Please introduce yourself, where are you based and where do you photograph wildlife?
My name is Jerry am Ende. I’m primarily a Canon shooter based in Wilmington, DE, USA. Most of my wildlife locations are in the Mid-Atlantic States from Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Some of the specific locations are Bombay Hook NWR, DE, Conowingo Dam, MD, Forsythe NWR, NJ, the Ocean City, NJ rookery, Pole Farm, NJ, Benezette, PA, Prime Hook NWR, DE and various private farms for foxes in PA. Until the pandemic hit, I’d make one or two winter trips to Florida – mostly on the East Coast. Also, since the 2020 I’ve limited my locations to Bombay Hook NWR, Conowingo and the Pennsylvania fox locations. I hope to expand my locations once again as the pandemic wains.
Which image are you most proud of and why?
That’s a tough call. Choosing one is somewhat like choosing your favorite child. But since you want one, I’ll choose the image of a Cormorant and Catfish. I like it because it tells a wonderful story of a Cormorant feeding on a fish nearly as large as he is. IMHO, the best images wildlife images are those that tell a story. Of course, it’s tack sharp, displays the Cormorant’s beautiful turquoise eye and the camera was positioned near water level. In addition, it was awarded Highly honored status in the 2016 Windland Rice Nature’s Best Photography awards. I’ve rather whimsically titled the photo, “Heimlich Alert".
Can you tell us about the challenges you face as wildlife photographer?
I guess now that I’m 75 years old, I weary of the hassle of travel. In addition, it is not as easy to get down low for shots and carry heavy camera equipment for any distances through the woods.
What are your thoughts between DSLRs vs. Mirrorless cameras?
I bought my Canon R5 about 2 years ago. Since then, I have not used my 1Dx II once. I love the new mirrorless technology for its ability to identify birds and animals and track their movements. I will say that there was a steeper learning curve than any other camera upgrade I’ve had in the past.
Can you talk about what your current typical post processing workflow is?
I import all my images into Lightroom Classic. I’ve created a preset that resets my imports to “0” sharpening as nearly all my images get processed through Topaz DeNoise AI and I don’t want Lightroom sharpening combined with Topaz to create artifacts.
My first step is to go through a culling process. I’ll rate each image 1, 2 or 3. 1: Delete, 2: It’s a “maybe’ 3: A “keeper”. I’ll crop the “keeper” image and right-click to “Edit in Photoshop”. Once an image gets posted on social media, I’ll change the rating to 4 stars.
In Photoshop, I’ll convert the layer to a smart object so that any changes I make to the image are non-destructive. First step is to apply Topaz DeNoise AI as a filter. If needed, I’ll add NIK- >Color Efex Pro->Detail Extractor (using control points) to make sure there is adequate detail in the highlights & shadows. Then back to Lightroom for final exposure adjustments and dodging & burning. I often focus on dodging the animal’s head & eyes.
I’m intrigued by the new Topaz Photo AI product. The first release did not do a particularly good job on my photos, but recent releases are much improved. This product may revamp my procedure.
How do you enrich your passion for wildlife photography in order to keep it fresh and exciting?
Mostly because photographing wildlife is an excuse to get out of the house. And, if I’m photographing species that I’ve photographed before, I always try to get a photo that is better than all my previous images.