Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 23

Thread: The Pika, a story and photo essay

  1. #1
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    1,126
    Real Name
    Matthew

    The Pika, a story and photo essay

    WARNING 1: This thread contains photographs with dangerous levels of cuteness!!! Please continue at your own risk. ***

    WARNING 2: This post, which I would call a “story essay,” is extremely lengthy and detailed. If you are interested in learning about the Pika, and would like to know every detail of my journey to capture intimate photos of it, then I invite you continue reading my small novel...

    NOTICE: I just realized how long the story really is, so I broke it into two parts. Part one is the introduction to the story, which sets up the basis for part two, and covers some background info about Pika. Part two is the extensive story about my journey. If you don’t care to hear about my exciting and challenging quest, which really explains how I obtained the photos, feel free to skip part two.

    I have been working on learning and improving my post processing, and these were the shots I processed shortly after learning some new things. As always, c&c is appreciated. For best sharpness and detail, view in lytebox and at full size. Thank you for reading and viewing!

    PART 1:

    Recently, I enjoyed a 4 day mini-vacation in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, on the Mountain Loop Highway in Washington state. My goal was to explore and camp in various areas along the highway, capturing images while I enjoyed the beautiful natural environment and animals.

    I had to choose and pack my photo gear selectively, focusing on the key photographic themes I wanted to illustrate. Due to the amount (and weight) of the photographic equipment and gear I was carrying for my main goals, I was forced to leave home some things I would have rather brought along, including my 400mm wildlife lens. I wanted to be able to photograph wildlife on the trip, but my longest lens would be my 150mm macro. Therein lies the cause of the entire story, and which actually became an advantage despite my frustrations on this initial trip…

    Since I began photographing wildlife less than one year ago, it’s been a desire of mine to photograph the American Pika (Ochotona princeps). The animal is a small (6-8”) relative of rabbits, which lives in mountainous regions in Western North America. The Pika is generally restricted to cool, moist micro-climates, on talus fields, where it can seek refuge from the heat of summer, as well as predators. In fact, global warming is a real danger to this species; according to Wikipedia, Pikas can die in six hours when exposed to temperatures above 25.5°C (77.9°F) if individuals cannot find refuge from heat.

    Pikas do not hibernate during the winter; instead, they cache food in large stacks under boulders all summer, gathering enough to sustain themselves while cold temperatures and snow persist. This behavior, sometimes referred to as “haying,” involves the animal selecting assorted plant matter, stacking it in piles to dry, and carrying it into its shelter. Interestingly, the Pika will strategically choose varying species of plant material which will offer particular nutrients that it requires, as well which have different chemical makeup so that they will stay edible in varying time frames (in other words, some plants will last longer than others, so the Pika can eat them in order throughout the winter). A less attractive, but equally interesting, aspect of the Pika’s diet is that it produces two types of feces in pellet form, one being a softer “caecal” pellet, which it will consume or store for later consumption.

    The Pika has very distinctive, territorial, warning, and mating calls; the typical call is a loud, sharp, “eenk!” Although the call can often be heard from a good distance, viewing the animal is not as easy, due to their cryptic coloration, small size, and habitat which offers substantial hiding places. They often remain obscured by boulders, as well as travel quickly and silently beneath talus fields.

    I knew my desired subject could be found in the area I would be exploring, and sure enough, I happened upon several individuals on the first day. With only my 150mm macro lens, I was unable to approach within a distance which would make for a great photograph, given the time and weather I was working with. Additionally, biting insects were swarming me in droves, rendering me helpless to concentrate (or even see) my subject.

    After the 30 minute hike back to my car, a 30 minute drive to my campsite, and rough night on hard ground with about 4 hours of sleep, I awoke the next day and decided to try again. So I made the drive and hike back to the location, positioned myself in the talus field, and waited, hoping that a Pika would make an appearance within range of my 150mm lens. Again, the ravenous insects fiercely attacked me, crawling through any gap in my clothing, biting my hands through my gloves, and getting in my eyes and ears. I persisted as long as I could stand it, knowing I would be covered in painful bites, and yet the Pika did not appear. Defeated, for now, I again left the location. Not to be denied the chance to create close-up images of my target subject, I began to formulate a plan for my third attempt...

  2. #2
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    1,126
    Real Name
    Matthew

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    PART TWO:

    I made the long drive back home, returned to work for the week, and continued laying out my plans for creating close-up Pika images. Among other things, I researched the Pika, decided on a schedule for the excursion, and packed the appropriate gear. The equipment included, but was not limited to, my 400mm lens and a complete camouflage outfit. I even went so far as to wash my camouflage in scent away and stored it in a scent lock bag with a cover scent wafer. I wanted to maximize my chances of getting up close and personal shots of the Pika, and/or any other wildlife in the area that might wander by. Additionally, I visualized every step of the trip, everything I was going to do, and how I was going to get the shots. All that was left was to complete the mission.

    On the weekend, I awoke at 4:45am (with 5 hours of sleep), made the 1.5 hour drive to the trailhead, and did the 30 minute hike to the “set” while wearing my photo backpack, carrying my heavy tripod and gimbal head in one hand, and a large bag in the other hand which contained my camouflage outfit in a plastic bag to protect the scent. It’s worth noting at this point, that I have a rather strong phobia of bears. The idea of hiking by myself at 6:30am, and also of wearing camouflage, sitting still, in the mountains, was not a pleasant one. Despite this, I forced myself to face my fears and push through the barrier, in order to achieve my goals. To slightly allay my anxiety, I brought a canister of bear deterrent spray.

    I reached the general location at 7am. Although sunrise was around 6am, there was a thick cloud cover, as is usual for the mornings at this location. A fog and mist permeated the cool, moist air. The peaceful atmosphere was broken only by the occasional sharp cackle of a crow, perched high above me in an alpine snag, framed against a dark sky in a foreboding manner. I continued onward to my chosen set. After putting down my equipment and having a brief snack, I changed out of my hiking clothing, into my camouflage outfit, which completely covered all of my skin except my eyes. I wore two pairs of gloves, to prevent the insects from being able to bite my hands.

    With bear spray nearby, I put camo fabric over my equipment and camera rig, put some vegetation around it, and sat, uncomfortably, on some rocks. I adjusted the camera settings, selected Manual mode, did a few test shots and reviewed the histogram to get the proper exposure dialed in. Next, I simply waited. And waited. And waited some more. No visual on the target, although a few distant “eenk!” could be heard after some time. I decided to change locations. The sun broke through the clouds as they dispersed. I became concerned that the harsh, contrasty lighting might ruin my chances of getting good photos. Luckily, throughout the day, there was periodic cloud cover, diffusing the sun’s rays and creating a superb lighting situation.

    Again carrying all of my heavy equipment, while wearing camo, I hiked up a boulder strewn hillside. Struggling to keep my balance and not get injured or damage my equipment, I scouted various locations on hillsides, around cliffs, throughout the talus and boulders. The majestic scenery was beautiful; jagged, rocky peaks jutted into the clouds, and lush forests blanketed the landscape, yet it was the last thing on my mind; I was concerned with safety, lighting conditions, backgrounds, finding the subject, staying hydrated, avoiding overheating in the camo in the sun, and keeping an eye out for bears. Finally, I chose a new set, adjusted my gear, concealed with natural vegetation, and this time positioned myself on knee-pads on a boulder below my tripod. I put my hands on the camera and lens, and remained motionless.

    After some 30 minutes, I saw motion down the hillside below me. Through the corner of my eye, I identified the animal as a chipmunk. It ran downhill, and I continued to wait for a pika, motionless. Fifteen minutes or so later, a small animal approached in front of me. It was a pika, but was behind some plants, and after several seconds, disappeared into the talus. After waiting another 10 minutes, I had to move to get some food and water. Seconds after I backed off the rig and sat down, in the corner of my eye, I noticed the pika, perched on a boulder, which was empty just moments ago. Extremely slowly, I attempted to raise myself back to the camera without spooking the target. Halfway there, the pika scurried away. I waited at the camera, and perhaps 5 minutes later, the pika crawled into view about 10 feet away, posed beautifully on a lichen encrusted rock, and filling the frame nicely. Unfortunately, the background was in dappled sunlight, however, I composed and snapped a few frames. Just in case, I bracketed a few exposures. Soon after, the pika hopped into a crevice.

    Pleased with having got a close-up shot, though not even close to being satisfied with the result, I continued the mission. Over the next couple hours, I continued to explore the talus and boulder hillsides, staking out a few locations for quite a while, with no results to show. Wherever I was, the shrill calls of the pika emanated from the distance, as though they were mocking me. I grew somewhat discouraged, thinking that, perhaps, the one photo I had captured would be my only result. Gradually, I reminded myself of everything I’ve learned in my time doing wildlife photography over the past several months, the results I’ve got through constant persistence, and the strong desire I had to accomplish my mission and be able to share the story and photos with others. My certainty was restored, and I returned to a location very close to where I first set up. On the way, I slipped a few times and nearly smashed my gear onto some boulders. Several times, in order to stop myself from falling to the ground, I was forced to blindly put my foot down onto the talus hill. It was risky business, and I’m thankful that I did not twist my ankle or sustain any other injuries, other than some bruises and scratches.

    After much effort leveling the tripod, concealing everything, and positioning rocks into some semblance of a flat spot to kneel, I put my hands up to the camera and lens once again, and waited, motionless. Shortly after, my legs and ankles became painful, and after much shifting, I realized I had to create a stone seat. After doing so, I again remained motionless. After about 30 minutes, a chipmunk scurried by, about 5 feet to my side. About 20 minutes later, a pika ran straight toward through some rocks, turning to circumvent my body from 2 feet away, and continued behind me. Perhaps 20 minutes later, probably the same pika returned, going back to where it originated from earlier, scampering between the rocks and disappearing through the talus crevices. I stood up, and proceeded in the direction that the pika had gone.

    Climbing over some boulders, I heard a loud pika call, and was surprised to see the small furry creature barreling straight toward me from 30 feet away, zig zagging through the talus and calling loudly, making a quite a scene as if defending its territory. I backed away and retreated behind the boulders, not wanting to stress the animal. After a few minutes, I picked up my gear and slowly moved toward the animal’s location. The challenge now was to make a wild guess as to where the pika might appear, choose the best spot that would maximize the number of potential perches with acceptable backgrounds, lighting, and angles, and to not cause too much of a ruckus, which could alert all of the animals in the area. In a frustrating attempt to find such a spot, I moved to various locations up and down the talus field, side to side, around boulders, testing angles.

    At one point, some 30 feet away, I observed 2 pika scurrying around on a hillside, behind an enormous boulder. I observed their activity for several minutes, and snapped a few wide shots, showing them within their habitat. They seemed to notice me, but I was slow and deliberate in my movements, and attempted to appear unthreatening. I then circumvented the giant boulder, staying low, and peered around the corner while handholding my lens. One pika was not happy about this, and ran around the other side of the boulder, popped out of a small crevice behind me, and began to call out some sharp “eenk! eenk! eenk!” I moved away quickly, again not wanting to overstress the animals. I was hoping to find a position where they would not notice me, so I could remain motionless until they reappear. Backing off, I went up the hillside slightly. Suddenly a small bird flew into a bush right next to me and made a repeated, shrill chirping noise. It was highly displeased by my presence. It flew behind me, still calling out, then to my other side, bombarding me with noisy chirping. Respecting the wildlife, I picked myself up and moved about 80 feet away.

    I was now at the opposite end of the talus patch which appeared to be the territory of the 2 pika. I set up and waited around for something to happen in this area, but only heard the pika calling from the huge boulder where I just came from. Realizing that my only real hope of accomplishing the mission would be to sneak back to the opposite end of the rocky field, I slowly navigated the outskirts of the area. I moved about 15 feet, then backed into the alpine shrubbery and remained motionless for a good while, trying to blend into the plants with my camo. From this far away vantage point, I had a split-second view of the pika zipping into its den with a gigantic mouth full of plant material. This was the only haying activity I witnessed, but unfortunately I could not capture it in a photo. The activity died down, so I continued flanking the area, moving 15 feet, then waiting a while, then moving again. Over perhaps 45 minutes, I did not see the pika, but only heard calls from much further away, over the hillside in an adjacent area of boulders and talus. I decided that my chance had arrived, and stealthily slipped into a spot very close to the gigantic boulder. I quickly made my best guess as to where to aim the camera, leveled the tripod, and tried to position my body as low as possible while not injuring myself on the sharp, uneven rocks.

    By this time, I’d been on location for many hours, sweating like crazy in my full camo, baking in the sun, running low on water, and beating the heck out of my body. Aside from bruises and scratches, I also was consistently holding my body in painful positions in order to maintain a low point of view, all the while trying to remain motionless for hours. My back and neck were totally strained from being hunched over, and my ankles and feet were hurting due to the way they were bent backwards over the rocks. Despite this, I was confident that the opportunity would present itself for me to obtain good photos of the pika at some point in the day, and the only way I could capitalize on that opportunity would be to push through the uncomfortable conditions and stay positive. Therefore, I remained motionless in this promising, new location near the pika’s den.

    I made a few test exposures and adjusted the settings as needed, and also got a feel for the changing lighting and which settings were needed for each level of light while the clouds came and went. Some 30 minutes later, things started looking up, when a pika zipped into the side crevice on the boulder, then popped out on a lower ledge in front of the main den, right where I was aimed. I slowly composed and snapped a few frames. The pika sat for a bit, slid back into the den, then popped out the side again, onto a rock where I was really hoping it would perch. As I turned the camera, the pika made a few nose sniffles and hopped off the rock. It navigated the talus and appeared about 5 feet away. It looked around, crawled through the rocks, and scurried away. A while later, it again appeared on the ledge in front of the den. I shot more photos with the pika in various poses. It was somewhat aware of me, yet my camouflage allowed me to appear unthreatening. Again, it moved to the desirable perch, and I was able to get a good number of shots.

    Throughout this time, and all day, I had the opportunity to develop the skill of changing the autofocus point on the fly. At all times in the past (on all photo shoots), I’d always used the center point, with BBF, and focused and recomposed. If the animal made even the slightest movement, I’d need to point the center, focus, and recompose again. The end result was that I was constantly center focusing, then recomposing. I decided this was the perfect time to select other focus points. This time, after quickly focusing in the general area of the subject, I composed the shot, then selected a focus point covering the subject (using my thumb on the multi-directional button on the camera back) while still looking through the viewfinder, and then focused with BBF. Now I could repeatedly refocus or AI Servo focus on the animal without recomposing every time, and yet I had good compositions with the animal off center. This would be less effective with agile birds, but with the pika, I had time to do it. It was incredibly easy and effective, and after just a few times, it became second-nature.

    Suddenly, the pika turned 180 degrees, called out a loud “eenk!” and then another pika to my other side also called out. The first pika quickly hopped of the boulder and ran toward the second pika. They chased each other around the boulders, zipping quickly throughout the talus field, covering a lot of distance, hopping all over and making calls. It was quite comical to witness; such a small, cute creature, zipping quickly around like a cartoon character. I smiled. “This is what it’s all about” I thought to myself. I remained in position, moving slowly just to watch, as they were now too far away to photograph.

    The first pika reappeared a while later, once again moving to its various preferred perches, posing while I took a lot of photos. The longer I remained there, the less attention the animal paid me. After an hour or more, I was totally in, and pika resumed even more relaxed behaviors. Despite the pain my body, and the dehydration I was experiencing, I remained committed to the mission at hand. The pika began grooming itself, cleaning its fur, scratching behind its ears, and making great poses and looks. A few times, I had to reposition my legs slightly; when I moved, the pika shuffled its feet in a very cute way, and gave me some interesting looks. I moved a little more, and it called out “eenk!” Moments later, it resumed resting on the rock. Later, I had to reposition my body slightly, and this time, the pika turned in a perfect position, parallel to my camera sensor, and called out several times. Because I had observed it so much, I was aware of the body language which told me when the call was about to occur. Thus, I was able to capture the animal in mid “eenk!”

    A while later, it hopped down the rocks, and appeared in a little crevice between some boulders below the mouth of the den. I quickly aimed my camera and observed. As it began grazing on some grass, I snapped off a few shots. Unfortunately, a boulder was blocking part of the image, but luckily the view of the pika was not obstructed. I was rather pleased to be seeing such relaxed, natural behavior, and that I had developed my fieldcraft to the point that I was able to witness all of this from about 10 feet away. The animal returned to the den opening.

    Later, the pursuit was on again, as the rival, or mate, made its appearance, and they both zoomed all over the field. Shortly after the main chase, one of the pika was behind me, unbeknownst to me, and made several loud calls, which was slightly startling. It must have been no more than 3 feet away, though I could not see it. There was a lull in activity, so I decided to attempt to creep downhill a few feet for a chance at some photos from a new angle. I hoped to get some low angle shots into the den. I figured, if I spooked the pika, I had got plenty of good shots, but if I pulled off the reposition flawlessly, it could pay off big. I repositioned quietly and slowly, aiming at the den from a lower angle.

    A while later, the pika returned to the giant boulder, slowly made its way through the crevices, and appeared in a gap within the den. It got comfortable, and after a few minutes, began to partially close its eyes and rest. At this point, I was dangerously low on water, was dehydrated, tired, and figured it was time to head back to civilization. I waited for the pika to finish resting, and when it arose and scurried away to do things elsewhere in the talus field, I withdrew from my position and moved to the side of the field. There, I finished off my water (1 sip), changed back to my hiking clothes, gathered and packed my gear, then hiked back to my car. On the way, I stopped to talk with a few folks and shared what I was doing, and a few pics.

    When I got to the car, I promptly chugged an entire bottle of water, got in, turned on the AC, and ate snacks and rehydrated some more, all the while reveling in my success. I was quite pleased with myself for pushing through my fears, and following through with my plans with committed actions. Everything had gone better than I had visualized it prior to the trip.

    I checked the time. Shockingly, I’d been out in the field for 9 hours. I thought about what time I’d got up in the morning, with little sleep, the drive, the hike, the physical exertion all day, and the persistence...and I decided that everything I’d been through was well worth the effort, and that I would be doing similar things again, soon.

    When I arrived home after the 1.5 hour drive, I dumped my gear on the floor, quickly flipped on the PC and ingested the images. The results were better than I had imagined.

    Today, as I look at the images again, I can feel the sun on my back, the gentle breeze wisping by, and the gravel and stones crunching beneath me. As the clouds move by, the light pulsates, brighter, and then darker, and the lichen encrusted rocks sit heavily amongst the delicate grass, which dances gently in the breeze. I can hear the pika, scurrying through the talus, piercing the quietness with the loud “eenk! eenk!”. And, in the back of my mind, I can sense nature, beckoning to me to explore more wilderness, offering me the privilege to experience and capture more moments, and share them with others.

  3. #3
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    1,126
    Real Name
    Matthew

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Below, a wide shot, showing the pika in its natural habitat amongst the boulders. This is actually from the first trip where I was forced to use my 150mm lens. This is heavily cropped, which should indicate how small in the frame my subject was.

    The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Now a wide shot with the 400mm, again illustrating the animal in its habitat and demonstrating how they blend into their surroundings. You have to imagine huge fields of boulders like this (and the shot above), to understand how difficult it is to spot them.

    The Pika, a story and photo essay

    My target in the earlier hours, bathed in warmer sunlight.

    The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Perched near the den, keeping an eye on me

    The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Later, I am labeled as a non-threat, and the natural behavior ensues.

    The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Snacking on some delectable grass within the safety of the boulders

    The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Having a rest on the boulder

    The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Having a closer look at the "moving pile of leaves" AKA me fidgeting in my camo

    The Pika, a story and photo essay

    “Eenk!” The warning call of the pika.

    The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Relaxing at the den entrance

    The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Taking a nap in the den, after all that running around and munching on grass. I hope that this photo gives you the feeling of being within the den with the animal. Note the pile of plant matter and fecal pellets at lower left. Perhaps some of this is hay for winter consumption, or maybe it is unwanted refuse from previous meals.

    The Pika, a story and photo essay

  4. #4
    Brownbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    7,244
    Real Name
    Christina

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Thank you for sharing, Matt... I will read your story tomorrow when I can enjoy it at my leisure... I'm sure I will learn something...

    Images #7 and #10 are my favourites... beautiful captures!

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    northern Virginia suburb of Washington, DC
    Posts
    19,064

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Such a wonderful set of photos, Matt. I am now compelled to read your narrative later when I can devote the time it surely deserves.

  6. #6
    terrib's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Colorado & Texas, USA
    Posts
    2,022
    Real Name
    Terri

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    That was a long read but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The results are wonderful! My favorites are the last 3, especially the one where he's calling. That one has a perfect background and him doing something fun. The next one shows that camouflage really well and the last one is a treasure as it represents the hard work you did all day. The casual photographer would not get that shot in his den. I love the framing and the light.

    Great storytelling and an inspiration for the next time I get out the camo!

  7. #7
    Digital's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Carrollton, Georgia (USA)
    Posts
    2,163
    Real Name
    Bruce

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Fantastic story, and great shots. Very well done.


    Bruce

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    North West of England
    Posts
    6,696
    Real Name
    John

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    That is a wonderful set of photographs and well worth the pain and effort you clearly had to go through. I'm not sure I could be that dedicated but the results speak for themselves. Great work.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    northern Virginia suburb of Washington, DC
    Posts
    19,064

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Thank goodness I took the time to read every word of your narrative. It reminds me of the three P's of photography: planning, perseverance (or persistence) and patience. You have all three and they paid off in spades.

    You presented many great photos but I have a special appreciation for the last one because it's such a great environmental portrait.

  10. #10
    Brownbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    7,244
    Real Name
    Christina

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    WARNING 3: Part 1 of this thread will may cause one to "fall in love with a Pika!"

    Beautiful story, Matt and truly a pleasure to read about this adorable little critter, its habitat and behaviour. Truly special.

    I also thoroughly enjoyed your essay on your photography expedition... and truly appreciate that you have taken the time to share your challenges...

    I'm not quite sure why, ie; no specific reason but Image #7 is extra special for me... Fitting with your closure of

    Today, as I look at the images again, I can feel the sun on my back, the gentle breeze wisping by, and the gravel and stones crunching beneath me. As the clouds move by, the light pulsates, brighter, and then darker, and the lichen encrusted rocks sit heavily amongst the delicate grass, which dances gently in the breeze. I can hear the pika, scurrying through the talus, piercing the quietness with the loud “eenk! eenk!”. And, in the back of my mind, I can sense nature, beckoning to me to explore more wilderness, offering me the privilege to experience and capture more moments, and share them with others.

  11. #11

    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    2,342
    Real Name
    Steve

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Excellent job with all of these, matt. You shot your way in, found a comfortable distance for your lens, and then shot your way out. Looking forward to the next set.

    I enjoyed these alot!!!

  12. #12
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    1,126
    Real Name
    Matthew

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Thank you all for your kind comments and feedback. I am glad that you enjoyed the thread. It's good to know that my efforts and story/photos were appreciated. See below for bonus pics of the location and setups.

    But first, I want to follow up with a few questions that I hope you can give feedback on. I am interested in feedback about the story and writing, because I really love to write and share stories, so I'm hoping it was good and/or I can find ways to improve in the future. Certainly I am not an expert at writing, nor have I researched or studied writing:

    Was my writing good? Is there anything you think I could have done differently to improve it?
    I was afraid the story would be too long. For those of you that read the full story, was the length ok? Was it boring?
    Did things flow well from the beginning to end? Did the beginning make you want to finish reading?
    Was there a good balance of informative vs entertaining content?
    Did you find any value or insights from this?
    Would you be interested in more of these type of detailed stories?
    Just hoping for overall feedback on the essay/narrative portion.

    Related note, whenever I've gone on any kind of trip worth recording, I have typically written this kind of thing for myself. I want to have the memories and events preserved for looking back on in the future; for myself personally when I'm older, and to periodically review and gain insights. Also, since I will be going professional one day, I figure I can extract and/or rework the information into useful bits for books, articles, blogs, etc. I figured, since I wrote this out in such detail, why not plop the whole thing online for others to enjoy? - or be tortured by, depending who is reading it

    Regarding the pics, is there anything I can improve on? Anything at all, in the photo, in processing, etc.

    Christina, your fave is also at the top of my list, and coincidentally was the key image I was thinking of when writing the closing remarks. I guess somehow I conveyed that through the writing and you connected with it.

    Mike, thanks for the thoughtful comments.

    Steve, thanks alot. Your comments mean a lot to me since I envy your photos and editing so much (as does everyone else here)

    Thanks again for the feedback and I'm grateful you enjoyed everything.

    BONUS PICS OF THE SETUP - These are crappy iphone pics which I attempted to rescue in photoshop...

    One of the many spots I set up at. This is the spot where I shot my first pika up close, but the photo went in the trash. I positioned myself on my kneepads on the lower boulder next to my pack. Note the bear spray canister
    The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Front view from the animal's perspective. I plan to revisit this location, depending on my results possibly a number of times. I want to explore deeper into the wilderness, hopefully seeing some other wildlife. If I'm lucky, I won't be mauled by a bear or eaten by a mountain lion (and if I'm even luckier than that, I might see and photograph either animal and live to share the photos)

    The Pika, a story and photo essay

    NOT the same trip, but this is the camo outfit that I used
    The Pika, a story and photo essay

  13. #13
    rtbaum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Albertville, Mn
    Posts
    1,538
    Real Name
    randy

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Matt- I found your narrative to be enlightening. Much has been written about f-stops. shutter speed, iso; what one seldom sees is what it takes to capture the shot. Your narrative illustrates the importance of scouting a location, patterning behavior, allowing your subject to become comfortable with your presence, learning your lighting.

    CiC is a learning site and I feel that your narrative has been very effective. Oh yeah......the Pika are adorable!

  14. #14

    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    SE Michigan
    Posts
    4,502
    Real Name
    wm c boyer

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Alas, poor Yorick...you do realize that they have medications to help with that type of anal
    retentive behavior regarding the lengths some folks go to in capturing the shot.

    Matt...you take me back to my younger years when the ability to do that was within my grasp,
    hadda pull your chain but, to quote Stallone from one of his movies..."just a little bit".

    Regardless of my failed humor...those are great images...mission accomplished.

  15. #15

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    northern Virginia suburb of Washington, DC
    Posts
    19,064

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    The most important aspect of your narrative is that it shows your passion for your craft, which of course includes your knowledge of and respect for your wildlife subjects. If you could convey all of that in a shorter, more concise narrative, I'm confident that you would have far more enthusiastic readers. Such a narrative would probably be far longer than most posts but far shorter than your current narrative.

    Hope this helps!

  16. #16
    ClaudioG's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Gauteng (South Africa)
    Posts
    491
    Real Name
    Claudio

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Great Essay and fantastic images to back it all up..Congrats on your achievment Matt... i think all those who are starting photography should have a read at this and understand true dedication. Job well done!!!

    You must feel like a million bucks after having got this all done
    Ps.. My fave is #5..

  17. #17
    Brownbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    7,244
    Real Name
    Christina

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    I really enjoyed reading your narrative, especially the information on the Pika in the part 1... In part 2 I enjoyed reading about your challenges and your set up.

    I agree with Mike, wholeheartedly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    The most important aspect of your narrative is that it shows your passion for your craft, which of course includes your knowledge of and respect for your wildlife subjects. If you could convey all of that in a shorter, more concise narrative, I'm confident that you would have far more enthusiastic readers. Such a narrative would probably be far longer than most posts but far shorter than your current narrative.

    Hope this helps!

  18. #18
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    1,126
    Real Name
    Matthew

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Thanks a mill for the additional responses, and for all of the kind words again. And yes, the feedback regarding my writing was particularly useful and appreciated.

  19. #19

    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    6,930
    Real Name
    Dan

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Matt,
    This was really great work. A long read but it got easier as it went because it was interesting. Here you've really displayed what it takes to capture great wildlife photography. As Mike already said, you demonstrated the personal attributes. And the photos speak for themselves as far as the technical skills.

    Really nicely done. Cute little buggers aren't they. Grizzlies will move heaven and earth to dig up one of the little guys for a snack

  20. #20
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    1,126
    Real Name
    Matthew

    Re: The Pika, a story and photo essay

    Dan, thanks for the feedback!

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •