Downy Woodpecker


A tremendous greeting to you all, welcome to the post. My name is Michael Sargent, and you are reading my blog. what’s snapping folks? As always I have a few things to get to, so let me get started. First up, I want to share a small trailer with you. If you hadn’t guessed yet, I am a nut for photography. I find that spending time, with my camera in tow is a great way to relieve stress as I stroll through the woods in search of  that next shot. So here is what we have going on. Friends and some family have been encouraging me to put together a show regarding, what else? Photography. We all have seen shows regarding the topic come and go, and they have one thing in common. The hosts are usually stale and boring, and this leads to the cancellation of the program. Well, based on reaction to my shoots, I have been told several times that I have the chops to make the subject interesting to them. Could this be the future for Michael Sargent and M. Sargent Photography? Time will tell.  http://youtu.be/ksuffzWRoCw

On to the subject of the photo. For quite some time now I have had a fascination with woodpeckers. Here in Western New York we have several species, and I have taken the time to learn the sounds each specie makes, and am able to identify the bird by sight. From the Downy to the often heard by rarely seen pileated. Todays shot is regarding the downy. I snapped this shot on a bitterly cold day , at

downy at suet basket

my home in NY. During the winter months I keep the feeders, and suet baskets filled as I enjoy watching the antics of these incredible creatures. The shot sets up like this, canon camera, with an iso of 400, and a speed of 1/500 of a second. My aperture was set at f-8 at a range of 270mm. The lens used was a Tamron 18-270, and to be noted, I love that lens.

Although I could have used a super zoom at a greater distance, these visitors have become used to my presence, and they allow me to get closer proving the old adage, “The greatest zoom lens will always be your feet”. Thanks for reading and I am looking forward to your comments and thoughts regarding this post.

My best ,

Mike

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Time to accept some Awards


Greetings,

I have a lot to get to. Today, I am going to share with you,what will be the most personal insight  into the life of one very conservative country boy, who happens to have a real love for practicing photography. Just to note, this post was very difficult for me to complete. Those who know me personally, know that I have been busting my hump for years. Because of this, my passions run very deep. Photography is one of those passions, and as you read more of this post, I hope you will be able to understand my commitment to the practice of it.

So let us dive right in. Two years ago, on the advice of a very close colleague, I applied for membership to the New York State Outdoor Writers Association . (The link is here if you are interested in learning more about this prestigious group.) I was accepted into this prestigious organization and I can state that it has been a very positive experience on all fronts. One of the many events that the NYSOWA  holds each year is an excellence in crafts contest. This year I had decided to enter the Janice Kessler memorial photography contest. Very surprised I received notification that I had won an award/awards for the photos I submitted. Considering the company I was in, I felt very honored to be receiving such acknowledgement.

Now this brings up a very tough choice. The awards banquet was being held on October 15th. This date happens to be the opening of another passion I hold dear to my heart. The opening of the Archery Season. I had in fact decided to attend the banquet, so I could receive the awards, in person, and meet some of the incredible people who I was competing against.

AH. the best laid plans of Mice and Men. The plan, Leave my home and travel 4 hours to Johnstown, New York, and return home later that night. As I went through the motions, of shaving, and making myself award worthy, My thoughts focused on a possible acceptance speech. Now this is where the walls come crashing down. Without going into too much detail, some comments were made in my home regarding the event. If you know me, you are aware of my ability to grind things out and do whatever I can do to be successful. You would also know that with out the support of your family, it makes your efforts pointless.This is what I was faced with. Although my perception, it was clear to me, that my accomplishment only meant something to me. So right away, my mindset had changed and I went from being very proud of what I had accomplished to being very dejected. So in summary, I did not attend the banquet and it was due to my state of mind. As I said earlier my passions run deep, and when those passions are criticized, I, like most take it to heart. Now that I have shared this with you, let me tell you how I did in the contest. The first photo was in the outdoor recreation category. This shot took second place ,

Outdoor Activity

and was taken on a snowy morning, in which my daughters enjoyed playing in the snow. I decided to take the photo because of all the laughter that was taking place, and felt that the shot captured the enjoyment they were experiencing.

This next photo was also a second place photo and was featured in the book, The Definitive Whitetail Deer Book. The title was by the author Dr. Randall Gilbert, and unlike most books on the whitetail, this one had my endorsement. Truly a unique book on the whitetail.

The photo, was taken as the sun was setting and offered me a unique background of blue sky with a mix of white clouds to add depth to the overall composition.

Full Draw

The next shot was represented in the wildlife category. Wildlife is a personal favorite for me, and as the previous two shots, this one was also a second place finisher.

Red tail Hawk

To capture this image, was no easy task. I had heard the hawk screeching from  a distance, and had taken my time in an attempt, to get close enough to his perch,so I could snap some decent photos. As I made my approach, this raptor, had spotted me almost immediately, but for some reason he chose to sit there on that power line tower, and scream to his heart’s content. Although he kept a watchful eye on me, I felt this raptor knew I was no threat to him as I moved in for the shot. A key element when photographing wildlife is the eye. I can’t stress how important it is, when snapping photos of wildlife, ensure that you are focused on the eye. Many photos have been rejected from print just because of this key point, a lesson learned several years ago.

Well folks sorry it took me two weeks to put this up. I am going to make a better effort to have a new post every Saturday. Hope you enjoyed the post as much as I enjoy writing it.

Michael.

The Honking Goose


A tremendous greeting to you, and welcome to my latest post. This week, I am going to write about a photo that for the most part is one that was shot while I was out trying to photograph bald eagles. Near my home in Western New York, is an area known as the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge. This area was chosen several years ago by New York State as a prime location for the restoration efforts for the bald eagle. For the record, based on what I have seen in the swamps, I would say that their efforts have proven successful, and although this shot is from quite a distance away, you can clearly tell that, this is a bald eagle.

Mature Bald Eagle

Although having seen the eagles flying about, I was never able to get a close up shot even when using a 500 mm zoom lens with a doubler attached. I did however on this day snap a shot that I was personally, very proud of. So let me to set the scene for you.  The area I was shooting in was off a main road, near one of the many scenic overlooks, in which motorists are able to view the migratory geese, as well as ducks, and blue herons. This overlook in particular was a nesting site for the bald eagles and my assumption was, If given the opportunity to capture one on film this would likely be the best location.

So as I wait for my chance, I had taken notice of several geese flying into the wetlands, and had decided that I would snap a few shots of them coming in. This decision proved to be a good one on my part, as this image was captured on a day meant for eagles.  What really made this shot appeal to me was the fact that the goose was  in flight and honking when he made his approach to the water. Photographing birds in flight

Goose in flight

requires a very fast shutter speed , and the combination I was using that day proved to be effective in capturing this shot. As normal my camera of choice was my  Canon, and I was using the Sigma 100 mm to 500 mm super zoom lens. My f-stop was set at 10 with an iso setting of 400. The focal range was 450 mm and my shutter speed was set at 1/1000 of a second. This goose was around 75 yards away from me when I snapped the shot off-hand, although I would highly recommend using a quality tripod , when shooting birds in flight because of the stabilization and control they offer

 I truly hope you enjoy the photos, and the writings regarding the shots contained within this post. Until next week I bid you farewell and I look forward to reading your comments.

Respectfully submitted,

Michael Sargent

M.Sargent Photography

Shocked


As always a tremendous greeting to you, and welcome to my latest post. Today I want to share with you what is probably my all time favorite photo, and it is not my favorite because of the picture itself, but more because of how it was shot.
Please allow me to lay this out for you. While out on a picture safari one afternoon, I found myself a little frustrated by the factors contributing to the shooting environment. The lighting wasn’t great, the wind was blowing and the animal activity was at a minimum. Not seeing much movement from my wildlife subjects, I made the decision to slap on a pair of water proof boots and go by foot into the brush and  swamp in an attempt to salvage the day. Now mind you, the area I was in was wetlands, and I had anticipated emerging from the swamps with a wet backside and a chill, but, I figured if I came out with a few shots, it would be worth my efforts. Several hours had passed and my frustration levels were starting to reach their boiling point, As I continued to push through the brushy wetlands, and still no photos. I had now arrived at the point were the decision was made to exit the swamp and scrap the idea of capturing anything today.

The Archangel Duck

So as I began making my way back to my truck, I started to fiddle with my camera, and had some thoughts about what to do with the rest of my day. Then this happened. I turned to look at the last pond before making my way out to the road when all of a sudden to my shock this duck sprung up right in front of me, and my instincts took over. I had the camera up, focused, and the shutter pressed in a split second. This series of events had turned what was a frustrating day into a I cant wait to see this shot moment. My only fear was the position of the sun when this photo was shot and how it would affect the shot. As you can see by the photo my worries were unfounded,© and this one shot made the whole day with all its frustrations worth it.  I like to call this photo the Archangel Duck, and I suppose the reason why I do so is because of the position of the ducks wings, and the fact that after the day I was having, the opportunity to take this shot was given to me by a power I can not understand.

So let me give the specs on this photo, I was shooting with a Nikon Camera ( Yes, you read this correctly and let me be clear, this is not a typo) with a 200 mm zoom lens. My ISO setting was 400, the f-stop was 10 and the shutter speed was 1/800 of a second. I have to mention also that I broke the rules of photography with this shot. The lighting was harsh as I mentioned earlier, and I was facing the light when I snapped the shutter. As indicated by the shot, you can see that I also had some cloud cover, and in combination with a fast shutter speed, it made this shot possible.
I want to thank you for reading this post, and I look forwarded to your reactions, and comments.
Respectfully submitted,
Michael©