Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Simple Pleasures

No fanfare. No hoopla. Just a beautiful day with sunshine, light breezes, calm waters, and a graceful egret in search of lunch.

Several elements make this image successful. First and foremost is the sharp reflection of the bird who has struck a lovely pose. In addition, the green leaves reflected in the water create a simple and colorful background.

The other major element that helps this image work is the light subject against a darker background. The egret almost pops off the screen. The warm-toned orange bill is a nice counterpoint against the cool greens.

The final touch, just a lucky happenstance, is that the largest black areas in the water frame the overall scene on the left and right. That helps to focus the eye on the bird and prevents us from straying out of the picture.

While we often have no control over the elements in a scenic or wildlife image, we do have some control over composition and where choose to position ourselves. This helps us place elements in the best combinations possible, given the circumstances.

Shutter Speed 1/3200 sec.  Aperture f/8.  ISO 800.  Lens: Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS with 2x extender for an effective focal length of 800mm. Camera: Canon 5D Mark III. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong."  --Laura Ingalls Wilder

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Flower Fireworks

The famous Blue Poppies of Longwood Gardens are in bloom now. These rare flowers are cultivated by the expert Gardens staff and bloom only once a year. Native to the Himalayas, and the national flower of Bhutan, these gorgeous blooms have a unique color in the flower world.

Because these flowers are rare and on display for only a week or so each year, their arrival attracts a lot of photographers. I'm happy to report that everyone was respectful and careful to not get in each other's way. It is all too common that when a hoard of photographers crowd around a special subject, there are those who refuse to play nice. That always ends up being counterproductive, and gives all photographers a bad name. So I was very happy that everyone was able to get into a good position, with no frustration.

This was shot with an unusual combination of gear. I had been asked by Gary of Hunt's Photo and Video  http://www.huntsphotoandvideo.com/   to test a new extension tube that has a zoom feature, marketed by the Savage Company. Extension tubes have been on the market for years, and are designed to fit between the camera body and most lenses to enable close focusing for macro photography.

But this extension tube has a new twist, literally. You twist the zoom ring to lengthen or shorten the extension tube, allowing you get in closer as needed for a tighter shot. I used it with a 70-200mm lens, rather than a macro lens in order to see if it worked well enough for those who do not own a macro lens. I'm happy to report that it did. So this device turns almost any lens into a macro lens because it allows you to focus much closer to the subject. This image was taken just a few inches away from the flower.

It comes in either a Canon mount   https://www.huntsphotoandvideo.com/detail_page.cfm?productid=AETC&mfg=Savage&show=yes   or a Nikon mount   https://www.huntsphotoandvideo.com/detail_page.cfm?productid=AETN&mfg=Savage&show=yes

For more information contact Gary at Hunt's   digitalguygary@wbhunt.com   or call 781-662-8822. Tell him I sent you and get special treatment!

Shutter Speed 1/320 sec.  Aperture f/4.  ISO 800.  Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS set at 200mm, plus Savage Macro Art Variable Auto-Extension Tube.  Camera: Canon 7D Mark II.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It's nice to be important, but it's even more important to be nice."  -unknown     

Monday, March 14, 2016

Starburst Effect

Natural starburst effects are easy to do, and do not require special software or equipment. This was shot at the top of a mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at sunrise.

Here's how to achieve this effect:

1. The sun should be partially blocked by a solid area, in this case a heavy layer of clouds. It can also be blocked by a large tree trunk, building, or any other solid area.

2. A small aperture of f/16 or smaller is best. That is what causes the best streaks.

3. The type of camera or lens does not matter.

Here are some important safety pointers to be aware of:

1. Don't look directly at the sun for more than a fraction of a second. Doing so could damage the retina of your eye. The impact on your retina is enhanced when looking through the viewfinder, so be quick and careful.

2. In general, anytime the sun is part of the composition, do not aim the camera at the sun for more than a few seconds. It is all too easy, especially when the camera is on a tripod, to leave it aimed at the sun when you are not shooting. Doing so can cause damage to the camera's shutter mechanism, even when you are not actually shooting. So always move the camera away from the sun between shots. The other option, if you do not wish to move the camera between shots, is to put the lens cap on after each shot.

So go out and play, now that we are back on Daylight Savings Time (except you folks in Arizona and Hawaii) and spring is on the way!

Shutter Speed 1/500 sec.  Aperture f/25.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS set at 90mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "You need to spend time crawling alone through the shadows to truly appreciate what it is to stand in the sun."  --Shaun Hicks

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Jump Start Your Creative Juices

We all need a kick start once in awhile. If you feel your creativity is lagging, or your excitement with your photography has waned, it might be time for a full-immersion photo workshop.

The Creative And Impressionist Flowers workshop in Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania is just the ticket! Coming up June 13 - 16, this workshop will give you unique and creative insights into improving your photography. Details are here   

You will learn new things about composition, lighting, hand-holding your camera, and much more. All our workshops provide a great deal of personal attention, image critiques, lots of education, and a bit of fun!

This image was taken in their famous orchid room which has lovely natural light. It was optimized in Lightroom to bring out the beauty and drama of this bloom. Come and learn some great techniques, and move your photography in new and exciting directions.

Shutter Speed 1/640 sec.  Aperture f/3.2.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 100mm macro f/2.8L IS.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul."  --Luther Burbank  

Monday, March 7, 2016

How To Choose The Best Photo Workshops

You've told yourself many times that "someday" you will take a high-quality photo workshop or photo trip. You have put it off for much too long. Now is the time for you to act. Time is marching on and it is time for you to take the plunge.

There are many photographers who run photo trips. How do you choose? Ask these questions to help decide who is right for you.

-  Will the leader actually teach and work with you, or will they spend most of the time shooting their own images and ignore the group?

-  Will you receive individual attention and receive helpful critiques?

-  Will the leader help you be more creative and understand lighting?

-  Is your personal comfort & enjoyment an important part of the trip?

There are still a few spaces left in our workshops and trips coming up this year. Don't miss the opportunity to jump start your creativity and your photographic skills. You'll be glad you did! 

Here is a listing of what is happening  http://awakethelight.com/2016-tour-calendar/

Today's image is an example of just one of the many options coming up in the MACRO MANIA workshop at the Outer Banks of North Carolina in May. The subject is a rainbow colored plastic slinky.

The March newsletter is out! If you did not receive your free copy you can read it here

Start your free newsletter subscription by sending us an email with the word YES in the subject line. That's all there is to it! Quick and easy. Email awakethelight@charter.net

Shutter Speed 1/160 sec.  Aperture f/2.8.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 100mm macro f/2.8.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY QUOTE: "Art is making something out of nothing...."  --Frank Zappa