TAP TAP TAP.I HEAR YOU!


While on one of my many nature walks, I took particular notice of just how quickly our summer season had transformed into fall. It seems that just a few short weeks passed and we went from enjoying a rich treeline bursting with colors, to the baron look of winter minus the coming snow. One positive of this transition is the fact that without the foliage, your ability to see and hear the calls of specific bird species is greatly increased. As I slowly moved forward on my walk, I heard a distinctive tapping from behind me, and knew quite quickly that the subject I was hoping to capture was present in the woods behind me. So backtracking I went into hunt mode, and slowly went towards the direction of the tapping. With watchful eyes, I continued to listen for taping noise as I caught first sight of the source. It was in fact a pileated woodpecker, and this species is one that I have always had an affection for because of their distinctive look and the robust call that radiates through the woods.

While on the approach, I first spotted this downy as he searched for insects in the lower part of the tree line.

downy in search of insects

As I waited for the pileated to focus on a tree, I remained still until he moved from the lower part of the wood line and took to his next tree.

Pileated first spotted

After my subject flew, I made my final approach to an area that offered me the best shots, and from that point I enjoyed one spectacular show.

Pecking away

My best shot

Pileated Foraging

I have to admit, at first I wondered if this was a pileated due in part to the very light-colored bill. Some suggested it was a female but I have seen several mated pairs in the past, and I  personally have never seen one with a bill this light. I was wondering if this could have been the Ivory billed species that was once thought extinct. In recent years there have been several reported sightings of the Ivory billed, but to date no one has photographic evidence.

The shots, I used apertures between 5.6 and 8 with an iso of 400. The shutter was between 1/ 500 and 1/1000 and the spot metering option was employed to capture these images. The camera was a 7d and the canon 100 to 400 l series lens was used.

Hope you enjoyed the shots.

Mike

www.msargentphotography.com

The Store.

Creating Some Awesomeness


Last night, plans were made to go out and do some night shots. Unfortunately we were subjected to heavy patches of fog and opted to try again in the morning. Being up early as always, I set out this morning to see if I could capture what may be left of the Leonid Meteor Shower. Well I didn’t see any meteors, but there is always something to shoot. Images from this morning.

Breaking Dawn

As the sun slowly meet the horizon I caught this image using my 7d and a Tamrom 10-24 wide-angle. I used an aperture of f-22, ISO 400, and a shutter speed of 20 seconds. The image has been reduced in file size for this post and this has caused some grain to appear in this post. In reality the image is tack sharp after printout.

Next shot:

SUNRISE

Using the Tamron 18-270 and the 7d I snapped this shot shortly after the sun broke the horizon. Using an aperture of f-8 I let the shutter stay open for 1/45 of a second.

My HDR

HDR Waterway

With the still air and calm water I decided to do a HDR. Although this image is still in post process I am kind of partial to this composition. Unsure at this point, If I decide to change my final output, I will repost to get feedback on the differences

ALL for now.

Mike

 

 

First Shot


Quick post today as I want to share with you an image. Very simply titled THE SUPERMOON meets the LIGHTHOUSE.

I want to hear from you, Tell me what you think and I will tell you how this composition came to be in my next post..

The Super moon meets the Lighthouse

Feedback please and thank you.

SHOOT 2 THRILL

Mike

Bird Ox a Pain in the Butt or One of Nature’s Wonders


Having some spare time on my hands today, and needing a little fresh air, not to mention a bit of exercise, I decided to go on a short walk. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter the conditions, there is always something to photograph. Today is no exception to this, as I take one of natures little burdens and attempt to make it look artistic in my composition. Lets face it, we all have experienced the trails of Bird Ox and some of us, present company included have gotten these things stuck in our hair. As kids we would seek out these tormenters and throw them at the hair or clothes of friends and young lasses that may have been the object of our affections. Well at least that is what we did when we were growing up. By todays standards this would be perceived as bullying, but as we gave we also received. This first shot was taken with a 7d and an aperture of 3.5 @ iso 400 with a shutter speed of 1/90th of a second.

Bird Ox

I used Light room to crop the image and added a light vignette to place the focus on the center pod .

This next image I went for a softer tone and used a slightly smaller aperture ( F-8) and employed a shutter speed of 1/200 of a second.

shot at f-8

While out on this shoot, I also ran across a gentleman who still practices in the lost art of trapping. As he gave me a lesson in the finer points of trapping, I watched as he worked his magic in and around the huts that the subject of his query had built. He explained to me that you have to find the runs they use to travel between their homes and where they feed. In addition you can generally spot a muskrat hole by the discovery of a mudline. Once you find the hole you can check to see if it is active by determining the hardness around the opening. Often times a rat will rub against the opening to keep its borders hard and from breaking away from the constant submersion in water.

A few shots for your enjoyment.

Pre trap scouting.

Checking out a hut

As I made my way out of the area, I was able to see the subject of his search. This shifty little rat made my capture quite difficult as he dove under water and made his escape from my lens.I did however capture this image as he swam away from me and my invading lens.

EXIT STAGE LEFT

Until we meet again my friends. Step outside and take a look around.

SHOOT 2 THRILL

Gets it to a TEEE


I have always tried to inspire passion in photography, and often times do fairly well at this. With upswing and downfalls you learn to take the good with the bad. Up until a year ago I always worked alone, but have always been willing to help anyone who aspires for better in their compositions. My oldest friend Jim and I began working together a year ago, and one of the greatest joys of this has been watching him mature and understand how much photography has meant to me and now us. Jim shares my passions, and he simply steps behind the lens and nails compositions.He also has a great deal of experience when it comes to the tech side of our world, and he is the guy that has put MSP on the web as well as made the suggestion to do this blog. I have said it many times how 2012 has been a great year and JIm’s involvement with MSP has been a huge part of this greatness.

I want to share with you some words composed by Jim that simply summarizes the drive and how we feel as shooters of light. Just like his compositions, his words nail the feelings and driving force behind what we do.

Thanks Jim, for everything. I am lucky to have you as a friend and a partner. Here is Jim’s post, I hope it touches you as it did me.

Like almost all people that have reached adulthood, I found myself rushing from one point to another. We label those points A and B, and with great impatience we leave A and scurry toward B wishing there was not all that crap to deal with in-between. We get to B only long enough to return to A like suddenly A is of greater value than B ever could be to our continued existence.

Photography has changed my point system. I now travel from A to D. I have found, much to my delight, that between the two points of A and D there is a place I should just B for a while, and even more incredible there is places to C as well !

That is not the most profound thing I have realized. I have also found that if while B-ing somewhere and C-ing things I use my time to take a picture, when I share it with other people, they take a few seconds pause from their race to admire the moment I have captured for them. If I am extremely lucky they will give me even more of their time to leave a comment before moving on. I cherish each and every one of those messages. They represent everything I am trying to accomplish while stopping at points B and C. I worry that many of you will start to take less and less time really looking into my pictures, and brush past them in haste. As that happens the effort I put into each shot will bring less and less joy to you, my observer, and by proxy bring less joy to me as well.

But all will not be lost. Remember that as you look at each snapshot in time I capture, I was actually there to experience it. My camera has made television useless in our house, we have found we no longer need the distraction. Did I mention that my wife and best friend Barb has discovered B-ing and C-ing as well? We are spending incredible time just sitting in the grass, watching everything around us with the eyes of a child. Many things we are C-ing for the first time, even though they have always been right in front of us.

DID HE NAIL IT OR WHAT?????? Spine Chills!

SHOOT 2 THRILL

Mike

BACK TO PICTURES


Yesterday I put up a post, more like a rant, about how I feel regarding the state of things. Well to be blunt screw all that. I mentioned that my resolve has never been greater, and in addition, my goal would be to do what I love and see just what path would present itself. I am not one to sit around and years of having to get up early for work, has enabled an internal alarm clock, that has me up most mornings by 4am. So sucking down a cup of coffee is always the start of the day, and it is out the door. I used to complain about the early rises, but here is the benefit. I get to see sites like this,

Early am

Yeah, the picture is not my best, but other than the washed out moon, I enjoy being able to see and capture images like this. They are the reason and benefit I have come to enjoy the early rises, and in time I will start to employ more filters to eliminate wash outs like this moon has so often times given me. Shot with a Canon 7d and Tamrom lens, I used the spot metering mode and employed the incredibly high ISO of 6400. Shot at an aperture of f 22 for 30 seconds, I expected the moon to wash out my shot. I used light room to tone it down a bit, and reduce some of the noise present using such a high ISO, but the goal of this shot was to see just how sharp I could capture the tree as a silhouette. In short… MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!!!

MY BEST,

MIKE

SHOOT 2 THRILL

PS,,,

Hey wedding seekers we have started a new website just for you.

Check it at www.msargentphotography.com 

JIM IS KICKING ASS… MY BROTHER!

Thoughts and Reviews


Often times and in almost everything there are pro’s and con’s that have to be dealt with. Looking at the good and bad the smart path is always to take both in perspective and learn from each. Doing so then applying what you have learned can help you avoid future mistakes. To coin an old saying ” If you learn from a mistake, it wasn’t really a mistake, was it? The saying asks a question, but also is meant to put you on a path of learning, and that is the point of this post.

I, like most, always try to maintain a positive outlook, even though most of what surrounds us is negativity. Recently just in my own daily activities I have had to deal with several issues that should sour my normal positive outlook and in some ways it has. My beloved Jeep Wrangler is in the shop for a spun out bearing, my major lively hood has not produced the income we need, and we know face another 4 years of the most radical president ever elected to office in the United States. I have a great deal of fear for what our nation is coming to and the freedoms our forefathers worked so hard to achieve. My rights and my income are being threatened by a government who feels my purpose is to serve their agenda and be a slave to the entitled. Granted my blog is supposed to be about photography, but  I felt the need to share these thoughts to give you a human side of what is normally a post of pictures and some words, with very little about the person who shot these photos. So to take away what I have learned by these recent events. We live in a land of confusion and uneducated people. Emotion seems to take the major role when it is time to make a decision, and the lack of common sense is evident by some of the choices that are made. Some may call this an opinion, but time and time again, I see a decision made based on emotion, and the failures and disappointments that come after only increase the negative emotions. This leads to a spiraling free fall and to an eventual crash. So with all this being said I refer to a quote I heard in a movie. Why do we fall? the answer….. SO we can learn to pick ourselves up again! Is that what it takes anymore? A crash. We are so self consumed with our own agenda and emotion that we have forsaken common sense, so we can achieve the greater good. This is a very scary place and it will be difficult to learn from all this. We must however try.

On to how this all ties in to my passions. Back in the eighties I was an aspiring photographer. I won my first photography contest before I graduated high school. Enjoying the fruits of my labor, I continued on doing what I loved until the day, I returned to my vehicle from a scoping out mission only to find that tools of my trade had been stolen. As life happened, I married and had children and the photography was put on hold. With an ever-increasing itch to start-up again, I found myself familiarizing myself with long forgotten methods of composition and applied these to the new digital camera world. I also began to enter contests again, and found that by doing so, some felt the same way I did about certain compositions. Recently I achieved a very high honor amongst some of my peers by winning first place in an outdoor scenic category and a second place finish with a wildlife photo. Considering I only entered 3 of the 5 categories, I felt a certain accomplishment by placing in two of the five divisions. Not to mention the competition I was up against, only increases the pride I felt by winning my favorite type of photography. All this has been stated without the reason I involved myself with photography. I am here for one reason, I wanted to capture the beauty I see everyday and share that with anyone who wanted to see things from my perspective. Doing weddings, and other shoots are a cofactor of why I became involved in photography but they are a benefit I am pleased to do and I enjoy the fact that people think enough of my work to privilege me with capturing such an important event in their lives. If you are still reading this post, than maybe you understand why I feel the way I do when it comes to people going to a walmart, purchasing a camera, and with no knowledge of how to operate the equipment, advertise themselves as professionals. I can give you a long list of people who do this, and have no idea how to shoot in modes other than full auto. Being no defense for this, we who understand terms like shoot the light, and composition of an image, are a dying class. I also have to mention that programs like Photoshop although have their uses, are not what photography is all about, and can only be used to create something that is not real. In this day and age these tools are necessary to compete with others who no longer understand the basics of photography but in fact know how to create images that are not real. Summary it is a funny world we live in and unreal takes priority over real. Adapting is our saving grace. Maybe that is the lesson we need to learn.

From my standpoint, a personal opinion is super seeded by an urgent desire to achieve successor an agenda, and these days the best way to make money from an industry that has been flooded by false compositions, is to sell your equipment. To test my theories on things I recently purchased a book known as the photographers market. I did so for one reason. To be successful as a photographer you need to be able to reach your market, or at least be known of in the industry. I read this book from cover to cover, and although some great point were made, I found the information in the title to be of very little help. I spent several hours composing a list of contacts that were related to my interests in photography. Then I wrote a very detailed document stating my intent and asked the proper questions regarding submission information and or guidelines. I also made it known that I was available for assignments and encouraged these publications to utilize me as a resource and to please check out my portfolios to see my talents.After doing all this,I received a response from one publication. Having submitted to over 400 outlets, I was disappointed by my efforts and quickly realized that the information in this book was not all it was cracked up to be. Almost feeling scammed, it became clear that the only one making money here was the publisher of the book and the author who wrote it. At this point it is safe to assume one of two things. Either my photography just plain sucks or the information in this book is not accurate, although the awards I recently received disputes the first thought as well as the past highlights of my labors and all the feedback I receive from people who place there trust in me to capture their weddings and events. Once again lots of questions to answer, and right now I am just tired of the word photographer and everything associated. With this being said,and still having a desire to shoot, I am going to keep it simple.I will shoot images for myself, and I will continue to share them with those who want to look. I have tried to keep things real, and despite comments like, He is that Damn Good, and We love what you captured for us, I simply cannot keep allowing myself to endure the disappointments that come from trying so hard to rise in an industry that is dominated with false representations of natural beauty. If it is meant to be, it will be. This post has been inspired by several events in recent days, and although it may seem dark and kind of rant, if you are still reading, I want to tell you, that although I paint the picture of gloom, my resolve for pictures has never been stronger. It is time to go back to the reason I take pictures, and say screw the rest.

I want to say thank you to those who have commented and inspired me over the years, and I also want to thank the many who have trusted me to capture your precious moments. You are the reason I do what I do. One final thought, ” It does not matter who we are, what matters is what we do.

Thank you for the read

Mike

The Good from the Bad/ Waterfalls


This past week has been a whirlwind. We have watched Hurricane Sandy wreak havoc across the East. Although we were not directly impacted in my neck of the woods, the indirect effects have been a tough pill to swallow. Our area has seen several days of rain and this abundant rainfall has brought my lively hood to a crawl at best. So with some extra time on my hands, I felt it was time for another MSP walkabout.

With camera and tripod in tow, I set foot on a new nature trail yet undiscovered by myself, and was fairly pleased by the sights that this rainy, cold, cloudy day had provided. I also used this time to evaluate a lens that I purchased over the summer. I mounted the Tamron 10-24mm wide angle lens to my 7d body and gave both a sound workout.

My Settings: ISO 100, spot and partial metering, f-stops between 18-22 with shutter speeds ranging from  1 to 7 seconds. In addition I also used the mirror lockup feature, and a 2 second delay on the shutter. These are the compositions, and as always Lightroom was used to make some minor adjustments in exposure, and cropping.

Falls

Downstream

portrait view

The dominant tree

Over all I was pleased with the images, but I would have prefered a little more clarity in these photos. When using my Tamrom 10-24 I have some mixed feelings. I have seen some images that are sharp, deep and bursting with vibrance. These images are not bad, but I can clearly see a difference in the overall quality vs a L-series lens.

The fate of this lens is still undecided at this point. Knowing the proper camera settings, It always come down to the quality of your glass. I feel that the Tamron may not be the right piece of equipment for the images I am composing,  not to say that the lens is of lower quality, but it may not be the right lens for my compositions. The jury is still out on this one.

Some more great news: It was announced this week that a orginization I belong to The New York State Outdoor Writers Association has awarded me first place in the annual Janice M. Keesler Memorial Photographer contest for the category, Outdoor Scenic. The winning photo, can be seen at the top of this blog, and is titled The Grand Island Bridge. I also placed second in the wildlife category. I feel very honored to have placed, considering the competition I was up against.  Here is the full press release:

NYSOWA Press Release:

Niagara Falls, Niagara County, N.Y.—The New York State Outdoor Writers Association presented the winners of its annual writing and photography recognition program with carved duck decoy first-place awards and second and third-place certificates and cash awards at the annual banquet of the organization at the Four Points by Sheraton in Niagara Falls, N.Y on Saturday evening, Oct. 20.

The organization of 100 active members—professional communicators—and several dozen supporting members from the outdoor and travel industry—gathered in Niagara County Oct. 18-21 for its annual conference. The Excellence in Craft writing competition and Janice M. Keesler Memorial Photo Contest, co-sponsored by Ducks Unlimited, The Sportsman Channel and Redding Reloading Equipment, were judged by respected professionals of national repute from outside the organization.

“Our judges commented on the professionalism of the entries,” said Leon Archer, chair and administrator of the Excellence in Craft program. “Some even said they were honored to have participated.”

The photo competition was administered by Bridget Keesler, daughter of the namesake of the photo competition, who played a major role in initiating and administering the photo awards program in its earliest days. The Excellence in Craft writing recognition program was administered by Archer of Fulton, who was elected NYSOWA’s president at the conference.

First-place winners in the writing competition for articles published in 2011 were: Newspaper Feature—David Figura, Skaneateles, for “Tree-stand Texter,” in the Oct. 28 Post Standard; Magazine Feature—Angelo Peluso, Port Jefferson, for “Long Island’s Secret Steelhead,” in the June On The Water; Magazine Column—Leo Maloney, Sherrill, for “Adirondack Whitetails,” in Spring North American Whitetail; Newspaper Column—David Figura, Skaneateles, for “Lion Dung Keeps Bunnies at Bay,” in the July 15 Post Standard Oneida Daily Dispatch; and Online Publication—Angelo Peluso, for “Fishing and the Outdoors: Long Island’s backyard wildlife” in the Dec. 21 northshoreoflongisland.com.

In the photo competition, first-place winners were: Hunting and Fishing—Angelo Peluso, Port Jefferson; Outdoor Scenic—Michael Sargent, Middleport; Outdoor Recreation—Leo Maloney, Sherrill; Published Photograph—Oak Duke, Wellsville; and Wildlife, Mike Lynch, Saranac Lake.

A complete list of first- to third-place finishers follows:
Excellence in Craft writing competition winners: Newspaper Feature–1. David Figura, “Tree-stand Texter,” Post-Standard — Oct. 28; 2. Mike Lynch, “Legendary Guide Jim Goodwin Dies at 101,” Adirondack Daily Enterprise – April 11; 3. David Figura “Nature’s ‘B’ Menu,” Post Standard – Sept. 16. Magazine Feature—1. Angelo Peluso, “Long Island’s Secret Steelhead,” On The Water – Oct.; 2. Angelo Peluso, “Arti-fish-ial Intelligence,” Tide – May-June; 3. Mike Kelly, “Are New York’s Famous Trout Streams as Good as Advertised?” New York Game and Fish – June. Newspaper Column: 1. David Figura, “Lion Dung Keeps Bunnies at Bay,” Post-Standard – July 15; 2. Angelo Peluso, “That’s One Tenacious Spider,” Times Beacon Record — Sept. 15; 3. Leon Archer, “My Old Friend,” Oswego County Weeklies – Oct. 14. Magazine Column: 1.Leo Maloney, “Adirondack Whitetails,” North American Whitetail – Spring; 2. Tom Schlichter, “There’s More to Being a Mate,” The Fisherman — June 23; 3. Fred Golofaro, “In the Heat of the Night,” The Fisherman – July 21;. Online Publication: 1. Angelo Peluso, “Fishing and the Outdoors: Long Island’s Backyard Wildlife” northshoreoflongisland.com — Dec. 21; 2. Bill Hilts, Jr., “A Rendezvous with Shooting and History,” nssf.org – Sept. 26; 3. Bill Hilts, Jr., “4-H Shooting Sports Program Takes Aim on Future,” nssf.org – May 31.

Janice M. Keesler Memorial Photo Competition winners: Hunting and Fishing: 1. Angelo Peluso; 2. Bill Hollister, 3. Chris Kenyon. Outdoor Scenic: 1. Michael Sargent; 2. Mike Lynch; 3. Paul Schnell. Outdoor Recreation: 1. Leo Maloney; 2. Chris Kenyon; 3. Dan Ladd. Published: 1. Oak Duke; 2. Angelo Peluso; 3. Bill Hollister; Wildlife: 1. Mike Lynch; 2. Michael Sargent; 3. Angelo Peluso.
Well that pretty much sums it up for the week.
Until next post my best to you all.
Shoot 2 Thrill
Mike