Winter Beauty (Tyler)

Click to enlarge

If you are a morning person, then you will be sure to recognize these wintery scenes.  Waking up early one morning last week, I was excited to witness the uncommon hoar frost.  Skipping my first class (for the sake of the future of photography of course), I headed out with camera in hand, hoping to capture the beauty before the sun melted it all away.  I was very happy with the results. Enjoy!

$6,000 Sigma Scholarship for High School Seniors (DEADLINE: FEB 15) (Gabby)

Deadline approaching for Sigma Corporation of America Scholarship entries

High school seniors pursuing photo-related careers can apply for scholarship through Feb. 15

Ronkonkoma, NY, Feb. 10, 2010 – Sigma Corporation of America (, a leading researcher, developer, manufacturer and service provider of some of the world’s most impressive lines of lenses, cameras and flashes, is accepting entries for the company’s first-ever scholarship contest through Feb. 15, 2010.

Applicants are invited to visit the Sigma Corporation of America Web site for more details and to complete an application form, which includes a brief essay and the submission of up to five thematically-tied photographs.

The Sigma Corporation of America Scholarship will award a cash gift of $5,000 and $1,000 in Sigma products to one talented high school senior to advance his or her education and goals toward obtaining a career in a photo-related field. Students pursuing higher education in industries such as photography, photojournalism, graphic arts and design, visual arts and art history are eligible to apply.

The entire package will be judged based on creativity of subject selection, overall technique and, most importantly, image quality. Students are not required to use Sigma equipment to shoot the photographs they submit.

Applications via the Sigma Corporation of America Web site at Once the submission process closes, the public will be invited to vote online for the top three students of their choice from Feb. 16, 2010 to April 23, 2010. Sigma Corporation of America executives will select a winner from the top three public vote-getters and announce the scholarship recipient on May 3, 2010.
For information about the Sigma Corporation of America Scholarship, eligibility, the application process, material submissions and a formal list of contest rules, visit

Footprints in the snow (Jodie Randall)

European Blackbird

European Rabbit Footprints

I realize that I have been absent from this blog for a while now (my last post was in October 09), so my apologies. During the last few months I have been out in the field as much as possible, but I seem to have spent an awful lot more time than I’d have liked on the computer. Spending time outside surrounded by nature taking photographs is the fun part, while sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end is something I find extremely tedious. Unfortunately in the digital age there cannot really be one without the other.

At the beginning of January the UK experienced freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall. For a couple of weeks I managed to go out shooting nearly every day, rising early in-order to be out before sunrise. The light was fantastic. The low winter sun peaked over the top of ominous-looking clouds of deep blue and gray illuminating the brilliant white landscape. Waking up and looking out of the window to discover such familiar surroundings completely transformed is something that I find just as thrilling now as I did when I was a small child. Instead of the chance to build snowmen, snow now brings the promise of beautiful light and hopefully some good images.

The surrounding landscape looked stunning. Personally, I have never possessed the eye of a landscape photographer, and deciding that I was unable to do it justice, I went searching for the smaller details instead. Walking through woodland and across many fields leaving a scattered trail of footprints behind me, I could not help being captivated by the tracks left by more graceful creatures than myself. Snaking their way across the landscape, criss-crossing and weaving in all directions were the numerous trails of red foxes interspersed with the distinctive patterns left behind by rabbits. I followed the tracks of squirrels and stoats and in patches where the snow lay less deep, birds such as woodpigeons, blackbirds and house sparrows filled the once blank canvas with hundreds of three-toed footprints.

Climbing over a style, I emerged into an open field surrounded by woodland. Two fox tracks led from opposite corners of the field, one to my left, and the other to my right. As I continued walking, I discovered the spot, marked by a light depression in the snow, where the two animals had met, and then continued on their way, each leaving the story of their meeting behind them.

Goodbye 7D, Hello 1Dmk3 (Connor Stefanison)

Back in October I made a post about my newly purchased Canon 7D. With all the great features it had, I was super stoked to have gotten it. The 7D is one of the nicest cameras I’ve used. The video’s great, buttons are big enough for gloves, quick AF, 100% vf, 8 fps! How could you go wrong?

The answer is SHARPNESS. (pretty much the most important thing).
Since I bought the camera I’ve been unable to get tack sharp shots. I always used a tripod, Canon L-lenses, high shutter speeds, “sharp” f-stops, and I tried multiple test shots on every AF microadjustment. It was getting pretty frustrating going on shoots and getting some of my best shots, but not being able to use them because the shots are so soft. All my shots on my website with the 7D may look somewhat sharp, but that’s because they’re over-sharpened.
I then googled some 7D reviews, and found that lots of people were finding the same thing.
I found this article by Darwin Wigget, For those of you that don’t know, Darwin isn’t some random guy. He’s quite an accomplished photographer, and even had one of his landscapes in last years Natures Best. After reading this review and agreeing with it completely (I too find that my canon rebel takes way sharper shots), I decided it was time to ditch the 7D. So I basically traded it for a Canon 1D mark 3 about a week ago.
The 1D is great, the low-res shots above are from my first shoot with it today at Burnaby Lake.
Now, some people do say they like their 7D bodies, so don’t just take my word for it. Some may be good, but I believe that mine and the three that Darwin tested were either “duds’ or whatever. Overall, the 7D is a fantastic camera, but a failure for image quality, (In my opinion). So if you’re planning on buying one, I suggest trying it out first and seeing how the shots are before purchase.
Have a good one,
Connor Stefanison

Winter Color (Tyler)

I made a short posting on my personal blog yesterday on the few photos I took using my Lensbaby (  I headed out the the local park called Wintergarden Park in Bowling Green, Ohio in hopes of capturing some color in the midst of this gray winter weather. Enjoy!

Making the most of common species (Jodie Randall)

Top: Black-headed gulls are abundant in urban areas
Above: Starlings are a common sight in gardens

When I first became interested in wildlife photography a few years ago, I would dream of photographing bears, elephants and wolves. The village where I live is about 40 minutes from central London (England) however, and not remote by any stretch of the imagination.

Unfortunately I had a bit of difficulty tracking down any bears, so I gave up and headed to some local lakes to photograph swans and ducks. Not quite the same I know, but an unhappy swan can be quite fierce when defending its territory, and just as frightening as a bear I’m sure…..

When I wanted to practice capturing birds in flight, I took my camera into town to practice on the gulls and pigeons. Common species that we see every day in our parks, towns and gardens are often over-looked or photographed in unremarkable ways. One of the great advantages with these creatures is that they are used to people and easier to approach. This creates an opportunity to achieve some very artistic images.

I enjoy the challenge of going back to my old locations to photograph common subjects. It really encourages me to think about the pictures I am taking and how I am going to create something different.


· Before you begin, it is helpful to ask yourself what would make people who see these animals and birds every day stop and look at your photographs.

· Be original.

· Don’t be afraid to experiment. You can always go back and try again if you are not happy with the results. The animals should still be there and with digital cameras there is no wasted film.

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