Category Archives: Articles

Topaz Photo AI

Photo AI is the newest Topaz plug-in, and it combines sharpening, noise reduction, and upscaling features in a single application that uses AI-based technology to deliver impressive results. In this presentation, I discuss the software and several use cases for how to incorporate it into your own photography workflow.

Topaz Photo AI is part of the Topaz Image Quality Bundle, which is available here.

Watch: Discovering Topaz Photo AI

Better Backgrounds for Your BIFs

The difference between a blue sky and a dynamic background in bird photos is amazing

Brown pelican on the southern California coast

Most of the time, when we photograph birds in flight, we simply capture an image of a bird against a blank blue sky. Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get a cloud or two in the background, too. If you can capture flying birds in front of an interesting background, your shots can be improved dramatically.

Southern California: The Perfect Coastal Backdrop for Bird Photography

Brandt’s cormorants near La Jolla, CA

The southern California coast is a great place to capture unique photographs of birds in flight. The high cliffs offer a vantage point where instead of pointing up into the sky, you can point down at the rocky shore below. The backgrounds can include waves, spray, and the coastline. These dynamic backgrounds make for interesting photographs that are so much more than just plain blue skies.

Join me to photograph birds in flight in San Diego, California, Jan 22-26, 2023.

Brown pelicans circling the beach near La Jolla, California

What’s the best frame rate for photographing birds in flight?

Is 20+ frames per second really necessary in wildlife photography?

Brandt’s cormorant on final approach, La Jolla, CA | Nikon Z9 + 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6S VR Z Nikkor

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Introduction

Wildlife photographers love mirrorless cameras because many of them offer incredibly fast frame capture rates. I recently got the new Nikon Z9 mirrorless camera, and one of its best features is its ability to shoot RAW at up to 20 frames per second (fps) with no viewfinder blackout. Other mirrorless cameras, like the Sony A1 and Canon R3 offer frame rates as high as 30 fps. The appeal of such fast burst rates for still photography is that these speeds increase the probability that you’ll capture a moment of peak action, or a dynamic animal pose.

The downside to capturing images at these high frame rates is the sheer volume of images you’ll end up with. Not only will you fill your memory cards faster, but you’ll also have to slog through hundreds or even thousands of shots in your triage/culling workflow. Another challenge with setting your camera to high-speed frame advance is that it becomes nearly impossible to fire off a single shot. Even with practice and good shutter release technique, once the camera is set to capture images at greater than 12 fps, shooting individual images is really difficult.

Obviously, there are certain subjects and situations that call for fast burst rates, and for most wildlife photographers, flying birds are most frequently that subject. In most wildlife photography scenarios, super-fast frame rates just lead to lots of redundant images. But when you’re trying to capture flying birds, high frame rates do offer an advantage.

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Utah Road Trip!

Exploring landscapes and the Milky Way in the Desert Southwest

Last week, I took a quick getaway to eastern Utah with my Image Doctors podcast partner, Rick Walker. Rick and I have been photographing together for years, and we had a fun opportunity to do some night photography in a dark sky location in Utah.

We packed up our gear and made the drive from Colorado Springs to Green River, Utah, where we spent the night. Our plan was to do some location scouting the next morning in Capitol Reef National Park, and then spending the night in a yurt at Goblin Valley State Park.

Capitol Reef National Park

The next morning , we made the 100 mile drive to Capitol Reef, which is a really underrated National Park. While there aren’t the majestic overlooks like you get in some of the other Utah parks, there’s tons of color and textures to be found within and among the rocks there. Conditions were a bit tricky that morning due to the spate of wildfires in California and Arizona, and we quickly realized by about 10am that we were going to be facing a very long day in 100+ degree temperatures if we just hung out until check-in time at Goblin Valley.

Rock formations at Capitol Reef National Park, UT.
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10 Years Photographing The Badlands

Sunrise at Door Trail, Badlands National Park

Celebrating 10 years of epic landscape photography in South Dakota

The first time I visited Badlands National Park, I was on a week-long photo tour with members of the Nikonians photographic community. It was 2005, and it was my first “real” photo experience with a digital camera, my brand-new Nikon D2x. I had two (!) 4GB memory cards in total, and I still remember the challenge of making the transition from film (fixed ISOs and slow shutter speeds) to digital.

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