Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Get More Creative With Flowers

Want to photograph some of the world's most beautiful flowers? Want to improve your creativity and your success rate? Then join me at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania in June for the best flower photo workshop around.

We'll spend 3 educational and inspirational days photographing flowers in unique and beautiful ways. Learn new skills, jump start your creativity, and discover some of the easiest and most foolproof ways to create exciting macro and impressionist flower images.

This image is all about color and line. It was created with NO tripod and all natural light. Flowers reflect and transmit light in beautiful ways. Once you understand how to see the light, and how to use it to your best advantage, your images will be elevated to a much higher level.

Once you have "seen the light" you can concentrate on composition and the use of color. Have fun and learn a lot at this unique workshop. Details here  http://awakethelight.com/macro-2014/

Shutter Speed 1/500 sec.  Aperture F/3.5.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 100 mm macro f/2.8L IS.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Flowers are the music of the ground from earth's lips spoken without sound."  --Edwin Curran 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Look Closely

Yes, it is a moose swimming in deep water. What an odd sight. But this is common in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. We were on a small boat and we watched him swim for nearly half an hour. Our naturalist explained that moose can swim for up to 2 hours in water as deep as 20 feet. Apparently they are quite the marathon swimmers.

This guy stayed close to the rocks, and was clearly on a mission since he did not waver from his path and did not look around. He was focused on something, most likely a tasty patch of grass far away, and knew exactly where he was headed.

This kind of experience is part of what makes photo trips so exciting and satisfying. We see amazing sights, unusual animal behavior, and beautiful locations.

On the Glacier Bay trip we go in search of whales, which are in great abundance, as well as sea otters, puffins, sea lions, and yes, even swimming moose. And of course glaciers. There are only 4 spaces left so if you want to come to one of the last accessible places with an abundance of all of this and more, this is the trip for you. This is one of the last wilderness places in our country and is a location not to be missed. Details on the website here  http://awakethelight.com/glacier-bay-national-park/   If you have questions, feel free to call at 757-773-0194 or email. Don't wait until the glaciers are gone, come see them now.

Shutter Speed 1/1600 sec.  Aperture f/8.  ISO 800.  Lens: Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II with 1.4x Canon extender for an effective focal length of 560mm.  Camera: Canon 7D Mark II.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man."  --Stewart Udall

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What A Difference A Day Makes!

This is a similar view of the lighthouse that appeared in the blog several days ago here  http://awakethelight.blogspot.com/2016/01/after-storm.html   But wow, what a difference weather conditions and time of day can make to a scene.

The previous shot was taken in the early afternoon on a sunny day. This one was taken at sunset with heavy overcast conditions. I was lucky that the clouds were not as thick along the horizon line in the southwest, allowing the warm sunset colors to show through. It was already dark enough that the lighthouse was lit, and I timed the shot to catch the light when it was on. Most lighthouses are set to have their light go one and off at specific intervals. The intervals are different from one lighthouse to another, so that ships at sea will know exactly which lighthouse they are seeing.

This dark, moody shot is titled "Last Light Of Day, First Light Of Evening." The colors were richened using Lightroom, and I chose to keep the image dark to give the feel of the fading sunlight and the clear message that darkness was advancing.

Compare this shot with the previous one and see how different each one makes you feel. You can set a mood with an image, and it is interesting to compare similar scenes at different times of day. Even if you have shot a favorite scene in your area many times, continue to try shooting it at different times of day and with different weather conditions. There is no reason not to shoot the places you love over and over again. After all, the French impressionist painter Claude Monet painted his gardens dozens of times in an effort to faithfully represent the ever-changing quality of light. The differences in the quality of light reveal various moods of essentially the same subject.

Shutter Speed 1/200 sec.  Aperture f/5.6.  ISO 400.  Lens: Sigma 15mm rectangular fisheye.  Camera: Canon 7D Mark II.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It is on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly."  --Claude Monet

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

A little birdie told me to wish you a very Happy Valentine's Day! Ladies, I hope someone sends you flowers or candy or another wonderful treat. Guys, please step up to the plate and send your favorite person the flowers or candy mentioned above! And oh yeah, ladies don't forget to get a little something special for the special people in your life as well. After all, fair is fair!

This beautiful male cardinal (in his Valentine red outfit, of course) struck the perfect pose for just a brief moment. The dead log he was perched on had been filled with bird seed to attract whatever wild birds were in the vicinity, so I set up my tripod and waited. Sure enough, several songbirds of various species came to enjoy the food.

While I took several shots, this one with his head cocked slightly had the most appeal. Exposure was difficult with the brightly lit evergreen tree sparkling in the sunlight behind him. As always, Lightroom came to the rescue. After just a couple of minutes work, the brightness in the background was tamed, the red color was enhanced, and he was ready for prime time!

Shutter Speed 1/200 sec.  Aperture f/8.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 200-400mm f/4L with Canon 2x extender for an effective focal length of 630mm.  Camera: Canon 7D Mark II.  Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."   --Robert Heinlein

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Here's Lookin' At YOU, Kid!

One of the many things I love about Alaska is the wide variety of wildlife combined with spectacular scenery. A trip to the Last Frontier is a treat no matter where else in the world you might have traveled, or how often you might have been to Alaska.

These sea lions are just one of many species that we see on the Glacier Bay National Park photo tour, coming up in August. Details here  http://awakethelight.com/glacier-bay-national-park/

In addition to whales, puffins, and sea otters, we get some nice close-up views of these somewhat comical animals. Ungainly on land, once they slide into the water they are superb and graceful swimmers. 

This image was made from our boat. When shooting from boats it is important to use a fast shutter speed and to be comfortable hand-holding your camera. In some cases we do use tripods, but more often it is easier to not use one. Teaching you how to photograph from a boat is just one of the many things you will learn on this trip. All Awake The Light photo workshops and tours are designed to teach you new and creative techniques. Regardless of your skill level, you will come away with new information and superb images.

In Glacier Bay, we travel by small chartered boats just for us. Our captain, who is also a naturalist, knows where to go to find the best views of all the animals and birds we want to photograph. We go where WE want to go, not where other boats carrying over a hundred tourists go. When we find photographic opportunities we stop for as long as we want to so as not to miss a single shot.

At the end of the day we return to our beautiful lodge for a gourmet dinner, starry skies, and image critiques.  There are still a few spaces left, so now is the time to reserve your spot. Call 757-773-0194, or email awakethelight@charter.net for more information, or to register.

Shutter Speed 1/1000 sec.  Aperture f/8.  ISO 800.  Lens: Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II with 1.4x extender for an effective focal length of 560mm.  Camera: Canon 7D MarkII.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."  --Jacques Yves Cousteau

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Smoky Mountains Super Bowl

Well, not really the Super Bowl, but at least it got your attention! Actually this is a Great Smoky Mountains National Park super stream. It is gorgeous, with lovely overhanging trees, fast-moving water tumbling over rocks and around deep pools, and it is positioned perfectly to capture the reflection of the setting sun.

This special spot is tucked away on a little-known road in the park. We will be here, and many other unique and beautiful places in the park, on the upcoming photo tour April 22-27.

I was honored that this image won high acclaim from a national professional photography association. While that sort of recognition is very gratifying, it is more important to me that it is one of my personal favorites. It is always nice to hear good things about any image, but it is even better when one of your images touches your own heart and brings you joy. After all, it is the personal love and passion for photography that drives most of us to create the best images we can.

When photographing moving water, I prefer the look achieved by using a slow shutter speed. The shutter speed that works best will vary widely, depending on how fast the water is moving, and whether it is moving toward / away from you, or is moving across your field of view.

Shoot a whole series from the same vantage point using different shutter speeds. Start with a shutter speed of about half a second, and then increase the length of time with each successive shot. So do the first shot at half a second, then next one at one second, then 2 seconds, and so on up to about 5 or 6 seconds. Then, after you download the images at the end of the day, you can see the differences and select the one(s) that you like best.

Set the ISO at 100 and shoot early or late in the day for the best light. At those times of day it is easy to use slow shutter speeds. If you shoot around mid-day and the light is too bright to allow you to use slow shutter speeds, use either a polarizer or a 9 or 10-stop neutral density filter to reduce the shutter speed.

To perfect your skills at this, and to see some of the best wildflower displays anywhere in the country, join me on the Smokies WILDFLOWERS AND WILDWATER photo tour. Only 2 spaces left. Details here   http://awakethelight.com/wildflowers-wildwater-great-smoky-mountains-national-park/

Shutter Speed 2 seconds.  Aperture f/32.  ISO 100.  Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS, set at 93mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: [applies to both the Super Bowl AND photography]
"Some days are simply meant for playing."  --Mary Ann Radmacher

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Wildflowers In The Great Smoky Mountains

Springtime in the Great Smoky Mountains is a blooming bonanza. Wildflowers are everywhere. Over 1000 species bloom in the park, with some of the most beautiful specimens I have seen. Some of my favorites are columbine (above), trillium, lady slippers,  dwarf wild iris, and showy orchis (that's not a typo, it is indeed "orchis").

If you want to photograph wildflowers in a pristine environment, and improve your creativity when shooting flowers, wild flowing streams, and great scenery, come join me in the Smokies April 22-27. It will be a feast for your eyes, and you will return home with some spectacular images.

This image was shot in the mid-afternoon on a sunny day, but the flowers were in the shadow of a rocky outcropping which created lovely soft light that really punched the colors. Learning how to see the light, and how to use it to your best advantage will elevate your images to a whole new level.

Composition is also important, and this image was carefully thought out. I positioned myself so that the main bloom was centered between the two buds in the background. I then tipped the camera slightly so the flower was angled, which created a stronger composition than having it in a straight vertical position.

Small details can make or break an image. All Awake The Light photo workshops and tours strive to provide you with an array of information and suggestions that will make your images much stronger. Only 2 spaces left, so now is the time to act. Details here  http://awakethelight.com/wildflowers-wildwater-great-smoky-mountains-national-park/

Call 757-773-0194 or email awakethelight@charter.net to register.

Shutter Speed 1/200 sec.  Aperture f/4.  ISO 800.  Lens: Canon 100mm macro f/2.8L IS.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Flowers ... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world."  --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, February 1, 2016

Glacier Bay National Park Alaska

Just another day in the paradise that is Alaska. Glacier Bay, the home of humpback whales, sea otters, puffins, glaciers, and some of the world's most dramatic mountain scenery is a photographer's dream come true.

This scene was shot from our private chartered boat on a bright sunny day when the Bay was calm. The clouds were clinging to the mountaintops, and a sense of peace was all around us.

In spite of the brightness of the day, the original RAW image looked flat and colorless. That is a common problem with digital images. As I have said so many times, Lightroom came to the rescue. Here is the RAW image before any work was done on it.
As you can see, the color was very muted and the whites looked dull and lacked detail.

After a couple of minutes using Lightroom, the image came to life. I have been asked many times if other software can do the same thing as Lightroom. So far I have not found anything that works as well, as easily, or as quickly as Lightroom.

If this looks like a place you would like to visit and photograph, come with me to Glacier Bay Alaska in August. You can find details on the Awake The Light website here  
 http://awakethelight.com/glacier-bay-national-park/  It is a spectacular trip with private boat charters, a superb lodge, and great photographic instruction. Only 5 spaces left.

Shutter Speed 1/1000 sec.  Aperture f/16.  ISO 800.  Lens: Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II, set at 140mm. Camera: Canon 7D Mark II.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Earth and sky,...  the mountains and the sea,... teach us more than we can ever learn from books."  --John Lubbock