Pam Walz Creative Photography: Blog en-us (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Tue, 29 May 2018 17:42:00 GMT Tue, 29 May 2018 17:42:00 GMT Pam Walz Creative Photography: Blog 105 120 SanFrancisco May 2018 I wanted to take a photo of San Francisco early in the morning from Treasure Island. I had never been to San Francisco. I needed to scout the location the day before, so after picking up the rental car; I followed Google Maps directions to Treasure Island. The voice directions weren't working, so as I was driving on the Oakland Bay bridge I had to keep looking at my phone. The turn came up too fast; I was in the wrong lane and the exit speed was 15 mph. I missed it. It took me an hour to get turned around and get to the Island. When I arrived, the road along the shore overlooking San Francisco was closed. I left and went to my hotel, and kept thining about getting the photo. I decided the next morning that I would find a place to park my car, carry my gear and walk along the side of the road.  At 5 AM, I walked a mile, climbed over a guard rail, and walked in the grass to a point on a cliff overlooking the city. It was beautiful! When I think of San Francisco, I will always remember this morning.


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) san francisco Tue, 29 May 2018 17:37:01 GMT
Driving to Santa Elena, Costa Rica March 2018 I wanted to see the Resplendent Quetzal bird, and I knew that it could be found in the Monteverde Cloud Forest of Costa Rica. I looked at the map of Costa Rica and saw that the nearest airport to Monteverde was in Liberia. I learned that the road to Santa Elena in Monteverde was bad and that an SUV would be needed. Just how bad the road was, I didn't know. Initially I followed a paved road, but when I started to drive at a higher elevation the paved road ended. The last 25 miles, I drove on a deeply rutted, gravel road with loose, sharp rocks. It was bad, and bad all the way.  I made it! In Santa Elena, I met a bird quide and hiked with him in the Curi Cancha Reserve until we found the Resplendent Quetzal.


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Fri, 27 Apr 2018 07:21:31 GMT
Moon St. Paul 3/2/18 I thought about making this photo all winter, but it was just too cold for me to stand outside at six in the morning. I waited for it to warm up and set

up my rig a half hour before sunrise at Mounds Blvd. overlooking St. Paul, MN. Once I was happy with the composition, I started taking different exposures and finally used a thirteen second exposure for the image.

At home, I took the image into Photoshop and made a selection of the left side, copied it onto it's own layer, edited it to flip it horizontally. Now I had the curving arc of lights and part of the bridge on the right side of the image, creating a symmetry.  I then used a layer mask to hide the upper part of the symmetry.

I decreased the highlights with Adobe Camera Raw, made a selcetion of the central buildings and used NIK Viveza to increase the structure and brightness in this area. Next, I made a selection of the upper half of the building with the first sign - used the transform tool to make it larger and the move tool to position it.

I brought an image of a moon into Photoshop, made a selection of the moon, positioned it in the main image, scaled it smaller and decreaed the opacity.I used NIK Color Efex Indian Summer to saturate the lights, and NIK Darken/Lighten to add a slight vignette.  I liked it. Whew!

]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Fri, 02 Mar 2018 07:26:15 GMT
Laysan Albatross 1/31/18 I recently visited Oahu, HI and heard there were nesting Laysan Albatrosses on the island. I had never seen these birds and wanted to go. I left my hotel room at 0530, drove for over an hour in the dark, and hiked five miles round trip while carrying a heavy telephoto lens. I must have seen about 30 of these amazing birds.

They can live to be sixty years old, only come ashore to breed, and have very long wingspans. I found them to have beautifully dark lined, penetrating eyes. I watched their breeding dances, saw them take off and land, and groom each other.

Hawaii works hard to protect these birds. At Ka'ena Point, where I hiked one has to enter through a gate, no dogs allowed, and  the nesting areas are roped off, but the birds are easy to view from the trail. I was so happy that I made the effort to go see these birds.


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:02:33 GMT
Long Exposure Photography 11/27/17 I love long exposure photography- it makes the water flowing around shores, waterfalls and rocks look smooth and silky. It also makes the clouds look streaked. For a year I've been trying to get good long exposure photos. At first I used a 10 stop variable density Hoya filter. This didn't work well during the day- there was too much vignetting. Next, I tried a 15 stop Lee filter. This was better, but there was still vignetting. I recently bought a Formatt Hi-tech 16 stop Infrared filter and I love it. It filters infrared light and this makes the colors look so nice. It comes with a light sealing case which prevents light  leaks and color shifts during long exposure times. 

Now I have many ideas of how to use this filter and hopefully many fantastic photos!


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Mon, 27 Nov 2017 10:27:12 GMT
Flicker in Flight 9/22/17 I had seen photos of yellow-shafted Northern Flickers in flight with their wings spread and loved the photos. On a Saturday in September, I was walking in the woods and saw a Pileated Woodpecker high up in the trees. I tried to get a photo of it in flight- when I looked at the photo, it was not sharp. My shutter speed was only 1/2500s. The next day while I was walking in the woods, I saw some

Northern Flickers. I wanted to try to get a flight shot, so I raised my shutter speed to 1/3200s, Auto ISO, Manual mode. The trees blocked out a lot of light, so I knew my ISO would be quite high. I got the shot and it appeared acceptably sharp- not too much noise.

I looked at the file- The ISO was 12,800! I used Neat Image Pro Noise Reduction software to process the photo and the photo was beautiful. I remembered those photos of flickers and was happy to have my own.


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Fri, 22 Sep 2017 20:52:31 GMT
Saint Croix Bridge 8/7/17 Most of the time good shots just don't happen- some thought needs to go into planning an approach and deciding which lens and camera settings to use. Even with prior planning things often go wrong. I wanted to take a photo of the Saint Croix bridge once construction was completed in August 2017. I drove to Stillwater, MN multiple times to find a good vantage point. There is a park on a hill overlooking Stillwater and the bridge- the day I went to check the spot there was a race, too many people were in the park and there was no where to park. The first night the bridge opened and the lights were on, I had to work. The next day I saw a photo that someone took of the bridge from the park that I tried to check out. I was extremely disappointed. 

The next day I went to Stillwater early in the morning. I went to a spot next to the water, hoping to get a long exposure shot. I went to the park- in both places my 24-70 mm lens  and my 400mm lens just didn't give me the correct focal length for an attractive photo. Last fall I sold my 100-400 mm lens; what was I thinking? That was just the lens I needed now. I was so discouraged. I went home and looked at photos of bridges. I really liked the black and white photos of bridges in the fog. This morning when I woke and saw the forecast for fog, I knew I had to go back to the bridge. It was so foggy when I arrived the only hope I had of getting a shot was to park my car and walk onto the bridge and try to get a close up shot of the suspension cables. I got a few shots, processed one in black and white, added contrast and a selective blur. Wow! I liked it; I was happy. One good shot so far. I plan to go back in a few days to get more shots from different vantage points. Who knows what will happen- good shots don't happen every day.


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Tue, 08 Aug 2017 19:48:23 GMT
Photo Published! 6/25/17 A photo of a Rough-legged Hawk that I shot is published in the June issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine. I was so happy to see my photo published. I would like to be outside every nice day looking for photo opportunities and getting the shot, however; this is not the only way to improve my photo skills. If I want to get amazing shots, I need to read about photography, spend time in Photoshop refining my skills and learn how to use plug-ins. I excited to learn how to use the Alien Skin software plug-in and am always learning and updating Lumenzia. I can see my photos improve, so it's worth the effort.


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Sun, 25 Jun 2017 08:45:18 GMT
Prairie Chickens and a Moose 5/2/17 I wanted to go to Crookston, MN to photograph the colorful prairie chickens doing their mating ritual displays. I called the Crookston chamber of commerce  and reserved a blind located on a lek (mating ground) in NW MN. Glacial Wildlife Refuge. I was told that I would be sent directions to the lek.  I would have to walk a mile in the dark on a very wet (three small streams of water) trail in the dark! I went to locate the site the day before I would go there. I got lost- during the day! I walked up a ridge to look out and finally saw the blind. 

The next morning I set off at 04:30, muck boots on, flashlight in hand ( to follow reflectors) and camera gear. As I walked, I flushed up ducks, it was that wet. I just hoped that I didn't sink too deep and ruin my camera gear. I finally made it to the lek. I told myself that the hike was better than sitting at home watching TV.

I was so quiet; I could hear the prairie chickens making a deep, loud sound. Since the trail was so wet, I abandoned my plan to use my Canon 600mm lens mounted on a tripod with flash bracket and flash. Instead I would have to use my  easier to carry Canon 400mm f/4 lens. At the last minute I remember that I had a flash bracket for it. Once in the dark blind, I could not get the flash head onto the bracket. Damn! I tried ten times. Later, in my hotel room where there was some light, I got the flash attached on the first try. So now I would have to wait until it was quite light before I got decent shots.

I watched the prairie chickens move around about 30 feet in front of the blind. I watched the males repeatedly raise their neck feathers above their heads and inflate their orange throat sacs. I got some good shots, but nothing great. As I watched the prairie chickens, a moose trotted past. A moose, unbelievable!

I will go back next year to a different lek where I don't have to walk so far.

]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Tue, 02 May 2017 19:54:37 GMT
Searching for the Rufous-Capped Warbler 4/22/17 This past winter I read that someone had found a rufous-capped warbler in the Florida Canyon near Green valley, AZ.

This is an uncommon bird for the United Sates, so I decided to look for it when I would be in AZ. in Feb. 2017. I had detailed directions to the place where the birds had been seen. I met a man in Green Valley and told him where I was going. He said, " Be careful, it's easy to get lost and the trail is steep and rocky". I thought that I would find the spot- I was wrong. I was not in the right spot the day I hiked up the trail; luckily, I met some people on the trail who knew the way. I followed them and we did not find the bird.

I returned to Az. this April and decided to look again. I hiked up the Florida Canyon in the early morning, following two persons who were also looking for the bird- again no luck. The next day I arrived at Battiste B and B in Hereford, AZ. The owner, Tony told me that he knew a guy who could help me find the Rufous-capped warbler in Hunter Canyon. This man had an excellent ear and could hear the birds before he saw them. We hiked up the canyon in ninety degree heat to a place where he had seen them- they weren't there. He said, " They are probably in the upper canyon". More hiking. Finally he heard them and "phished" them out of the bushes onto some higher tree limbs. What a joy to see a rufous-capped warbler! One moved around in the trees ten to twenty feet from me and I was able to get excellent photos.


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Sat, 22 Apr 2017 19:50:20 GMT
How I Got the Shot On March 5, 2017 I was driving on the Sawbill Trail in No. Minn. when I saw a flock of birds in the gravel on the side of the road. I pulled over to the side and stopped. I saw that they were Pine grosbeaks, birds that I don't see where I live in St. Paul, MN. I wanted to get a shot, but I didn't want to set up on a tripod or stand looking down on them. I sat down on the ground, used the front of my car as a back support, put my Canon 600mm f.4 lens between my knees and just sat and watched the birds. They started coming very close to me, as if they didn't know I was there. I got some good shots. At times there were so close, I couldn't even focus. Happy.




]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Sun, 12 Mar 2017 21:03:21 GMT
Sacrificing the Shot 2/13/17 There are times when I have to forego a shot in order to be a better photographer.  There are certain techniques that take practice; for instance, using rear curtain sync with flash in order to blur the wings and keep the head sharp. If I try this, I might miss the shot. I know that I could just use a fast shutter speed without the flash and get a good shot.  That's easy- I'm not learning anything.  I think it's impotant that if I'm in an area where there are alot of birds coming and going to practice my photography skills rather than just take the easy shots.


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Mon, 13 Feb 2017 08:31:59 GMT
Still Looking for a Short-eared Owl 2/7/16 For the past few months I have been hoping to get a photo of a short-eared owl. Yesterday I drove back to a place (for the third time) where one was reported. Still no luck.

I tried to enjoy the drive in the country by driving slowly on the dirt roads, sometimes listening to music that I like, always binoculars and photo gear ready.

I stopped for a pheasant on the side of the road eating gravel. I got out of the car, flight lens in hand hoping to get a

flight shot. As I walked closer, he took off too soon and I missed the shot.  I scanned the fence posts and small trees in the fields looking for owls. Off in the distance, I saw of herd of about twenty- five deer. This was an incredible sight for me since  I usually just see one or two. A flock of about twenty-five snow buntings flew up and away as my car approached. They were too far gone to get a photo. I came over a hill and to the right on the edge of the woods was a Red-tailed hawk eating a raccoon. Finally, I was able to get a good shot.

I continued to drive slowly and saw what I thought was a herd of reindeer! It was an elk farm. There must have been about fifty  elk- a beautiful, unusual sight for Minnesota. I took a photo of an antlered elk backlit in the sun.

Even though I saw no short-eared owls, I enjoyed the morning and will continue to look for them. There is so much that I find beautiful in the stark winter fields: short stubbles of corn husks in the snowy fields- rows of yellow and white contrasting colors, pale yellow grasses, weeds and thistles. Someday I will take the time to photograph this beauty.


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Tue, 07 Feb 2017 06:26:00 GMT
Canon 5D Mark IV 1/25/17 I recently bought the Canon 5D MarkIV. I had been using the Canon 7D MarkII. The 5D has a resolution of 30.4

compared with  20.2 of the 7D. I have only had the opportunity to take a few shots of birds, but I have noticed the difference in detail and sharpness of my photos.  I was always hesitant to use high speed continuous shooting with the 7D when shooting RAW because the mirror slaps open and closed with each shot - this temporarily affects the AF.

With the 5D, I can switched to Silent continuous shooting drive mode where the mirror is locked up. Also, I love the 

 touch screen, particularly for image review where I can pinch and zoom to see image sharpness in a particular area. I don't shoot a lot of video; I heard the 5D isn't the best for video. As I continue to use the camera, I'm certain to discover more features that I like or not.


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Wed, 25 Jan 2017 12:28:06 GMT
Compositing 1/22/17 I have been learning photo compositing for the last two months and still have one more book that I want to learn from-"The Photoshop Workbook" on professional compositing. I took a picture of a burrowing owl when I was in California. The photo of the owl was okay, but the background was not since it was just a mound of dirt. Last summer I took a photo of a field of daisies. I thought that if I could combine the two images the photo would look so much better- and I was right. I was so pleased with the final result, so I have included the photo with this post.

Pam Burrowing OwlBurrowing Owl

]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Sun, 22 Jan 2017 10:34:19 GMT
Photo Chasing 12/20/16 When I started this photography endeavor I told myself that I wanted it to be something that I enjoy- and I have.

There has been much to learn: exposure, exposure composition, autofocus modes, aperture, shutter speeds, ISO.

There has been many technical aspects related to my lens, cameras and speed lights. And there has been and still is a

lot to learn about digital photo editing. I took it step by step, kept practicing and learning and just trusted that I would get better as time passed- I did get better. Today I almost did something inelegant, and I almost did it twice. Someone 

reported that they had seen a short-eared owl. This is an owl that I have been wanting to see very much. It would require drive time, search time and photo time, in all- about three to four hours. I was tired and thought about going-twice.

The more I thought about it, I decided that it wasn't the right choice. I have a better plan to wake in the morning and go when I'm not tired, when the light is better, and when I can take my time and enjoy everything about it: the drive, the looking and hopefully the photographing.


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Tue, 20 Dec 2016 18:55:37 GMT
Bolsa Chica California 12/16/16 I took a trip to Bolsa Chica wetlands near Huntington Beach, Ca. - a place where many birds winter. I saw a lot of shorebirds, raptors, waterfowl, and some small birds.  I found it to be a great place for flight photography since there are walking paths on cliffs overlooking large, open areas of water. Some of the birds that I saw: Burrowing owl, Anna's and Allen's hummingbirds, Calif. Towhee, Say's Phoebe, Peregrine Falcon, Cooper's hawk, Brown Pelican, Great Egret, Am. Kestrel. Am. Bittern, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Shearwaters, Willet, Black Turnstone, Long-billed Curlews, Red-throated loons, Western grebes, Northern Pintails, and many Gulls.

I stayed in Long Beach, rented a car, as drove south as far as Dana Pt. stopping at various points along the coast to photograph birds, piers, waves and the rocky coast. It felt so good to be outdoors hiking in the 60 degree temps.


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Fri, 16 Dec 2016 06:39:31 GMT
Compositing 11/25/16 Lately, all I think about is compositing, and I'm going to spend many hours this winter perfecting my skills. Compositing involves the blending of two or more images into one. I have found it useful for adding a more interesting sky to a background. The possibilities for artistic editing are endless. I now have an idea to create a bicolor soft pastel image and use this for a background. Adding textures to a final composite can make them look more complete. I've been making my own textures by photographing wood, limestone, water, etc. Learning compositing involves many hours spent in Photoshop; I enjoy it!


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Fri, 25 Nov 2016 08:46:12 GMT
Northern Shrike 11/16/16 Today was the first time that I've seen a Northern Shrike in Minnesota. I've been hearing of sightings for the past month, and 

have been hiking and driving looking for one, but have not seen one until today when I went for a walk at the Woodlake Nature Center in Minneapolis.  I wasn't even thinking about a Norther Shrike; I was looking for owls. On a trail, on a tree branch about

thirty feet ahead of me, I saw a bird. I raised my lens, looked, and saw a Northern Shrike! I was able to get five shots; the lighting wasn't the best, the bird was somewhat backlit and in the shade. I was able to make adjustments to the exposure, highlights, and shadows post-production and  finally had a good photo of the bird. Not great, but good.



]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Thu, 17 Nov 2016 08:26:02 GMT
Photo Walk 10/25/16 It was 39 degrees F today (Oct. 25, 2016) when I went for a hike. Someone reported that they had seen a Northern Shrike bird at a park which is an hour from where I live. I wanted to get a photo of this bird, but really didn't think that I would see anything at this park; however, I knew that I would have zero chance of seeing it if I stayed home. I found the park and started my hike. I scared two white-tailed deer from their resting place. I noticed that the trees were  bare, most of the leaves had fallen, and I noticed how quiet the woods were; most of the birds had left. The Northern Shrikes migrate down from Canada and some winter in Minnesota. I hiked for an hour and did not find the bird. I left and went to the Woodlake Nature Center in Minneapolis. Again, the woods were quiet. The day before I had seen Ruby-crowned Kinglets here. As I was leaving I heard the soft sounds of kinglets. I got some nice shots of a Golden-crowned Kinglet - it is such a sweet little bird. When I got home I looked at the Minnesota Birding site on Facebook. I saw a photo of a Northern Shrike that someone had posted earlier in the day- at a place fifteen minutes from where I live! The chase continues.


]]> (Pam Walz Creative Photography) Wed, 26 Oct 2016 19:38:11 GMT