Eastern Phoebe

I got a chance to get out in the backyard and photograph some birds this past weekend.  That is something I haven't been able to do for a while.  If I have gotten a chance to get out there lately, then the birds just haven't cooperated much.  I was glad to see them cooperate a bit this weekend.

A bird that I have not photographed, or even seen, in the backyard before was this Eastern Phoebe.  It was nice to see a new bird.  This guy came in over and over and got his fill of tasty mealworms.

Aperture-priority, 1/250 sec, f/6.3, ISO 280, Compensation: +2/3, 460 mm

If you hover over the image you can see my camera settings for this shot.  I shot this image at 460mm.  I prefer to include the entire bird, and even some of it's environment, in my composition.  I often times see bird images with tails that are cut off, or cropped really tightly to the edge of the frame.  I see photographers get a telephoto zoom lens and they want to use it extended all the way out to it's maximum focal length.  Just remember, it's more important to create a compelling and interesting composition than using your lens at it's longest end.

I shot this little guy with my Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens.  As alwyas when I am in the backyard, I was using my Sirui N3204-x and PH-20 GImbal Head.

More from the Madison County Nature Trail

This is a follow up post from yesterday's image from The Madison County Nature Trail.  The park is a very popular place in the fall, when the colors are great.  This means it gets photographed a lot.  When I am in a situation like that, I try to look for different and unique perspectives and compositions.

Aperture-priority, 1/40 sec, f/8, ISO 640, Compensation: -2/3, 76 mm

This was taken from very close to the same spot yesterday's image was made.  I stepped a little to the right, got lower and included the foreground foliage with the bridge in the background.  I choose an aperture that would give me a depth of field that would make the foliage stand out from the background.

Image made with my Canon 5D IV and Tamron 28-300mm Lens.  Gear supported by my Sirui Tripod and Ballhead.

Madison County Nature Trail

So, I've been trying my best to chase fall color around for the past few weeks.  I think the best I found was this past weekend, near my house.  There is a very nice area near my house called The Madison County Nature Trail, or some call it The Green Mountain Nature Trail.  The colors there were amazing this past weekend!  Word spread quickly, though and I think every photographer in the area made the trek there.  There were tons of people and photographers when I showed up.  A lot of photographers doing family portraits and other families just enjoying the colors and nice weather.

Aperture-priority, 1/40 sec, f/8, ISO 800, 86 mm

I was there to photograph the colors, and boy were they there!  This little covered bridge is a popular spot in the park.  You will often encounter people having their portraits made around this bridge.  It also makes for a great reflection...especially with these colors.

A few things I like to do when photographing fall colors is to use a circular polarizer and under exposure just a touch.  Using a circular polarizer will not only remove any glare off of foliage but also enhance the colors a bit.  Also, under exposing the image by 1/3 - 2/3 stop will also help to make the colors pop a little more.  It's a good idea to check your histogram to make sure you aren't getting too dark, or losing a lot of shadow detail.  It also never hurts to find a good spot with a reflection!

This image was made using my Canon 5D IV and Tamron 28-300mm Lens.  My gear was supported by my Sirui Tripod and Ballhead.

More Falls in The Fall

Here's another shot from last week in The Great Smoky Mountains.  The color was really nice while I was there.  These kinds of photo opportunities were plentiful along Little River Road and in the Tremont Area.

ISO 100, 15mm, F/16 @ 2 seconds

When I came upon a scene like this I tried to take the same approach to most of them.  I was using my new Tamron 15-30mm Ultra Wide angle lens.  I knew I needed to find a foreground anchor, so I usually looked for an interesting flow of water or a rock.  A foreground anchor really helps add depth to your images.  If I chose a rock, sometimes it had a nice set of fallen leaves on it, sometimes I put some leaves on it. Once I had the foreground anchored, then I made sure my composition lead you through the image to the brilliant display of fall colors in the background.   

This image was made with my Sony A7R II, Metabones Lens Adapter and Tamron 15-30 F/2.8 Ultra Wide Angle Lens.  I can;t photograph water without a circular polarizer, so I had one of those, too.  All of my gear was resting atop my Sirui W-2204 Waterproof Tripod.

Tellico River

On my way back home from the Great Smoky Mountains the other day I took a detour to a little place in Tennessee called Tellico Plains.

Tellico Plains has a lot to offer in the fall.  The color here was better than any color I came across in the Smokies, there is a river with a ton of water shots to be had  here, a very nice waterfall, not near the crowds of people and it's near the Cherohala Skyway.

I went for a few things, to photograph the water and escape the madhouse that was the Smokies in the Fall.  I accomplished both with ease.

This shot was taken from the first bridge I crossed as I traveled along River Road.  I normally like to get right down at water level when I photograph these rivers but, in this case, I wanted to capture the vast amount of color that was surrounding the river.  That was much better done from the bridge itself.  Getting down on the river I would have had to shoot upwards to include more color and that would have included a lot more of the nasty, no-nothing sky.

However, the no-nothing sky was what made the day!  It was very overcast and even started raining a few times while I was there shooting.  The overcast skies made the colors pop.  The little bit of rain also helped with that, too.  Make sure you have your polarizer, though, to kill reflections from everything being wet.

ISO 100, 30mm, F/16 @ 1/3 second

I shot this image with my Sony A7R II, LA-EA3 Adapter and Tamron 24-70mm Lens.  I also used my Marumi Circular Polarizer to enhance contrast and eliminate reflections.  Of course I had my new favorite tripod, the Sirui W-2204.

Spruce Flat Falls

I returned this weekend from a quick 3 day trip in the Great Smoky Mountains.  I wanted to visit in the Fall, since I hadn't been there during this time of year in quite a while.  The Fall Colors were in full swing, too.  

I was primary focusing on photographing the rivers and water of the Smokies.  If you know anything about the park in the Fall, you know it's beyond crowded.  So, I tried to stay away from the Gatlinburg area all together and focused more on the Townsend side of the park.

The colors along the river were really, really good.  I got several river and waterfall shots that I am excited about during my 3 days there.

Here is a waterfall that is "off the beaten path".  I first saw it in a book about waterfalls in the Smokies and I knew I wanted to check it out.  This is Spruce Flat Falls.  It is located along a trail that starts behind the Institute at Tremont.  It is about a 1 mile walk in, but there is a significant elevation gain, so it is rated a moderate to moderate-difficult trail.  The trail isn't maintained so there are some tight spots, some boulders to pass over and around and a lot of tree roots along the trail to navigate through.  The reward was worth it, though.

ISO 50, 15mm, F/22 @ 25 seconds

This falls has about 4 "layers", of sections of falling water.  The main section, at the top, is about a 30 foot fall.  I wanted to get as much of that swirl effect from the leaves in the lower left corner of the frame as I could, so I dropped my camera's ISO down to 50 and stopped the aperture down to F/22.  That gave me a shutter speed of 25 seconds.

This image was made with my Sony A7R II, Metabones Lens Adapter and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  I also had a circular polarizer for this lens that is made by Fotodiox.  Since this lens has a large front element, a specialized filter setup is required and Fotodiox is the only company I know of that makes such a thing.  I also had all of this mounted to my Sirui W-2204 Tripod and K-20 Ballhead...my favorite new tripod and ballhead combo for waterfalls.