Four days ago I received the following message from Muffy S. Gately, a regular follower of Feathered Photography on Facebook.
- “I don’t know whether you have ever done a blog about your process, or you thought about it and dismissed the idea as stupid, but I suspect that I may not be the only reader who would be interested. E.g., how do you prepare for your birding outings? What do you take? When do you go through your photos? Do you write your blog while looking at the pics or not until later? Do you work best in the evening after supper or in the morning or just after you get home? Do you know what your topic will be before you write, or does it emerge on the fly? (So to speak) Just an idea. You may think it’s either dumb or intrusive, in which case, please disregard it.”
Muffy’s request planted a seed in my mind that has since germinated (after considerable pondering) so today’s post will be an attempt to fill in some of the blanks that she and possibly others have wondered about. Since there won’t be a bird or even a feather to be found in today’s edition it will likely have limited appeal but there may be a few others with curiosity about some of these things so I decided to go with it.
I hope everyone else will bear with me…
This might be called the Feathered Photography “business office” (I posted this photo previously in a post where I was toasting and thanking my readers). Its primary components are four computers and my bird and natural history reference library. This is where I review, cull, edit and process my images and where I compose my blog posts. Without hyperbole I can say I’ve experienced both immense anguish and incredible joy while sitting at this desk.
Here’s my typical process:
- Usually I do my first review of any new images of the day soon after I get home from a photo trip in the late morning (I don’t cull daily so the number of images to cull builds up over time until it becomes a royal pain in the butt). Then I move on to whatever the rest of my day holds in store but whatever it might be I’m often thinking about what I might post the following morning.
- Then at 5 p.m. (I’m the poster child for “creature of habit” so it’s always about the same time) I sit down at my desk, often with a stiff drink in hand, to make the final decision about what images I’ll post in the morning. Once I’ve chosen them they’re processed and then imported into the draft version of my blog. I also add image techs at that point. This process typically takes about two hours and then it’s time to fix dinner, eat, relax while watching a little PBS (I’m allergic to watching news on TV these days…) and then hit the sack.
- Depending on the time of year and the possibility of going shooting that morning (determined by weather and light) I’m usually out of bed between 3:30 and 4:30 a.m. and I almost immediately begin composing the text of my post. Writing is difficult for me so I spend a lot of time with the original composition and then proofreading and editing what I’ve written. On mornings when I make more mistakes, typos and grammatical errors than usual it’s likely because I was rushed for time. This morning process usually takes about an hour and a half to two hours and then I’m ready to publish. Typically I publish between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. Mountain Time but it can be later than that during winter and earlier in summer.
But only part of the process of Feathered Photography occurs in my “business office”.
The rest of it occurs in my “field office”, my 2014 Ford Ecoboost F-150 pickup. Here you see all of my essentials for morning shooting:
- My Canon 7D Mark II mounted on my 500mm F/4 lens with attached teleconverter
- My handy-dandy homemade lens caddy that I’ve modified many times over almost 10 years to fit various vehicles. I love that caddy!
- A large cup of coffee
- A chocolate donut (I know they’re not healthy but hey, I only eat them on mornings when I go shooting…)
- Milk (with ice of course) to wash the donut down
- My phone. I need it to get blog comment emails and so I can keep tabs on what’s going on with Feathered Photography while I’m in the field
I used to keep my lens caddy mounted on top of my center console with the console in the down position but there wasn’t enough shock absorption in the console for the extremely rough dirt roads I’m so often on so it’s now mounted on the more cushioned seat.
Gotta tell you about this donut. I took this photo yesterday morning just as I arrived at the causeway to Antelope Island. By the time I got to the causeway I was so damned hungry I could have eaten the south end of a northbound skunk (I couldn’t eat it before I had a chance to take the photo). The donut was half gone immediately after the photo was taken and that’s the truth!
Here’s most (but not all) of the additional photo gear I have at ready access while I’m in the field. It includes:
- A second 7D Mark II attached to my Canon 100-400mm lens
- The 7D and “normal” lens I’m using to take this photo so you can’t see it here
- A spare 7D body in case something goes wrong with one of the other cameras
- A video camera with a 500mm lens that I seldom use because I learned that I’d rather have stills than video
And yes, my pickup is usually dirty, inside and out. When you’re shooting on rough/dusty/muddy/snowy roads it comes with the territory. I’ve learned to live with it.
So, that about covers it. If I’ve bored you to tears with all this text and no birds I apologize (if you’ve even made it this far). But I must admit I’ve had fun writing this post so for me all was not lost.
Thanks for the inspiration, Muffy!
PS – One more thing (I can’t quit…)
If you have a regular shooting companion as I do with Mia it’s a very good idea to avoid ruining their photo-ops and pissing them off. Mia shoots from the back seat and we both use a “noodle” on our windows as a lens rest. As the driver I have door lock and window controls on all four doors. When we pull up on a bird I’m usually in a rush to do all the things I have to do before firing off the first shot – turn the engine off, put the transmission in park, grab my lens and adjust my window to the right height etc before the bird flies off. Very often, in my haste, my finger hits the wrong window control and it’s her window that goes up or down instead of mine. You can imagine her frustration when I’ve jarred her lens just as the bird poses beautifully and then takes off before she can adjust her window to make up for my mistake.
So this was the solution – a piece of duct tape over her window control so I can’t adjust that window from up front. It’s worked perfectly for years now and we’re both happier for it. Mia has always been a good sport about my screwups but I know how I’d have felt with the roles reversed. After all, good images of birds don’t come easy…
PSS – After I posted this morning Muffy wrote and asked that I include a close-up of my bird and nature “library”. I was on my way out the door to go shooting so I told her I’d add one after I got home.
I’ve made the image 1200 pixels on the long side so titles might me a little easier to read. There are many others but this is all that will fit on this shelf and these are the ones I use most often. As you can see some of them are well worn.