Archive for May, 2013

IN THE FIELD: Flaunting In Fuchsia

May 31, 2013 21 comments


This photo was taken a few weeks ago using a 90mm macro lens. Macro lenses of this or longer focal lengths serve a double duty. They can be used as a macro lens or as a medium telephoto.

When I composed this shot, the front lens element was a little more than one foot away from the tulip. This helped compress the scene yet still isolate the flower nearest the camera.

I wanted some color in the background but wanted the focus to be soft, so I chose a wide aperture to accomplish this. There was also the slightest breeze adding some movement to the flowers to further soften the scene.



cloudy WB

ISO 200


IN THE FIELD: Gardener’s Retreat

May 28, 2013 22 comments


Our next door neighbors have a love of gardening. So much so, at one time they owned a small farm where every year they grew six acres of flowers for cutting. Folks would come from far and wide to walk the fields and cut bouquets of flowers. About ten years ago our neighbors retired from the farm and downsized to a smaller home. They continue to cultivate and nurture their plantings to beautify their corner of our community.

The selection of plants surrounding their home includes rhododendrons, azaleas, lilies, iris’s, roses, hollyhocks, gladiolus, flowering shrubs, two wisteria plants that cover their pergola, and a wide variety of annuals and perennials. They have turned their intimate garden into an oasis of color, shape, and texture.

This is an old cart they kept from their farm, and now use it as a planter. The lady of the house loves the color blue, and one day she had an urge to paint something. The cart was the perfect candidate.

f 5


ISO 200

cloudy WB

IN THE FIELD: Dramatic Skies

May 24, 2013 16 comments


Most of the land around where I live is either forest or farmland. When the ground begins to dry out a bit from the early spring rains, the farmers begin to work their fields. They use enormous equipment to cut the hay for feed, then start plowing to prepare for planting of their summer crops.

All this farming activity usually stirs up lots of dust. And when you combine all that dust, and mix it with a steady wind throughout the course of a sunny day…it’s a perfect recipe for a colorful sunset. Then it’s just a matter of waiting for evening and hoping a few clouds will stick around to add some drama.



cloudy WB

ISO 200

IN THE FIELD: Skywards

May 22, 2013 29 comments


On the morning I took this shot, the air was cool, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the sun was shining brightly. With skies this blue, I couldn’t resist using the vivid color as a backdrop for these bright orange and yellow tulips.

To set this photo up, I adjusted the tripod to go as low to the ground as possible. I was able to then lay down in the grass behind the tripod to compose the shot.

I know I’m always promoting the use of a tripod, but if you don’t have one handy, here is an option. It’s much easier to lie on your back and look up for this kind of shot versus lying on your stomach and straining your neck and back. You’ll have to experiment with the position of your arms in order to steady the camera…but it works.

Besides, using this technique gives passersby something to talk about. Their conversation typically goes like this: “Did you see that person lying on their back looking up with a camera? What an odd position to take a photograph. They must really want that shot.”



cloudy WB

ISO 200

IN THE FIELD: Immerse Yourself In Your Subject

May 19, 2013 21 comments


Over the years I’ve heard a variety of humorous sayings regarding outdoor photographers.

“If you’re not sitting on the ground, you’re not a photographer.”

“You can always tell a good photographer. Their clothes are always dirty.”

Uhhh yup…folks often do look at me a little funny as I sit or lie down on the ground with camera in hand. And that’s okay because I’m creating an image that is uniquely mine. By changing my perspective or viewing angle, I feel I’m likely to create a more compelling image. And of course, there are times when I may get my pants dirty. But who cares about a little dirt anyway. Soap was invented a long time ago.

I took this photo at Longwood Gardens two weeks ago during the Celebration Of Spring Blooms.



cloudy WB

ISO 200

IN THE FIELD: Revisiting Familiar Places 3

May 16, 2013 14 comments


Bracketing exposures:

Whenever I am in the field, I like to bracket my exposures, if time and the situation permits. One reason is to see how adjusting the amount of light the camera records affects the subject or scene. And as good as camera meters are at predicting what settings to use for a “proper” exposure, sometimes an adjustment from the recommended setting may be needed to get a preferred exposure.

To illustrate what a slight adjustment to the shutter speed can make, here are two photos of the same scene taken at the Hopewell Furnace. The photos were taken within seconds of each other, yet they are different. Neither is an incorrect or an improper exposure. As the photographer, or the viewer, it’s just a matter of personal preference.

In this series about revisiting familiar places, all of the photos were taken with ambient  light. I wanted to capture the mood as it was occurring naturally, rather than adding an artificial light source.

These two shots were taken with identical settings except for the shutter speed. It was slowed by half (one full stop) which doubled the amount of light between the two shots.

Left Photo

aperture 7.1

shutter 1/50th

cloudy WB

ISO 200

Right Photo

aperture 7.1

shutter 1/25th

cloudy WB

ISO 200

IN THE FIELD: Revisiting Familiar Places 2

May 12, 2013 16 comments


In the previous post I mentioned how revisiting familiar places often will bring new discoveries. I found a few more during my latest visit to the Hopewell Furnace Historic Site.

I couldn’t tell you how many times I have walked past this doorway to the company store. But I never experienced what I did that morning.

As I peered into the room, the early morning sunlight was streaming through the old window. It may have been the time of day, or the time of the year, but the aged wood was aglow with golden light.

Ambient light from the window was the sole light source in this photograph.

aperture 7.1

shutter  1/25th

cloudy WB

ISO 200

IN THE FIELD: Revisiting Familiar Places

May 8, 2013 22 comments


I’ve been there before. There is nothing I haven’t seen. Been there…done that…don’t need to do it again. 

Ever had these thoughts rolling through your mind?

When revisiting a familiar location or even one that has become a favorite, there are several things I like to do to keep it fresh. And to avoid falling into the been there, done that trap.

Sometimes I will limit myself to using only one lens. Or if using a zoom, I will restrict myself to one focal length. Another method is to use my tripod only at a low height. This can get hard on the knees, but a fresh perspective almost always reveals something new. These aren’t hard and fast rules I follow, but guidelines I use to get the creative juices flowing.

One of my favorite places to revisit is the Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in southeastern Pennsylvania. It is an old iron making furnace that was in operation from 1771 until 1883. And was one of 20 or so furnaces in operation in Pennsylvania during the 1700’s and 1800’s.

I have been there many times, in good weather and in bad. But I always hope each visit will bring a new discovery. Because I understand the light and weather will most likely be different from my last visit.

On this particular spring morning, it was sunny and the temperatures were cool. So I spent a good part of the shoot outside photographing the buildings and old equipment used in the iron making business.

As the morning progressed, the temperatures quickly rose to what felt like summertime. I soon realized I was way over-dressed for the occasion. Knowing it always feels cooler inside the old restored buildings, that’s where I headed.

This is part of the old blast furnace. While I have been inside this building many times, I never witnessed the sunlight pouring down the chimney as it was on that morning. This photo was taken only with the available light in order to capture the golden color. Because of the long exposure needed to capture the light in this situation, the use of a tripod was an absolute necessity.

aperture 7.1

shutter 1/4 second

cloudy WB

ISO 200

IN THE FIELD: Afternoon Light

May 3, 2013 27 comments


Chase the light. Find the light. The magic is in the light.


The camera captures light, our mind captures images.”


Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”

George Eastman

In essence, these quotations all say the same thing. And I do believe light truly is the key to photography. It’s what we all try to capture on film or on a digital sensor. For me, taking a second look or finding a different vantage point to capture the light is worth the effort.

These tulips were growing in a small flower bed next to the side of a building. As I approached them, I couldn’t help notice their vivid color. However, when I sat down on the ground to get to their level, and I saw the sunlight accenting the petals from that angle…that was the moment the small grouping of flowers became even more visually impressive.

I metered this shot for the flowers rather than the overall scene. Also by slowing the shutter speed one half stop from the camera’s recommended setting, the background went dark and become under-exposed. This made the flowers really pop.

Dramatic light can occur at anytime of the day or night, and not just in the early morning, late afternoon, or immediately after a major storm passes through the area. This photo was taken a few days ago, shortly after 5:00 pm.

aperture f5.6

shutter 1/400th

cloudy WB

ISO 200