Tom and Cree just finished their Louisiana Birds and Bayous Workshop and want to share the highlights with you. The birds and alligators in the swamp were abundant and the flat bottom boats made it very easy to get up close for photography. This is a great workshop for both landscape and wildlife photographers, with very little walking.
To learn more about our Louisiana Birds and Bayous Workshop, check out our trip report, click here
At Tom Bol Photo Workshops, we celebrate great images created on our workshops by selecting a Photo of the Month. For April we chose an image from our Tucson Workshop created by Suzy Onysko. Suzy is a wildlife and portrait photographer. Her work is wonderfully creative and she often carries an infrared camera in addition to her regular gear. We hope you enjoy Suzy’s images as much as we do!
Congratulations to April 2023 ‘s featured photographer – Susan Onysko
Well, this never, ever happens… at least to me anyway. This photograph was taken the first morning of our workshop at Gates Pass. I started out using a wide-angle lens to photograph the yellow brittle bush in the foreground and the stunning rocks, cacti, and clouds in the background. I love color and that was a pop of color in the desert that I didn’t expect. It was pretty windy out, though, and I worried about the flowers ghosting too much in the foreground. I looked for another foreground element and found this stunning barrel cactus.
I took a few shots in color first. They looked nice but with the clouds in the scene and yellow flowers not being an important element anymore, I ran back to the car. I got my infrared camera to see how that would look. I quickly changed my preview screen to show the image in black and white instead of the out of camera red preview. I shot a frame and the infrared image took my breath away.
I will be the first to admit that wide angle landscape photography is not my forte, so when I get an image I like I am quick to analyze why I like it. Hopefully in the future I come to “see” that image a bit quicker in the field. Why do we like the desert? The textures of the prickly cactus is what we are drawn to and what it’s known for. By taking away the color I enhanced all the desert textures and shapes. The clouds enhanced it by adding a bit more mood.
Did I click once and be done? Oh no… I took two hundred images of this scene (no judging, it’s free!) by changing my position mere inches up, down, left, and right until the cactus was just big enough in the foreground but not too big to overwhelm the rest of the scene. I liked how the barrel cactus was the focal point, but by showing some mid-ground I also included some prickly pear cactus which led to some Saguaro Cactus and an impressive rock formation and then those incredible clouds!
Camera: Nikon Z9
Lens: Nikon NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S Lens
ISO: 2000 (did I denoise it? Nope – I like the grainy effect for a western black and white image)
Shutter Speed: 1/100 sec
Shooting Mode: Aperture Priority
Shot at 15mm, handheld
About Photographing in Saguaro National Park
I am from the Midwest and love unusual landscapes that I do not get to see at home. Death Valley is another place that I love. I find that the desert and Death Valley both give an other-worldly vibe that I adore. We were fortunate enough to have the yellow brittle bush blooming while we were there which for me added an unexpected element. What a happy surprise!
This trip truly has something for everyone, and the variety helped me and my ADD brain! It offered wide landscape desert views, macro photography, bird photography, and at Old Tucson we photographed some very dashing cowboys. Check on the portrait photography also!
One of my favorite things we worked on was long lens landscape shooting. I often have a hard time seeing the wide angle shot that are right in front of me, sun stars included. It’s like all clutter to me since there is so much going on. Many times in the past I have used a 70-200mm or 100-400 mm to isolate more intimate scenes in a landscape. Tom encouraged me to try using my 600mm to do this and I have to say that I am hooked. I look insane carrying the beast of a lens for a landscape shot, but the images created using this lens have such mood. Cacti framed by yellow flowers look so mysterious and I feel like a spectator viewing and interpreting the relationships between desert subjects as opposed to just pointing and shooting at them.
About the Quail Image
I love shooting from bird blinds – I was hooked after going on the Texas Bird trip. I will be the first to admit I struggle when finding/seeing/shooting birds in the wild handheld. I get too spastic and excited when I see them. Animal eye tracking on the Nikon Z9 is slowly helping with that issue, but being able to slow down on a tripod with a gimbal to help stabilize the camera makes all the difference in the world. If you know me, I am not normally a tripod fan so when I say that it means a lot!
This Gambel’s Quail is probably like a pigeon to those who live out West but for me this little guy had so much spunk and personality. He was my favorite bird I photographed on the trip. I was determined to get a shot that showed more of his personality than just him strutting across a log, which he did a lot! When he paused for a split second on the log and pondered what his next move would be I saw my chance and shot away. I loved the curve of his head and how the log swirl underneath him mimicked his body position. I looked for a photo that didn’t have his tail merging into the log and was fortunate to have one. This image will be hanging in my house and hopefully others.
Suzy’s Tips for Photographing in the Desert with Infrared
Tip #1) IR works beautifully: it gives an Old West feel to the images. If you ever play with IR, do more than just make a preset for it and call it done. I love playing with all the different LR black and white presets. By doing just that with my multiple infrared images here they all take on a different look. Ethereal, contrasty, ghostlike… you have all the control and can change the mood of the image with one click. I recently converted one of my Z9s to a Deep BW IR conversion through Lifepixel.
For at least ten years I have been converting my oldest camera to infrared through Lifepixel and I am always thrilled with the results. I went mirrorless last year and had to upgrade all my gear. Instead of using my oldest camera (that didn’t exist) I purchased an already converted Nikon Zfc through Lifepixel. I chose the Zfc because it was only ½ lb. It worked well, but it ended up being the only camera in my bag with completely different controls. To make things easier on myself last month I decided to convert a Nikon Z9 body so that all my controls were the same on all my camera bodies. I was thrilled with the results. My fingers knew the controls by heart and I was no longer fumbling, trying to learn a new camera body. As an added bonus the 45 megapixel infrared files are stunning compared the 20 megapixel images of the Zfc!
Tip #2) Bring every focal length: 14-840mm. I did for this trip (my family thought I was insane) and used every one of them!
Tip #3) Mind your body in the field. Jumping Cholla (look them up) are not to be messed with. A week later and I still have bruises where I was nailed by two little balls.
On Suzy’s Horizon:
Botswana, Tanzania and Kenya in June
Hummingbirds in Madera Canyon, Arizona and Ecuador in July
We hope your holiday season is off to a great start. We look forward to seeing your photos of winter landscapes, snowy wildlife and holiday portraits on social media. We will be home for a few weeks enjoying our own family in Fort Collins.
We just returned from an exhilarating workshop in Patagonia. To view the trip report, click here
Want to join us in Chile in 2023? Two spaces just opened on our Chile and Easter Island Workshop. With mild temperatures and exotic landscapes this will be the perfect winter getaway. January 24-Feb 1, 2023. Read more
We also have two spaces available on our Winter Norway Workshop in Lofoten islands Feb 18-25, 2023. Read more
Thanks for reading our posts! Happy Holidays from our family to yours…..Tom and Cree
We spent a wonderful week exploring the fjords of Norway in the Lofoten Islands with our latest workshop group. We chased dramatic light and were dazzled by the fall foliage covering the hillsides. Take a look at their trip report to see the photos and find out more.
Five days of sunshine and endless hours of golden light. We could not believe the weather we had in Nome, Alaska for our Arctic Birds and Musk Oxen Workshop. This was the first time we offered this workshop and we are already planning to head back in 2024 for Summer Solstice.
Tom and Cree Bol celebrate great images created on workshops by selecting a Photo of the Month. For December, we chose an image from White Sands National Park created by Julie Berryhill . We hope you enjoy Julie’s images as much as we do!
Congratulations to December 2021 ‘s featured photographer – Julie Berryhill
The Story …
The sun had already set. Brian and I were wandering around and we set up our tripods really low. We pushed out the tripod legs and were on our bellies in the sand. It was really fun. We were down and dirty.
We were underexposing because we did not want to blow out the red channel. I was also using focus peaking. After Tom recommended it, I used it throughout the workshop. I would start by using auto focus and then switch to manual to engage the focus peaking. It shows what is in focus in red highlights.
For me the three important elements of the photo are the sand, the yucca and the sky. I used a low perspective to put the yucca higher in the sky. I also wanted to keep some of the sand in the foreground. But what the image is really about is the sky.
I used the comparison mode in Lightroom to chose the best image. I was looking for the image with the best light in the sky. I didn’t crop the image at all. I was also looking for an image that was sharp. It was windy that day so I made sure that there was not any blur in the plants.
Nikon Z7 with 24-70mm lens shot at 34.5 mm
F11, 1/200 sec, ISO 400
Aperture Priority with focus peaking
About photographing at White Sands National Park
You think it is just about photographing sand. But it is amazing how many different shots you can get there.
One day it was windy and the backgrounds became almost impressionist. The down side of the wind is that you can’t easily change lenses in those conditions. The upside is that the wind erases all of the footprints there.
About the orange photo below: It was a windy evening and there were different things happening in each direction. I turned around from where we were shooting and took the shot. I got down low to get a different perspective of the sand.
Using a speed light on the yucca was really fun. I am glad Tom showed us how to do it. I get intimidated by using flash. Flash gives it a whole different look, which I really liked.
Julie’stips for photographing at White Sands National Park:
1) Bring two bodies if you have them. It is often difficult to change lenses because of the sand. This is especially true if you are shooting mirrorless.
2) Get the permit to enter the park early (available on the park website). That way there will not be people in the way.
3) Use focus peaking. It lets you see want will be in focus in the frame.
On Julie’s Horizon
Costa Rica in April
Back to Patagonia – the light is amazing and I love to hike
Eastern Europe – Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary
Space available on our next workshop in Bosque and White Sands – Nov 2023. Click here to learn more
Coming soon: Free Happy Hour in late January -all about the new Nikon Z9. In the meantime we will be off scouting Route 66 Oklahoma and Big Bend National Park. We just returned from Louisiana and have already posted our Louisiana Bayous and Birds.
Ready to travel and looking for a workshop? Space available on our Northern Lights in Fairbanks Workshop in March. Click here for more info. Want a warmer destination? Join us in Ecuador in 2023 to photograph birds in the highlands
Thanks for reading our posts and congratulations to Julie!
We just finished two workshops on Route 66, one in New Mexico and Texas, the other in New Mexico and Arizona. These are some of our most popular workshops. People often ask about the difference between the two workshops. Which is the better route? Which do you think I would like better?
We decided to post two different trip reports to help you see the difference. Each trip follows a different stretch of Route 66. We photograph different attractions, stay in different hotels and photograph different locals.
The route from Albuquerque to Amarillo has some of the best neon on the route while the stretch from Albuquerque to Winslow has some of the best landscapes.
To see the trip report for our newest stretch from Albuquerque to Winslow, click here
Check out our trip report for our original Route 66: Albuquerque to Amarillo by clicking on this link: Trip Report Link
Interested in joining us for a workshop on Route 66? We just added an additional Route 66: Albuquerque to Winslow, AZ for October 2024, click here to learn more.
News flash: we will be adding a brand new segment, Route 66: Amarillo to Tulsa. Let us know if you would like to be on the Interest List
We hit the Colorado elk rut at prime time to photograph elk behavior. We saw males fighting, bugling and tossing vegetation on their antlers, all in hopes of attracting females. Check out our trip report by clicking on this link: Trip Report Link
Tom and I had a very busy spring and summer leading workshops and are happy to be traveling again. We will be returning to Alaska in a week for our last Brown Bear Workshop then plan to head to Minnesota with our canoe for some downtime.
New Online Classes
After three months of wildlife workshops in Yellowstone, Alaska and Arizona, we decided to offer a few online, wildlife editing classes. These are designed to help folks refine their editing and workflow when staring down hundreds of images after a workshop.
Tom’s Wildlife Workflow – Sunday, September 12 at 5 pm
Details: Do you ever get back from a wildlife workshop and have hundreds of images to edit and you’re not sure how to get started? Join Tom to learn how he uses Photo Mechanic and PhotoShop to select, rename, edit and store his images efficiently. Learn More
Wildlife Editing in Camera Raw and PhotoShop – September 13-17
Details: Join Tom and Cree for a refresher course on how to make your wildlife images look terrific without going overboard. This is the perfect class for people who use Camera Raw or Lightroom for most of their editing and want to do more with PhotoShop. Whether birds or mammals are your favorite subject, you will learn plenty of new tips for editing both. As an added bonus, Tom’s Workflow class is free when you sign up for this class. Learn More
Update on Field Workshops
The rest of our 2021 season is full with workshops coming up in Ouray, Estes Park, Route 66 and Bosque del Apache. We plan to be busy and look forward to seeing many of you in the field!
Our 2022 Schedule is starting to fill. There are a few spaces left on both domestic and international trips. See the 2022 Schedule
We always love hearing from you! firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 631-9383