Bill Rudock

Life on Life’s terms continues

Well it’s been 3 weeks and the “Beast” (our affectionate term for our 5th wheel) is still in the shop, currently we are waiting for a new compressor for the refrigerator to come in so we can finally get back on the road. We have spent a moment or two sulking and complaining about our current situation but more often than not we are just making the best of it, being grateful for family that has hosted us these past three weeks without a single complaint or “hey when the heck are you leaving?” and finding photo opportunities where ever we can.

We made a few visits to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, we purchased the yearly photographer’s pass for $89.95 which allows us access to the rookery at 8 am and the ability to stay until sunset, in addition to supporting the good work of the Alligator Farm. We came at a great time as it’s baby season at the rookery, so cute and so much fun to photograph and observe.

The rookery poses quite a few challenges for photographers, to start with it is relatively small and even during the photography pass holders only hours it can get quite crowded.


There’s so much activity going on that you need to learn as a photographer to focus on a subject and not get distracted by all the activity, and at the same time be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to make a quick change so as not to miss a wonderful opportunity for an image, no easy task to master.

Another challenge you will encounter is very distracting backgrounds and foregrounds. The rookery area as mentioned is fairly small and does not provide easy opportunities for soft compressed backgrounds that as nature photographers we like very much. It requires constant vigilance in checking your camera angle, your backgrounds, scanning the image area for distracting elements and making adjustments.  


In the image above of the Snowy Egret the background was darkened in post production using NIK/Google filters. I used Viveza and selected several control points and decreased the brightness of the background, in doing this I lost some of the fine feathers on top so when I brought the image back into PS I added a layer mask to the Viveza layer, chose a soft brush, changed the opacity to about 30% and painted the fine detail of those feathers back in.

The blue sky created a pleasing background for Roseate spoonbill below, just as he landed on the perch.


For the family of Great Egrets a tight crop was chosen to minimize some of the distractions and an aperture of f8 to keep all 4 eyes in focus and at the same time adding as little depth of field to the background as possible.

One of the things we love about nature photography is all it’s challenges, it’s never the same and there are so many aspects of it that as photographers we have no control over. We don’t control our subject, the light, the backgrounds or foregrounds. We can only control how we as artists can create the images we want under the circumstances nature gives us and boy is it fun.
In addition to visits to the Alligator Farm we’ve had some backyard fun in Live Oak with a few beautiful Red-headed woodpeckers.


Wildlife photography is kind of like life; make the absolute best of what you’ve been given. Spend more time enjoying and conquering the challenges and less time complaining about them and things have a way of ending up new and beautiful.

Life on Life’s Terms

Life doesn’t always go the way you plan it,  almost 3 weeks ago we set out in our Montana 5th wheel to begin our lives as full time RV’ers. We made it to Live Oak Florida and stopped to visit Bill’s sister Vicki, she was kind enough to let us park our trailer on her 5 acre property and she hooked us up with water and electricity for a week while we got ourselves organized. Well the week went by fast and it was time to say goodbye and move a bit further south, not gonna happen, we were all set to leave and we noticed the slides on the Montana were not closing properly and the more we opened and closed them the worse it got. We made the first appointment we could get, 5 days later, then another week and a half passed before we were able to get our warranty company to approve the repair and now it will be at least another week for parts to  come in and repairs to be made. Not exactly as we had envisioned our first few weeks of life on the road, but life is best lived on life’s terms otherwise you will be disappointed most of your days.

So what is there to photograph in the Live Oak area? We found a few subjects: In this image below Bill decided to photograph this boat and palm tree as an HDR combining 3 images and then I processed it with a bit of a edge to it to add to the feel of the boat.
On our way back to Bill’s sisters house we passed this house and Bill knew he had to go back at good light and photograph it, again he chose HDR to create the image he had envisioned when he first saw the house.

Inside was just as interesting and also processed as an HDR
One last look at the house; Bill decided to use a compositional tool called framing to add additional interest to his subject, I think it worked really well, it’s my favorite image from this series.
And of course we found some wildlife to photograph as well. This barred owl was difficult to photograph as the background was very bright and the owl was in the deep shade of the forest, so I exposed for the owl, the more important element, and let the background overexpose and then toned it down a bit in post production.

We will continue to look for subjects while we are stranded in Live Oak Florida and continue to be grateful for relatives like Bill’s sister Vicki who graciously put us up while we wait on repairs. Photography is a lot like life, of course location and subject matter play their parts but your perspective is what will make or break you.

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Bill Rudock earned his Masters and Craftsmans degrees from the Professional Photographers of America and he wants to share with you the skills, techniques and creative vision that earned him that status. Bill will design a day or weekend around your specific learning needs and wants.

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