Wild Bird Photography

On Thursday, January 10, 2019, three members of the Dubuque Camera Club gave a presentation about Wild Bird Photography during a meeting of the Dubuque Audubon Society. The meeting was attended by about 40 people. Joe Tollari, president of the local chapter of the Audubon Society, gave some opening remarks about the evening’s presentation. He also encouraged people to attend the Dubuque Bald Eagle Watch this weekend. Three photographers from the club shared their bird photographs. The first photographer, Ken Kiss, gave biographical information for all three presenters:

Ken KissOwls, Woodpeckers, and Local Birds. Ken played a few owl calls and shared his original photos taken at Mines of Spain, Linwood, Mud Lake and in a few local backyards. Birds pictured included the Great Horned Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Long-eared Owl, Barred Owl,  Red-headed Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Bobolink, Kestral, Woodcock, and many more.

Kevin McTagueBirds of Southern Texas. Kevin shared a collection of his original bird photography from the Rio Grande Valley. He captured the photos during a stay at Santa Clara Ranch in the southern tip of Texas (near McAllen). Birds included the Long-billed Thrasher, Green Jay, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Painted Bunting, Verdin, Pyrrhuluxia, Road Runner, Black Vulture, and the Crested Caracara

Ron TiggesThe Dance of the Hummingbird.  Ron shared the visual results of a day spent at a private residence near White Pine Hollow doing flash photography of hummingbirds.  Since their wings move so rapidly, unless these birds are perched it is hard to get clear photos. A shutter speed of 1/15000 would be mathematically appropriate; however, the setting is impossible with an ordinary camera. Ron set up an external flash on a tripod near the nectar feeders, using infrared AF assist, shooting past sundown to get some great images of these active little birds.

Thanks, gentlemen, for another terrific photography presentation!

The Dubuque Bald Eagle Watch will be held at the Grand River Center in the Port of Dubuque on Saturday, January 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Dubuque Camera Club along with many area nature organizations will have informational tables. Whether or not you  are a club member, please stop by to chat! This is a free, family event. Live bird/raptor presentations will be held throughout the day. Click here for a schedule.

Nov. 19, 2018 – Storytelling in Wildlife Photography

On November 19, 2018, Dubuque Camera Club member Andreas Exner gave a presentation on Storytelling in Wildlife Photography. Thirty people attended, including both familiar and new faces.  Club president Ron Tigges gave a brief overview of the club and introduced our presenter.

Andreas shared a slide show of wonderful bird, wildlife and landscape pictures, as well as his tips for success as a wildlife photographer.  You can see more of his photography on his website at www.exnerimages.net

Andreas is originally from Germany and now makes his home in the tri-states. As a relative newcomer to the Mississippi Valley, he is appreciative of the diversity of life it contains. “In the Mississippi Valley, you have access to nature areas very easily,” he said.

Red Fox Pup, photographed by Andreas Exner

He tries to use his passion as a wildlife photographer to create awareness. We need to make a commitment to protecting habitat so that future generations will have these opportunities too. 

“If we just create a little habitat around our homes, the animals will come to us,” Andreas said. The advantage is that you don’t have to travel far to take storytelling pictures. He displayed many excellent bird photos taken not far from his front door.

Photographers also need to act ethically so that our subjects are not harmed. To the oohs and awes of the audience, he displayed a couple of fox den photos and the story of how he took them. “It’s very important not to endanger the wildlife that we photograph,” Andreas said.  

Captured: Behind the Lens of a Legendary Wildlife Photographer by Moose Peterson

“Don’t go home too early” is also one of his secrets.  If you are patient and know the biology of your subject,  you don’t need an expensive, long lens.  Sometimes, when you think you haven’t gotten anything, you simply need to switch to a new subject. For instance, if the bird you are seeking proves impossible, take a photo of that butterfly. 

Successful photos have three ingredients: light, gesture, and color.  Photos without these qualities go right in the trash can. And don’t frame the bird or frog too tightly: “Including habitat in the photo makes it part of the storytelling,” said Andreas.

He shoots with a Nikon D750. He takes advantage of today’s sophisticated auto-focus. To avoid noise, he rarely raises the ISO above 400. He likes to experiment with black and white, especially in landscapes. So you don’t miss shots, remember to look behind you!

Andreas displayed a couple of dramatic Bison pictures, including one in black and white. And no, he didn’t lie down in front of a male bison! Some animals can be dangerous. His photographs of Bighorn Sheep were taken from a distance.

The car often makes an effective blind, and birds aren’t bothered, until you actually open the car door. He uses this strategy at Green Island, one of his favorite photography locations in the area. He mentioned a few other top wildlife photography locations, in Iowa as well as in the western U.S.

Occasionally, on an overcast day or in dim light, Andreas uses a flash. He displayed an awesome flash photo of a Flying Squirrel on a tree trunk, taken by chance with only a few moments to grab his gear. He said that a hint of flash can also bring out the color of a bird’s feathers.

Lastly, to be successful as a nature photographer, always ask yourself, “What’s my subject?” For instance, if you want to photograph Bald Eagles, the Mississippi River at Le Claire, Iowa, is very popular.  During the question and answer period at the end of the presentation, the photographers in the audience offered a few other tips and location suggestions.

Thank you to Andreas Exner!!! We enjoyed so many beautiful natural images during his presentation on storytelling in wildlife photography.  Also thanks to everyone who attended!

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Dubuque Camera Club, or in updating your membership, please fill out the club membership application. You can mail in your dues or give your application to a club officer at any meeting.