Archive for August, 2012

IN THE FIELD: Oh, to Be A Kid Again

August 31, 2012 18 comments

Back in the day I took a boat trip down the Intercoastal Waterway from Maryland to Florida. This photo was taken when we were in the Albemarle Sound, North Carolina. It is the largest freshwater sound in North America, roughly 50 – 60 miles across.

I was head cook on this voyage, and normally when I was down below preparing meals, the guys went easy on me. After all, it was up to me to feed them. On this particular afternoon lunch detail, something was a little different. Judging by the sounds of the engines and the pounding of the boat on the waves, I knew we were moving along at a good clip. Ripping across large bodies of water like this at full throttle can make food prep a challenge.

I heard conversations from up on deck which explained a few things.

“Dad, can we head over this way?” “How about over here?” “Can I turn the boat real hard and make it lean?”

“Ok Son, just go easy. Uncle David is down below trying to make us lunch.”

I came up from my station below decks with a pot of steaming shrimp we had bought fresh a few hours before. And there was my eight year old nephew at the helm, kneeling on the seat with the biggest grin I have ever seen on his face.

In fact, we got some pretty amazing looks and smiles from other boaters as the young boater zoomed past them…at a safe distance of course.

Well, that novice boater who had the smile from ear to ear while running the boat has grown up to be a fine young man. He is getting married in a few weeks and he still gets that big Cheshire grin whenever we bring up stories of boating and running at full throttle.


IN THE FIELD: Wednesday’s Flower

August 29, 2012 32 comments

A few weeks ago, I headed over to one of my favorite haunts. You guessed it…a local greenhouse. I figured it would be warm inside the greenhouse, but to my surprise it was shaded, cooler, and less humid than it was outdoors. It was a great place to hang out for a few hours and get a break from the oppressive heat. Not only was it easier on me in the cooler temperatures, but it was also better for the camera and lens. Extreme heat is the nemesis of camera equipment. Especially image sensors.

The heat wave finally broke and I’ll be heading back in a few weeks to fill up more data cards. New shipments of orchids, tropical flowering plants, and fall flowers are expected to begin arriving any day.

HOW TO: Light Painting

August 27, 2012 24 comments

Capturing light trails at night from different light sources is relatively simple and can produce really interesting effects. I have used sparklers, flashlights and even set up my camera and tripod near a busy road to record vehicle headlights and taillights.

It’s very easy to do, and only your imagination is the limit to what you can produce. Due to the long exposures needed for this technique, you will need to set your camera up on a tripod, or you could use a sturdy object that won’t move such as a rock, a chair or even a fence post.

Since we had monsoon like rains yesterday afternoon and last night, shooting outside in the dark was out of the question. So I moved inside and chose the darkest room in the house. Our bedroom closet.

For this exercise, I used a small flashlight to create the light trails. I keep it in my camera bag for viewing things like camera controls and settings in the dark. It has a blue light rather than red, and is actually easier on the eyes at night or in dark situations,

After setting the shutter speed and aperture, I placed the camera on a dresser that is inside our closet. I then turned off the closet light, pressed the shutter and got into position, or what I thought was a good position. I then began to wave the flashlight around in front of the camera. It took several tries to position myself in a good spot to capture the light from the flashlight.

I experimented with different arm and hand movements to create various patterns of light. After trying several combinations of camera settings, I realized waving a small flashlight three feet from the front of a lens was too close. Too many hot spots. So I tried moving the flashlight in a way without pointing it straight at the lens.

If I was outside, and it wasn’t pouring rain, I could have been much farther away from the camera and been more creative twirling and moving the flashlight. Even though I was in a closet, the concept still worked.

Using manual mode, aperture in the range of f8 – f16 produced the best results. Shutter speeds varied between five and ten seconds This image was taken with an exposure of six seconds and an aperture of f11. And I used the self timer set for a two second delay to trip the shutter.

Playing around with long exposure times, different apertures, and sources of light is a lot of fun and can yield really neat looking images.

IN THE FIELD: Rusty Daffodils-A New variety?

August 24, 2012 28 comments

A few weeks ago we had a family gathering at my sister’s home. During time-outs between various sports and games, I managed to steal away for a few moments to appreciate her gardens and the new landscaping she and her husband have installed.

Somehow she has managed to force some daffodils into blooming in the middle of the summer. But I do think this part of the garden is a bit rich when it comes to iron content in the soil. I’ll be sure to mention something about soil nutrients when I talk with her this weekend.


August 22, 2012 22 comments

I have been around boats of all sizes and modes of power most of my life. Storage and/or a place to moor a boat have always been my challenge in ownership. So, in order to satisfy the need to have a vessel to take out on the water, we settled for a 14 foot canoe. It has served us well over the years and brought plenty of enjoyment paddling and fishing the local lakes and waterways.

My ultimate boat to own would be a 21 foot wooden gaff rigged sloop. Or a 34 foot lobster boat style picnic boat. Come to think of it, any boat would do. Even something like the ship pictured here. She is just slightly larger than my ultimate dream boat, but she would do in a pinch.

If you’re gonna dream, dream big!

She is the CVN 72 USS Abraham Lincoln. I photographed her while she was in the Newport News Shipbuilding Yard in Newport News, Virgina.

IN THE FIELD: A Different Perspective

August 20, 2012 24 comments

What’s the most natural way to hold the camera when taking photos? Many folks would agree it’s in the horizontal format. Probably 90 percent of the shots we all take are in the horizontal format. There is nothing wrong with shooting this way, after all, it’s how we see naturally.

Although, there is another way to hold the camera when taking photos, and that’s in the vertical format. In many cases, a composition will work better as a vertical as compared to a horizontal format. Just by changing from one view to the other, the dynamics of a photo can be subtle or significant.

Sure, you can crop a horizontal image and make it a vertical, and sometimes that’s the only option, especially if you didn’t take a vertical shot. But, by cropping, you can only capture a portion of the original image.

When should you take a vertical shot? In my opinion, right after taking a horizontal shot.

Try it and see what a different perspective will do for your photographs.

Neither of these two photos have been cropped. They are straight out of the camera to illustrate the difference between a horizontal and vertical composition.

IN THE FIELD: Patience and Body Position

August 17, 2012 24 comments

Here is another shot I had taken at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum at the WWll Weekend Event. There were numerous brightly painted Stearman Bi-planes lined up on the tarmac where folks could get up close to the antique airplanes. I was walking around taking detail shots of the aircraft, when I noticed an interesting perspective of these three tail sections. I liked the color and shapes they formed when lined up in this manner.

Well, I couldn’t resist capturing this view, so I positioned my camera and tripod for the best angle. Which meant shortening the tripod legs and kneeling on the pavement.

I used my zoom lens to compress the scene somewhat and adjusted my exposure settings for the shot. I also set the focus point to be somewhere between the first two vertical stabilizers rather than on the closest one. This way, everything in the scene would go soft…somewhere in between in and out of focus…and hopefully it would have a more vintage feel. Then I had to wait a few minutes for folks to clear out of viewfinder range.

I did get some funny looks from many of the visitors to the museum that day. I was the only one kneeling or lying on my back to get photos of the airplanes.

But I think taking the time to find the non-traditional viewpoint and wait for an unobstructed shot paid off in this case.

IN THE FIELD: Monday Afternoon Delights

August 15, 2012 20 comments

In my previous post, I mentioned how happy we are that the Limelight Hydrangea we have been monitoring throughout this hot summer, is doing much better since the recent rains.

This post is a follow up. The photo I used in the previous post was taken from the front lawn looking towards the road, in the early morning. The photos in today’s post are the view taken from the street side looking towards the lawn, one shot in the early morning and one mid-afternoon. Same shrub, different view and time of day.

I wanted to illustrate how scouting a location at various times of the day can make a difference in your photographs. The difference can be not only with subject matter or compositions, but the light, or lack of light.

In the first photo, the trees in the background are lit by the early morning sun and the Hydrangea bush is in light shade. The white blooms got lost in the bright background.

First photo  was shot at 8:35am, f5 @1/60th, ISO 200.

The second photo was taken six hours later. Now the background trees are in the shade and the Hydrangea bush is in dappled sun. The bright blooms show up better against the subdued surroundings.

Second photo  was shot 2:30pm, f4.5 @1/640th, ISO 200.

Technically, neither photo is right or wrong. In my opinion, the second photo is more pleasing to my eye. There is more contrast between the blooms and the background, and the dappled light on the bush adds interest.

To me, part of the art of photography is a waiting game. It’s not always possible, but when you can wait for better light, it can be rewarding.


IN THE FIELD: Monday Morning Delights

August 13, 2012 20 comments

This past week, substantial storms blew through the area at dusk and late at night. We finally got much needed rain. Plants and trees have perked up, now that their thirst has been quenched.

This morning we left the house on our daily excursion with the dogs, and were captured by the sight of our Limelight Hydrangeas blooming in front of our house. We have been observing this particular shrub as it struggled through the heat of the summer. Over the last three days it transformed from flower buds beginning to open, to full blown splendor.

There must be some kind of bionic growth and bloom fertilizer associated with heavy thunderstorms.

IN THE FIELD: It Really Does Exist

August 10, 2012 24 comments

Last September, I wrote a post titled “Signs” and mentioned a sign we had seen just after going through a mountain pass named Lolo Pass. The sign stated “winding road next 77 miles.” You may have thought I had written the story in jest, stretched the truth a bit, was downright lying or was telling a tall tale. Well, here it is. Told ya…neener, neener, neener. The sign doesn’t lie. The road winds back and forth and back and forth and …….you guessed it. For 77 miles! Downhill.

Lolo Pass is at an elevation of 5,233 feet (1,595 m). It is a mountain pass in the Bitterroot Range of the northern Rocky Mountaina and is on the border between the states of Montana and Idaho. Route 12, which is that winding road, follows the Lochsa River (pronounced “lock-saw”) for it’s entire length.

You can pull off into one of many vantage points to watch folks in canoes, kayaks plus the white water rafters braving the turbulent water. In the areas of calmer water, you may see folks fishing for trout and salmon. There are several camp grounds along the way, and the area is also known for it’s outstanding hiking trails.

Native Americans used the trail along the river to get to the plains of Montana to hunt bison, as well as to get to the salmon runs in the Columbia River basin, which the Lochsa and it’s tributaries feed into.