wildlife photography

LET’S GET BIRDING!

We here at headquarters decided that we wanted to learn more about birds, bird watching and bird photography! We found two lovely people on Twitter who know quite a bit about all of things and they were nice enough to do an interview with us and share their amazing photos!  The best part about Curtis & Norma is that they are from our home state of Georgia! Let’s all learn about how to find some of our feathery friends!

 e e birds

 

E & E: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Curtis & Norma: We are writers and photographers who live in a rural area in Georgia where they enjoy photographing birds, nature and landscapes.  Their website is www.lkjournalphotos.com and they are on Twitter @lkjournal.  (www.twitter.com/lkjournal)


E & E:  Excellent! How long have you been bird watching and taking bird photos?

Curtis & Norma: Our bird photography started accidentally over three years ago when Curtis photographed a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker drilling holes into a pecan tree in our front yard.  We have both enjoyed nature photography for many years; however, our bird photography became more serious over a year ago when we participated in Cornell University’s 2012 Backyard Bird Count.  We went to Lowe’s and bought some bird feeders and bird seed, and then placed the feeders in our trees near our kitchen window.  We were amazed at the different species of birds that came to the feeders.

cardinals

Cardinals!

E & E: We’ve heard doing the Backyard Bird count is fun! When did your love of birds begin?

Curtis & Norma: We have always loved nature and enjoyed photographing coastal scenes and shore birds, but we really became more serious about bird photography during the 2012 Cornell University Backyard Bird Count.

E & E: Great! We love birds, but are complete novices when it comes to bird watching. Where should we get started?

Curtis & Norma: It always helps to purchase a bird identification book so that you can identify the different species of birds who visit the feeders.  Also, visit places like Lowe’s, Walmart or Wild Birds Unlimited to see the many different bird feeders and bird seed.  Keep it simple.  One open bird feeder and a small bag of mixed seed featuring black oil sunflower, white millet and safflower will produce exciting results.  Be patient…… because sometimes it takes up to two weeks for birds to find the feeders.

caspian terns

Caspian Terns


E & E: Those are some great tips! What guides do you recommend for first time bird watchers? 

Curtis & Norma: Some of the following books are written for Georgia residents, but they are excellent guides for learning about birds in the South.
Birds of Georgia  – Dr. John Parrish, Giff Beaton and Gregory Kennedy

Birding Georgia – Giff Beaton

Birds of Georgia Field Guide – Stan Tekiela

The Sibley Guide to Birds – David Allen Sibley

For the Birds – Anne Schmauss, Mary Schmauss and Geni Krolick

The Backyard Bird Feeder’s Bible – Sally Roth

 

great white egret

Great White Egret!

E & E: We’ll be hitting up the bookstore! Our HQs is a condo so we can’t have bird feeders. What is another good way to find birds?
Curtis & Norma: We always love to go to the beach to see the many shore birds, such as Ring-Billed Gulls, Laughing Gulls, Brown Pelicans, Boat-Tailed Grackles and many more.  There are always many fascinating shore birds near a coastal area.

Plus, anywhere near a lake or a pond usually has beautiful birds.  At local ponds, many times you will see Canadian Geese, Mallards, Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons.

If you live near a state park or a wildlife management area, you will also see birds, squirrels and deer.  A state park is a great place to see nature and wildlife, and especially birds.  Georgia has many wonderful state parks and wildlife management areas.   The National Wildlife Refuge System also provides an opportunity to see many species of birds.  Here are links to Georgia State Parks, Georgia Wildlife Management Areas and the National Wildlife Refuge System.

goldfinches

Goldfinches

E & E: Those are some great places to check out! Luckily we have a pond across the street from us! Tell us some great ways to attract birds to your yard?
Curtis & Norma: A very popular way to attract birds to your yard is to have a birdbath.  The birdbath should never be over two inches deep so that the birds will not drown.  Birds love a birdbath.  They need to drink water and they also enjoy taking a long bath, especially the Eastern Bluebirds.
Another way to attract birds is to hang bird feeders on a tree and place bird seed in the feeder.  The most popular seeds for songbirds are:  black oil sunflower, white millet, safflower and unsalted peanuts.  It’s best to not feed red millet because most birds do not like red millet or red milo.

American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins enjoy thistle seed.  They especially enjoy the thistle socks.

Woodpeckers enjoy the suets and the woodpecker treats that are available in places like Lowe’s or Walmart.  Blue Jays and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers enjoy unsalted peanuts and are famous for coming to the feeders, grabbing peanuts and storing them for the winter.  It is very entertaining to watch them.  The unsalted peanuts will need to be cut into smaller pieces.

titmouse

Titmouse


E & E: We had no idea there were so many kinds of birds seed! What are some good basic tips for first time bird photographers?

Curtis & Norma: When attempting to photograph a bird outside and not through a window, always be very still.  Birds notice the slightest movement and will fly away if they see you move.

2.  Try to photograph when the sun is not too harsh because very bright sunlight can cause a picture to look really fuzzy or unclear.

3.  If your birdbath or bird feeders are outside your kitchen or living room window, you can still get great pictures.  Have plenty of their favorite seeds in the feeders and be sure that your birdbath has fresh water.  Then, clean your windows inside and out with White Distilled Vinegar.  This is the best product to use to guard against spots and streaks.

4.  Birds seem to be very active during migration and during cool, rainy days.  Northern Flickers, Pileated Woodpeckers, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Red-Winged Blackbirds, American Robins and Common Grackles are very active on rainy or overcast days.  Sometimes you can get some nice pictures on a cloudy day.

5.  To get really good close-up photos, we use a Canon EF 70 – 300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens.

We photograph in the backyard, through the kitchen window, in a pecan orchard, near cotton fields, at state parks, wildlife management areas, ponds, lakes and at the beach.

Robin

Robin

E & E: WOW! We will be taking our camera out this spring! What kind of habitats are good for finding migratory birds?
Curtis & Norma: Actually, your backyard can be a great place to bird watch during Spring Migration.  Plus, birds are always active near lakes, ponds, rivers or the ocean.  A body of water attracts many species of birds.

Another area where birds are usually abundant are rural, wooded areas.  Birds enjoy the space of a rural area and they enjoy the pine trees and pecan trees.  Pecan orchards attract many woodpeckers and warblers.

Cardinal Eating Millet

Cardinal Eating Millet

We have so many places to go explore and see if we can find birds! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions! We hope our readers will be as inspired as we are to go out and meet some bird friends!

 

Categories: adventure, Animals, backyard, birds, Children, conservation, education, Environment, nature, science, wildlife, wildlife photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

WE’RE ON A MISSION!

We’re on a Mission!

Code name: Conservation!

That’s right we’re on a mission to catch you in the act of conservation! Here at the Ellie and Edmond headquarters we talk about the small ways you can help animals, such as recycling!

Now we want to see you doing great things for the planet!

So we’re having a Photo Contest! Starting on Wednesday August 1st and ending Friday August 31st,we’re asking our fans and friends to post your pictures of you participating in conservation!

We want to see you recycling, growing a butterfly garden, going to a zoo or aquarium and reading about conservation, making your own green cleaning products, filling a bird feeder or reusing an item.

These are just some of the many things you can catch on film! Be creative and make it fun!

You can post the photos on our Facebook wall or

tweet it to us @EllieandEdmond.

 

We’ll pick 3 winners and announce them on Monday September 3rd

You can enter up to 3 pictures. Prizes to be determined!

We are soooo excited to see your pictures! We’ll be posting them once a week on our blog, so you can see all the fun! Please share this with all your friends and family, the more pictures we get the better!

 

Categories: Animals, backyard, Children, education, Environment, gardens, nature, photography, wildlife, wildlife photography | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We go “To the Arctic”! Our interview with Florian Schultz!

Wow! Wow! Wow! On Saturday we went to catch the new IMAX movie “To the Arctic” from MacGillivray Freeman Films and narrated by Meryl Streep. It was an amazing and beautiful film all about the animals of the Arctic, in particular polar bears. The filmmakers were able to catch some amazing shots and stories on the ice and underwater.  We highly recommend seeing it as soon as possible! We don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but just be ready for excitement! You can see it Fernbank Museum of Natural History in their fantastic IMAX theater, click here for show times! After seeing the movie, we had a chance to sit down with one of the amazing photographers from the movie, Florian Schultz. Here’s our interview with this fascinating photographer and explorer!

To the Arctic movie poster! Florian took this picture!

 Us:  We just loved the movie! Thank you so much for taking time to sit down with us.             

 How long were you in the Arctic?

Florian: I spent 4 months filming with the IMAX crew and have spent a total of 18 months in the Arctic over the past 10 years on several different exhibitions. I have been to Alaska, Canada and Norway.

*It took the film crew a total of 4 years to make “To the Arctic”, which is only about 45 minutes long. Whew, making an IMAX movie is a ton of work!

 

Us:  Wow! That is a lot of time in the cold. What was the most amazing part of your trip with the IMAX crew?

Florian:  While we were on the research boat, we found a mother polar bear and her two cubs that we followed for 5 days. It was summer and there was 24 hours of daylight, so it was like we got 10 days with her. She completed trusted us and we all felt like we had a connection with her and the cubs.

 

Us: That is so cool. We loved watching her and the cubs in the movie.  What was the most difficult part of shooting the animals & scenery?

Florian:  While we were camping, one person had to stay awake to watch for polar bears. You never have a safe point when both of you can sleep for a period of time. You can never relax and between having to melt snow for water and cooking food, photographing during good light and polar bear watching you start not getting any good sleep. You get so exhausted that you don’t care if a polar bear comes or not. From the film side, filming under the ice is difficult, because the water is 29 degrees and you have to bring the big camera housing through a small hole in the ice. You only get 3 minutes to film which also makes it difficult.

*Florian told us before the movie that the IMAX film and cameras can only record up to 3 minutes at time. You must change the film after those 3 minutes. The camera housing itself also weighs around 400 lbs! We thought that was fascinating.

 

Us:  Wow, those conditions do make it difficult to work. How did you stay warm?

Florian: Layers are the key; you wear wool as the base, then fleece, then down and a windbreaker. If it’s really cold you wear another layer of down on top of that. You begin to feel a bit like a polar bear yourself.

 

Us: Haha, we bet you feel like a polar bear.  It has to be hard to move in all those    clothes.  How do you keep batteries/cameras working in the frigid temperatures?

Florian:  You have to imagine when you are out there that your cameras will freeze. But the big important part of that is that you cannot take the cameras inside the whole time, because condensation will build up on the lens and the housing and then you won’t be able to use it at all. I leave the camera outside, completely frozen the whole time. The only thing I keep near me are the batteries, so that they last longer. I use all Nikon cameras and they haven’t let me down.

 

Us:  That is neat! Who knew frozen cameras worked! Were there any particularly dangerous incidents while you were shooting?

Florian:  There were two times when a polar bear came close to our camp and he knew we were there. His eyes had a different expression and we had to fire a flare gun into the air. Then he came back and that was really scary. We had to shoot the flare gun again. And one of the other really scary things that happened was when I almost fell through the sea ice without a dry suit on.  I was so focused on shooting pictures of these birds that I didn’t realize it how fragile the ice was. Later on I broke out in a cold sweat after I realized what a risk I took.

 

Us: Whew! Good thing that ice didn’t break! So what inspired you to become a wildlife photographer?

Florian:  Nature and different environments are one of the greatest riches of this world. It’s so diverse and so wonderful and for me to be able to document it is one of the greatest gifts. There is so much to discover. When I was a teenager I started out with bird watching and with a telescope I would have best encounters with not just the birds, but other wildlife. I would tell people about it, but telling them didn’t quite describe it. So when I started taking pictures they got it. That is when I got more and more in to taking pictures.

 

Us:   You have tons of passion for wildlife that is great! Wild animals are known to be difficult subjects to shoot, because they aren’t on your schedule. You have to have a ton of patience. What has been one of your most difficult shoots?

Florian:  I spent 72 hours in a blind to shoot the snowy owls that are my book. (A blind is a cover or shelter that hides the photographer and his equipment.) It’s definitely a patience game because the sun wasn’t out or they weren’t turning their heads the right direction and that was really, really hard. Another thing that took a lot of patience was filming the big caribou herds, because it took 3 different expeditions to film them. On the first two trips I only saw one caribou and then on the third trip I finally saw the big herd and that was really rewarding. To be honest though I don’t get bored, because there is always something to discover, suddenly I see a bird’s nest or I hear the song of a bird and that intrigues me. And also I often have to make up the images in my mind first, so I spend time doing that. That gives that you that drive and energy to get the shot. You become more in tune and I love discovering things. The more you sit out in silence the more you learn and the more you discover.

 

Us: We love to sit and watch nature too, not sure that we could do it for 72 hours though. You’ve been all over the world, what has been your favorite place and where are you headed next?

Florian:  I cannot pinpoint one place alone, for me whatever place is the most natural, the most intact is special. An ecosystem where all the different animals play together is where I feel at home. It seems like the world before we influenced it. Some of those places include the arctic or the rainforest of British Columbia, Canada where I watched spirit bears and whales, or it can be a desert where there are not so many animals, but all the animals that are there play together. I will go back to the Arctic one more time and then after that I will go to Baja California to start the Freedom to Roam project. You can check out his next project here!

 Us: Your next project sounds so amazing! It is great that your images are also helping save animals and their habitats. Thank you so much for taking time to talk to us and share your great stories!

Don’t forget everyone- you can see “To the Arctic” at Fernbank now! You can also buy Florian’s book “To the Arctic”! We have it and it is full of even more amazing pictures and stories. If you like the “Welcome to the Arctic” Facebook page, you can get a discount on the book!

Here we are with Florian Schultz! He was awesome!

Of course we saw our pal Giggy! We checked out some of Florian's photos!

We met a polar bear! Don't worry he was very nice!

 

Categories: Animals, Atlanta, Children, education, Environment, movies, nature, science, wildlife, wildlife photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: