Mark and Anita’s Ten Favorite Photography Websites

Mt Katahdin from the Cribworks with Full Moon in Winter

Katahdin from the Cribworks with Full Moon in Winter

 

In case you have not heard – it is really cold outside.  And, if you are like us, you are spending more time inside – maybe at your computer. Surfing the web we see lists of all sorts. Top 10, Top 20, Must have, Must do, Best this, Best that – the list goes on. So, not to be “listless” in this frigid weather Mark and I offer a list of our Ten Favorite Photography Websites.  Some of the photography websites will inspire and others will help you keep up with the latest photography trends. All are offered to help you focus on enjoying photography more in the coming year. We hope you will sit down with a hot cup of your favorite winter beverage, visit our list of favorite photography websites, and enjoy the New Year!

10 Favorite Photography Websites

  1. Naturescapes.net is a high quality nature photography forum which Mark reads daily with his morning coffee. Thousands of talented nature photographers post to this site and much can be learned from their inspiring images and feedback. It is free to join unless you want to post and then there is a small  annual fee which is well worth the investment for the feedback you receive and the camaraderie that develops as photographers share their passion for nature photography. The site also provides information on upcoming photography workshops and has an online store. Photography friend Jim Borden markets his Borden Steady Foot Extreme thru this site.
  2. Tim Grey is the “go to guy” for post processing digital image tips. We subscribe to his “Ask Tim Grey” daily emails and always learn something. What is great about Tim’s information is that it is concise and comes in small snippets. It is free to register for daily emails – to ask your own questions the subscription price is $35 a year. Tim puts a great amount of time and effort into providing quality technical information. If you find the information useful we hope you will support his site.
  3. In our case the Maine Bird Google Group list serve is invaluable.  However, each state has its own bird list serve to join free where birders will post their recent sightings – often times of rare species. If you don’t want all the emails delivered to your inbox throughout the day (in real-time) you can opt for an archived version and receive just one email per day that includes all of the day’s posts. Archived is the way to go in the spring when bird migration is at its height and the list serves are the most active. As a side Note: Many of you know the United States is experiencing a major eruption of Snowy Owls this winter – one even showed up here near Painted Rock on the Park Road outside of Millinocket a few weeks ago!  Remember many of the birds listed on these sites have traveled great distances in search of adequate food and it is unethical to stress wildlife by altering their behavior.
  4. Now our file sharing site of choice Dropbox is not just for photographers. Good friend, internet wiz, and talented photographer and videographer Jim Boutin put us on to this. We have tried others but found that once downloaded to your desktop sharing files via Dropbox is seamless. A Dropbox folder becomes active whenever something is added to it. Behind the scenes large files are loaded to the site while you work on other tasks. When the file is fully loaded the intended recipient receives an email asking them to join the share folder. Free space is available at no charge and most users will find that they don’t need the larger paid subscriptions.
  5. A global community of nature photographers Whytake.net is much like Facebook.  You can register and upload images for free, commenting is encouraged. Stephen Gingold whose landscape and macro images we admire posts on this site. His images are in good company as there are thousands of quality nature images to be admired on this photography website.
  6. A good source for photographers Lisa’s Photography INFO Blog is always informative. Lisa and husband Tom Cuchara are well known for their camera club presentations and Lisa’s blog provides a wealth of up to date information. Lisa sends one email a day. Subscribing is free – donations are appreciated.
  7. Two sites we frequent when planning new equipment purchases are DPreview and Fred Miranda. They serve as the Consumer Reports for photography equipment and offer unbiased reviews. These sites will save you time and costly mistakes – nothing is worse than purchasing an expensive piece of equipment only to find it does not do what you had hoped.
  8. Downloaded to your desktop for free or uploaded to your phone as an app (for a small fee) Photographer’s Ephemeris is comes in handy. It allows you to check the exact location and time of the rising and setting Sun and Moon on the horizon. As photographers who always ‘want more’ when it comes to interesting elements in their landscape images we find this app really helpful. The location for “Full Moon Rising Over Katahdin” was chosen after consulting this app.
  9. The photography website that keeps night sky watchers abreast of the latest celestial happenings is SpaceWeather.Com . The images are fascinating however their Aurora Alert in particular is invaluable for anyone who would like to catch the phenomenon of Northern Lights on memory card. While you can sign up for their email distribution list for free it is not a daily event. They support their site by charging a small monthly fee to receive Aurora Alerts by text or phone which is well worth the money if you do not want to stand out in the cold or be eaten alive by mosquitoes waiting for a something truly remarkable to happen in the night sky.
  10. Facebook has taken on a life of its own with 350 Million pictures posted per day. Trying to keep up with friend activity let alone which pages post the most compelling images is difficult at best. We suggest Mark Picard Wildlife Photography our official business page. We post at least once a day. LIKE our page, join the conversation, and post frequently. We are happy to answer your photography questions if we can or we will direct you to someone who might be able to better help.

Moose Photography Workshops and Moose Tours – What’s the difference?

Moose Photography Workshop Moose Tour picture

“participate in a guided Moose Photography Workshop that focuses not only on Moose but also the landscapes and other wildlife”

Guided Moose photography workshops as well as guided moose tours are becoming more popular each year. This post attempts to help potential guided moose photography workshop and guided moose tour participants determine the type of experience that best meets their needs and individual goals.

First, it is important to differentiate between the two. A guided Moose Tour can be a three hour tour by van or an all day adventure that focuses on as many Moose sightings as possible and does not include any photography instruction. A guided Moose Photography Workshop on the other hand, generally lasts several days, focuses on photographing Moose and other wildlife at close distances, includes instruction, and may, or may not include local transportation, meals, and lodging in the package price. Some guided Moose Photography Workshops also take advantage of accessing Moose habitats via kayak or pontoon boat. Prices vary considerably between the two.

The time of year to participate in a guided Moose Photography Workshop or Moose Tour should be your first consideration. Moose are most visible in June and early July when they frequent ponds and waterways to feed heavily on aquatic vegetation. Bull Moose are in velvet with their antlers growing as much as an inch a day. Cow Moose give birth in May and June and there is nothing cuter than a cinnamon colored new-born calf.

Fall Moose Photography Workshops and Moose Tours coincide with the annual Moose Rut and while Moose are much more difficult to locate that time of year, it is the only time of the year to observe and photograph Moose displaying courtship behavior. Moose are often elusive in the fall and generally no guarantees are made about sightings for either guided Moose Photography Workshops or Moose Tours at this time of year. However, when you do observe Moose during the moose rut, the Moose interaction can be both fascinating and thrilling.

If you have a few days, we suggest that you participate in a guided Moose Photography Workshop that focuses not only on Moose but also the landscapes and other wildlife that are indigenous to the region. That way, given a few days, you will have a greater chance of success photographing Moose and also have time to photograph other subjects of interest in between Moose sightings.

A well conducted Moose Photography Workshop should offer plenty of instruction and focus on each participant’s individual skill level and their respective goals. A Moose Photography Workshop’s group size should be small to ensure individual instruction and a “front row seat” so to speak, when photographing. An experienced professional Moose Photography Workshop leader, who preferably lives in the area, should be your first choice when differentiating between offerings. They will help you save time and frustration by taking you to the most productive Moose habitats which can change from year to year depending on the availability and quality of the food Moose eat. A local Moose Photography Workshop leader and guide will also be aware of the rules associated with visiting a particular location, have the required permits to conduct business in a particular park, and have permission to access private lands that you may visit.

An experienced Moose Photography Workshop leader will also know their subjects well which will help immensely with the participants success rate. Moose sightings are often time-of-day and weather dependant. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to view Moose as well as most other wildlife. Moose, regardless of the time of year, heat stress at temperatures you and I typically might find a little chilly. If the region experiences a heat wave Moose sightings go way down. Prolonged rains can force Moose out of the ponds and streams due to high water levels. Windy conditions will also have an adverse effect on Moose sightings as high winds impair a Moose’s most important senses needed for survival – hearing and smelling approaching predators. In the fall, Moose are in the woods, generally not in the ponds, and coaxing them out (much like a hunter would do) requires skill.

With 40 plus years of combined experience photographing and observing Moose it has become abundantly clear that like people, Moose each have their own personalities. Some Moose have been habituated to people, are pretty laid-back, and happy to hang about allowing ample time for even the beginner photographer to capture amazing Moose images. Some Moose are even a little gregarious, coming closer to the photographer out of curiosity – almost appearing to pose for the photographer. Other Moose will have no part of a photographer’s presence, or anyone else’s for that matter, and quickly exits the scene.

For those less cooperative Moose, it is important for each Moose photography workshop participant to be able to quickly, confidently, and quietly adjust camera settings and composition. That’s where good instruction comes in. Spending adequate time with each Moose workshop participant ensures they get the most out of the workshop and are prepared to capture a fast moving wildlife subject with ease. For this reason workshop leaders who are not photographing for themselves during a workshop are better able to help participants take their current skills to the next level regardless of the participant’s current expertise.

Unlike a petting zoo, Wildlife Park or even a wildlife safari, a Moose Photography Workshop is different. The biggest difference is that some of the Moose you encounter during a Moose Photography Workshop may have never seen a human. Expect to travel to some remote wildlife habitats. A good tour leader will scout extensively for Moose and animal sign prior to the Moose Photography Workshop start date and will be happy to share the not so well known “secret spots” the area has to offer.

Finally, check out the testimonials associated with the Moose Photography Workshop or Moose Tour you are interested in. Often times they can be helpful in determining if past participants were happy with the experience. If the workshop includes meals or lodging in the pricing, dig a little deeper and read the respective establishments reviews on Trip Advisor. Often times it will quickly become evident that differences in quality exist.

We hope this information was helpful and that you consider joining one of our professionally guided Moose Photography Workshops, now in their 11th year!  Our 4-day, all-inclusive Moose Photography Workshops are like mini vacations and include expert photography instruction, transportation (once you arrive at our location), kayak rental, pontoon boat reservation, Registered Maine Guide, as well as upscale lodging and meals. Be prepared to be pampered! With spectacular views of Katahdin, Maine’s tallest mountain, our host resort boast luxury North Woods style shared cabins and wonderful food in quantities that mirror the appetites of log driver’s from a bye gone era.

We hope to see you in the woods, Mark and Anita

Photography Vacation with Mark Picard and Friends

One of this summer’s highlights was our much anticipated annual working photography vacation deep in Maine’s North Woods. Moose feed heavily in the ponds, rivers and streams in the early summer so a summer photography vacation and kayaking trip that focuses on capturing fresh new images and visiting with old friends is always a treat. As luck would have it, this year’s photography vacation also provided an opportunity for Mark to share his wildlife photography passion and philosophy with Portland Press Herald’s award winning journalist, Susan Kimball, for the Kimball and Keyser video segment INTO THE WOODS: WITH WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER MARK PICARD viewed above. We commend Susan for her journalism and interviewing skill. Her love of craft is evident in her work. Special thanks to Jim Boutin, videographer and friend for capturing the interview.

Wildlife photography is not only our passion, we love to share the Katahdin Region of Maine and all the things we have learned over the years during our North Maine Woods Photography Workshops. Now in their 10th year, our workshops are really photography vacations that mirror as close as possible, the experience we enjoy during our summer photography vacations. That is why, in addition to touring by van, we include opportunities to photograph from kayaks and pontoon boat in otherwise inaccessible remote wildlife habitats. Check out the fall 2013 all-inclusive Maine Woods Photography Workshop dates if you are so inclined, as we do have limited space available.

Prefer to venture out on your own? Visit Moose Prints Gallery and Gifts for information on the latest wildlife sightings and the largest display of Mark’s work. Although Mark (who is a wealth of information) spends as much time as possible in the woods photographing you can generally catch him in the gallery mid-day (when the light is too harsh to photograph) through-out the busy summer tourist season. The only caveat to this is when the Katahdin Region experiences bright overcast skies at which time, all bets are off. Either way, both of us enjoy meeting vacationers and visitors that travel to the Katahdin Region of Maine from near and far, registering their origin in the gallery guest book. So far, 2013 has brought us many Maine summer vacationers, New England tourist, and shoppers from just about every state as well as several countries including, Canada, China, Botswana, Great Britain, France, Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand. Moose Prints Gallery and Gifts is open 7 days a week during Maine’s busy vacation season which is the 4th of July through Columbus Day Weekend.

With just a couple of weeks left, you can also view a large selection of Mark’s images this summer by visiting Acadia National Park’s Schoodic Peninsula Visitor’s Center. MAINE: WOODS, WATER, AND WILDLIFE II is a show of fine art photography depicting Maine landscapes and creatures both great and small on display at the visitor’s center in Winter Harbor through Labor Day. From Maine’s North Woods to its Rocky Coast, thirty-five images provide just a sampling of the spectacular vistas and amazing wildlife that have attracted artist, vacationers and visitors to Maine for more than a century. Speaking of spectacular vistas, there is no better place in Winter Harbor than the Visitor’s Center to relax and enjoy the changing landscape as the tide comes and goes – which makes the Schoodic Peninsula Visitor’s Center a great place to stop for a morning coffee and fresh baked scone, blueberry muffin, or breakfast sandwich. At lunch time, choose from a nice selection of hearty gourmet sandwiches and coastal soup of the day, or enjoy a sizzling fresh wood-fired artisan pizza Friday or Saturday night.

Another of this summer’s highlights was when Moose Prints Gallery had the pleasure of co-hosted the opening night reception for the 27th Annual Highpointers Convention with our friends at North Light Gallery. Conventioneer’s strolled between the two galleries before heading to the Blue Ox for a dinner barbecue, Millinocket style. The Highpointer’s actually spell convention with a “k” though. Apparently, their founding-father’s typewriter had no “c” key and the “k” became sticky in that, the “k” is still used 27 years later. They were a wonderful group of passionate hikers who annually plan their conventions around visiting and climbing each state’s highest peak. In Maine’s case that would be Katahdin. Mark also had the honor of presenting his Giant’s of the North Woods digital slide presentation at the convention banquet two nights later. It was interesting to learn that many of the 225 convention attendees had previously visited Maine and had already climbed Katahdin multiples times. Many in fact, have visited and climbed (which they also spell with a “k”) the highpoints of all 50 states! And, several highpointers have hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail which many of you know Katahdin to be, either the start or terminus of their 2,200 mile trek. There are local Highpointer’s activities throughout the country which may be of interest. Their motto is “Keep Klimbin”, they clearly know how to have fun, and their foundation does good work promoting access and maintenance projects at highpoints in many states.

Continued in next post…

Celebrating All Things Moose from North Country Magazine

North Country Article Tear sheet

Celebrating All Things Moose from North Country Magazine – A reprint from the Spring 2013 Issue of North Country: The Journal of Maine. Shelia Talbot is a talented freelance writer and regularly contributes to North Country Magazine. She resides in the Moosehead Lake Region of Maine. North Country: The Journal of Maine is published bi-monthly and features all that is Maine.

Many people come to Maine with the hope of seeing one of the most amazing creatures, the mighty moose, or as it is technically known Alces alces, the largest member of the deer family. This amazing creature, which can seem as large as a house when encountered on foot, saunters gracefully through the woods in spite of its size, and in the case of the male, its ungainly rack of antlers. They are like no other animal; to some they look like they’ve been constructed out of spare parts by Mother Nature – an almost droopy cow-like nose, narrow hips, long, long legs and a tiny snip of tail. In spring they move out of the deep woods and into boggy places on lakes and ponds to enjoy the fresh plant life growing nearby or underwater. That’s the best place to catch sight of them. And, if you’re very fortunate, you might be treated to a Mama moose with one or two fuzzy little ones. It’s a lifetime experience for sure – one you’ll never forget. Hopefully you have your camera ready!

If not, you still can find your moose, magnificently photographed by the folks at MOOSE PRINTS GALLERY AND GIFTS in Millinocket. This July, owners Mark Picard and Anita Mueller will celebrate the third anniversary of their business. They are both talented photographers and, as our good fortune would have it, also have a passion for the North Woods of Maine and the creatures that live there. Mark’s work has graced the cover of North Country Magazine many times. His photographs are like paintings, the brilliant shot of a fox on the last edition of North Country and the antlered moose in snowfall published prior to that, are two examples.

It takes infinite patience and time, not to mention a deep understanding of the animal’s behavior to capture images like these. Mark’s quiet way has been such an asset and he is now known worldwide for his extraordinary digital presentation of moose. His portfolio of more than 150,000 quality nature images has been featured in numerous national and international publications, books, and calendars including Audubon, Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, Vermont Magazine, Yankee, Defenders of Wildlife and Birder’s World, and Ranger Rick, (just to name a few) as well as North Country.

While photographing at a wildlife sanctuary he met Anita, a talented free lance interior designer, who as a hobbyist, photographed birds. She shares Mark’s passion for the natural world and, with her eye for design as well as photography, designed Moose Prints Gallery as a perfect foil for their work.

“This space reflects my long-time love affair with the Katahdin region and its wildlife,” Mark observed. “Much like a walk in nature, you need to expect the unexpected. Anita has created this gallery in such a way that the walls are filled with creatures, landscapes and gift items both great and small.”

Anita smiled. “Mark has been photographing in Maine for over 30 years now,” she said. “Then, a little over 10 years ago, LL Bean hired him to lead one of their Photography Outdoor Discovery Schools. It seemed like such a good idea we continued to promote the workshops in the Katahdin Region, which have attracted visitors from around the world. However, the few short months we spent in Maine for the workshops was never enough so we re-located permanently to Millinocket three years ago and opened MOOSEPRINTS GALLERY & GIFTS.”

Not long ago Mark was honored to have his Moose images used in rendering the Maine State Postal Stamp and last year he was selected as the Maine Sportsman Artist of the Year. “Most recently, the Turnpike Authority has used his images on one of the large-scale banners that hang in the visitor centers,” Anita said. “We have several large canvases on loan to the Maine Tourism Association to greet visitors at the Kittery Visitors Center. The center attracts thousands of visitors each year. And, who does not want to see a Moose when they visit Maine?” For most, it’s at the top of their list and the banner and canvases are dramatic invitations to spot your own.

Picard’s canvases, with the photograph stretched around the frame are impressive, especially the ones featuring the adult bull moose, a creature who can weigh in at around 1200 pounds and stand over seven feet tall! No less spectacular are the panoramic landscape images of Mt Katahdin, Maine’s tallest mountain which are photographed in such a way as to make the viewer feel as though they are standing right there. The image transferred to canvas gives it a more “painterly” look and can be a centerpiece that commands a whole wall.

“We have enjoyed living and doing business in Maine” Anita said. “We have accomplished a great deal in a few short years.” Looking forward and new for 2013, in addition to Mark’s group photography workshops they have added Maine Woods Photography Workshops for Women led by Anita which are scheduled during prime viewing times of June and September. It is quite a trick to photograph a sometimes fast-moving subject, and with her special eye for birds, Anita has the knowledge and technique to assist photographers of all levels of experience. She knows her subjects well, and can anticipate movement and patterns of animal behavior. As is true for all their workshops a heavy emphasis is placed on learning how to operate a digital camera for consistent results.

On your way to Katahdin or Baxter State Park, be sure to include enough time for a stop in Millinocket and a leisurely visit to MOOSEPRINTS GALLERY & GIFTS where you can bag your own moose souvenir. You will find a rich assortment of Mark and Anita’s work, including Mark’s popular moose wall calendar, greeting cards and photographs of all sizes. You can also find works by other gifted artisans, including nature-themed jewelry, candles, cd sound tracks, moose antler sheds, and locally authored books.

MOOSEPRINTS GALLERY & GIFTS is located on 58 Central Street (Routes 11 and 157) at the intersection of Congress Street and just down the road from a picturesque stretch of Millinocket Stream, adjacent to Key Bank. Call Mark or Anita for information regarding workshops and presentations at 207/447-6906 or visit their excellent website at www.markpicard.com or e-mail them at mark@markpicard.com

Reprinted by permission North Country Magazine

Alces alces Latin for Moose

Watch Alces, alces a You tube video featuring Maine Wildlife Photographer Mark Picard who specializes in Alces, alces which is Latin for Moose, other wildlife and landscape photography workshops and instruction in the Katahdin Region of Maine. This video was sponsored by New England Outdoor Center, the Maine outdoor adventure company that host’s our Maine photography workshops. They had a summer intern who was a photographer and videographer who produced a number of “shorts” about businesses in the Katahdin Region of Maine who specialize in providing outdoor recreation opportunities. Watch the short video to learn what Mark Picard did before he became a professional photographer, what got him hooked on photography, and what he has learned about wildlife photography and Moose over the years. Take a guided tour through Moose Prints Gallery and Gifts and learn about Moose and wildlife photography as Mark discusses images that tell a story about Moose behavior and their natural history.

A Few Wildlife Photography Tips

Twin Moose CalvesA few wildlife photography tips or “pointers” you might consider when photographing Moose and other wildlife.

The most important wildlife photography tip I can suggest is to always focus the camera on the eye (or the head) of any wildlife photography subject. If the eye area is not in sharp focus, the general impact of the photograph will be lost.

The second most important wildlife photography tip (unless you want extra work in Photoshop), is try to maintain a level horizon line in the background of your photographs. Refer to actual horizon lines such as a shoreline, a tree line, or another point of reference to help you achieve this.

Third wildlife photography tip –  don’t be afraid to rotate your camera and shoot photographs vertically! In many instances the photo’s composition would benefit greatly from shooting it vertical, especially when photographing wildlife such as a moose from head on.

Fourth important wildlife photography tip –  try to avoid cropping out or “cutting” off the Moose’s limbs when possible. If you must crop, try to crop above the joints (such as the ankle and knee joints). Sometimes, as in photographing close-up portraits, some cropping will be necessary. If you are including all of the Moose’s body and legs, always include the “virtual” area hidden below (as in grasses or water, for instance) where the feet would normally show as well.

Fifth wildlife photography tip –  leave room in the photo on the sides and try to lead the moose or any wildlife subject into the space around it in the direction it’s headed, while leaving some “space” for the Moose or subject to go. This tip usually lends itself to a more pleasing composition in general.

A final wildlife photography tip –  don’t be afraid to take several images at different focal lengths (such as with a zoom lens). Include images that show the Moose or subject’s environment as well. Some of the best photographs that have the most impact are taken with the Moose or main subject occupying only a small portion of the overall photo. This method supplies the viewer with a ton of information! Of course, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t get that frame-filling portrait of a massive bull moose adorned with a huge rack! Try to be diverse and capture both images when time and conditions makes it possible!

We hope you found these wildlife photography tips helpful. Good luck, and we hope to see you at an upcoming Maine wildlife photography workshop!

A Few Basic Digital Camera Tips

Get to know the innermost workings of your camera so it’s like second nature. Learn all the dials and switches on your camera so well that you can work them without looking at them. Don’t get stuck fumbling around trying to locate and change the settings while something great is happening right in front of you and you can’t pull off the shot! I just had to say that……. There, now that I feel better, let’s move on!

Camera Set-up – Initially, let’s start by discussing how to properly set up your DSLR camera internally. Shoot in RAW whenever possible – RAW contains the most file information and range of colors available, with no compression as is the case when you choose JPEG. JPEGs are “compressed” in the camera, which means that many of the similarly colored pixels are discarded in favor of a smaller file size, reducing overall image quality, somewhat. If you need to have JPEGs, select both RAW and JPEG in your camera settings and it will record both for you. Simply store away your RAW files to use later if you intend to print. Set your color space to Adobe RGB, (not sRGB) which will match the Adobe PhotoShop 1998 setting. Adobe RGB contains millions more color variations than sRGB, and you can convert the image to sRGB later if needed.

White Balance – When shooting in raw, I personally set my white balance (the color temperature of the light in the image) to 5560 Kelvin in the camera, which simulates the old film days where the true color of the light in the early or late light turns warm. This setting does not affect the actual raw file, only the view colors on your camera’s rear monitor. If you cannot set your camera’s white balance to 5560, set it to the “Flash” setting (5500) which is only a little off from the 5560 Kelvin setting. Automatic white balance (where the camera determines the correct white balance) also works quite well in most situations. All these white balance settings can be corrected later on in an editing software such as PhotoShop CS, Elements, Lightroom, etc. in raw format, but not so easily in  the jpeg setting. It is more important to get your jpeg white balance settings more accurate than in the raw format.

Histogram – Use your Histogram! This tool is invaluable and is your exposure’s best friend! Keep the histogram graph favoring the right side but  don’t let it “hit” (this is called “clipping”) either left or the right side of the graph on the screen. This will result in a good exposure with nothing blown out in the highlights, while keeping as much detail as possible in the shadows or dark areas (left side of the histogram) of the image. I also use my “blinky” which is a highlight overexposure setting on the camera that blinks black and white on the monitor if an area in the photo is over-exposed (in conjunction with the histogram).

In Camera Sharpening – I don’t do any sharpening in the camera. PhotoShop and other editing programs (Lightroom, Elements, Aperture, etc.) do a much better job of this after the fact. Besides, this is the last thing you do to your image based on size output and resolution before you save and actually use the image.

Baxter State Park: MYWLP

An honor to participate!  Mark has been invited to lead the outdoor photography segment of this year’s week long Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program sponsored by The Friends of Baxter State Park. Prior to attending the program in Baxter State Park the nine high school students were asked to complete an assignment which included reading the North American Nature Photography Association’s Principals of Ethical Field  Practices and then answer the following question: “What is the most important sentence and why?”  Here are a few of the responses:

“The most important sentence in this position statement is this sentence: “One must always exercise good individual judgment”. This is true because in all  actions towards nature, including photography, personal judgment allows you to follow your own instincts and create a safe and stable environment for the wildlife and others around you. By doing this, you are further helping the safety and success of the surroundings, wildlife, and photographer. This also allows for greater ease and self-confidence in both the photographer and subject!”

“Many people unknowingly endanger themselves and animals: This statement, although in the Individual section of the principles, can also be applied to the Environmental and Social sections. A lot of people are ignorant about what lives in the wilderness and, therefore, don’t know what actions are acceptable in a human-nature relationship. Having knowledge of subject and place (i.e. animals and their habitats) and being aware of the rules and laws in specific areas will allow someone to be more responsible and safe overall. As animals and plants don’t have the ability to research the patterns of human beings, it is our ethical responsibility to obtain this knowledge about the wildlife (because we have the resources to do so). By learning all about wildlife before we explore it and being conscious and aware when among nature, it allows us to act as “good role model[s], both as…photographer[s] and…citizen[s].”

“Most Important sentence: Treat the wildlife, plants and places as if you were their guests. Why: Although there were a number of sentences in this statement from the North American Nature Photography Association that proved to be very insightful, I thought that this particular one instilled a very important ideal for anyone who wishes to enjoy the abundant wildlife. When enjoying the wildlife it is of utmost importance to remain respectful to living and nonliving things. Too many times do people enter the wilderness without any knowledge of subject and place. It is then that disturbances are made that have the potential to alter the life of far too many organisms. I felt that the sentence that I chose was a reminder of how all people should feel when entering the wilderness. It is important to be aware that humans, for the most part, are visitors in life away from urban areas. Because people are simply guests they must do research and become informed when entering a place in which they are less familiar with.”

“I believe that the first statement, knowledge of subject and place, is the most important in nature photography. This section deals directly with the health and safety of the subjects you are photographing, wild animals. Practicing this principle is the most effective in preserving the natural environment for photography and prevents any damage to the ecosystem. While the other principles also help achieve this goal, I believe having proper knowledge of how to conduct oneself in the wilderness is most effective and therefore most important.”

“I found the most important sentence in the article to be: “In the absence of management authority, use good judgment.” I believe ‘use good judgement’ is one of the most important phrases to think upon when you interact with the wild. Written/posted rules and laws are great, and important to follow, but they don’t exist everywhere in nature. Before you do something/go somewhere, you need to assess the situation by yourself, and figure out if it really is a good idea. Always err on the side of caution, and respect the animals, plants, and ecosystems.”

We think the answers provided by the program participants were very insightful and thoughtful. In fact, we think it will be our pleasure to run into these young leaders while photographing in Baxter State Park.  If we had to choose just one sentence as the most important Mark and I would choose “Treat the wildlife, plants and places as if you were their guests.” There are an increasing number of us photographing wildlife every day and far too often we forget that we are in someone else’s home. Limiting the cumulative effects of our presence should always be our goal.

 

Moose Prints Gallery Grand Opening

Moose Prints Gallery ExteriorReprint: Bangor Daily News

Internationally published wildlife photographer Mark Picard and his partner Anita Mueller have opened a new business Moose Prints Gallery and Gifts at 58 Central Street, Millinocket, Maine. The gallery features Mark’s extraordinary Moose prints, wildlife and landscape images along with other wildlife themed gifts.

Much like a walk in nature visitors to the gallery can expect the unexpected from the time they enter “MOOSE PRINTS” front door.  Imagine being greeted by a life size image of a pair of twin Moose calves!  Actually the gallery walls are filled with stunning wildlife images, both large and small that depict the regions indigenous wildlife through the lens of a very talented wildlife photographer’s camera. Black Bears in Autumn, Bull and Breakfast, Whitetail Buck in Red, Three Moose in the Fog, Mt Katahdin from Secret Pond, Great Grey Owl in Cedar, and Kissing Moose are just a few of the titled images. There is even an image entitled “The Hitch Hiker” that captures a Moose calve hitching a ride on its mother back.  And then Mark offers the following explanation: “It only looks that way. The calve was tiring from swimming around its mother who was busy feeding. The calve finally found a rock just below the surface of the water and just exhausted, stood there waiting patiently for mom to finish. With a little anticipation I was able to position myself at the right angle to take what I consider one of those “once in a lifetime” images. Like many of my images it is all about anticipation and timing.

Although Mark will aim his camera on any wildlife species his specialty is Moose and he has been studying and photographing them in the region for the past thirty years. For the past eight he has offered both group and one-on-one photography workshops in partnership with local businesses which have attracted participants from around the globe.

He is noted for his creativity in the field; not only in composition and lighting, but also in his use of equipment, blinds, and knowledge of animal behavior. His images have appeared in numerous national and international publications, books, and calendars, including AUDUBON, SIERRA CLUB, ANIMALS, CANADIAN WILDLIFE FEDERATION, MAINE SCENE, NATURE CONSERVANCY, BIRDER ‘S WORLD , DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE, WILD BIRD , BIRD WATCHER’S DIGEST, SCHOLASTIC, NORTHERN WOODLANDS, NORTHEAST KINGDOM, NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION, ONTARIO OUT OF DOORS, CHASE AND PECHE, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION, TIDE- MARK PRESS, RANGER RICK, VERMONT MAGAZINE, YANKEE and others.

Mark also has an impressive list of commercial clients including Abercrombie and Fitch, Somerset Entertainment, Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism and has recently provided images for the renderings on the new Maine Stamp.

Anita’s passion is Bird photography and co-leading photography workshops with Mark. She is a freelance interior designer with a retail background. She will manage MOOSE PRINTS day to day activities and plan special events.

The couple is excited about providing local residents and tourists alike an opportunity to view and purchase unique wildlife themed photography, art, and gifts. In addition to Mark’s work the gallery offers fascinating oil paintings on petrified wood, moose sheds, and nature themed jewelry, calendars, puzzles and cd’s.

They are celebrating MOOSE PRINTS Grand Opening throughout the month of July with a series of Saturday Open Houses beginning this weekend where they will serve light refreshments and visitors to the gallery can register for a chance to win a framed and matted print of Mark’s signature image “Eye on You”.  The public is encouraged stop in, shop the gallery, share their own wildlife stories or just take a break from the heat with a cold glass of lemonade. The Gallery hours are 10 am to 6pm daily except for Wednesdays when the gallery is closed. The gallery phone number is 207-447-6906.

Photography Workshop Gear – Tripods

Peekaboo Bull Moose in Winter

Peekaboo Bull Moose in Winter

As Spring still seems elusive here in the North Woods of Maine I am making the most of these last cool days to photograph Winter landscapes via snowmobile. With about 4 feet of snow in the woods, the sled makes it possible to get to some otherwise inaccessible remote locations. The idea of being able to photograph a particular spot throughout the seasons is appealing to me and ever present in the back of my mind is the possibility of photographing Moose! Much harder to locate when the snow gets deep, Moose tend to “yard up” where the food and cover are good so they do not have to expend precious energy. “Peekaboo” is an image I am particularly pleased to have captured this Winter as I believe it conveys a real sense of the elements.

While Winter photography is not for everyone, I have received several emails from people planning to attend this year’s Spring and Fall workshops asking about gear and lens recommendations. Let me first say, all skill levels of photographers have taken my workshops from the most advanced to the novice. One of my goals during the workshops is to have each participant learn ways to achieve better images with the equipment they have.  One participant a few years back stands out in my mind as a person who probably had the best time of anybody. Every time we stopped at a location to photograph he took a miniature sized Elf digital camera out of an Altoid’s tin (that he had strung around his neck), took a few shots, then carefully placed the camera back in the tin and smiled. He did not have the most exspensive equipment, he just had a great time!

The other end of the spectrum is a photographer last Spring who had an 800mm lens with tele-converter attached when a cow Moose and her calf unexpectedly appeared just behind us on the board walk. Needless to say he was scrambling for his other camera body and wide angle lens! Most of us fall somewhere in between when it comes to the extent of our camera gear – often times the amount dependent on just how much we are willing to spend and how much we are willing to carry. We tend to invest enough in our equipment to get good results and always have a wish list of upgrades that are sure to help us get even better pictures.

Wildlife subjects don’t always necessarily require the longest telephoto lenses to capture extraordinary images. However, when it comes to photography workshop gear I consider using a sturdy tripod and properly rated ball head a must. Often a “grudge” purchase, a carbon fiber tripod can cost between $200 and $900 USD. And that is just the tripod. You still need a tripod head which come in several styles and shapes. Ball heads usually are used in conjunction with the shorter, non-collared lenses. Don’t forget the camera plate, which attaches to your camera body and then to the ball head. They are in the $40 range. Even more efficient than a flat plate is an “L” bracket which allows you to adjust your camera from horizontal to vertical without changing the center of gravity or having to adjust your tripod. With an “L” bracket, the level and axis remain the same for each position. The” L” bracket secures to the camera body and allows the user to quickly shoot either horizontal or vertical with lenses that do not have a rotating collar. These “L” plates are manufactured by several companies, and typically will set you back about $150.

A good ball head works well for up to about a 300mm lens. Beyond a 300mm lens I recommend a full gimbal style head. Described by a friend of mine that recently purchased one as “a mechanical work of art”, I have to agree with him. A gimbal head cost between $300 and $600 and allows for quick and fluid movement. These heads are also manufactured by several different companies. The gimbal head is able to adjust to any angle while the camera and lens are suspended directly below the center of gravity of your tripod. In my opinion, there is no better way to work a wildlife subject with these longer telephoto lenses than with the gimbal style head.

"Mt Katahdin from the Cribworks Winter"One of my latest purchases was a tripod leveling base. It basically levels the tripod without having to adjust the individual legs on your tripod. I have found this really helpful when shooting several images panning in a sequence later to be stitched together creating a seamless panorama like the landscape image above. That final image is a composite of 12 images (6 across x 2 high) stitched together in Photoshop CS6.

About now you are probably agreeing with my use of the term “grudge” purchase when it comes to camera support. You are right, it won’t get you any closer to a wildlife subject or provide more pixels and the potential for higher ISO’s like a longer lens or upgraded camera body will. However, I can tell you that there is no other single investment that you can make that will have as much of an impact on the quality of your images. A good set up will allow you to capture crisp images with slow shutter speeds as well as track moving subjects with ease.