American Goldfinch – Break Time

When I am trying to do some work on the van and a Goldfinch shows up I have to take a break and take some pictures. I have seen Goldfinches in the river bottom in Lethbridge. This one must have heard about the amazing food that we have and decided to do a road trip for lunch. Of course I had to sneak into the house to take some pictures. I always have the 150 – 600 Sigma ready to go on the 70D body. So I grabbed that set-up and shot off a few pictures before I had to get back to work.

He was a very cooperative subject and I got some great images. One question that I am asked about shooting birds in your backyard is how do I do it?

Do I have windows without screens on them?

Do I open windows to shoot?

Well it is yes and no. I try and remove the screen from the window and quietly open the window. But many times if I do that I scare the birds away. If they are at the back of the yard I will try and open the window. If they are close to the window I will shoot through the window. All these pictures are shot through the closed window. I do not shoot through the screen part of the window. Fortunately for me half of the window is screen. The rest is glass. So I can shoot from any window and use the non glass part.

Goldfinch and House Finch
House Finch and GoldFinch
Why is there a Goldfinch on my branch??
Why is there a Goldfinch on my branch??
Those seeds look good
Those seeds look good

Learn how to get better images

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External Hard Drives – WARNING

I am a BIG advocate of using external hard drives to store your images and data. This is of course in addition to other back-up sources. Things such as DVD’s, extra external hard drives and additional computers.

External Hard Drives

New Drive

Recently I went out and bought another external hard drive. Picked up a Lacie to transfer all my nature pictures to. That way I would have them in one place and be able to take it with me when I am on the road without taking other files. Spent a Saturday night and part of Sunday transferring and organizing the new drive. I have several other Lacie drives as back-ups and have had no problems to date. Then I took the to the studio to download the files there.

I plugged the drive into one of the studio computers and watched as it said “New Drive Detected”, “Installing Hardware”, “New Device is now ready to use”. Then I clicked on My Computer to find that the device is not there. Tried a second computer then a third, all with the same results.

External Hard Drive
External Hard Drive

That not good

I was finally able to locate the drive through a couple of backdoor routes and found that the drive was running. But after a lot of research I found that even with the computer recognizing the drive it was not accessible. After looking into it I found out that it is the way the drive was set-up from the factory.

So a word of warning, if you have an external drive that you are using make sure that it is readable on other computers! You should do this ASAP!!! I would actually try several computers to make sure if your computer should die, or be upgraded, that the external drive is accessible.

Check your drives NOW!!!

Again as a word of warning, if you have an external drive check it on another computer ASAP to make sure that it can be read, before you need the drive to work and it doesn’t. This is one of those issues that if you find out when you have a computer problem it is too late!!!

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Image Stabilized Lenses – Gimic or Need

Image stabilized – yes or no??

I get asked a lot about the need for image stabilized lenses. Many people also want to know if a point and shoot camera should have image stabilization.  People want to know if it is needed to get good pictures or just a gimmick and if it is worth the money?

If you would have asked me years ago I would have said outright don’t waste your money. But as I get older and I push my photography limits I have to say that I do like it.

First a little background

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Lethbridge Journal Article

Lethbridge Journal Article

A number of years ago The Lethbridge Journal did an article on my teaching. Click here for a large size to read.

I am always amazed at how many people are shocked to know they can take a course on photography. Years ago the only place that you could get a course was at a university or a college. I was the first private teacher in southern Alberta. A couple of my students said that I was the only one they knew about in western Canada. It seems strange looking at the teachers of today, everyone is a teacher. If a photographer has shot a couple images they will offer to teach. When I started I was so nervous as I did not know what I would teach. Back then I taught how to shoot film and two hours was a lot of time. Now two hours can barely touch even a simple digital camera.

Lethbridge Journal Article
Lethbridge Journal Article

About my courses

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Camera Cards

Camera Cards – Are they archival?

Another thing that I am asked by a lot of people is “How archival are digital camera cards”? People wonder if they should fill up a camera card then store it and buy a new one. I was not sure so I contacted Sandisk and asked this question and the response is below.

Question:

How archival are your digital camera cards?

Answer:

Camera Cards
Some old camera cards that still work great!

Hello Mike, Thank you for contacting SanDisk Technical Support. It is our goal to make sure you have all the resources you need to get the most from your product. Let me assist you with your concern. The files/pictures can retain on the card for 10 years, without using the card again, meaning just for storing the card. If you are continuously using the card, like adding more and more pictures (when taking using the camera), please understand that there is no guarantee that those pictures will never going to be corrupted. Data corruptions on the card can happen any time on all storage device, (Cards, Flash drives, MP3 player, and including the Hard Disk drive). Should you have further concerns, please do not hesitate to reply to this message. Best regards, SanDisk Technical Support

So I would say that it is still the best practice to get the images off the cards. Shot, download then back-up and reformat the card. If you do want to keep the image on the cards I would still download and back-up. Then store the cards in a safe place like a safety deposit box or at a friends house.

Camera Cards Archival?

The biggest issue with digital media, unlike film, is that it does not fade. It just corrupts! So if you take a card out in ten years and it is damaged that is it.

Be Safe…. PRINT!

I still say that the best way in addition to backing up your images is to print them. When they are printed you are not relying on technology to keep your images viable. I scan more prints than I do negatives or slides as people can find their prints. It is not perfect but it is better to have something to look back on even if it is fading a little.

Printing services

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Ice Fishing

Ice fishing, another way to pass the winter!

I have never been ice fishing. But if I was to go it would be inside one of these amazing huts! Truth be told I am not big into fishing even in warm weather. In my books stopping at a grocery store to pick-up your fish is easier and more enjoyable. But that is me.

Ice fishing hut, not your grandfather's hut
Ice fishing hut, not your grandfather’s hut
Tracks of all types
Tracks of all types

Getting out!

This past weekend with the slight break in the frigid temperatures I decided that I would head out. I wanted to see what I could find worth taking pictures of. There was a lot to shoot. It was not what I was expecting but there was a lot!

My first stop was at McQuillan Reservoir. In a very short walk I found a number of subjects to photograph. From the ice fishing tents, the animal tracks to some rabbits and a few birds it was a fun day. Cannot say that I got to walk very far as the slight breeze that was blowing was enough to make it painful to stay out. But with so many subjects to photograph I had to take pictures. It is also funny how after a number of days of clouds that a day of even a little sun makes being outside enjoyable.

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