Archive for September, 2012

IN THE FIELD: Bigger Can Be Better

September 28, 2012 24 comments

My sister has a menagerie of critters in her back yard, and many of them are not shy of humans. You can walk right up to them and they rarely move from their position.

They are also very easy to take care of. She has mentioned in the past, none of the animals have fussy diets, and they really don’t mind where they sleep. As long as someone comes out to visit them from time to time, they are perfectly content.

This shot was taken with my 35mm lens. I was shooting in mid-day and the rooster was in bright shade, so I under-exposed the shot 1/3rd stop to saturate the colors.



September 26, 2012 20 comments

This past Sunday we took the pups to the city to visit the arboretum. We hadn’t been there in a month or so, and thought it would be a nice treat for them, and for us also.

The recent rains rejuvenated the gardens and everything is doing really well. The cooler early morning temperatures brought out more folks than usual to walk their dogs or to go for a jog in the park.

There are many sculptures placed throughout the grounds, and the one pictured here was just recently installed. I have no idea what this stone sculpture is meant to represent, as there were no identifying marks or descriptive plaques anywhere. It reminds me of the statues called moai, on Easter Island.

How To: Zoom Zoom

September 24, 2012 32 comments

Looking up at trees and the sky

I was outside with my camera all day yesterday and came up with some really cool images just by playing around with shutter speeds, a zoom lens, and body movements. The technique for these shots is really easy to do. All you need is a zoom lens and the ability to shoot with slow shutter speeds of around a half-second or slower.

The subject matter can be anything colorful you may come across. Groupings of flowers is a great place to start. Looking up at trees and the sky also works well. I have even used a pile of multi colored bags of garden soil as a subject.

Bags of garden soil

Here’s how you accomplish this effect. Set you camera to the lowest ISO setting available. This will help in getting slow shutter speeds. Then, in manual mode, adjust your shutter speed to around a half-second or so. Meter the scene, and close down the aperture to get a proper exposure.

Autumn flowers

If it’s really bright where your subject is, you may need to use a neutral density filter or even a polarizer to cut down on some of the light to get a decent exposure. If you are shooting in the shade, you will probably be fine without a filter. Focus on your subject at the widest setting on your zoom. As you click the shutter, zoom to the longest setting, and rotate the camera in the opposite direction you rotated the lens. Or you can zoom in and just rotate your body.

Play around with different shutter and aperture settings, and / or camera and body rotation to see what works best for you. This can become rather addictive, so be sure you have plenty of room on your data cards! And try not to spin around too much as you are looking at the sky…you may get dizzy. I speak from experience. Ahem.


IN THE FIELD: When It Rains

September 19, 2012 38 comments

Yesterday we had a dose of monsoon-like weather heading from south to the north. It covered most of the region for almost 24 hours. Not only was there steady rainfall for most of the day, but at times the water came down in deluges. The storm was accompanied by high winds bringing down branches from trees and at times, I swear it was raining sideways. The skies were ominous with sporadic lightning and thunder, and there were even some tornado warnings. After the rains subsided, the wind blew most of the night drying things out a bit.

This morning is a completely different story. The sun is shining, the sky is a pretty blue, and the temperatures are more seasonal for this time of year. While walking the pups this morning, we came across these pretty flowers growing by the roadside. They persevered through all the wrath of the day before, to share their beauty with us.

I had my 35mm lens mounted on the camera since it’s super sharp and it’s a great walk around lens. This shot was taken handheld at f3.5 @125th.

IN THE FIELD: New Discovery

September 17, 2012 20 comments

In our travels last weekend, we discovered a farmers market that is new to us. We enjoy shopping in places like this for several reasons. Not only is the food grown or raised locally, but it is also educational. The folks there love to chat about their farms and products they sell.

It is a rather lengthly list of what venders were marketing, but here are some examples. They were selling fruits and vegetables, homemade noodles and pasta, fresh meats, baked goods, honey, fresh homemade cheeses, and other dairy products, jams, jellies, and other canned/preserved items. One family operation was selling various kinds of flour that is grown, harvested, and milled at their farm.

This display of colorful woven baskets was just outside the entrance. We couldn’t resist buying one to carry all our purchases. It is harvest season, so our basket will be put to good use in the weeks ahead.


September 14, 2012 26 comments

Getting a good shot of the moon has been a quest of mine for a long time. Having the right lens, clear atmospheric conditions, a stable tripod, and minimal light pollution are the key to a good photograph.

One night last week I was finally able to get the shot I was after.

Liar, liar…pants on fire.

IN THE FIELD: Apple Pickin’ Time

September 12, 2012 29 comments

Where I live, we are fortunate to experience the four seasons. There are a few weeks of summer remaining before we move in to the Autumn season. Trees are starting to change colors, days and night are cooler, and the fall harvest is about to begin.

Our local orchard is giving hints to the changing of season. They have begun to post the “pick your own” signs for apples. Folks come from far and wide to head out into the rows and rows of trees to fill up their baskets with fresh fruit. On weekends, the orchard provides hay rides out to the apple trees, samples of home made baked goods, and all sorts of games for the children to play. They even build a castle out of hay bales for the kids to climb on and explore.

While it’s hard for me to pick a favorite season, Autumn is in the top four.

IN THE FIELD: A Hair Salon?

September 10, 2012 23 comments

I have my camera with me at all times. Even when running errands. I just never know when something will inspire me or when I will come across an interesting subject to photograph.

This past Saturday I dropped my wife off at her hair salon. It is in a part of the city that for us, is mostly unexplored territory. My intentions were to wander about outside looking for inspiration in the local architecture, while my wife was at her appointment. She suggested I come inside first to meet everyone, and then go play. I obliged, but never did make it outdoors. I found plenty of subjects inside.

I wandered about the shop photographing the various displays and artwork. It just goes to show, there are interesting subjects to photograph everywhere.


IN THE FIELD: Have A Great Weekend!

September 7, 2012 33 comments

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing

— absolutely nothing —

half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

-Kenneth Grahame -Wind in The Willows

Sailboat with a full spinnaker photographed on the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland

IN THE FIELD: Just South Of Yankee Ingenuity

September 5, 2012 27 comments

When using tripod in the field, I have often found myself facing the challenge of making the transition from a horizontal to a vertical orientation. I am forced to loosen the adjustment knobs so I can flop the camera into the vertical orientation, then move the tripod to the side a little bit in order to re-compose the shot. And it is a rather annoying experience to attempt to capture a vertical image with a camera that is not centered over the tripod.

Several manufacturers have risen to the occasion over the years to solve this dilemma and developed an “L” Bracket configuration. These devices mount to the bottom of your camera in the tripod socket, then the camera and bracket are inserted into a quick release device mounted to your tripod head. These brackets allow you to shoot in the horizontal format then easily convert to a vertical. Simply release the camera from the quick release, rotate the camera 90 degrees to the vertical format and re-mount it in the quick release. Now everything is centered on the tripod.

Kirk Enterprises and Really Right Stuff are just two of the manufacturers of “L” Brackets and quick release plates. They build great quality products, but depending on your budget, they can be on the expensive side.

I have been using a quick release system from Manfrotto for years, but unfortunately their camera plates are not compatible with other manufacturers. And a new system was more than I wanted to spend. Besides, I like my Manfrotto. My problem was, I still wanted that “L” Bracket for the added convenience in the field.

So I reached for my pirate’s hat and came up with my own version of an “L” Bracket which would be compatible with my Manfrotto parts. After making some preliminary calculations, I headed down to the hardware store and bought a strip of aluminum, some machine screws and nuts. I bent the aluminum to shape, cut the piece to length, then measured and drilled the appropriate holes for mounting purposes and for my cable release. Next, I mounted the quick release plates to the aluminum strip. Then I placed a strip of thin rubber between the bracket and the bottom of the camera for protection, and tightened the whole assembly.

Presto…a homemade “L” Bracket and quick release system and it only cost me $13.53 including tax. Now when I want to shoot a vertical composition, I simply mount the camera in that position. And if I want my next shot to be a horizontal, I open the quick release and mount the camera in that format.

Now, I never have to re-position the tripod, and it’s way faster to set up. Yabba-dabba-dooo!!!