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.
At Tom Bol Photo Workshops, we celebrate great images created on our workshops by selecting a Photo of the Month. For May we chose an image from our Texas Birds Workshop created by Carolyn Johnson. We hope you enjoy Carolyn’s images as much as we do!
Congratulations to May 2022 ‘s featured photographer – Carolyn Johnson
The Story …
The bronzed cowbird was on the perch near the cactus and I was focused on him. The green jay came in and I saw him mid air. I kept the focal point on the cowbird and just kept pushing the shutter button.
At 30 frames per second, you can hardly miss!
This photo happened because of the Sony A1. I was on a photo outing with Artie Morris. He explained all the manual settings to me on an outing to photograph pelicans. The camera has an amazing dot that tracks the birds’ eyes. This feature took all of my frustration out of wildlife photography. In the past, images were never as sharp as I wanted them to be.
Now I can’t decide which mages to delete because they are all good.
Having a gimbal on the tripod also helped. It makes all the difference. I can no longer hold the weight of a longer lens like I used to.
I decided to send the image of the green jay and cowbird to Bay Photo to get a metal print. Tom mentioned that he liked Bay Photo and especially the metal prints. When it arrived, I liked the result so much that I had 9 more metal bird prints made.
They arrived yesterday and I have them all over my kitchen table to figure out a good layout.
Sony A1 with a 200-600 mm lens , shot at 571mm
F6.3, 1/4000 sec, ISO 2000
Manual Mode, Spot Focus
About Photographing Birds in South Texas
I liked both ranches. The owners were so careful with details and knew exactly what to do to get the birds there.
My favorite bird was Darth Vader – the bronzed cowbird. I loved when he was doing his mating dance. He has the most fabulous color of blue on his wings.
I had never shot from a blind before. I live on 4 acres in the shrub oak in California. My son in law has a back hoe. I think a blind is in my future.
Tips for Bird Photography:
Don’t be afraid of using high ISO settings. In the past higher ISOs would create grainy and pixelated photos. The new technology has made it possible to shoot at high ISO settings and still get great photos. I use Topaz Denoise on all the photos I take with high ISO settings.
On Carolyn’s Horizon
Eagles in Chilkat, Alaska
Roseate Spoonbills in Florida
We are headed to Nome Alaska next with a small group to photograph musk oxen and arctic birds. After that we are headed to the South Dakota Badlands and Glacier National Park.
We have 2 spaces available on our Bears and Glaciers Workshop. It will be prime time for Spring cubs July 11-16 click here to learn more.
Welcome to summer and thanks for reading our posts!
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 Costa Rica Rainforest Workshop created by Joe Campbell. We hope you enjoy Joe’s images as much as we do!
Congratulations to April 2022 ‘s featured photographer – Joe Campbell
The Story …
I had been sitting on a log having lunch by myself. I looked around and asked myself, “Where is everybody?” The guides said there was an anteater down the road so I decided to mosey down there.
I went down the road and everyone was shooting from the side by the road. Tom was on the beach side so I went and started shooting near him.
The anteater was climbing down the tree and sat down to rest for awhile. It was like I asked him to pose like that – sitting and enjoying the ocean breeze.
I was telling myself, “This is a damn good shot” How can you miss with a pose like that.
I like using the ring to set the exposure compensation. With the Nikon Z9 you can see it happen right in the viewfinder.
The ISO on the anteater was 2800. I used Topaz Denoise and it worked fine. It does a great job of removing noise most of the time.
Nikon Z9 with a 500 mm pf lens
F8, 1/640 sec, ISO 2800, Exposure Compensation +1.3
Manual Mode, Auto Focus Pattern wide-area small
This was the best shot I got from the eyelash viper shoot. Eduardo was using his hook to place the snake on the heliconia. I used content aware to remove the hook from the photo. I try to walk around the subject to get different angles and shading.
I recommend changing your position until you find something that works.
I had never really shot snakes before. I plan to do it again.
About photographing in the Costa Rica jungle
It’s hot. It’s sweaty. And it’s worth it.
I like the variety. Without the guides I would not have seen anything. I do not know how they drive and see things way up in a tree at the same time.
The same was true of the river guides. The boat driver would stop and say, “There is a boa in the tree.” How the hell did he see that. I look over and it looks just like a bee’s nest.
The Sierpe River is where I learned that toucans eat more than fruit. We heard a lot of noise up in a tree. We saw several great-tail grackles chasing a toucan. We saw that there were actually 2 toucans. One was distracting the grackles while the other stole a baby grackle from the nest.
It flew off and I was lucky enough to get a shot of the chick in its beak.
I thank the Z9 for that.
On Changing Positions:
We got a lot of shots of the Tiger Heron from right below the tree branch. Jose, the guide, suggested we move to the other side of the tree.
It popped. That was the place to be.
On Joe’s Horizon
Rookeries in New Jersey at Ocean City and Cape May (great egrets, white ibis, night herons)
Machias Seal Island for puffin
Alaska for Grizzlies
Norway for Northern Lights
We are off to South Texas next for two bird workshops at Laguna Seca and Santa Clara Ranch. After that we are headed to to Southern Spain with Strabo Photo Tours – space still available.
We will add another trip to Costa Rica in April 2024 and have a similar workshop in 2023 in the cloud forest of Ecuador, click here to learn more.
Enjoy your spring and thanks for reading our posts!
We just returned from the rain forest of Costa Rica after two successful photo tours. We had a wonderful experience amongst the monkeys, macaws and three-toed sloths. We will be heading back in 2024. , If you would like to join us, click here and ask to be on the interest list.
Click on this link to see the trip report images and read about our adventures in Costa Rica
We had some spectacular aurora this year for our Northern Lights Workshop in Fairbanks. You can read all about it in our illustrated trip report. Click here to see the report.
What’s next: we are headed to Sicily for the next few weeks with Strabo Photo Tours. If you are looking for a warmer destination, consider joining us in Southern Spain for warm weather, flamenco dancing, beautiful Moorish palaces and laughs all around. Four spaces available Southern Spain Workshop on May 13-25, 2022.
Check out our listings for domestic 2024 Workshops, more international trips coming soon.
At Tom Bol Photo Workshops, we celebrate great images created on our workshops by selecting a Photo of the Month. For March we chose an image from a dog sled photoshoot on our Fairbanks Northern Lights Workshop created by Jerry Bush. We hope you enjoy Jerry’s images as much as we do!
Congratulations to March 2022 ‘s featured photographer – Jerry Bush
The Story …
It has to start with our location. We were in the right spot thanks to Tom and Cree.
It was a beautiful spot. My goal was to get shots of the full sled first, and then get close up action shots of the dogs. Fortunately we had four different chances to photograph the dogs running by.
The first time around I just focused on getting the full dog team and the musher in the elements – the snow and the trees in the background.
When I went for the close up shots I didn’t see the tongues when I was photographing. I noticed the tongues were wagging all over the place when I went back through the images later. Even the dogs in the back had tongues wagging.
Sometimes I struggle with finding the best image when I have hundreds to choose from. I use the grid view in Lightroom and bring the images up to a very large size. I go through them quickly the first time and use the X key to reject the images that are not in focus.
I use the compare mode after that and think about what I was trying to accomplish. Wow, I wasn’t shooting for a tongue shot – but there it is.
On the action shot there wasn’t much editing needed. I brought the highlights down and adjusted the exposure a bit for the snow. On my full sled image I brought down the saturation in the background to give it an aged look. I also cropped more than in the first image.
Sony A7 R4 with a 70-200 mm lens at 200 mm
F3.5, 1/1250 sec, ISO 400
About photographing in Alaska in the winter
I absolutely loved it. When Deb picked me up at the airport, I am sure she was ready for me to stop talking about it by the time we got home.
It’s beautiful. It’s unique. If you don’t go to Alaska, you just don’t see that kind of environment.
It was cold. Fortunately it was not as cold as it usually is in Fairbanks. There were times it was so cold that it was hard for me to feel the controls on the camera.
It is interesting shooting with so much snow in the frame. The camera makes adjustments to middle grays because of all the snow. You have to tweak the exposure in the images to accommodate for that.
Between the dogs, the ice carving and of course, the aurora, the variety was awesome. I love everything about Alaska.
Jerry’stips for photographing dog sledding:
1) It is all about capturing the face. At our first dog sled shoot, I cut off ears and paws in the frames – and they were throw aways. I’m a dog lover and I learned it is all about showing the dog’s face.
2) In your action shots, look for open mouths. Teeth and tongues make really interesting shots.
3) Look for dogs that are posing. If they are just sitting there, it will not be as interesting. Dogs are natural posers. Look for a face that is bending over a fence or a dog that is jumping up. Get them to do something.
4) I learned that a low perspective is so important. It’s a perspective that you don’t see that often. On Day 1 I saw Tom shooting on his stomach. After that I did the same thing.
On Jerry’s Horizon
Olympic National Park
Interested in photographing northern lights? We have two trips to Lofoten, Norway in the next 12 months with chances of seeing northern light on both: September 11-18, 2022 (for warmer temps) and February 18-25 (for hardy folks)
We are both off to Sicily, Italy for a few weeks with Strabo Photo Tours. We look forward to photographing rustic coastal villages and eating plenty of cannolis on the largest island on the Mediterranean Sea. We have space on our May trip to Southern Spain if you would like to join us in Europe this year.
Enjoy your early spring and thanks for reading our posts!
At Tom Bol Photo Workshops, we celebrate great images created on our workshops by selecting a Photo of the Month. For February, we chose an image from Death Valley National Park created by Mike Foxworthy. We hope you enjoy Mike’s images as much as we do!
Congratulations to February 2022 ‘s featured photographer – Mike Foxworthy
The Story …
My first impression when I arrived at the Borax Works was that it was going to be a challenge. At first, I was not that impressed, especially when I saw the fence.
I walked around it and started looking at the details. I asked myself, ” How can I shoot something unique?”
I got more into it as I photographed it. I started looking at it in a different way. I noticed the details and the workmanship. Those wheels were built with rivets and without the use of modern tools. I started photographing the textures and I found them so interesting.
I started by photographing the wagon straight on. I found the spokes to be really interesting because it had so many details. The nut was rusty and there was interesting contrast with the wood.
Then I wanted to give it some depth of field and a different look. I thought the wheels were the star of the show. They are the work horses of a wagon. I could imagine them going through the rough roads coming out west.
When you look down the row of wheels, you can see that the wheels aren’t the same size. Some are large, some are small. I found the shot to be challenging because I wanted to show the details in all of the wheels.
I chose to do a focus stack at F11. I created 4 images at F11 and put them together in PhotoShop. I often use this technique for landscapes when I want to capture the details throughout the scene.
I ended up cropping the image and burning a bit on the bottom. The mountains on the right were a bit bright so I burned them as well.
I gave it an Old West flavor by using a profile in the editing process. I kept playing with them until I found one I really liked.
Nikon D850 with a 70-200 mm lens at 70 mm
F11, 1/60 sec, ISO 64, Exp Comp -0.3
About photographing at Death Valley National Park
I loved it. It gives you a variety of photographic subjects. I was glad that Tom revised our schedule to take advantage of the dunes without footsteps after the wind storm.
I enjoyed the sand dunes the most. I loved the textures. I could have shot them all trip long – as long as they were not trampled on.
Mike’stips for photographing historical structures:
1) I recommend looking at it from afar first and then moving in to see the micro details. Walk around it. Do a 360′ and maybe do it a couple of times. Look at it from different angles. The Union Pacific train gave us an opportunity to shoot through the windows.
2) Just shooting a rivet can be a dramatic shot. You can frame it and put it on the wall.
On Mike’s Horizon
Milan, Venice and Florence in Apri
Olympic National Park
Coming soon: Tom will be presenting online to 800 members of the Maryland Photography Alliance tonight. Maybe we will see you there! Also, this might be a good time to check our listings for 2023 and 2024 as workshops are already filling….
We are both off to Fairbanks for two Northern LightsWorkshops. We will be out of the office and checking messages on the road. Hopefully we will get a few magnetic storms to light up the northern skies!
Enjoy your winter and thanks for reading our posts!
Just back from a terrific workshop in Death Valley National Park. Right before the workshop began, two days of wind wiped the sand dunes clean….the only footprints we saw were from a fox the night before. Click here to see the report.
News update: with omicron numbers declining, more people are interested in traveling internationally. Our upcoming trip to Sicily in March is full, but we have space on our Spain Workshop in May. Two spaces just opened up for our Costa Rica Workshop on April 4-11, 2022.
We hope that 2022 is off to a great start and you are finding time to get outside and create photos!
We had such a wonderful time in Botswana and Zimbabwe last November that we are going back in November 2022. Click here to see the report.
Interested in joining us for this workshop in 2022? We have two spaces that have opened for November 11-22, 2022, click here to learn more.
News flash: we are leaving to scout Route 66 in Oklahoma this week. Our scouting trip to Louisiana in December was wonderful and we have space on our Louisiana Bayous and Birds Workshop in 2024, learn more. Finally, we have space available for our Fairbanks Northern Lights Workshop on February 27-March 5 and would be happy to take you on this bucket list trip, learn more.
We hope that 2022 is off to a great start for all of you!