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 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!
We just finished two wonderful workshops in New Mexico at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge and White Sands National Park. Click here to see the report
Interested in joining us for this workshop in 2023? We just added another session for November 29-December 3 in 2023, click here to learn more.
News flash: we will be scouting several new trips in January including Louisiana Swamps, Route 66 in Oklahoma and Big Bend National Park. Let us know if you would like to be on the Interest List for any of these trips.
Tom and Cree Bol like to celebrate the great images created by their photo community by selecting a Photograph of the Month. For November we chose an image of a Sandhill Crane at the Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge created by Riley Brissey . We hope you enjoy Riley’s images as much as we do!
Congratulations to November 2021 ‘s featured photographer – Riley Brissey
The Story …
This was day one in Bosque. That evening we had crazy clouds. The whole time we were there cranes were flying in from the left and the right. They never stopped.
Most of the people were photographing birds in flight. I felt like I should be doing the same. I kept looking at the reflections in the water and was thinking how beautiful it was. I wanted to get something in there too.
I started focusing on the water. I was sitting in the grass beside the road, looking for a cool pose or something really neat that would be worthy of putting on the wall.
This crane was a bit further away, probably 12 yards from me. I saw it walking towards the golden light of the reflected clouds and knew I needed to get ready. I was also watching several other cranes and their position. This was the one that was right where I wanted it.
I lowered my exposure to keep the red channel from blowing out. Tom had mentioned this earlier. Because it was a moving subject I kept my shutter speed relatively high for the light conditions. I always like to shoot birds at wide open apertures and I just let the auto ISO do its thing…..
Nikon D850 with a Nikon 500mm PF lens
F5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO 2000, exposure comp of -1
Manual mode with auto ISO
About photographing on at Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico
It is a very interesting place. The way the refuge managers have handled the drought is great. They adapted to the conditions this year and still kept it a beautiful place to photograph. They gave the cranes new places to feed and roost.
If you go there any other time of the year, it would not look nearly as beautiful. I came back to Washington after the sunshine in Bosque and it was cloudy and forecast to rain for the next week and a half.
Riley’stips for photographing Sandhill Cranes:
All these things I managed to catch came down to being observant. Blink and you miss it.
On the first morning, I missed the mating dance of two cranes in good light. I was looking to the right and completely missed it.
Keep an eye out all of the time. Put the camera down and look around. There’s only so much you can see from the viewfinder.
Be really attentive and observant of the moment.
On Riley’s Horizon
Lake Tekapo in New Zealand. I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan
Backpacking in Germany
Ready for a bucket list photo adventure in the United States? We have a few spaces open for our Northern Light in Fairbanks Workshop. Click here for more info.
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 Cree celebrate the great images created by their community of photographers by selecting a Photograph of the Month. For August we selected a brown bear image created by Teri Manchen on our Brown Bear Safari . We hope you enjoy Teri’s images as much as we do!
Congratulations to August 2021 ‘s featured photographer – Teri Manchen
The Story …
At first the mother bear was really far away. She started coming closer to us and I was excited to get the shot. I wished her cubs were in the image too. The were down at the end of a cove and then they walked right past us.
I was happy with the bear and the fish. The fish was on the ground and it was hard to tell if it was still alive. I liked how it lined up with the bear perfectly.
I was not afraid of the bear. I had done the same trip two years ago and had the same experience of getting close to grizzly bears. I was pretty calm. I just wanted to get the shot.
The last time I went to Katmai, I used aperture priority as my preferred shooting mode. This time I shot in manual mode to make sure my shutter speeds were high enough. This was also the first time I used auto ISO on Tom’s recommendation. It was exciting and it really works. Now I will use it a lot.
Nikon D5 with 200-500 Nikon zoom lens at 480mm
Manual mode with auto ISO F11, 1/2000 sec
Teri’stips for photographing brown bears:
Don’t be scared. You will get closer to the bears than you imagine. The first time I photographed brown bears was at Silver Salmon Creek. I was a tad afraid. We were in a buggy and a blond bear started chasing the cart. I was in the very back of the buggy closest to the bear. That experience was a bit nerve wracking. Now I realize that I can be close to bears and not worry when I’m photographing.
About Katmai National Park
I loved every part of Katmai National Park. You can’t imagine that you can walk so closely alongside the bears. It’s unreal. I liked looking for bears and finding them around almost bend of a creek.
The day when we saw 22 bears in one 360 view was amazing. We also had wonderful weather. We never had to put on our raincoats.
On Teri’s Horizon
Ouray, Colorado for fall color
Bucket list: Antarctica
There is one space left on a bear workshop for 2022 . Click here to read more . Our 2022 schedule is getting full, but we have openings for 2023. For our full schedule Click Here
We plan to post a new Ecuador Hummingbirds Workshop soon. Join the interest list