Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween!

Wishing you a very Happy Halloween!

This autumn image was created in Iceland. The fall color was spectacular, and the moving water traced a lacy design over the rocks. I'm often asked how to show the movement of water, and the answer is "it depends."

It depends on how fast the water is moving, and whether it is moving toward you or across your field of view. The best way to get the look you want is to use a variety of shutter speeds. Then after you have downloaded the images, choose the ones that look the best to you.

Fast moving water can look very silky at a shutter speed as fast as 1/8 sec., while slower moving water might require a shutter speed of several seconds. So experiment with different slow shutter speeds every time you are photographing moving water.

To give yourself the best chance of getting a slow shutter speed, set your camera to 100 ISO, and close your lens down as far as it will go (f/32 or f/22). 

If it is a bright day and you cannot get a slow enough shutter speed, you can use a polarizing filter which will reduce exposure by about two-and-a-half stops. Or you can use a neutral density filter (also called a black filter) which comes in various strengths, generally from 3 to 10 stops. I prefer a 10-stop to get the most effect. There are also variable neutral density filters which include all the various options, but can be costly.

A word of caution on neutral density filters:  do not be tempted to get an inexpensive one. They are quite poor optically, and often result in unacceptable images. Also, some neutral density filters cause a noticeable color shift, again resulting in unacceptable images. Even highly respected manufacturers who claim that their filters have no color shift, do indeed have a negative effect on the colors. I have tested several brands, and have found that the Breakthrough brand  is the best available. There is no color shift, and the optics are excellent. And they offer an excellent guarantee and free shipping, so order directly from the manufacturer.

Photographing moving water in all its forms - waterfalls, flowing streams, the ocean - is a creative and pleasant experience. So go play, and see what you can create.

2.5 seconds at f/32, ISO 100. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set to 200mm, on Canon 5D Mark III body. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it."  --  Vincent van Gogh

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Magic Macro

The by-invitation-only Women's Creativity Retreat ends tomorrow, and what a blast we have had. Today was devoted to macro and abstracts. I was not planning to shoot since I wanted to be ready to help anyone who needed it. But each person easily got in the zone and began quietly creating exquisite images. They worked for over 2 hours with hardly a word, so I decided to do some playing myself.

This image was created with a beautiful cut glass bowl that one of the participants brought all the way from Minnesota. I placed a small sequined fabric from a dollar store underneath the bowl which provided the colors. It was shot with window light on an overcast day. It was a very simple setup that produced an appealing burst of color, motion, and line.

1/60 sec. at f/4, ISO 800. Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro lens on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."  -- Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Skillful Flyer

Eagles are amazing fliers. We were whale-watching aboard a private yacht along the Inside Passage of Alaska, and also attracting eagles. We were treated to some incredible aerial displays like this one. Eagles can swoop and dive, never taking their eyes off their target. They almost defy gravity. We photographed them for hours, treated by all their moves.

Conditions were perfect with dramatic mist and dark moody trees. The action was fast and furious, and we were handholding our long lenses to keep track of their movements. The lenses got a bit heavy after awhile, but the action was so exciting that we barely noticed.

1/1000 sec. at f/11, ISO 1600. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3L IS II lens set at 140mm on Canon 7D Mark II. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping."  -- Gertrude Stein

If you need to shop for photo gear, here are some specials from Hunt's Photo. They are available only until Monday, October 22. Hunt's is a great resource, will give you good information and good customer service. Tell them I sent you for even better service. Here are the specials, which last only a few days:

-  Trade in any electronic device in any condition to save on the purchase of any new camera.

 -  Purchase a camera with a final price under:
 $250- Save $15
 $500- Save $20
 $750- Save $35
 $1000- Save $50
 $1500- Save $75
 $2000- Save $100
 $3000- Save $150

 -  All Canon 5D IV, 6D II, and 7D II, bodies and kits will come with a $200 Hunts gift card this weekend only! This can be combined with the electronic trade in bonus savings mentioned above.

-  The brand new Canon EOS R kit with 24-105mm lens has a $200 bonus savings. This can be combined with the electronic trade in bonus savings mentioned above.

-  The Canon Pixma Pro-10 printer is on sale $379.99, comes with two free packs of 13x19" paper and has a $250 mail in rebate. Bringing the final price down to $129.99 after mail in rebate.

-  Special prices on the Panasonic G9 and 100-400mm lens.

-  Tamron 100-400mm lens is on sale for $749 and has a bonus mail in rebate of $25. Please contact Gary for savings on other lenses, too.

-  All Freehands gloves are 25% off.

 -  The Magmod Wildlife flash extender is on sale for $59.99

-  The Promaster LED120SS led light is on sale for $49.99.

-  Save 20% off all Walkstools.

-  See all the specials here

Contact Gary at Hunt's with any questions you may have

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  

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.

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

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.

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