Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

These beautiful birds are here for one purpose, to survive.  Unfortunately not all are making it.  For those of us who do not live in the Duluth area Sam Cook has been a great source of regular information.  This is a link to one of his recent columns and I would encourage you to read his earlier columns as well.
Boreal Owls Dying 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Boreal Owl Yawning

This owl seems to be yawning. When seen with its other behaviors of stretching and preening the owl appears to be waking up.

Technical: frame pulled from video, ISO about 5000, 1/60 sec.,f 5.6.  WB corrected in Lightroom

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Boreal Owl Preening in Forest -Raw footage from Dale Bohlke on Vimeo.

The challenge of an irruption is to find an owl in natural habitat, doing what it normally does.  I found this guy in the woods late one afternoon and recorded it while it went through its wake up routine.  This unedited footage, with its flaws, is one of 30 video files currently being arranged into story form.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Boreal Owl

I spent some time with this guy over the weekend.  The temptation was to fill the frame but after the first question asked by my wife was, "How big is it?", I decided to show it in context to demonstrate how small the owl actually is.  The owl was deep in the trees and woke up as it became darker.  Technical: ISO 1600, focal length 275 mm

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Red-bellied Woodpecker in the Snow

I recorded this bouncing red dot during the snowfall last weekend while snow blowers were hard at work.  One of the common problems recording video is the sound at the time the action is recorded.  A recent example is the PBS Nature show this week documenting wolves and bison in Canada.  Most of the footage was shot from a helicopter, however the sounds on screen were as if you were on the ground with the animals.  This is an interesting piece on the how natural sounds are made in the studio.  Holey Foley.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Diary of an Image

This image has an interesting history.
2002 - first year of sitting in a blind to get sharp-tails on the lek, no usable images
2003-2005 - at least two days per year, 3 hours per day. no usable images.
2006 - best year for activity on lek. this image along with several fight shots recorded
2006 - image scanned and donated for use in wildlife education
2012 - request for use, fee negotiated
2013 - publication

Several lessons were learned from this image.

  • I'm glad I kept my day job, the use fee will buy a tank of gas and lunch at McDonald's
  • Donation made it possible for a PR agency to view the image
  • A simple image may not be simple to obtain
  • To clone the blade of grass or not: I left the grass as is opting for a photojournalist approach.
  • The best part of this image is the memory of the morning it was taken.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Action High and Low

Sometimes the action below our feeder is entertaining.  A pair of voles have been enjoying winter with the cast off food from chickadees feeding above them.  The chickadees search for their favorite morsels, tossing the rest on the ground, much to the delight of the voles.  They are incredibly sensitive to camera sounds, auto focus and shutter sounds send them under the snow in less than a quarter second.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


So what's with all this blurry photography?   As hard as I try the Monticello feeding station is an auditory nightmare for me.  I can rarely recognize a melody and can't carry a beat so there is something else going on.  I recently watched a video that recommended capturing emotion instead of information.  Another quote talks about an image reflecting the person behind the lens.  Each is a good explanation for the recent posts.   A fantastic video that talks about capturing emotion in photography is: : The Art Of Travel Photography .  It's about 45 minutes long but one of the best nature photographylectures I've seen in a long time.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Subject

Continuing my musings from Monticello. We have all seen the iconic swan flap, what else are the swans doing?  Overhead flight against a blue sky, maybe worth a shot or two.  How about making flight the subject, not the birds?  This image is about flight, speed, motion, movement, and direction.  Technical: 1/5 second shutter speed.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lost Goose

A recent stop in Monticello was overwhelming with hundreds of birds milling about waiting to be fed.  How can a bird be isolated in this mass of movement and sound?  How can the  movement and chaos surrounding a subject be shown?

Several titles were considered for this image.  Is the goose lost, lonely, alone,  or wandering through the crowd?  Perhaps it symbolizes a photographer observing the world.   Is it a country boy in the city?  Sunday morning ruminations.

Technical:  3 stop ND filter to allow slow shutter speed (1/10 second), 100-400 mm lens zoomed in during the exposure.  Cropped to move subject off center.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Second Shot

The first decision is choosing the subject.  This is the most important decision in photography, a carefully considered decision can immensely improve the quality of your work. The second decision is easy.  Do you shoot a vertical or horizontal frame?  Shoot both and decide later which one works best.  When shooting wildlife there is an indeterminate length of time with the subject.  Shoot, shoot, shoot, and review later.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Breaking Rules

In preparation for March classes I'm reviewing the rules of photography.  Frequently rules are called guidelines, occasionally they are called unimportant.  We all know of exceptional images that break the "rules".  Those images are like the news we watch on TV each day, the vast majority of good stories do not make the news.  Take images that follow the longstanding rules, then take the other images.  Shoot, shoot, shoot, and review your shots at your leisure to see which composition best communicates your story.  Technical: Rule of thirds followed.  Image shot at noon, rule against shooting at midday broken.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Grosbeaks at Feeder

Back to the feeders for some action.  This feeder on Blue Spruce Road, east of Meadowlands, is a prime viewing spot for both evening and pine grosbeaks.  Photography is a little tough for the purist in nature photography with the birds either being on the feeders or high in the surrounding spruce trees.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Swans on Parade

Whether an intimate family portrait or a large group moving up river to the daily feeding, these birds are fascinating.  Something about the white on white never stops intriguing me.  The raucous off key trumpeting of a few hundred band members does nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for these birds.  Technical: frame taken from video recording.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


I'm not sure why swans fascinate me.  Is it the purity of color, the intricate textures of the feathers?  Perhaps its the graceful lines of their neck? Maybe is it because they are a symbol that humans can correct their mistakes and bring a species back from near extinction.  This family was enjoying the sunrise on the Mississippi River.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Power of One

I briefly stopped in Monticello during the swan feeding since I didn't have the ambition to get -18 degree steam shots earlier in the morning.  The visit reminded me of Shirley and her single minded purpose to feed the swans.  I looked to my left and realized Jim Brandenburg was photographing the swans, a photographer who changed the world with his one shot a day project.  Although this link is for an international organization, I think each of us can make a difference.