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Archive for October, 2011

Something Different: Versatile Blogger Award

October 29, 2011 30 comments

Yesterday and actually a short time ago I came across something that was a bit of a surprise. Actually it was a big surprise. I had been nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award! Being new to the Blog world I didn’t know what I was supposed to do after being nominated. But now I do. So here goes…

First, I would like to thank Teri from Images by T. Dashfield and Steve from Steve Allen Photography for nominating me. Both of whom write about a variety of topics are quite humorous and a joy to read. Indeed I am humbled.

Second, I am supposed to list seven things about me.

We have two lively Terriers to share our lives with. The male Terrier is the girl terrier’s uncle. We call them our puppies, although they are several years past that stage. I love them to pieces.

One of my favorite foods is Lasagna…I could eat the whole casserole.

I love boats…especially wooden boats. Small or large it doesn’t matter.

Our jerk next door neighbors moved this weekend!!!!!! YAY YIPPEE YA HOO. And we met the new neighbors and they are great. YABBA-DABBA-DOO!

I love the change of seasons.

Inclement weather is my thing. Heard it said once that there is no such thing as bad weather…it’s just bad clothing.

Even though GPS is in both vehicles and on the cell phones, I still prefer to do things the old way with map and compass. Because I am obsessed with maps.

And third, I have to nominate other bloggers for this award. So in no particular order, here goes…

Anne Blabbers at http://anneblabbers.wordpress.com/

Tricia Booker Photography at http://triciabookerphotography.com/

visual journey at http://zarabu.wordpress.com/

The Lantern Room at http://thelanternroom.wordpress.com/

Snapping Beauty Photography at http://snappingbeauty.wordpress.com/

Vickie Szumigala Photo Blog at http://vickieszumigalaphoto.wordpress.com/

katie’s camera blog at http://katiescamerablog.wordpress.com/

photographyofnia at http://photographyofnia.com/

Flying Gma’s Blog at http://flyinggma.com/

karenchandler at http://karenchandler.wordpress.com/

seabluelens at http://seabluelens.wordpress.com/

framesandfocus at http://framesandfocus.wordpress.com/

Mufidah Kassalias at http://mufidahkassalias.wordpress.com/

There are so many good Blogs out in the WordPress world I am sure I left some out. No offense was intended…there are just to many to list. Thank you again for thinking of me.

HOW TO: Fall Color Abstracts

October 28, 2011 26 comments

By now, you have probably noticed that I love to photograph the splendor of the fall season. Often I will gravitate to the traditional scenics, trees and the bounty of the harvest season. Sometimes, a diversion from the obvious seasonal topics is necessary. Probably because I am in the mood for something a little different.

For me, a good diversion is to play around with various photographic techniques, camera settings and lenses. For example, I will adjust the white balance to fluorescent or cloudy when shooting in full sun or at dusk, just to see the effect it may have on color rendition.

Another technique is to zoom in or out on your subject with a zoom lens while tripping the shutter. This makes the object appear to be streaking towards you. This is relatively easy to do…it’s just a timing thing…and your subject can be anything you want.

I used this technique for the image in this post by using my zoom lens, cable release and the camera mounted on a tripod. You can try the same technique. It’s fun.

Set your camera to the lowest ISO that you have available. Using slow shutter speeds is the easiest way to master this technique. Adjust your camera for a proper exposure of 1/30th of a second or slower. By closing down the aperture to F11 or smaller you should end up with a slow enough shutter speed. Focus on your subject with the lens zoomed out. While zooming in on your subject, trip the shutter with the cable release. It may take several tries before you get a result you like, but just keep playing until you get there. Then try another subject and see what kind of effect you can produce.

It doesn’t matter what the subject is because you never know what the effect will be. That’s the beauty of digital photography…you can see the results right away. And if the results aren’t what you were looking for, just delete the ones that didn’t work and try again. Play around with color, shapes and textures. Betcha you won’t be able to stop yourself!

HOW TO: RAW VS. JPEG

October 26, 2011 45 comments

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”

Ansel Adams

There have been on-going discussions, debates, arguments and disputes regarding shooting in RAW vs. JPEG format since these options have been available. These disagreements will probably go on for some time because of the advantages and disadvantages to both formats.

RAW format can be compared to black and white negative film, as both require processing to produce the final image. RAW format requires processing outside the camera with software, while black and white negatives require chemical processing in a traditional lab setting.

A JPEG format is like positive color slide film. Your camera creates the JPEG format, just as the lab chemically processes the color slide film.

Some photographers like to shoot in RAW format because it affords more flexibility in controlling color, exposure, white balance and contrast, which can later be adjusted with software. And it is important to them to have as much data to work with when processing the file with software. RAW files do take up a lot of space on data cards, as compared to JPEGs. However, spending time in the digital darkroom works for those amateur and professional photographers who prefer to shoot RAW.

Other photographers like to shoot in JPEG format because of the convenience it affords. They set up their cameras to the white balance, exposure, color balance and contrast of their choice. After taking the photograph, the camera’s processor takes over the job and converts the file to JPEG format using its sophisticated algorithms, then compresses the file. More files can fit on data cards in this format and photos are ready for immediate use or additional tweaking with software as needed.

Some cameras allow you to shoot in both formats at the same time so you get the best of both worlds. You get a RAW file if you want to process the file yourself and a JPEG for immediate use. This method requires good file management skills and more data cards because of file sizes.

Many professional and amateur photographers are now shooting exclusively in JPEG because the format suits their needs. They feel they get the exposure right when they push the shutter button, eliminating the need to shoot in RAW. Which allows them to spend more time in the field, rather than spending time in a digital darkroom.

Shooting in RAW vs. JPEG is simply a matter of personal preference. You can process your files yourself or have the camera take care of that task. Your choice.

HOW TO: Balancing Compositions

October 24, 2011 18 comments

I know…I know…I know…another fall scenic. However, I felt it would be a good illustration on the topic of balancing composition.

In this scene, I wanted to emphasize the stunning maple tree in the foreground against the vibrant green grass, while maintaining balance within the composition. By positioning the two feature orange maple trees on either side of the frame, balance is created.

I used a zoom lens at various focal lengths to adjust the framing and to compress the foreground and background elements of the scene.

By composing the photograph in such a way, the viewer’s eyes are led through the scene to discover the horses under the tree in the background, making the image more engaging.

IN THE FIELD: View From The Deck

October 21, 2011 17 comments

I know I have been sharing quite a few photos with an Autumn flavor…but ‘tis the season…

A couple of days ago, we woke up to a pouring rain, which lasted for a good part of the day. It really was more like a monsoon. Early in the morning, I looked out the sliding glass door and the wet leaves were saturated with color from the rain. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to photograph the display.

Out came the tripod, camera and rain sleeve. I was able to take quite a few photos before it changed from rainy and breezy to rainy and blustery. I am glad I was able to photograph the woods before a lot of the leaves were blown away with the wind.

We are fortunate to live in a place that is surrounded by a variety of trees. From russet brown to crimson reds, to amber oranges and yellows, and multiple shades of green…the woods is abundant with color.

INSPIRATION: Vignettes of Seasonal Color

October 19, 2011 14 comments

Fall is my one of my favorite times of the year to be outside photographing the vibrant colors that nature produces. The varied colors of the trees and shrubs are obvious subjects. And I do enjoy photographing the larger landscapes. But I also like to find vignettes that capture the essence of the season. Whether it be a small branch with a few brightly colored leaves or a collection of nuts on the forest floor. The smaller details provide as much pleasure and interest for me as do the grand vistas.

Wandering around our local orchard the other day, I found several contenders that would represent the season on a smaller scale. One of which was a wooden crate overflowing with decorative gourds. The crate was not in direct sunlight, which was a benefit since it was midday. Because the colors were not washed out, and there was good detail in the shadows, the contrast of colors and textures was more apparent.

Fall is such a wonderful time to be out and about. The air is crisp, the colors are stunning, and there is a bounty of subject matter.

IN THE FIELD: Foggy Days

October 17, 2011 14 comments

Late last week, the morning dawned with thick fog and drizzling rain. I was hoping to capture a few fall landscape shots with the morning sunlight breaking through the fog as it lifted. I drove around the lower elevations, drove up to higher elevations and even in-between. In some areas, the fog was so thick that visibility was less than 30 feet. I realized shooting grand vistas of fall color in a misty fog was not going to happen. So I decided to call it a day. Time to change my plans and photograph outdoors on a smaller scale.

My neighbor who owns a landscaping company always has unusual plantings along his property at the woods edge. The lucky guy receives unwanted or unneeded plants of all varieties from his customers. It is a pleasure to walk or drive by his property…you never know what you will see.

With my neighbor’s permission, I have photographed the various plants and flowers there before. On this day, the Canna’s growing among the woodland plants were stunning. I set up the camera and tripod at a favorable spot then watched the fog rolling up the street. When the fog would clear for a moment, I would pull off the lens cap and fire off a few shots.

I repeated this process as I moved to each new location, being sure to keep the lens covered as protection from the misty fog. The colors really popped in the soft overcast light. I had to use a bit of flash to freeze the motion of the flowers due to the light puffs of damp air and fog.

Even though my plans for fall landscape vistas were dashed due to fog thick as pea soup, I managed to have a successful outing. Turns out the fog never did completely clear that day.

IN THE FIELD: Water In Motion

October 14, 2011 27 comments

Earlier this week I was back out in the field and stopped at an area I hadn’t visited in awhile. It is one of the many places where I love to spend some time and to photograph the surroundings. The area is heavily wooded and the Autumn colors were starting to appear. The skies were clear and the temperature was around 75 degrees. Perfect for being in the woods with camera backpack and tripod.

My intent was to photograph the water in the creek swirling and tumbling over the granite boulders. Numerous rocks were left behind from ancient glacier activity and were huge. Some of them were the size of a small car

I clambered over the exposed tree roots and rocks and made my way to the creeks edge. A giant boulder made for easy climbing and an ideal place to rest. I sat there and immersed myself in the surroundings. It was stimulating to just sit and watch and listen to the water roar past me.

I was mesmerized by the sights and sounds, then finally remembered why I was there. Now I had to find the right light, the right scene and a safe place to set up the tripod. This would be a good test of my balance and nerves. Wet rocks, fallen leaves and camera gear in hand can be treacherous.

I found a few settings that would lend themselves to interesting compositions. I set up the tripod, mounted the camera and the zoom lens and then attached the cable release. Because it was a bright day and the water was mostly in sunlight, I used a polarizing filter to cut down the amount of light entering the lens and to eliminate glare. The camera settings used were an ISO of 100, shutter speeds of 1/20th of a second and slower, and small apertures. This combination of settings tends to make the water appear silky. I also shot a number of frames with faster shutter speeds and wider apertures to freeze the movement of the water.

Showing the motion of water as super silky is a popular style of photography these days. I tend not to make the water look too etherial, but rather let the viewer realize that they are looking at water. That is what is special about photography. You can make the water look any way you want. Whatever way you decide, that is the right way for you.

IN THE FIELD: Reflections

October 12, 2011 26 comments

With the cooler nights we have been having lately, the Autumn colors are beginning to change quickly. Capturing nature’s splendor reflected in a small pond near my home has been a mission of mine for several years.

A few days ago I was heading home after finishing up a photo shoot. Traveling past the pond that has been on my photographic to-do list, I noticed that the water was unusually calm. Ordinarily, a breeze is blowing and the water is full of ripples. And in past years, just as the leaves have begun to change colors, a storm will blow through and strip the trees bare, spoiling my plans.

Quickly making a U-turn, I headed back to the pond, determined not to miss out on my chance to finally capture the image and complete my quest. After parking the car off the road, I gathered my stuff and looked for a good spot to set up. The steep banks of the pond don’t offer very stable footing. But I managed to find a clearing in the trees, didn’t fall in the pond, and got myself and the tripod set up. Of course, the inevitable breeze kicked up, but not before I was able to squeeze off a few shots.

For a few minutes that day, Mother Nature was on my side and everything worked out.

INSPIRATION: Still Life

October 10, 2011 12 comments

My mother has always had a love of gardening. As children she taught us to appreciate flowers and all growing things. She would set aside a portion of her flower beds so we could plant whatever we wanted. And boy did we! My sisters and I would plant seeds from every packet she gave us. Our little garden plots were organized chaos, but we loved them.

She has her personal favorites that she plants every year, but will search for new options to add. Her selections create an explosion of color in her garden. Sitting on her patio surrounded by all the floral displays is a truly peaceful and relaxing place to be.

Indoors throughout her home, she displays vignettes of small vases and decorative pots brimming with flowers from her garden. Always special treats to admire, no matter what the season. In the spring and summer, she will use flowers of the season. And in her fall and winter arrangements, she’ll use twigs from shrubs with colorful berries, or sprigs from fir trees with pinecones.

The other day we popped over to her house for a visit. And after we said our hellos, but before we even had a chance to sit down, I noticed a small pitcher on her coffee table filled with zinnias. I said, “Hold on a second, I have to get a few shots of this pitcher.”

My mother smiled and sat down, as she has become quite used to me doing that. I took the pitcher outside and placed it on her patio, still wet from the early morning rain. Doing a quick set-up, I managed to find the best composition and take several photos before it started raining again.

After ducking back inside, we looked out her sliding glass door and were able to enjoy the garden in it’s full glory…without getting wet.

Good garden again this year, Mom.