sitting on my garden trellis enjoying the first strawberry of summer. Below is a sneak preview of my July Adventures in Photography Article. This series of articles can be viewed monthly in the Freebird Times. Past articles can be found on this blog and on my website at

Adventures in Photography: Once in a Lifetime Shots – Be Prepared
In regards to once in a lifetime shots, the Boy Scouts motto “Be Prepared” is the best advice. Photographing wildlife consistently puts this theory to the test. Wild creatures are unpredictable. They often turn up in odd places at odd times, when you least expect them. Having your camera gear ready maximizes your potential for capturing these fleeting moments.
I am fortunate to own two camera bodies with interchangeable lenses. I always keep one camera body ready for sudden wildlife action. This includes having the camera set to aperture priority mode at a low f stop, with an ISO of 400 or higher. My longest lens remains attached to the camera while traveling around. In a moments notice I can stop the car, grab my camera and begin to photograph. The ability to be quickly ready dramatically increases my chances of making a successful image.
This afternoon, my beautiful wife Brenda, suddenly called me to the kitchen. When I arrived, she was pointing out the window and exclaiming “Awww…It’s so cute!” Sitting on top of my garden trellis was a squirrel eating a fresh strawberry. It was cute!
My mind went into overdrive. I hadn’t used my camera for quite some time. Where was it? My day job gets extremely busy during the months of May and June. Often, my camera sits in a lonely corner all but forgotten, while I march parades, direct concerts and take my bands to various competitions. Fortunately, it was exactly where I always leave it and it was easy to find.
As I got back to the kitchen, I had my camera turned on and ready. I didn’t need to spend time adjusting my settings. My only decision was where to take the image from. If I left my house, I would scare the squirrel away. Shooting through the screen of my window turned out to be my best option. Many professional sports photographers often photograph through protective mesh nets, by using a trick. They set the aperture to a very low f stop. This makes the netting practically disappear in the photograph, allowing for a clean image of the subject. In this case, the subject was not a baseball star, but a very charismatic squirrel.
After quietly opening my kitchen window, I pressed the edge of my lens to the screen and composed my image. Over the next ten seconds I made a handful of excellent images. Then, the squirrel left to eat his strawberry in peace. Not only did I make a great image of an unexpected wildlife encounter, I had protected my strawberry patch too!
If I had not left my camera set up with the correct lens and settings and been fore armed with the knowledge of how to photograph through a mesh screen, I would not have successfully made this image. Being prepared is the key to successful photography!

This Month’s Tip:
Try to plan for the situations you may encounter as a photographer. Having the correct equipment and knowledge available at a moment’s notice will help you to make many exciting images.

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