Welcome to my monthly newsletter - July 2009

Greetings,

Welcome to my new and freshly-designed newsletter. I would like to thank you all for the positive compliments, encouragements and wishes from my June, 2009 newsletter. July’s edition is full of information as well.

Enjoy the images and information.

Let’s begin with a question from Allan Rube - http://www.allanrube.com/

Question: Hi Maxis. I like the way you hold the long lenses as shown in your latest newsletter. When you use a Wimberley head do you have the arm to the right of the lens? I ask because almost everyone I know has the arm on the left. But if you do it on the left it seems hard to put your left arm under the lens.

Thanks.

Answer: Hi Allan. First, I would like to thank you for reading my newsletter. You bring an excellent point, yes! I use the Wimberley head knob/arm to the RIGHT side of the lens. I find very difficult to acquire my target (bird) positioning the knob/arm to the left side of the lens. Remember we want to pan as smooth as possible and prevent any resistance. By "clearing" the way, my left arm can work smoothly and without any obstacle.

Like you, I often see folks with the knob/arm to the left side of the lens. I've seen some folks holding the knob/arm while panning....Bad, bad!! Naturally, you would think it make sense but in all reality, you are creating an obstacle and resistance to your panning. At first, this will take some time to get used to but after few sessions and some practice, you will be fine. The key is to position the knob/arm to the RIGHT every time you are in the field.

I hope this answer your question. If you still have questions, feel free to ask. During my workshops, I cover extensively all about panning from your tripod or handheld.

Got a question? Feel free to ask. Email me your question and help others!!


Handheld Panning Technique - Field Technique

Maxis Gamez | www.gvisions.org
Canon 400mm f/5.6 L lens with 40D

In the above picture, you can clearly see how I set my 400mm L f/5.6 lens tripod ring (A). The reason I do this, is to balance my camera and lens with my left hand. Remember, we want to pan as smooth as possible but at the same time, we need to be able to balance both.



Canon 400mm f/5.6 L lens with 40D

In the above image, you can see the reason why I rotate the lens tripod ring to the left side of the lens. Notice how I hold the lens with my thumb and fingers. This helps me balance the camera and lens preventing any extra unwanted movement. This is true for ANY lens with a tripod ring. I also do the same with the Canon 70-200mm L lens. Few other tips to consider:

  1. Use your tripod ring as support to balance your camera and lens (A).

  2. Keep your elbow firmly close to your body (B), this will allow you to have extra support and will also help you pan for a longer period of time.

  3. Apply pressure to your camera's viewfinder with your forehead (C). This will help you aim for your subject.

  4. Before you start shooting away, pay close attention to your background from any distractions. I like to keep my background clean from anything that can take away from my subject.

  5. Another important factor to remember is the wind... why? because birds like to land facing the wing. The ideal condition would be to have the sun and wind coming from behind you. Lastly, timing is everything.

  6. Here are few images I was able to capture using my technique.

Sandhill Crane Landing | Maxis Gamez | www.gvisions.org
Sandhill Crane Landing - S.W Florida
Canon 40D, 500mm L @ f/5.6, 1/800 sec, ISO 400, manual exposure, handheld, almost full frame.

Sandhill Crane Landing | Maxis Gamez | www.gvisions.org
Sandhill Crane Landing - S.W Florida
Canon 40D, 500mm L @ f/5.6, 1/1600 sec, ISO 400, manual exposure, handheld, almost full frame.

Least Tern in flight | Maxis Gamez | www.gvisions.org
Least Tern in flight - S.W Florida
Canon 40D, 400mm L @ f/8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 200, manual exposure, handheld, almost full frame.

Osprey landing with fish
Osprey landing with fish - S.W Florida
Canon 40D, 400mm L @ f/8, 1/1600 sec, ISO 400, manual exposure, handheld, almost full frame.

Brown Pelican Landing
Brown Pelican landing - S.W Florida
Canon 30D, 400mm L @ f/5.6, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, manual exposure, handheld, almost full frame.

As you can see, panning requires a technique but with a some practice, you too can start capturing great images. During my private classes and workshops, I explain exactly how I successfully apply my panning techniques in the field.

Camera and Lens Settings For Birds in Flight - Equipment Tutorial

It's important to set you camera and lens the right way to help you capture wonderful images of birds in flight. I'm going to share with you some of my settings.

DIGITAL SLR:

  1. Make sure your camera is set to AI Servo (Canon) or continuous focusing. This will allow you to track your subject in flight and while you pan.
  2. 90% of the time, I have my Canon 40D set to the center focusing point. This allows my focusing system to concentrate in ONE focusing point.

LENS:

  1. If your lens have a focal distance settings, make sure you don't allow your lens to travel from the closes focal point (often named Macro) to infinity. The reason you want to change this setting, is because the lens will take a LOT longer to travel from macro to infinity.
  2. Set your lens to whatever focal distance available BUT MACRO to infinity. This will allow your lens to travel and find your bird in flight a lot faster!

Bumping Your Focusing System - Field Technique

Black Skimmers Fight
Bumping your focusing system - Birds in flight by Maxis Gamez.

This is a technique I developed with my own experience over the years. The diagram explains how I track, pan and wait for the perfect moment to photograph birds in flight. This will take some practice but at least you have something to guide yourself with. When I stared bird photography, I didn't have anyone to help me, so I had to try different techniques. I find this technique to work the best.

If you have any questions about my "Bumping" technique, feel free to ask.

During my workshops I explain in detail how I apply this technique in the field.


When Low is Too Low! - Field Technique

Long billed Curlew
Image 1 - Long-billed Curlew - S.W Florida
Canon 40D, 500mm L @ f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, ISO 400, Manual mode, Tripod

Long-billed Curlew
Image 2 - Long-billed Curlew - S.W Florida
Canon 40D, 500mm L @ f/8, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, Manual mode, Tripod


How many times have someone suggested you to photograph birds at a low angle? Many times.... While this is something I also recommend, we have to pay close attention to the foreground. At times, the foreground could be a HUGE distraction if we don't learn how to see it and eliminated. We have to learn when to photograph at a higher level.

I was lucky to be able to photograph this Long-billed Curlew for two straight days. The first day, I was so exited to photograph a Curlew for the first time that I really screwed up! why? I was too low!

I'm very critical with my images and I was very disappointed because I didn't recognize "When low is too low" I deleted ALL of my images from that day to the exception of IMAGE 1. I saved it so I can teach others. Notice how the foreground hurts the image by acting as a huge distraction in front of the Curlew. In addition, notice how you can't see the feet. Do you agree??

The following day, I was able to photograph the same Curlew at a slightly higher angle allowing the Curlew to "breath" a little more. The elegant pose and breakfast (crab) works very well. Which one do you like best?? I personally like IMAGE 2 with NO distractions.

I recently told a good friend of mine, "a distraction is just that..... a distraction". Whether is a flower, shell, stick or a feather. No matter what it is, a distraction will always be that. You could be asking yourself, when is NOT a distraction? The answer is simple, habitat elements should enhance your images, not hurt them. Your habitat should not PULL your eyes from your subject.

Announcing My New Bird Photography Gallery

Maxis's Gamez Galleries

I've been working on this project for a while now. The new gallery is very elegant, simple and most importantly easy to manage. Feel free to visit the gallery. Follow this link. http://www.gvisions.org/avian/index.html

Affordable Bird Photography Workshops Updates:

Bosque del Apache, New Mexico - December 2, 3 and 4, 2009.
After 3 weeks of announcing my Affordable workshops, Bosque del Apache workshop is now SOLD OUT!! Limited to 4 participants, my workshops are the perfect opportunity to truly learn. I'm currently accepting reservations for Bosque del Apache 2010. Contact me if you have any questions.

White Pelicans Workshop - January 9-10 AND 30-31, 2010
This is a great opportunity to photography White Pelicans up close and personal. I often use my 70-200mm lens to get full frame shots! This workshop is expected to fill fast. Contact me if you have any questions.

Last Frames - Happy 4th of July!

4th of July
4th of July Fireworks Celebration - S.W Florida
Canon 40D, 24-105mm L @ 40mm - f/5.6, 15 sec, ISO 100, Manual exposure, Tripod, Full frame

4th of July
4th of July Fireworks Celebration - S.W Florida
Canon 40D, 24-105mm L @ 70mm - f/11, 29 sec, ISO 100, Manual exposure, Tripod, Full frame

In August's edition....

  • A cool trick on how to set your camera for Silhouettes - Field Technique
  • How and when to use extension tubes - Equipment tutorial
  • How to capture the perfect pose! - Field Technique
  • Future EXHIBITS and much more....

I hope you find July's edition useful. Please email me your questions by simply replying to this email.
Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon!

Sincerely,

Maxis Gamez
941.623.5155
maxisgamez@gmail.com
www.gvisions.org

All images contained within this email are Copyrighted by the author Maxis Gamez. All rights reserved.
Copying, reproduction, or distribution of these images in any manner is protected by United States of America Copyright laws and International Copyright laws and is strictly prohibited. Thank you.
www.gvisions.org | maxisgamez@gmail.com | 941.623.5155