Ring-billed Gull Duluth MN tungsten w-2 1-2 CTO gels on flash IMG_0065785

I NEVER EVER, for one second believed that I would ever sell an image of a Ring-billed Gull…Let alone an immature bird! Most folks in Duluth refer to them as “flying rats.” They are ubiquitous in Canal Park by the Aerial Lift Bridge, living on popcorn handouts from tourists, garbage and god-knows what else. But that is where the miracle mix of keywording and Google search make their magic. Evidently, a creative director in England did a search for something about “flash” or “gel” and wildlife photography, and this image popped up. (See the original blog “Gulls in my Face: How to Make Gulls look Sexy” post Here)

This was just a great reminder that we should always keyword the images we put online (if you have any interest in making photo sales). And not just our favorite images…even ones of immature “flying rats!” Also remember that if we update our websites/blogs frequently, our images will also pop up higher in all search engines.

Here are the keywords I tagged this image with before I posted it in a blog post: “aerial lift bridge, bird, Duluth, flash, flying rats, gel, gel-covered flash, gull, Ring-billed Gull, tungsten”
Now that I see the actual keywords, I think I’d add the following: “creative, wildlife photography, bird photography, orange gel, CTO, sky rat, flying, flight”

Digital Camera gull orange gel spread page SMALL

Digital Camera magazine cover Sparky gull orange gel image SMALL

My photo/article appeared last month in Digital Camera, a slick British magazine (also sold at Barnes & Noble).

Here is the text I submitted:
“I love a couple of things that most people dislike…gulls (no such thing as a “seagull”) and dark overcast skies for photography. To combine these two to create an artistic, out-of-the ordinary image, I decided to create a “cold-warm” look by setting my camera’s white balance to “tungsten,” (which makes the dark gray sky a pleasing blue) and using two 1/2 CTO (orange) gels on my flash to cast a warm light on the nearby gulls (if you just used straight-up flash, the gulls would also look bluish). I used auto TTL flash but adjusted the power up with the flash exposure compensation dial. Also make sure you underexpose the scene to add drama to the clouds.

One challenge is finding wildlife subjects that allow close approach. You need to get close so the flash can illuminate your subject. Gulls are human groupies and any old chunk of stale bread will bring them in and make them your friend forever. Gray sky days are also required, but these never seem to be in short supply!”

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