Aug 22, 2009

On Cape Cod

Next week I will be chasing the light on Cape Cod. Hopefully the light is cooperative and I will be able to capture the beauty that Cape Cod has to offer and that I love so much. I will be striving for scenic landscapes during sunrise and sunset, light houses, beaches, dunes, marshes, harbors and seascapes. A good amount of time will be spent in the meadows that are hopefully still in full bloom. One focus this year will be on abstract photography. On my last trip to Cape Cod I captured this impressionistic image while panning the camera during the exposure.

Panning is a photographic effect where the camera is rotated or moved in a horizontal direction. The camera can be hand-held or mounted on a tripod when performing the actual panning. I usually prefer using my tripod. The panning technique is usually achieved by freezing the subject in the same position of the frame for the duration of the exposure. The exposure time should be long enough to allow the static background to blur from the camera movement as you follow the subject in the viewfinder. In my case I moved the camera in the direction of the incoming rolling waves resulting in this abstract early morning seascape photograph.

Aug 19, 2009

Monthly Photo Tip - August 2009

Besides cameras and lenses, a tripod is one of the most important investments for a nature photographer. High quality nature photographs are rarely achieved when hand holding your camera. A tripod is essential for low light during the morning, evening and twilight, for shooting wildlife, for macros and for experimenting with impressionistic photography. It not only steadies your shooting equipment for maximum image quality, it also will help you discover the world of photography. You are more likely to step back, think and compose the photograph. You will ask yourself: do I have a straight horizon, do I have sufficient depth of field or shall I open up the aperture setting to minimize depth of field, are there distracting elements in the foreground or background of my composition, do I even have a composition?

I personally prefer a ball-and-socket head with quick release for easy and fast adjustments. My tripod has no center column and the legs spread independently for setup on uneven terrain. The tripod collapses to almost ground level allowing me to explore ground level objects and shooting from different angles and perspectives. It is not too heavy for the longer photo excursions and trips I often pursue in the national and state parks of New England.

As an alternative, I sometimes bring a bean bag that allows me an easy, inexpensive setup at even lower levels then possible with a tripod. I also use it on rocks or positioning a telephoto lens on the hood or the roof of my car. Ready to go bean bags can be found at local photo dealers. You also can fill up your own 1 or 2 gallon size bag or freezer bag with dried beans. Add beans until the bag is nearly full but still flexible. Remove the air, zip up and you are ready to shoot.

Aug 16, 2009

Near Hopkinton SP

Nature reflection was taken during a trip west of Boston during peak Fall season in 2006. I decided to explore Hopkinton State Park but was not happy with my production of images there. It was a pretty frustrating photo excursion until I decided to leave the park and drive further along the bordering lake. At a pullout I parked my car and explored a nearby river streaming into the lake. I snapped a few tree reflections directly from the main road overpass but then discovered a path to the left banks of the river. From here things finally turned around. Close-ups of mushroom and leaves, moss covered trees and the peak Fall colors pulled me further and further along the path. About half to three quarters of a mile down the path this unexpected rock formation appeared. I immediately knew that I had a special image in front of me and started working it. The hard part was to find a spot with unlimited view of the rock formation and the Fall colors in the background. Once that spot was found I set up my tripod and camera and framed my image. I choose a mid-range focal length to cut out the boring overcast sky and selected a minimum aperture setting for maximum depth of field. I laid the focus point on the rocks since this was my main object and then started shooting away while bracketing the image to ensure proper exposure. I am always tempted to go back because it is such a great treasure and I feel I haven't explored all possibilities with this image.

Aug 15, 2009

At Hall's Pond

Another example of beautiful flower photography at your door step. To get this shot I went to one of my favorite neighborhood spots, Hall's Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Brookline, MA. The wildlife is amazing for a little pond in the middle of the city. Over the years I have captured some precious images there. I go regularly to explore the sanctuary, including its formal garden, where I composed this lily stamen close-up. While strolling the garden I was attracted by the greenish yellowish color of the lily. My goal was to have one of the stamens in focus and keep the others blurry. The lily petals were supposed to provide the background. In order to achieve this effect I set the camera aperture to maximum possible and zoomed all the way out to a 80mm lens setting. This combination provided me with the limited depth of field I was looking for. I snapped a series of photographs for optimal exposure and left only sharpening the image to post processing.

Aug 11, 2009

In my Backyard

I am having quite some trouble getting up early these days and we all know early morning light is essential for great landscape photography. That's why I spent most of the summer focussing on my flower portfolio. I also started experimenting and creating abstract flower photographs. Just recently, on one of my runs through the neighborhood, I discovered some beautiful large black-eyed susans. Once back home I grabbed my gear and went back to my neighbor's garden. First I took a few portraits but then got into more abstract compositions. Usually I set up my tripod with the camera, then selected maximum aperture setting at 70-80mm. From here I started composing the image. I achieved the best result by focussing on one of the more interesting petal edges and then re-composing the image so that the center of the flower moved completely out of focus and into the upper left corner of the image.