Archive for February, 2009

My Son, James, and his Photography

Posted in James, My son on February 28, 2009 by bobshank

My son, James Shank, is becoming quite proficient behind a camera. He has his own Nikon D40 and enjoys going out with me on all kinds of photographic excursions. He thoroughly enjoys photographing the elk of Pennsylvania and lately we have been working on some winter landscapes. You can some of his photos here on his gallery. I think you will enjoy his creative technique!

Yesterday, my good friend, Dick McCreight, and I journeyed to the Upper Delaware National Park to try to find some bald eagles. The eagles winter in this park, which follows the Delaware River on the state line between Pennsylvania and New York. We did manage to see one bald eagle, but in my excitement I was not able to capture even one shot! This was a humble reminder to me that one can never be prepared enough. It was my lack of preparedness which resulted in me coming home empty-handed. We did manage to see some snow geese and a few turkeys as well.

My new Nikon D300 is performing beautifully. I created 3 custom banks of menu settings so I can quickly change to specific shooting conditions. The camera is solidly built and is user friendly in so many ways. The bigger LCD screen makes setting the menus and looking at the photos much easier. The menus make sense are easily navigated. And the buttons and knobs on the camera make for quick changes as shooting conditions warrant. I am extremely impressed with the D300 so far and I am sure this camera body will suit my needs perfectly.

My New Camera

Posted in Camera on February 25, 2009 by bobshank

I just received delivery of a brand new Nikon D300 this afternoon from our friendly UPS delivery man. I carefully opened the box and slowly took the camera out. I knew, and often live by, the old adage that a real man never reads directions. But this time that old adage went right out the window. The User’s Manual for my new D300 is exactly 421 pages long and I plan on reading many of those pages.

Of course, I could not wait too long to actually use my new camera, so I loaded a battery and inserted an empty flash card and went outside. It was 26 degrees Farenheit but that didn’t stop me from traipsing around the yard with my new camera! It didn’t take long for this camera to feel like an old friend in my cold hands. I just love the way Nikon places their controls on their cameras!

None of these first photos taken by my new D300 are going to win any prizes or even show up in my galleries, but almost immediately I could see why this camera has received such rave reviews. Compared to my old D70 the D300 has many more switches and controls to keep many options within easy reach, allowing the photographer to make many necessary changes on the fly without having to navigate through menus. It also boasts an impressive 6 frames per second, which should be very useful when I am shooting sports events.

I’ve only had the D300 for about 8 hours now, but it has quickly become my favorite camera that I’ve ever owned. Stay tuned to this blog to hear more about my impressions on the D300. I will also be posting photos from this camera, too. It truly is a sweet piece of photographic equipment!

Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience

Posted in Elk on February 16, 2009 by bobshank

Well, another Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience is in the books and we had a fantastic weekend! We arrived on Thursday to a cold day and over 18 inches of snow! The snowplow took care of making a drivable path to our cabin and we started the heater right away. It did take a while to get water into the camp because of the cold weather, but eventually the pipes thawed out enough to allow water to flow into the cabin. Elk were not as abundant early in the weekend as they usually are in warmer weather. We did see a few cows and a spike or two on Thursday. We also saw a number of trees that were stripped of some of their bark from the hungry elk attempting to find food in the snowy landscape. The weather began to get warmer as the weekend progressed and by Sunday it was downright warm enough to melt a lot of the snow! Elk became more abundantly seen as the warmer weather coaxed them from their hiding places. We did manage to see some nice bulls toward the end of the photo trip. These photogenic creatures offered us plenty of angles and poses to make our photographers happy. And on Sunday we had about 200 elk in the vicinity of our cabin! Cows were spread out all over the mountain and a couple of nice bulls put on quite a show for our guests. In-between shooting the elk we did see, we also found some beautiful landscapes and other subjects to photograph. One area in particular provided some frozen ice cycles and snowy scenes that had us switching lenses and trying creative techniques to capture its beauty. Our goal is always to find the elk and photograph them, but they are wild animals and can be unpredictable and difficult to locate. Fortunately, the elk range provides a variety of beautiful subjects and landscapes to provide us with chances to exercise our photographic creativity in those times when we are not seeing elk. You can look through my gallery for this photo trip and see some of the different scenes we were able to capture. The participants had a great time and we enjoyed being together, learning more about wildlife photography, and putting our photographic skills into use as we captured the elk with our cameras. I am looking forward to our Fall Photo Trip. This time of the year is my favorite for photographing the elk as they are actively in the rut. We would love to have you join us for this PA Elk Photo Experience, so check out the info here. We will feed you well and provide you with some up amazing sights of the Pennsylvania Elk in the beauty of the Fall colors. It will be a memorable experience!

Trip Prep

Posted in Preparation on February 4, 2009 by bobshank

We are getting ready for our next “Pennsylvania Elk Photography Experience” so I am beginning to prepare for the trip. I typically work with lists of things I need to get ready and a packing list so I don’t forget to pack anything. The excitement of wondering what all we might see and be able to photograph is enough to create plenty of energy and enthusiasm for this phase of the pre-trip planning!

Food shopping and menu planning are not unimportant matters because photographers work up an appitite and must find sustinence at the end of a long day. There are rumors that two feet of snow are blanketing the ground around our cabin. If this is true then we will be in for some interesting hikes! This causes me to wonder how the animals of the mountains are able to survive such harsh winters.

Here in the Poconos we’ve had snow on the ground for over a month now. It has been cold, too. Our lowest temperature in the month of January was -9.8. The weather is beginning to change now and this weekend is supposed to be much warmer. Forty-degrees in February is not bad at all. I am sure we will have some cold weather to deal with this week, but it could always be worse. Besides, anytime to be outdoors enjoying nature is a pure joy!

I will post another blog after we return from this week’s photo trip. In the meantime get out there and capture some photographs!