Posts Tagged ‘trees’

IN THE FIELD: Before The Storm

October 29, 2012 29 comments

Saturday morning I ventured out to capture more of the autumn color surrounding us here in the woods where I live. I figured it may be my last opportunity before it was all swept away from the massive storm headed our way.

The skies were overcast and provided a perfect even light. I was able to use shutter speeds of 1/60 of a second and slower. I also used a polarizing filter, which greatly improved the saturation of color, and eliminated the reflections from the leaves.

I found some brilliant maples with white pines as a background. I also found a stand of young beech trees showing three different phases of their color transformation.

At the time of this posting, hurricane Sandy is just beginning to make her presence known. It’s been showering off and on since Sunday afternoon, but now the rain is steady. It’s not raining sideways yet…that’s due to occur later today and into tonight, along with increased winds and heavier amounts of rainfall. I’m glad I had the opportunity to get some shots before the storm unleashes it’s fury.



IN THE FIELD: It’s A Bit Windy Out There

October 26, 2012 29 comments

Weather forecasters have been tracking Hurricane Sandy in the Atlantic ocean. She is scheduled to blow through our region this weekend. High winds and huge amounts of rain are predicted, even as far inland where I live.

In this part of Pennsylvania, we still have a good amount of colorful autumn leaves on the trees. But more than likely, the trees will be stripped bare from Sandy’s wrath.

A few days ago, I attempted to illustrate what it will look like around here with the wind and rain blowing through the trees. I figured by driving along our back-country roads, holding the camera out the window and capturing motion shots of the autumn leaves, just may give me a pretty good idea.

Since I was driving, I wasn’t be able to check exposure settings, so I set the camera to aperture priority. I chose an aperture setting of 2.8 and let the camera do the rest. I also set the shooting mode to continuous.

When I came upon an area I felt had potential, I held the camera out the window and pressed the shutter. And this is what I got.


IN THE FIELD: Stormy Weather And Great Light

October 24, 2012 24 comments

A few days ago, I was driving past our local orchard as it was just starting to drizzle. Which wasn’t surprising, since heavy rain was forecast for the early part of the morning.

I was passing the rows of peach trees, and the color of the leaves under the overcast sky was too much to resist. I had to pull over get a few pictures….before the skies let loose, the wind kicked up and stripped the trees of all that color.

Shooting under overcast conditions can provide fantastic light for more saturated color. The clouds act as a diffuser, and sometimes just before the rain starts, the light will get brighter. This allows for lower ISO settings and faster shutter speeds. It doesn’t always happen this way, but when it does, it’s a great opportunity to capture great light.

Camera settings for both photos were ISO 200, cloudy White Balance, 1/100 @ f3.5. Handheld.

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: Hidden Gems

April 30, 2012 26 comments

While walking on a trail through a densely forested area near where I live, I discovered a shallow ravine I had not explored before. Probably due to the dense undergrowth present when I venture there in the summer.

Dominating the field of view was a wild dogwood tree with it’s spreading branches and white blossoms. It seemed to form an umbrella protecting the new growth of the younger saplings.

I chose to bring my monopod which doubled as walking stick, rather than my bulkier and heavier tripod, to shoot in the thick woodland. It would have been difficult to get a sharp photo hand-holding the camera with cloudy skies overhead, and being under the forest canopy. It can get pretty darn dark in the woods. So I’m glad I had the monopod. As it was, I had to bump up the ISO to 800 to obtain a relatively high shutter speed.

I love discovering hidden gems like this, and they often show themselves when places that are familiar are visited at different times of the year.

IN THE FIELD: Even Light

April 25, 2012 20 comments

Outdoor photography relies on nature’s light, be it the even light of an overcast day or the direct light of bright sunshine. Both have their value and I shoot in both.

However, I freely admit I often prefer even light. Clouds or misty rain act as a giant diffuser eliminating harsh shadows. Subtle details and textures are more noticeable because they are not washed out from bright sunlight. And colors are often more vibrant.

If there is a dull lifeless sky, I try not to include it in the composition so the center of interest will have more impact. This may limit my options of views, but since I am shooting in an even light, I am not trying to capture a scene featuring a more dramatic light source. I’ll save that shot for a sunny day.

This past weekend, nature soaked the area with a steady rain for two days. When the rain eased up a bit, I went outside and set up the tripod to get a few shots of the woods just off our deck. I love the contrast between the wet trunks of the trees and the fresh green growth of new leaves.

Due to all the rain over the last few days, trees and shrubs seemed to have exploded with new growth overnight. And the lawn will probably need mowing every couple of hours over the next few weeks…there must be some kind of bionic lawn fertilizer in spring rains.


IN THE FIELD: Dancing On The Breeze

April 13, 2012 24 comments

When I am out on location, I tend to photograph the overall scene that lies before me. I do this for future reference, or because the scene warrants to be shown in full. And then I will break it down into smaller more intimate parts. It’s a methodology I find works well for me.

This image is a perfect example. It’s a maple tree, actually a clump of maples about 15 feet tall. In the autumn, the leaves turn magnificent shades of orange and red. During the springtime, buds open and the seed pods emerge, soon to be followed by young leaves.

From a distance the individual branches are easily defined, yet the seed pods appear as fuzzy pink and red blobs hanging from the branches. In close-up, the blobs become more interesting.

I chose to shoot in late afternoon when the sun was not so high in the sky, and the light would not be so bright. I wanted to capture a warm glow, rather than a harsh glare. The color tones reminded me of the fall season, which was most likely what attracted me in the first place. It was another windy day, and these seed pods appeared as if they were dancing on the breeze.


IN THE FIELD: Everything Is Blooming!

March 28, 2012 36 comments

Earlier this week I made a trip down to the orchard to see what trees are blooming. The apple trees are going full steam ahead while the cherry trees are just starting to blossom. It seems a bit early for the trees to to have flowers and the first hints of leaves, but I guess Mother Nature knows what she is doing.

I arrived around 9:30 in the morning which was perfect…except it was only 36 degrees. Even though there was a breeze, the sun was warm and comforting. And walking down the rows and rows of trees was like being in a pink and white tunnel with a green grass floor and a blue sky ceiling. The branches are covered with so many flowers, so it looks like it will be an excellent crop this year.

I put the sun to my back, and since it was still pretty low, I was able to compose some shots with the deep blue sky as a background. No polarizer was needed that morning!

INSPIRATION: Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock

March 16, 2012 34 comments

Our lives are full of countdowns. We count the seconds for the big ball to drop in New York City on New Year’s Eve. We make note of the number of days until our birthday. Some of us even make sure other people know how exactly how many are left until that day.

We will mark off the days on our calendars for our long-awaited vacations. We also know if we have two or three minutes left on the second swat of the snooze alarm in the morning.

I am counting how much time is left until the first day of Spring. It is 4,628 minutes from the moment I post this.

In the northern hemisphere, Spring officially starts on March 20th at 1:14am EDT.

IN THE FIELD: A Monster In The Sky

February 24, 2012 33 comments

Living in the woods has its advantages for wildlife observation, especially when walking the dogs. We never know what we may come across on our morning adventures with “our puppies”.

Deer are too big and fast to chase so they just growl and stare at them. Chipmunks are always exciting creatures to startle from rock outcroppings. The dog’s leashes tighten up and we have to hold on for dear life as they try to catch them. Rabbits get the same response. Squirrels don’t offer much excitement any more…just a dumb ole squirrel is the look we get from the pups. Songbirds are plentiful as well. Again, the same look…they’re just birds.

All bets are off if we come across a flock of wild turkeys. “Yahoo let’s go git ‘em! After all…aren’t they just big chickens??” Our dogs love chicken…it is their favorite treat topping to a Saturday night dinner.

One day this past fall we were out on our daily walkabout on a beautiful crisp morning. There wasn’t much animal activity, so the dogs were doing the usual “we’re bored” routine and were dawdling along. Suddenly, we all heard a noise up in the trees that we don’t usually hear. We humans knew what it was, but the doggies never heard anything like this before. They gave us a look we interpreted as…

“Look, a big monster and it’s going to attack us! Run fast! It’s making loud swooshing noises and it breathes fire! And we hear voices too!”

In between bouts of laughter it took quite a bit of re-assuring to calm them down. Especially after we hollered good morning to the humans waving at us from this monster’s belly flying overhead at tree top level.