Arkansas, Leah J Smith Photography, Photography, trumpeter swans, Waterfoul, wildlife

Dancing Diamonds picked for Arkansas Living Magazine 2019 Calendar Cover

Dancing Diamonds Awarded Arkansas Living Magazine’s Cover photo for their 2019 Calendar. Arkansas Living Magazine

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Arkansas, Leah J Smith Photography, low light, Photography, trumpeter swans, Waterfoul, wildlife

Bringing Together Light, Water and Action to Create A Dreamlike Illusion

 

Shooting action shots of an animal on the water is really exciting and can be a challenge in itself.  Bringing together light, water and action, can create an awesome effect in photography.  This series of shots of the Trumpeter Swans, right when the golden hour in photography was ending, was such a gift.  It happened at the most perfect time of day, with the most perfect subject any photographer could want, the Trumpeter Swan.

Each afternoon the swans always made an afternoon flight before nightfall.  I was setting and waiting for this to take place for hours and was just about to give up.  Since it was almost dark, I didn’t think the swans would fly.  I was beginning to believe that they had not intention of flying that afternoon.  Suddenly they were spooked by something and the bobbing of heads began.  The nervous swans gave me an indication that flight could take place any minute.  That is when something magical happened. That is when light, water, and action came together.

The loveliest thing about shooting around water is that every time you shoot,  something special and magical has a big chance of happening.  In this case it was  all dependent on the moving of the water, the light and shutter speed.  Shutter speed is so important when you are trying to capture a moving target.  Shutter speed refers to the length of time your camera shutter is open allowing light to enter.  The faster the shutter speed the less time the sensor is exposed to light.  This gives you different effects at different speeds.

The swans splashed on top of the water as they made their way across the pond.  Light hitting the water droplets shown like diamonds around the swans.   This gave my images a surreal look that captured the Trumpeter Swans in a dreamlike illusion.  I hope you enjoy photography magic……..

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Arkansas, Photography, trumpeter swans, Waterfoul

Animal Behavior cont…. Walking On Water

Last week I posted some photography tips, and I talked about one of the most important… Animal Behavior.  
This story begins on a cold January afternoon.  It was the kind of cold chill that went to the bones.  It was overcast and the sky was draped in gray.  I knew where the swans were that afternoon and I just had to go see if I could get some decent shots.  I took out walking carrying a load in my backpack.  My camera, a couple of lens, and my trusty tripod.

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When I arrived at the pond where the swans were feeding.  Some of the swans were on the pond bank and some were in the water.  I noticed that they had company.  A few cows were standing on the same side of the pond as they were except they were on the opposite end.   I noticed the birds were getting a little nervous moving around more and more.  I climbed up the pond bank keeping as low as possible crawling on the damp cold ground.  There were two adults in the group, a Pen and Cob, along with five young Cygnets.

Since spending many hours watching Trumpeter Swans, I have learned when they are not happy and when they are not going to stick around.  This group was not going to stick around long.  The adult male Pen was the first to get very nervous.  The cows kept getting closer to the group and that did not suit the Pen at all.  Cattle are very strange when it comes to something they don’t see every day.  They were curious and just as scared as the swans.  I kept holding my breath hoping that the swans would stick around just a little bit longer.

The male Pen started bobbing his head up and down and calling out to the group.  This made all the swans nervous and now all the group were bobbing their heads.  All the swans got in the water and started swimming toward the lower end of the pond.  The Cob was telling his group to get ready.  Every swan lined up side by side with the Pen in  the center.  I knew this was not a good sign. They were lined up for what seemed like an eternity to me, bobbing their heads and honking back and forth to each other.  I lay there on the ground waiting while holding this huge heavy lens up afraid to let my guard down and miss the shots that I knew were to come.

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The Pen lifted his angel wings high into the air.  I knew this was going to be show.  All of his group were lined up evenly at his sides.  In the photo above you can see the adult Pen in the center lifting his wings, the adult Cob is on the left side at the very end.

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When he started to take flight, all of the swans started to lift their wings and take flight.   None of them were going to stick around.

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All the swans took off with the Cob waiting until the very last to leave.

Knowing animal behavior and having patience is so important.  If I had not known the reason that they were bobbing their heads, communicating, moving around, lining up to take flight, I would have not known to be ready.  You must have the patience to stay and be ready to get the shot.  Not knowing all these important aspects will make you miss that great shot you only dreamed of capturing.

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I will let the photos tell the rest of the story…

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And the walked on water…….

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Seeing Eye to Eye


Arkansas, Deer, Ducks, Geese, Mallard, Photography, trumpeter swans, Uncategorized, Waterfoul, White tail deer, wildlife

Capturing A Moment In Nature


The past year I have been working on a project that I have wanted to do for a while.  I just received a proof and I would like to share the cover photo of my new book.  Capturing A Moment In Nature due out in the fall of 2018.  I am excited to see my project completed and I cannot wait to share it with you.  A book that is filled with some of my best images and wildlife photography tips.

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Ducks, Geese, Photography, trumpeter swans, Waterfoul, wildlife

My Equipment

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One thing I love in life is photography.  I am so hooked on taking my camera and going on a hunt for the perfect photograph.  Wildlife is what I love the most.  I have taken many photographs of wildlife in and around the farm in which I live.  It is my passion and I would love to share a few pointers and some of the images that I have taken with you.

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The first few years that was I first became interested in photography, I didn’t invest in a very expensive camera.  I bought a Nikon D5500 Camera and a Nikon AF S NIKKOR 55-300 lens.  This is a great little camera and the perfect lens for starting out.  this lens is a kit lens but it does do a decent job.  The reach is fair and you can take some really good pictures.  This little camera is a wonderful camera.  Later I graduated to a Tamron SP 150-600mm.  This is a great lens, and the reach is wonderful.  Also it won’t break the bank.  I have enjoyed the lens so much that when I graduated up to the Nikon D500 that I use now, I stayed with this lens.


I always shoot in RAW mode, and I use Adobe photo shop and Adobe Lightroom to develop my photos.  I do not like to adjust my photos very much.  I love the natural look that my camera gives the photos.  I adjust only what i have to adjust and leave it at that
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The Tamron lens is also wonderful for action shots.  You need a sturdy tripod to hold this lens steady.   Along with the Nikon D500 it is a handful to use free handed.  It can be done as I have done many times but you need some muscles.    I really love this camera and lens together.

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