One Month Down…Four To Go

Red Winged Blackbird, Juvenile, Perch. Thorn,OK…It’s official and it’s a fact. The 2017 Wildlife In Focus photography contest is 20% over!

The first month of this 5 month competition is over. It seems like I’ve been shooting this contest a LOT longer than 30 days. I’ve had good days…and I’ve had NOT so good days! Overall, I think I’m exactly where I need to be at this stage.

This year I’m trying to work smarter and certainly more efficiently. Not every one of the 59 different categories are even available on the River Ranch yet. We’ve worked up a calendar that helps us know what to shoot and when to shoot by month. It’s not 100% accurate…but it sure helps to focus (no pun intended) our efforts.

For me the most important thing right now is that I’m really enjoying the contest this year. I’m not feeling any pressure or angst! I feel like I’m shooting better right now than ever. The rules have loosened a bit regarding editing this year. I consider myself a pretty good editor, so I think that plays into one of my strengths. Let’s see what happens going forward…



Spring? Maybe…

Clouds, Spring, Trees, Pasture, GrassIt’s way too easy to get fooled by Mother Nature here on the Coastal Bend! In the last week, things have changed a lot on the River Ranch.

All of the different grasses have really “greened up” this week. Just about every one of the trees have buds, and many have begun to leaf out. If I were a betting man, I’d say Spring is on it’s way!

But Mother Nature has a way of teasing you. I made this image yesterday and the light was flat. The clouds over Refugio County looked like snow clouds I’ve seen before. The wind was blowing pretty good…and it was almost cold. Wade and I drove around the ranch on one of the Gators and we could have used jackets.

So is Spring just around the corner? Who knows. This is Texas…





Should Have Gone To The Beach

shorebird, wading feeding, beach, surfOK…So I learned a BIG lesson yesterday. Actually I already knew that lesson…but I got a fresh reminder of the way it works!

I tried a new type of setup and technique yesterday…and it failed miserably! Over 1400 clicks and not a single usable image. I’ve used my photo trap before, and I’ve had some pretty good success. But it’s been a while since I’ve used it. It was painful downloading all these images and finding ZERO! But I’m over it now. I know exactly what and where I messed up. Operator error…

This little shorebird has nothing to do with my experience yesterday. It just reminded me that maybe I should have gone to the beach instead…




What’s Wrong Here?

female northern cardinal, perch, portraitI like this portrait of a sweet female Northern Cardinal a LOT! But it won’t make my final Wildlife In Focus portfolio of 100 images. Any guesses why?

It was a severe case of “operator error”! One of the rules for this competition is that the file has to be at least 6 megapixels after cropping. I had some distracting elements in the scene that I didn’t take into consideration when I made this click. As a matter of fact, that whole morning’s production is unusable for the contest.

Is this the end of the world? No. I still have plenty of time to get some usable files in the Northern Cardinal category. But still…this was a major error on my part. It won’t happen again…

I wil print this image…and I bet it sells. Everyone loves Cardinals. And she’s a beauty!




Eating An Elephant

Red Winged Blackbird, Photo Bomb, PerchYou all know the old joke…”How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time…”! This is an approach I’m taking with my shooting schedule.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed trying to make award-winning images in 59 diverse categories. Add to that it has to be done within a defined time period…and at a single location. Thats exactly what the Wildlife In Focus photography contest demands.

Every single shooting day is valuable…and can’t be wasted. After 2 self-proclaimed “underachieving efforts” in the 2013 and 2015 contests, I’m trying to get smarter. This time I have a schedule…and I’m sticking to it!

Well before I go through the gate leading me on to the River Ranch, I know exactly what, when, where, and how I’m going to work that day. Does it always work out? Of course not! But it takes something pretty special for me to get off my shooting schedule. Weather is of course the gating issue most days. I can control a whole bunch of things, but weather isn’t one of them. And yes…I always try to have a backup plan for the plan…

This is an image I made several years ago during the 2015 WIF. It actually made my final portfolio…but didn’t catch the judge’s eyes. I continue to like it…a LOT!




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