Posts Tagged ‘instruction’

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: Equipment Review…Now I can See It

August 8, 2012 21 comments

The scenario goes like this..It’s a bright sunny day. Compose subject, push shutter button, look at LCD screen on the back of the camera. The sun is so bright and glaring, nothing is visible on the LCD screen. Cup hands around the screen to see if shot is as intended. Still don’t have a clear, glare free view.

Try another tactic. Move to a shady area to view the screen. Shot didn’t work. Now position is changed. Go back to former position, set up again, and retake the photo. Repeat as needed.

These methods work, but they are not the most efficient.

A few years ago I got this handy little device that solves all the problems of viewing the LCD screen on bright sunny days. It called the HoodLoupe 3.0 by Hoodman Corporation.

It’s really easy to use. All you do is take the picture, place the Hoodman on the LCD screen to eliminate the sun glare, and view the shot. The loupe will cover up to three inch LCD screens.

The Hoodman Loupe is made of a soft rubber and the lens is German glass. For those that may wear glasses or contact lenses, it has +/- 3 diopter so you can adjust focus. It also comes with a lanyard to go around your neck and it comes with a quick release buckle. That way you can detach the loupe, and hand it to another person to view the image you just shot. The manufacturer even provides a soft carrying case with a belt clip. How cool is that!

The loupe retails for about 80 bucks US. I use my Hoodman all the time when I am outdoors, whether it is sunny or not. Checking exposures and or compositions is so easy and convenient. Going home with shots that are poorly exposed, or composed for that matter, is a thing of the past.

IN THE FIELD: Revisiting Greenhouses

August 1, 2012 35 comments

Most of my photography is done outdoors, but there are a few places I like to shoot indoors. A greenhouse full of plants and flowers is one of them.

There are several reasons I enjoy shooting flowers indoors. Usually there are no breezes to contend with. Except for the fans used to circulate the air. If I do find a prime subject, and the flower is waving in the breeze, I will ask if I can move it to another location. Or for something creative, I may compose the shot to show movement.

Also, the light is evenly diffused in a greenhouse, either from shade cloth or frosted glass. You can even shoot at high noon and not be concerned with harsh shadows.

The humidity inside a greenhouse is something to be aware of. If your camera and lens has been in air-conditioning for an extended period of time, allow it to warm to the temperature inside the greenhouse. Take some time out to scout the location before removing the lens cap. Otherwise the lens will fog instantly, and then you will have a really long wait before you can get any photos.

There is no need to wait for a rainy day to get shots of plants and flowers with water droplets on them if you are there when folks are doing their watering. Plus you won’t get wet from the weather…you’re inside.

In my opinion, one of the greatest reasons to go on a photo shoot in a greenhouse is the variety you will be exposed to. Find a local greenhouse and ask the folks there if you can photograph their plant material. You’ll be rewarded with a wonderful time and super photographs.

This photo was shot using a tripod. Zoom lens set at 135mm, ISO 200, sunny white balance, f7.1 @ 1/125.

HOW TO: Fun Abstracts

July 27, 2012 33 comments

Recently I was watching videos by photographer Bryan Peterson on various photographic hints and techniques. Primarily, I was interested in honing my skills using a flash. I learned a lot of useful and creative methods for using flashes in outdoor photography. Then I watched whatever was next in line.

One exercise he demonstrated caught my attention, and it had nothing to do with flashes at all. He used common household items as props to create fun and interesting abstracts.

Here is my take on it. You will need a few things to get started and there is no need to buy anything or even leave your house. First thing you will need is a tripod although if you do this outside and it is bright enough, you may be able to go with hand-held.

Next you will need a clear casserole dish, some water, cooking oil, and a brightly colored shirt or fabric of sorts. I used both patterned shirts and solid colored shirts to see the different effects.

Place the fabric of choice, which will be the background of the photo, on a table or even the patio or deck. Prop up the casserole dish slightly above the shirt with whatever you have around. Wooden blocks, books or even several drinking glasses. The idea is to elevate the dish so you can change out the fabric easily.

Set up your camera on the tripod so the lens is parallel with the bottom of the dish. Add some water. I filled my dish about 1/3rd of the way. Then add some cooking oil. Since oil and water don’t mix, the oil forms all these neat circles floating on the water. With the fabric underneath the dish, the patterns and colors take on a whole new look.

Play around with different exposures to obtain the look you want. Drawing a spoon or your finger slowly through the mix will make different size circles. Or even stir it a little to make millions of small circles. All three shirts I used were of different colors and each produced totally different effects.

Give it a try…it’s a lot of fun!

IN THE FIELD: Yup, Got Wet

July 23, 2012 24 comments

I love the movement that is captured when photographing waves. Especially waves crashing against rock outcroppings or jetties. Whenever I am in a place where the surf is especially active, I like to sit down on a good rock and just listen and watch. The sound and movement is mesmerizing. I will then get the camera out and scout for a good location to capture the power of the sea.

Getting close to the action can yield spectacular images. When using a short or wide angle lens versus a telephoto or zoom lens, it’s a good idea to have a spotter nearby to alert you of a rogue wave. While waves tend to follow a pattern, there is always a chance one wave will be larger and more forceful than previous waves in the series. You don’t want to be caught off guard and lose your footing and take a tumble, and have your equipment getting swept out to sea.

Timing is another aspect that needs to be considered. Use a fast shutter speed if you want to stop the action of the waves. In order to capture the perfect moment in time, I set my camera to fire a burst of shots. If you are shooting on a sunny day, and want the water to have a silky appearance, using a neutral density filter or a polarizing filter will restrict the amount of light through the lens, which in turn can help achieve a slower shutter speed.

This photo was taken hand-held at the water’s edge of Schoodic Point, Maine. While I was shooting a series of waves crashing on the rocks, I was warned that this incoming wave was larger than the previous four or five waves. I fired off a burst of shots, and quickly got up to get out of the way, but I still got soaked. Luckily the rest of my equipment was several yards behind me, safe and dry next to my spotter.

HOW TO: Depth Of Field-An Alternative

May 16, 2012 16 comments

In a post last week I discussed Depth of Field, and used a photo of a rhododendron flower head to illustrate shallow depth of field. I liked the shape of the flower head, and wanted to isolate it from it’s surroundings. By using a wide aperture setting and the appropriate shutter speed to give a proper exposure, I was able to put the background out of focus. And by doing so, the center of interest became the flower head.

I visited the site a few days later hoping the buds had opened so I could capture the flowers in mass with a more apparent depth of field. Using a smaller aperture and the appropriate shutter speed to give a proper exposure, produces in increase in depth of field, allowing the majority of the image in to be in focus. In this photo the emphasis is on the groups of flowers.

The sky was bright but overcast, and it had just begun to rain when I took this hand-held photo of this cluster of Rhododendron blossoms. I’m glad I took this shot of the flowers when I did because it’s been raining for two days straight. With that much rain, I will probably have to wait until next year to photograph these flowers again.

HOW TO: Back To Basics Snow

February 17, 2012 26 comments

Capturing the pure white of snow or ice can be tricky depending on the available light, your camera settings, and how much snow or ice is in your composition.

Cameras don’t necessarily know what your intentions are. They record the image as an average based on the meter reading.

Camera meters are generally set to take a reading of the scene and convert it to an average of about 18% gray, or what is known as a medium tone. Snow and ice is not typically 18% gray, so the camera meter sees all this light and instructs the camera, or suggests to the user, to close down the aperture. Whoa…it’s bright…way to much light coming in here. If the photo is taken at this metered setting, typically the shot is under-exposed and the snow or ice turns blueish, especially if you have a lot of snow or ice in your composition.

But, it can be easier to capture what you are seeing through the viewfinder, and avoid underexposing your photos of snow and ice, with a few simple solutions.

If you are shooting in manual mode, and have the aperture set for the depth of field you want, you can adjust the shutter speed to overexpose from what the meter recommends by a stop or two. It may take some experimentation to get the results you want without overexposing so much that the snow or ice become blown out and there is no texture left.

You may also want to adjust your white balance to sunny, cloudy or even a custom setting, depending on the type of light available that day.

Another method, is to use exposure compensation which can be used in auto or manual mode. You can dial in as much or as little overexposure as you want, just be sure to set it back to zero when you are finished, otherwise all your subsequent photos will be overexposed.

If you want to evoke a cold feeling to the scene by letting the camera show the snow or ice with a blueish cast, and not add extra exposure, that’s ok too…you are the photographer, after all….and you get to choose.


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

Tricia Booker Photography at

visual journey at

The Lantern Room at

Snapping Beauty Photography at

Vickie Szumigala Photo Blog at

katie’s camera blog at

photographyofnia at

Flying Gma’s Blog at

karenchandler at

seabluelens at

framesandfocus at

Mufidah Kassalias at

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: Five-In-One Reflectors

September 30, 2011 16 comments

Not long ago I ordered a 5-in-1 collapsable disk reflector, which was recommended to me by another outdoor photographer. Basically, to replace the mangled piece of poster board I was using to add fill-light on subjects. The poster board worked pretty well, although not the most convenient way of doing things. The 5-in-1 reflector is easier to use and fits inside my camera bag.

Featuring a removable cover, the reflector has five different surfaces that are used to reflect light, diffuse light, or block light from your subject. The white side is for normal fill-light, a translucent side to diffuse light, silver for strong fill, a gold side for warm light and black side to block or absorb light. It unfolds to 22 inches in diameter, folds down to eight inches and even comes with a carrying pouch. The whole thing weighs about a half pound so it is quite portable. There are larger sizes available, but for around 20 bucks I figured I would give the smaller size a try.

Earlier this week, I decided to experiment by shooting the abundance of snapdragons in one of our front garden beds. We had missed these snaps while doing last year’s fall clean-up and they had re-seeded themselves throughout the bed. Just what I was looking for to play with my new gadget, especially since most of the snaps were in dappled morning sunlight.

I have to admit, it was a little challenging to look through the viewfinder, hold the cable release in one hand and the reflector in the other hand. Only because it was so breezy. My usual assistant (aka, my wife), was not available at the time, so I had to make do on my own. I composed the shot and adjusted the camera settings where I wanted them. Then leaned away from the tripod and held the reflector where it needed to be for that shot. With the cable release, I fired off a few shots, but you could do the same with a self-timer. Not only did the reflector fill in the shadows nicely, but it also helped block the wind. At the end of the session, I had quite a few keepers.

I will say, my biggest coordination test was folding the darn thing back up the first time. And if I am honest…several times after. No instructions came with the reflector on how to fold it up. So, I looked around on YouTube and believe it or not, I found a dozen instructional folding videos showing how to get the pesky thing back into its carrying bag. Obviously, I was not the only person failing this test.

So, if you are using a piece of poster board or some other method to add fill-light, you may just want to give one of these reflectors a try. I think you will like the convenience and the results. I know I do. Now that I can fold it back up in five seconds flat.