“Those birds just don’t sit still for too long,” Eric D. Brown quips. In the last year, Brown has heavily focused on bird photography. Operating from his home in the Dallas suburb of Wiley, Brown has been been aiming his lenses at everything from doves on his backyard fence to Dark-Eyed Juncos at the Spring Creek Forest Preserve to stunning Great Blue Herons at Bob Woodruff Park.
©Eric D. Brown. Great Blue Heron, Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L, 1/250 sec., f/8.0, 400mm focal length, ISO 800.
“Bird photography has allowed me to become a better photographer,” Brown explains. “Anyone can take a picture of a bird, but to capture the detail and character of the bird is what I’m after.” The work Brown shares on his photography blog is testament to his rapidly emerging skills. “I’ve always been a very noncreative person,” declares Brown, an Oklahoma native and engineer by training. “I’m very analytical, and that’s coming into play in my photography. You have numbers and settings. You can play around with them and see what they do for you. It’s been a lot of fun for me.”
©Eric D. Brown. Male Cardinal, Canon EF 500mm f/4 L, 1/250 sec., f/7.1, focal length 500mm, ISO 400.
Shooting a Canon EOS 5D with a 24-105mm lens and a 7D sporting super telephoto lens, Brown’s workflow is all-digital. Now working as an IT consultant, Brown’s passion for photography was sparked by his wife Tracie, a professional portrait photographer , on their trip to Yosemite National Park. “On my first trip as a shooter, I stood next to her and took photos of what she took photos of,” Brown laughs.
©Eric D. Brown. Canon 24-105mm L, 1/1600 sec., f/5.6, focal length 24mm, ISO 400.
Being a wildlife photographer, Brown spends much of his time slogging out to isolated locations. Even moreso than a studio photographer, all aspects of his gear are examined and evaluated. That he is an engineer certainly doesn’t lower the criteria he uses as benchmarks. “I’m always walking with the Induro tripod slung over my shoulder, the camera and big lens attached, trudging through the fields and small woods we have here,” he says. “When I find a place I want to shoot, I just throw down the tripod in the mud, or whatever might be there. I level it off as best I can on uneven ground and grab some photos. It’s perfectly fine and there’s no stability problems at all.”
©Eric D. Brown. Gray Jay, Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L, 1/125 sec., f/8.0, focal length 400mm, ISO 400.
“I was out this weekend and had some mud on the seat of the tripod. It can get caked on there, but you just scape it off and it’s good to go,” says Brown. Currently shooting atop an Induro CT314 Carbon Fiber 8x tripod, which was a gift from his wife, Brown has gone so far as to write a detailed review of it on his blog. “I love the product. I’ve been out shooting with it for the last month and love the stability of the thing.”
©Eric D. Brown. Cormorant, Canon EF 500mm f/4 L, 1/640 sec., f/7.1, focal length 500mm, ISO 400.
“I shoot with incredibly big and heavy lenses. The platform needs to be very stable, whether I’m shooting birds 20 or 200 feet away,” Brown explains. “The slightest bit of tremor cause the picture to be unsharp, at the least. I don’t put any extra stabilization or weight under it at all.”
©Eric D. Brown. Female Cardinal, Canon EF 500mm f/4 L, 1/400 sec., f/4.0, focal length 500mm, ISO 400.
Brown’s choice of subject matter was enforced by his geographic location. “Being in Dallas, there’s not a lot of wildlife unless you drive a few hours,” he explains. “Birds, however, are everywhere here. They were a way to learn how to take a better picture because I could just go out in my backyard and photograph four or five different species. I’m always looking to shoot wildlife other than birds, though.”
©Eric D. Brown. Bull Elk, Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L, 1/200 sec., f/5.6, focal length 400mm, ISO 400.
Birds are not the only wildlife he photographs. “I love to shoot anything I can, but where I’m located, I’m largely focused on birds,” he says. Non-wildlife subjects raise other interests and shooting philosophies for Brown. “I don’t do any portrait photography. It’s more challenging for me to take a good photo of a person than of a bird. I do like architecture, though, but I haven’t had much of a chance to get out and learn how to do it properly.”
©Eric D. Brown. Grand Teton sunset, Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L, 1/1600 sec., f/5.6, focal length 400mm, ISO 1000.
In the future, Brown has his sights on something more difficult. “The thing I want to work on and get better at is birds in flight,” he says. “I’m pretty well-versed in them sitting in one place, but to get a sharp, clear composition of them flight is my next area to get into. I haven’t gotten one I’m happy with yet.”
©Eric D. Brown. Great Blue Heron, Canon EF 500mm f/4 L, 1/1250 sec., f/4.0, focal length 500mm, ISO 1000.
Brown is also interested in building up a workshop organization which will bring great photographers to teach Dallas-area shooters new skills. I used to teach, and I like doing it, so I think this might bring my passions together. My greatest contribution, though, will be more administrative, putting the entire thing together.” We wish him well, and look forward to hearing more news on his Dallas workshops and seeing those birds in flight.
Eric D. Brown’s Photography Minute
Eric D. Brown on Flickr
Photography Minute on Twitter
Eric D. Brown on Facebook
Eric D. Brown on Vimeo
Eric’s Induro Tripod review
Eric D. Brown, Technology Executive
Tracie’s Web site and blog
Tracie on Facebook