Birds at the Beach by David Carr

A laughing gull scouts the shore in search of food.

A laughing gull scouts the shore in search of food.

Sometimes I hesitate to even take my camera to the beach with me. I mean really, what seaside image has not been captured in a gazillion photos already? Sunsets, sunrises, selfies, sand castles, messages written in the sand, and my all time favorite - those POV shots of beach-goer's feet (which I may or may not have shared as well)! So perhaps you can understand my hesitation. But then again, "why not?" I ask myself. Sea gull shots are also a dime a dozen but at least they're living, breathing, fishing and flying creatures so what the heck, lets spend some megapixel currency on em', why don't we!

It helps to have a long lens (in this case the fantastic Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR) I'd love to have something with more reach and perhaps one will someday make it past the 'add to B&H cart, let me dream of this' phase but for now I'll just have to make do. It also comes in real handy to have a super fast frames-per-second camera but if you don't, then just prepare to shoot a lot of images so you can narrow down 'the one'.

This shot contains a bit of gesture with the ring-billed gull's legs crossed and one foot in the air. It also helps that the bird was carrying a souvenir in it's beak. I shot about 30 similar frames which gave me plenty of options to choose from in finding the best, most 'photographic' image. 

This shot contains a bit of gesture with the ring-billed gull's legs crossed and one foot in the air. It also helps that the bird was carrying a souvenir in it's beak. I shot about 30 similar frames which gave me plenty of options to choose from in finding the best, most 'photographic' image. 

Bird photos can be a lot like flower photos. There's nothing inherently wrong with taking them but they are already in plentiful supply so if you're going to share your floral or avian inspirations with your friends, then I think they at least ought to be somewhat interesting, meaning: there should be something that makes such shots stand out above the Instagram, beach vacation crowd. If the bird isn't particularly interesting, then look for a particular gesture or a backdrop to shoot it against. I made use of shallow depth of field and close cropping.

I like to think of my photos as paintings where I get to make it up as I go. In a painting, you would compose your image carefully, not including frivolous junk or uninteresting elements and instead you'd focus solely on the subject. So be sure to crop out anything that distracts from what you want to show. Also, I don't like to include a lot of excess image area around the subject and though the lens I was shooting with has decent reach at 200mm, I still had to crop down each of these shots to put the birds at the right proportions to the frame. 

 

I love the bokeh I get with a 2.8 lens stopped all the way down. I shot this one quite low and wanted everything but the bird to be out of focus. Putting the bird a touch to the right of the frame also helps achieve that 'painting' look. In real life, things are rarely perfectly centered. 

I love the bokeh I get with a 2.8 lens stopped all the way down. I shot this one quite low and wanted everything but the bird to be out of focus. Putting the bird a touch to the right of the frame also helps achieve that 'painting' look. In real life, things are rarely perfectly centered. 

Catching birds in flight is a whole different matter. I found that I had to capture a ton of frames before grabbing a handful that had a picturesque quality to them. I'm sure if I spent hours waiting for the perfect shot I could've walked away with something even more interesting but then again, these are seagulls we're talking about - there's nothing overtly exotic about them. Still, as commonplace as these creatures are, one has to appreciate their beauty. I wish I could fly. - David

Flight seems so effortless for a bird, much like walking is to humans. 

Flight seems so effortless for a bird, much like walking is to humans. 

I love the perfect circle around the laughing gull's face. 

I love the perfect circle around the laughing gull's face. 

Pelicans in flight.

Pelicans in flight.

Almost Missed It by David Carr

I was in Blowing Rock, North Carolina not long ago. If you've ever been there or anywhere nearby you've most likely traveled the Blue Ridge Parkway. Believe me, you'd remember it. With its stunning views and picturesque scenery, driving along the parkway makes you feel like you're the stunt driver in a sports car commercial. Winding here and there, taking hard corners that open up to gasp-worthy vistas, you quickly come to appreciate the majesty of the oldest mountain range in the world. 

If your'e a photographer of any stripe you probably can relate to the dilemma of asking yourself, "should I go shoot that?" I mean, I was giddy to go out and shoot everyday when I bought my first good camera and I'm glad I did. Besides, I was on the road a lot then and photography quickly became a great road hobby for me. I learned a lot about shooting in a short time just by simply going out and taking a lot of (bad) pictures. In time, I think I mainly started learning how to see - photographically, that is. 

Over the years, however, I've become less inclined to just take pictures for shooting sake. I guess I spent so much time on my computer editing and weeding out the duds that I decided to do some of the weeding out before taking the photo in the first place. I never really had much use for mid day landscapes with boring, clear blue skies so why shoot them to begin with? Not to say there aren't some situations where those shots can work (i.e. my pier photograph titled "Pause", shot at midday) but a view of the Rocky Mountains at 2 pm is typically no match for the same shot captured at dawn or dusk. 

So this brings me to the point of this post. These images almost didn't happen because I was debating whether I'd really find anything worth photographing. Let's just say I'm glad I said yes to  the opportunity! 

David

I really love the composition I was able to achieve with this one. I don't always try to emulate Ansel Adams but when I do, it looks like this.  Nikon D5 24-70mm

I really love the composition I was able to achieve with this one. I don't always try to emulate Ansel Adams but when I do, it looks like this. Nikon D5 24-70mm

This is one of my all time favorite shots I've taken. I had noticed the fog just a few minutes earlier when driving to my cabin, which was walking distance from the scene and though I saw the potential for a shot, I still hesitated to go back and capture it. I'm really glad I didn't talk myself out of going!   Nikon D5 24-70mm

This is one of my all time favorite shots I've taken. I had noticed the fog just a few minutes earlier when driving to my cabin, which was walking distance from the scene and though I saw the potential for a shot, I still hesitated to go back and capture it. I'm really glad I didn't talk myself out of going!  Nikon D5 24-70mm

It's about time.. by David Carr

I figured I'd start blogging a bit, here and there. So here goes blog post number one. If I get more confident at this, maybe I'll start a podcast and take over the world! Well, ok, one step at a time.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Old Car City in White County, GA, just 45 minutes from my house. I met up with a good friend and dynamite graphic design artist, Pete Collins www.petecollins.com and a new friend but someone who's photography I have admired for years now, the legendary landscape nature photographer Bill Fortney. www.billfortney.com. What a cool and utterly unique place Old Car City is! There are over 4,000 vintage rusted cars and trucks scattered over 36 acres. This ain't your typical junkyard! 

Well anyhow, for a photographer, the place is rich with colors and textures, as you can see in the these various shots. There's just something about old things that make photographers giddy to dial in the camera and push the shutter button. I think I've discovered just what that is.

Looks like a band tour bus after a 40 city tour. I should know. 

Looks like a band tour bus after a 40 city tour. I should know. 

Old, vintage, antique, classic. These words usually imply that there is a story and story is something we human beings kind of live for. If I give you a choice between a framed picture of a brand new Chevy Silverado and a framed shot of a 1938 Chevy truck, which one are you going to decorate your room with? That's easy, huh? (unless you're one of those 'push a Ford' folks) It's because that 1938 model has been places. It's been through decades and seen multiple owners. There have been countless conversations in it. There have likely been countless men leaning down into the engine bay to tune the carburetor, change the spark plugs, etc. It's hauled firewood and furniture and families. There are stories remembered and shared about the truck and stories no one will ever know. It has history and it has grit. The wear and tear, the bumps and bruises, dents and scratches give it character. Thus, it makes for a great piece of art, much more so than it's brand new counterpart, which will someday tell it's own stories I guess. 

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If your'e ever in Atlanta and your'e into old cars, you've gotta make a trip to Old Car City. Even you're iPhone will not disappoint with the photos you can capture. Plus, the place is just downright cool! 

David

A few more of my favorites...

A can of Fix-a-Flat and she's good to go!

A can of Fix-a-Flat and she's good to go!