Monday, October 15, 2018

Separation Anxiety


A basic rule in wildlife photography is to separate subjects as much as possible. Sometimes full separation is best, and at other times just keeping the heads or faces separated works well. That is the case with this image of Snow Geese taken at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.

Their bodies overlap, but their heads are separated, AND they are just above the horizon line of the distant mountain, which separates them from the background.

Shooting birds in flight is done best by setting your camera on Rapid Burst, and using AI or Continuous Focus so that as the bird moves closer or farther away from your camera, you can still maintain reasonably sharp focus.

If you enjoy bird photography, join me at Bosque del Apache November 19 - 23 for a spectacular workshop. Only 2 spaces left. In addition to birds, we will have a full moonrise during our week there. Details here    https://awakethelight.blogspot.com/2018/07/just-announced-bosque-del-apache-new.html?fbclid=IwAR2os9T8-jeAG9SWRZRXHkWDyqX66ZBHIaHGKWBEKloCfw3EnDOq0FHri7M  

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Kick It Up A Notch


You can take a simple subject and kick it up a notch with a few simple creative techniques. These tulips were beautiful, but I wanted something a little different. Using a slow shutter speed AND moving the camera slightly during the exposure created a more stylized look.

Practice with a variety of techniques when you are out shooting. You can zoom the lens during a long exposure, or move the camera up and down during exposure (as in this image), or rotate the camera around a center point.

In addition to moving the camera, I used a ripple filter in Photoshop during post-processing to add a bit of texture.

TECH SPECS
1/4 sec. at f/32, ISO 100. Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The mystery isn't in the technique, it's in each of us."  --Harry Callahan

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Mighty Macro


I am in Hilton Head, SC to give a presentation on Macro photography to a large camera club. Macro is a much broader category of photography than you might think. In the old days it was very narrowly defined as representing a subject at life-size or larger. Also, the conventional thinking was that every element of the subject had to be razor sharp.

Well, that was your grandmother's macro! Today we have much more freedom in how we create macro images. Macro can be a close-up of the subject, but can be smaller than life size. Also, we can be much more creative with shallow depth of field, rendering parts of the subject soft and moody.

The flip side of that thinking, however, is creating images that are sharper than a lens can create on its own, using multiple images and software to blend them together to make every single part of the subject super sharp. Personally I do not used that technique since I prefer a softer more artistic look. But you should find the route that suits you and the subject the best.

Today's image is a water droplet on melting glacier ice in Alaska. Note that it was NOT taken with a macro lens. You can achieve a macro look with other lenses, from wide angle to telephoto if you are careful. Many of today's lenses allow you to focus fairly closely to the subject. Experiment with your lenses to see how close you can be to the subject and still bring parts of the subject into focus. Wide angle lenses will create a very different look from telephoto lenses. My preference, if I am not using a macro lens, is to use a telephoto lens which enables the background to be rendered out of focus, drawing attention to the main subject.

TECH SPECS 1/500 sec. at f/9, ISO 800. Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS II lens, set at 105mm, on Canon 5D Mark III body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh the thinks you can think up if only you try."  --Dr. Seuss

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Think Outside The Box


Today's Blog encourages you to think outside the box. When photographing nature and wildlife, we generally want crisp, sharp images to show the subject at its best. But sometimes we want to show the LIFE of the subject, its movement, its spark, its place in the world.

So while freezing the motion of a living subject certainly has its place, at times allowing the motion to show in your images is a good approach.

These Sandhill Cranes, taken a few years ago during their migration to Bosque del Apache in New Mexico, were moving at a pretty good speed right in front of me. I took many shots with a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion, but I also took some with a slower shutter speed to show their life and their movement.

My recommendation is that when shooting any subject, whether stationary or moving, take some traditional shots to showcase the subject, but also try some creative approaches to show the subject in a more artistic way. Some techniques to try are slow shutter speeds and panning. You can do each separately, or combine the techniques as I did in this image. This was shot at 1/30 sec AND I panned the camera as the birds flew past. A tripod is necessary for best results.

Panning helps to essentially smear the background while at the same time keeping the birds relatively sharp (as long as you pan the camera at about the same speed as the birds are moving). The slow shutter speed enhances the smeared look of the background, and also provides some blur to the wings. The final result is an artistic background, and a feeling of life and motion in the image.

Want to learn more about bird photography? Join me in Bosque del Apache November 19 - 23 for a week of some of the best bird photography anywhere. Details at this link
http://awakethelight.blogspot.com/2018/07/just-announced-bosque-del-apache-new.html

We'll shoot the world famous dawn lift-off of thousands of snow geese, possibly the most awe-inspiring bird event you can witness  -  in about 45 seconds, the snow geese go from sitting peacefully on the large ponds to flying straight up and speeding off to nearby fields to feed. The sounds and the mass of life are truly amazing, and the spectacle is over in less than a minute.

We will also have many opportunities to photograph the elegant and graceful Sandhill Cranes. This will be a great opportunity to get some artistic and creative images.

Bosque del Apache is known for its spectacular sunrises and sunsets, AND we will also photograph a full moonrise. So we should have some superb shooting opportunities during the week. Limited to 12 photographers and ONLY 2 SPACES LEFT. Feel free to call or email me with questions.

TECH SPECS
1/30 sec. at f/8. ISO 400. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens on Canon 40D body (old and now retired, but a great camera in its day). Gitzo tripod with ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life."  --William Faulkner