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Michael Francis Photo March 2012 Newsletter

March 2012

Hello Friends,

Hard to believe that spring is around the corner, we didn't have much of a winter here in Billings, Montana. Think I shoveled the walk twice.

I'm often asked what gear in my camera pack I never leave at home. It didn't take me long to come up with polarizer and extension tubes. Unlike some photographers, I am picky about when I use a polarizer on my camera. Sure the polarizer works well at times to darken the sky and make clouds pop; but I like it for taking glare off of foliage, or reducing the glare of sunlight on thermal runoff in Yellowstone or allowing me to see salmon through water in Alaska. It will often really give pop to a rainbow. Keep in mind that all polarizers are not created equal, you get what you pay for and polarizers, good ones are not cheap. I personally use Sing-Ray but certainly there are a number of good brands out there.

I cannot tell you how many times an extension tube has saved a photo shoot for me. As you know, extension tubes are simply tubes that fit between your lens and camera body, and have no optics in them. With them any lens will focus closer. So this becomes an easy way to get quality close-up and macro images. Where they come in really handy for me is with a long lens - when I'm at minimum focusing distance and the subject is still too close I can add one or more extension tubes to bring the subject into focus. This works especially well when I'm sitting in a photo blind as I'm now able to get those tight head shots of animals! Adding extension tubes to your bag takes little space and weight and increases your options as a photographer. Speaking of blinds and extension tubes, I still have 2 spaces open on the ICF Photo Shoot on a private ranch in South Texas this October. I did this last year and the group had a blast with pretty much non-stop photography.

I have also just posted two Yellowstone winter trips in 2013. I'm still waiting to hear back from the park as to pricing. Should know very soon, but it is not too early to make a deposit or to get your name on the list!

In June I am leading a trip to Minnesota for baby animals.

In August, I head to Alaska to photograph bears fishing for salmon. There are still openings on the trip and plenty of time to arrange plane flights.

In August 2013, I have an Africa trip planned to the Chobe River of Botswana and to MalaMala in South Africa. The trip is already half full and it was just put up on my website last week. Please check out the trip; ask questions and then sign up to reserve your space. We will be photographing from specially built boats on the Chobe putting us in the water at eye level with our prey. The Chobe has the largest population of elephants in Africa! This will be my first time on the Chobe but the images I have seen taken from the boat are SPECTACULAR! We will also spend time at MalaMala in South Africa which is known for its leopard photography as well as the Big 5. This is a very, very nice camp with never more than 3 safari vehicles on an animal. I am also looking at adding an extension to this trip and going to Mana Pools in Zimbabwe, there we will walk with the elephants! Do not wait too long to sign up for this trip!!

I am off to Africa the end of this month so please do contact me sooner than later about any of the trips I have listed. My hope is that I have something here for everyone! Have a fun 2012!

- Mike


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