A Few Minutes to Spare

Photographers in their spare time often just shoot pictures for the sake of practicing. Using different modes and or exploring the different metering settings and ISO settings can give you a great look into your camera and it’s capabilities. I took part in this practice last night and did some experimentation with high ISO settings and some spot metering. Ranging between 3200 and 6400 I wanted to see for myself just how much grain would be present by using these higher settings. To my delight I have to say that although some grain was present, I was pleased with my results on some very fast-moving targets.

Photo shot with ISO of 3200@1/500 of a second f5.6

Opting to use a spot focus and a fairly open aperture I achieved the goal of showing some motion but had a very sharp view of the hummingbirds eye. A must have when doing photos of wildlife. As you can see the grain that is present is minimal and overall is a good photo.

Shot 2

High shutter high ISO open Aperture

This photo was taken using an iso setting of 6400 and although it is not as sharp, it was good enough for explanation purposes.  I used light room to enhance the color and soften the shot slightly. Using a high shutter speed, I snapped before the photo was locked into focus and that is partly due to the subject. A while back I wrote a story for DSLR BLOGS called HIGH SPEED HUMMERS and mentioned that hummers are tough because of the high rate of speed in which they move at. I could spend hours trying to get that one perfect shot. Over time the birds will get used to your presence and it does get a little easier but they are by nature a skiddish creature.


This shot, it started to come together. I settled on Iso 6400 and used the shutter speed of 1/3000th of a sec. Bumping the aperture to 6.3  I was able to capture just a little more detail and clarity in this shot. As evident in this shot you can see how sharp the focus on the eye was, and as mentioned earlier, it cannot be stressed enough, the eye’s in wildlife photos is the most important factor when capturing an image. It’s the difference between a good shot and an average. Many will say that,” well the rest of the photo is not as sharp”. You can take my word on this, the people who make decisions on whats good in photography will discard your photo if that eye is not in focus. It will be the difference between publishing credits and a full trash can.

Last shot,

Pushy Male

of course is of a male, who seems to be the dominant bird of the day. As the hummers came in this guy was playing sentry and would chase the others away. As he left the post another would come in and sip the nectar. As he returned the others would exit before he had a oppurtunity to chase them off.  This shot once again focused on the eye, and the shutter speed was 1/500th of a second. By using the higher ISO settings I was able to employ a higher shutter speed and in turn this allowed me to step open my aperture to 5.6. Some motion exist in the photo from the wings beating, but what I failed to mention up to this point was the fact that these photos were all taken with almost no natural light. The sun had set and with just a few minutes to spare I took these photos at dark. Using the high ISO’s give the illusion that daylight still existed but for the most part, they were taken in the dark and no flash was used in the capture.

Gives you a pretty good idea of just how capable my 7d is. By experimenting with the settings and understanding how a camera see’s light you can push the limits of these bodies and break the rules of traditional photography.

Thanks for the read and hope you enjoyed.

Shoot the Light,





Those who follow and know me personally are well aware of one simply truth. I am passionate about my photography, and with that being said, I recently have been thinking along of the lines of “What inspires me” . I answered my own question with a revisit to a location that proved to be a photo that is one that has always created a great deal of buzz. The photograph at the top of my word press blog was affectionately given the name, “THE GRAND ISLAND BRIDGE”. This shot was originally taken last year during the month of November and it was used in a project known as “Silent Night, Nothings Right”. Although I was happy with the shot, I often regretted not having taken more photos at different angles. On friday evening we righted that wrong, and the MSP Team paid a visit to this iconic man-made structure as we shot the hell out of that bridge.

When we arrived on location I had a fairly good grasp of just how we were going to gain access to the area, and as suspected we were able to set up without any restrictions. Jim and Barb immediately started taken photos as we awaited for darkness to set in, and without getting all mushy, Jim and Barb have simply made me proud with their dedication to a practice in which I am so passionate about. They have excelled and now push me to greater heights because they have become so good at composition.  Although a member of the team joined us late as she had a previous engagement, I anticipate seeing the results of Becky Anderson O”Conners work , as she has a talent for composition unlike any I have ever seen before. Her talents will take her far and it is an honor for me to say she is part of what we are building.

Now that I have had my rant on the subject, let me present to you, The GRAND ISLAND BRIDGE PART TWO.

As we awaited for darkness to set in, I snapped a few shots as we waited. I wanted to show everyone the conditions present at the time. Cloudy skies and a slight haze was a concern, but as the eve set in I was confident that the cool air would eliminate the haze and as experienced in the past, the clouds would add some contrast to the photos once the light faded.

As the light faded

Fading light

Although pleased with these photos I was anticipating the lower light shots. As we progress I will be showing you how the photos changed as we adapted to the changing conditions in lighting.  As we go along please take note at how the photos almost become cartoonish as the vibrance and color starts to take shape. By adjusting apertures, shutter speeds, and focal lengths, you can see a consistent change in the vibrance of each photo. The one constant in all of these photos was my iso setting, which remained at 200 for the length of the shoot. This first series of photos were shot with apertures of f 8 and f10 and shutter speeds were in the range of 1/100 to 1/400th of a second.

These photos were taken as the sun dropped of the horizon. Despite the clouds the colors that are present are definitive of typical sunset shots. The task of eliminating a wash out or a silhouette was easy to accomplish as adjustments were made to apertures and shutter speeds to prevent these common problems from happening.

Using speeds of 1 to 5 seconds worked well as I slowly stepped up the aperture.





This next series of shots were taken after the light had faded. This type of photography has long been a favorite of mine and it is something that I have spent a great deal of time in practice learning to do.

The sun makes it exit.

I also decided that this time I would use a flash to light the foreground and although for the most part I used a second shutter flash I did some experimentation with strobe flash. The look I was going for seemed to work as my foreground was exposed as I let the shutter stay open for the ambient light.


With strobe flash

Arch with moon

Now with the light gone and full creative control in my hands , I decided to do a little editing on a few shots and play with color.

Color wash on the bridge, and leaving the sky with color

The following photos are what was captured through long exposure and stepped down apertures.

Long exposures



One last photo for this post is a redo of the original. I decided to shoot this with a longer exposure and an aperture of f 22.

GI Redo


As this shoot came to an end, I felt a sense of closure and accomplishment because I was at last able to take a variety of shots from a number of perspectives.

If you happen to stroll by this blog and you like what you see, leave me a comment, or feedback on what we have done here. I enjoy the comments and take your thoughts into consideration every time I shoot.

My best to all of you and thanks again for reading the post.


M.Sargent Photography


Grand Island Bridge Part Duex

After much thought, and some planning, I have decided that it is time to take the 7d and re-shoot the Grand Island bridge, from a different perspective. When originally shot, there was much debate and not a lot of planning that went into shooting this bridge, and although the photo turned out to be a good one, my urge to capture images from different viewpoints was put on hold as so many other projects existed that needed attention. So with a plan in place, and another busy weekend coming up, Friday evening is the target date for fulfilling my need to capture this bridge from another viewpoint. Unlike the last visit, I will be able to do some experimentation with different apertures and shutter speeds in the hopes of bringing some fantastic photos to the table.   of course everything depends on Mother Nature.

Back to where the WILD THINGS are

As promised, I am getting back to the wildlife photography, and it has been long-awaited.

We have had an incredible wedding season and continue to receive a tremendous amount of feedback regarding the photos that have been captured by the MSP team.

Today however I am going to share with you a photo containing one of favorite subjects to photograph. Hummingbirds. These speedy little subjects can be difficult to photograph and is often times the case, you will have to wait until they stop or proceed to feed to be able to get a great image of them. Although I am going to try to get one while in flight, the conditions have to be ideal to do so.

Male Ruby Throated Hummingbird

While sitting on my back deck, I waited for the birds to start feeding and as this one approached the feeder, he spotted me and decided that he would go the route of the natural nectar that we have an abundance of growing in our yard. A hummingbird magnet to say the least.

Being able to spot his movement I watched as he flew towards these flowers and when the opportunity presented itself I banged on the shutter button. After some light editing in Lightroom, I was happy with the results my 7d and the new 100 to 400 l series lens had provided. I utilized a shutter speed of 1/1600th of a sec and employed the full zoom capabilities of the lens. I also made the decision to start shooting with an iso of 800. With advancements in technology 800 is the new 400 and I would suspect that I could bump that number up a little to achieve an even faster shutter in low light situations.

My next shot is of course a female who decided to take a brief rest and sip on the nectar. As she proceeded to feed she had taken notice of me and kept an eye on me in-between her quick sips.

Female at the feeder

This shot also utilized an iso of 800 and my shutter speed was 1/3200th of a sec and 400mm was my focal length. The crisp detail was once again due to the l- series lens and I have to state that despite what others may say, there is an incredible difference with L series lenses. Not only in sharpness but the function and capabilities this lens offers is unsurpassed. Having done some experimentation with this new lens, I look forward to sharing the images I soon will be capturing with it, and I suspect it will quickly become my new favorite.

Hummingbirds are a great target to photograph for several reasons, but my main goal when doing so is to hone my reflexes so I can be ready in the blink of an eye. Sometimes you have a fraction of a second to capture a shot, and these targets will sharpen your reflexes so you can be able to anticipate and react in a quick photo opportunity situation.

Soon you can expect to see more photos of deer, turkey, and possibly bear, as I make plans to get back out in the filed and go where the wild things are.

My best to you all,



Ok real simple,

I have been busting my butt as of late doing what I do best, and that is capturing the memories of newly weds on what is the most important day in one’s life. Marriage is a big step and it takes a huge commitment on all who is involved and that includes the guy who is snapping the shutter and creating the wow moments.

Let me ask all of you this, when you are working how do you approach your style of photography? Is it about you and the images you capture or is it about capturing the memories and events that will bring back memories when these photos you take are viewed years from now?  I think most of you will agree that it is not about you when shooting a wedding. Of course you want to shoot your own style but you have to integrate your style to achieve the goal of capturing these memories for your clients. They have put  a trust into you to do just that.

Recently, after a shoot I as always provided my clients with some preview photos using social media, so they could see what I had captured. As always the feedback was incredible, except for one comment that I simply found course and classless.

The comment has to do with the whole beautiful people ideology. In case you don’t know what this, let me break it down for you. Some photographers feel that for a photo to be good it has to be a visually pleasing shot of some one who is considered beautiful or of something really disturbing.  Why is it that some photographers who shoot weddings feel that a person who is homely is not worth photographing?  My only answer to this question is best answered by saying that they must feel that the shot is all about them.( THE PHOTOGRAPHER)  The comment was, My God Mike, why would you shoot that photo, you can’t fix ugly. My reply to this comment was , Hey Wal-Mart Boy, wedding photography is not about you. These people put there trust in you to capture their event as it happens, and if they choose to have someone in their wedding party that you personally feel is not attractive than as an employee of the client you are obligated to photograph that person as well as the rest of the events and people in attendance. In short it is not about you it is about your clients and the trust they put into you. In a way it burns me to think that some people who call themselves photographers think like this. I suppose it shouldn’t bother me as the commenter is also someone who likes to copy everything I do. They say that imitation is a very sincere form of flattery, and in most cases I would agree, but when you see a photo taken in the exact same location you yourself recently shot, and the photo this person took is lacking in all the basics of good photography, I simply say wait, you comment on a photo of mine, but you try to copy what I have done and you post that piece of crap for the world to see and then you want to affiliate yourself with my brand. That my friend takes a lot of nerve.

It seems as I continue to grow my practice and interact with new and past clients, I have to accept the fact that people will copy and try to duplicate the things I try to do as a photographer and in most cases I am cool with that. I will even go as far as helping those who ask how I did that, but on the same note, should I be willing to help some one who turned their back on the MSP brand, and has decided to go out on their own and compete for business? Often times I do because my goal here is to share what I know. But when you throw salt into a would, it burns, and when it leaves an impression on you, then you have to make that call. My goal when starting this blog was to show you the photo and explain to you how I shot it. It would seem however that my instinct to help others is not the best choice when competing for business. People are just like big business, they take everything you have and then they leave you in the hopes of competing with you. MSP is a brand, and my team has busted their butts. I am very proud of the choices I have made with my practice in photography, and you have my word, When you ask MSP to photograph your event, It will be all about you and not about MSP. I am committed to ensuring that you are my focus and those that you choose to have participate in your event will be captured  because these are your memories and it is all about your day, and the trust you have put into the MSP team to capture it.

With my major commitments being completed for the year, MSP will tie up a few loose ends and I will get back to doing what I love the most. Engaging in the practice of my passion and that is simply photography, the MSP  way. I cant wait to show you all the photos of my visions and hope you continue to enjoy my words about these scenes.

Next week we get back to the art of photography….

My best to you all.


M.Sargent Photography

The Team

Two Posts in One Day WHA WHA WHAT/ A True Success story


With the passing of America’s birthday, I found myself with an extra day off from work. Using this time to scratch a growing itch for some wildlife photos, I took full advantage of the time, and I am now able to share with you a true story of success. Any of you that have been following my writings will recall, I recently did a story on a Osprey nest near my home here in Western New York.


Checking on the well-being and progress of these raptors I am thrilled to inform you that we now have juvenile osprey within the nest.

Hatchling exposing his head

For a brief time, I wondered if the Osprey had abandoned the nest simply because I had not seen them in several weeks. I however confirmed their presence when I spotted them 2 weeks ago, as one returned to the nest with a fish in talon.


Todays visit was just one stop on my photo day and this post will be all about the shots I captured today. My original intent was to capture a snow-white crane up close, but I was unable to get close enough to one. So when life hands you lemons , shoot, shoot and shoot some more. Here are some shots of the Osprey in full size for your enjoyment.

Adult and Young Osprey’s

In addition to the Osprey’s, I also took a walk around one of the many trails that exist in the area, and these are some of the shots I captured along the trail.

This shot is a simple dragon-fly and it was taken with a 7d camera and a 500mm zoom lens. I employed an f-stop of 7.1 and used a shutter speed of 1/2000 of a second. Although the shot is not as sharp as a macro lens I felt I was able to capture some pretty detailed photos with a super telephoto lens.








These last shots are of my intended subject but they are not the close-ups that I had hoped to capture when I set out on my quest, but they are nice shots that I figured I would go ahead and share with you all.





Geese and Snow Herons

And one last shot for the day, another dragonfly that I shot when I exited the refuge.

Dragon fly

Hope you enjoyed the shots, and please let me know what you think.

All images were shot with a Canon 7d camera and a Sigma 100 to 500 mm super telephoto lens

My best to you all,





Our World/ Busy Photographers

As promised in my last post, I stated that I would be talking about some wedding photos. I am also going to touch on what I do as someone who is passionate about his work and my desire to help others.

2012 can be summed up as a great year for M.Sargent Photography. We have been busy and I would not have it any other way. Sometime ago, I decided that to provide the best choice for those seeking a wedding photographer, I would need to offer something different  and fairly innovative to compete with the “Walmart Photographers” that seem to crawling out of the woodwork on a daily basis.  Any of you who know me, understand that photography is my life, and I consider something as important as your wedding an epic event and do not enter the role as your photographer with a cavalier type attitude. The reason I am opening with this statement is inspired by one simple event that took place recently, and no matter how you sum it up, my goal as a photographer is to create the best photographs I possibly can based on the conditions of the shooting environment. Being forced to compete with people who walk into a store and purchase a DSLR, and then advertise themselves as a professional, with no prior training nor understanding on how to shoot a photo other than using the full auto settings on a camera, is a reality that we all face. Once again my take on this is simple, stand on your body of work. The cream always rise to the top. And MSP is busy. Kind of sums this up doesn’t it.

With my rant out-of-the-way let’s get to the photos. This first wedding is of Jeff and Amanda. What can I say other than WOW. These two were incredible subjects to photograph and they made my job easy.

Jeff&Amanda Color Wash with focus on blue eyes

I washed the color out of this photo with the intent to put the focus on the eyes. I left the color there for obvious reasons, but the real intent was to give the viewer a starting point, and allow your eyes to study the rest of the photo. This is a classic style wedding shot, and combining the aged photo/color wash look and leaving a  splash of blue color, I feel gives this an artistic feel.

Amanda Portrait with soft edges

This next shot is softened to create a portrait look. The bride was shining on her wedding day and my goal was to show that. Using a white vignette to soften the edges draws focus to the bride and the glow she had on her day.

Jeff&Amanda Bordered Kiss

And once again using a vignette, my goal was to put focus on the happy couple, as they shared a kiss to celebrate their day.

This next series of photos is of Candi and Randy.

It is a clear-cut example of shooting the light, and we all know that sometimes lighting can be our best friend or our worst enemy. Harsh light can make for a very difficult day of shooting and as my companions found out, light meters can provide you with false readings, so it is best on days like this to review as you shoot, and make corrections manually and often to insure properly exposed photos.

Candi&Randy Creekside

This shot was taken at the brides request, and I am so glad she did . Although the light was hard, I dialed in the camera with a deep depth of field, to capture not only the couple but the scenic background that was present. In addition, the big advantage when shooting this, was that the sun was to my back. Ensuring that my shadow would not be present, i decided to use a wide-angle lens to capture as much as I could. I also used a polarizing filter to cut out some of the harsh light and this providing me with rich color as well as reducing the highlights that were present.

I also decided to convert a copy of this shot to black and white. I felt that the contrast would make for an interesting photo, with a classic look and I think this photo is the definition of that classic style.

Candi & Randy Creative B&W

One drawback and it may be a personal thought of these photos is the sunspot present on the grooms glasses. When I shoot the photos I failed to notice its presence and although most say it’s not an issue, I generally don’t like these little imperfections within my photographs.

I also like to shoot at least one photo that displays the mood of the event, and as the bride has her garter removed, you can see on her face that she is enjoying herself.

Search for the Garter

And finally, A shot taken with the intent of creating that dream state.

Candi & Bridemaids B&W

It is of the brides maids with the bride as they prepared to partake in the sacrament known as marriage and my description of this is based on personal feelings as Candi is my cousin. She contacted me some time ago regarding her wedding, and it was my honor and a privilege to be able to photograph her wedding. Not to mention the fact that she could have chosen anyone to shoot her day. The fact that she choose me was a decision that meant a great deal to me, and it is the inspiration behind what I do when given the honor to capture one of the most important events in one life.


MSP has been busy, and standing on the body of work, has allowed us this opportunity to get out there and provide a quality product. From a business standpoint my goal is always the same. Give people what they want at an affordable price and be upfront with how we do it.

Mr. Jim, Myself, and our newest photographer Becky look forward to snapping that shutter at your event so you can feel that bang and be wowed by what we offer as photographers.

to see more of what we have captured please visit our website.



My best to you,


M.Sargent Photography