Thursday, May 28, 2015

Expect The Unexpected

While in Charleston photographing its lovely historic homes and plantations, these gorgeous gladiolus plants came into view at the intersection of two dirt roads on an old plantation. We were on our way to photograph other subjects, but decided to stop to enjoy these lovely flowers.

It was a sunny day, but some of the plants were in open shade, my favorite kind of light. The sun was at a good angle to light the greenery in the background, and a large lens opening of f/4 created shallow depth of field, turning the background into a soft blend of colors.

I tried several angles, walking around the plant looking for a variety of options. When photographing any subject it is best to view it from all sides. Observe how the lighting changes as your position changes. Find several angles and views that you like and photograph all of them. You never know which one will please you the most as time passes.

Part of the success of this image is the color. The warm tones of the flowers are accentuated by the green background. Warm tones against cool tones often provide a very pleasing look.

As has been mentioned several times in this blog, look for angles or create them if necessary. I tipped the camera slightly to create an oblique line of the stem from lower right to upper left.

With spring in full bloom in most places, it is a good time to get out there in search of beautiful flowers. While I did not expect to find such spectacular blooms on this trip, it was a very nice treat.

Shutter Speed 1/640 sec.  Aperture f/4.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS, set at 200mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail."  -Heraclitus

Monday, May 25, 2015

Charleston Geometry

The Charleston Charm photo tour is now over, and what a wonderful trip it was. All participants were relaxed and easy-going, and captured some amazing world-class images. It was a joy to spend time with them and to see their amazing images.

Charleston is known for its lovely historic homes and churches, and this is just one example. Sometimes zeroing in details rather than the entire building is a more powerful approach. In this case I chose to concentrate on the curving stairway and the lovely ironwork. Because of the checkerboard pattern on the sidewalk, I tried to incorporate geometric shapes and lines to create the composition.

There are the horizontal lines of the steps, the verticals of the ironwork posts, and the curve of the stairway. And of course the squares of the sidewalk pattern. Each of these elements works together to bring your eye into the scene and ascend the steps.

Because this was shot with a wide angle lens, there was some distortion in the vertical lines. Lightroom's perspective controls helped to fix those issues. I also used the Clarity slider to soften the overall image by moving it to the left about 40 points, providing a slightly less realistic look.

Have a happy and enjoyable Memorial Day. 

Shutter Speed 1/200 sec.  Aperture f/10.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 17-40mm f/4L set at 17mm.  Camera: Canon 7D Mark II.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTES: "America is hope. It is compassion. It is excellence. It is valor." -Paul Tsongas
"On Memorial Day we honor [not only] the combatants [and those who lost their lives], but those who came out of the trenches as writers and poets, who started preaching peace, men and women who have made this world a kinder place..."  -Eric Burdon

Friday, May 22, 2015

Morning Magic

Morning came early for those of us on the Charleston Charm photo tour. And what a wonderful morning it was. We went to the Botany Bay Boneyard on the Atlantic Ocean for sunrise. While at first it appeared that a thick cloud bank on the horizon might keep sunrise colors at a minimum, we were lucky when some color finally appeared, along with patches of blue sky.

We were also lucky that it was low tide, breezy, and no biting insects on patrol. We spent a couple of hours exploring along the waterline, and viewing the gnarly dead trees in the vicinity.

We decided to go light, with no tripods, and each person was able to capture some fantastic images. We will return there this evening for sunset, with high hopes of being rewarded with even more great photo opportunities.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday weekend.

Shutter Speed 1/200 sec.  Aperture f/18.  ISO 200.  Lens: Canon 17-40mm f/4L.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "We can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if we have waited in the darkness."  -unknown

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Majestic Drive

The Charleston Charm photo tour began today, and what a spectacular place this is. Ancient live oak trees draped with Spanish moss line country roads leading to the area's history.

It was tempting to photograph this road symmetrically, but moving off to the side creates a better flow and a feeling of depth. On this partly sunny day, the light was constantly changing as clouds came and went.

When photographing from a road, safety is paramount. Always watch for cars. It is easy to get involved in what you are photographing and not hear approaching traffic. Stay off to the side as much as possible.

Later in the week you will see more images of Charleston. Stay tuned.

Shutter Speed 1/200 sec.  Aperture f/6.3.  ISO 800.  Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS, set at 70mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn."  -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Nature's Miracles

What a miracle to have stumbled across this scene. A perfect spring morning, a perfect spider web, and perfect naturally occurring water droplets from the morning dew. There is no substitute for being in the right place at the right time. An hour later, the droplets had evaporated as the sun rose higher.

When you come across a unique photo opportunity, you will get the best results if you understand your equipment, and know how to get the best shot under the circumstances. It is vitally important to study and understand Depth of Field (DOF). In this case shallow DOF helps the web stand out from the background. I focused on the center of the web, and with the lens aperture set at f/5, the background was rendered out of focus which is what I wanted.

Had the background been as sharp as the web, the web would not have stood out as well.

In 35 years of photographing, this is the most perfect web I have ever seen. So don't despair if you rarely come across the perfection you seek. Keep getting out there and be prepared for whatever you happen to find.

Shutter Speed 1/1250 sec.  Aperture f/5.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The difference between utility, and utility plus beauty, is the difference between telephone wires and the spider web."  -Edwin Way Teale

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Check The Angles

Regardless of what you photograph, composition is key. Every successful image must have visual integrity.

This shot of an osprey has a diagonal composition that adds strength and power. When photographing birds in flight, it is difficult to pick and choose a composition when the action is occurring. While he was angled somewhat when I clicked the shutter, I took the liberty of tipping the image a bit more in Lightroom to improve the diagonal flow.

I was lucky that his flight path was such that he was backlit, making the tail and wing feathers glow and appear somewhat translucent.

Osprey are eagle-like birds that are more prevalent and less reclusive than eagles. They can often be found near many water courses far inland. I have seen them in Yellowstone, as well as at the ocean and other locations.

Their wingspan is impressive, and their vocalizations are unmistakable. They are the most photogenic when they are fishing, soaring overhead searching the waters for their next meal.

Shutter Speed 1/1600 sec.  Aperture f/7.1.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II, set at 200mm.  Camera: Canon 7D Mark II.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Birds are a miracle because they prove to us there is a finer, simpler state of being which we may strive to attain."  -Doug Coupland

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Birds Of A Feather

This is a great time of year for baby birds, geese, and ducks, and they can be everywhere. This family of Canada Geese is living behind a restaurant not far from my home.

Sometimes luck is with us, and that was certainly the case with this shot. The parents were leading the babies along a gravel walkway toward fresh grass just perfect for munching. I was able to work my way around and behind them, keeping enough distance to not present a threat. Had I gotten too close, the family might have quickly moved out of range, or one of the parents might have gone into protective mode and noisily moved toward me.

Either way, not only would I not have gotten this shot, but the disturbance to this young family would have created stress and interfered with their need to feed. It is vitally important when photographing any form of wildlife not to disturb their normal behavior or interfere with their feeding, breeding, etc. We are fortunate observers and should not do anything to upset Mother Nature.

This family was moving quite quickly and I only have a few seconds to get the shot before their positions changed when they reached the grass. The babies obliged by keeping some distance between them so that each head is fully visible. What a stroke of luck!

Lens choice is what helps to make this shot work. It was shot with a telephoto zoom lens, which compressed the distance between the geese, and provided a nice tight shot of their waddling rear ends.

Shutter Speed 1/160 sec.  Aperture f/7.1.  ISO 800.  Lens: Canon 100-400mm f/4.5/5.6L IS II.  Camera: Canon 7D Mark II.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "If you feel the urge, don't be afraid to go on a wild goose chase. What do you think wild geese are for anyway?"  --Will Rogers