Mar 29, 2010

At Home

Yesterday I photographed some Easter lilies that are in full bloom on our dining room table. I was not sure where I would end up with them and had no particular image in mind but I thought the white narrow conical throat of the petals with the yellow stamens would make for exceptional photographs. Once I started composing and photographing them, I moved my focus point closer and closer into the flower. The depth of field became shallower and shallower unleashing the beautiful abstract forms of the petals in the back of this Easter lily. I tried to keep some reference to a flower by keeping stigma, carpel and stamen in the foreground of the composition out of focus and laying the focus point into the back of the trumpet flower where the stamen come together. I used a 80mm macro lens with polarizing filter at f/3.5 resulting in a 1/25 seconds shutter speed. The low aperture setting and the close distance to the stigma, carpel and stamen in the foreground provided me with the minimal depth of field for what I had in mind. Nature keeps surprising me with its amazing never ending supply of photographic objects to explore at our door steps!

Mar 28, 2010

At the Boston Arnold Arboretum

Last December, after one of those monstrous northeaster New England snowstorms I headed out to the Boston Arnold Arboretum for some pristine winter photography. I first spent a couple of hours photographing snow covered redwoods, brooks and abstract shadows of trees. In the end a couple of unusually large birch trees caught my attention and I waded through the snow to get a closer look. Although, in the end unsuccessful at composing a pleasing image of them, these trees led me to my next objects; small trees right next to a beautiful snowed in brook. I first composed around three tree trunks but then settled on only two that enhanced the composition in my opinion. I focused on the tree in the foreground, leaving the one in the background out of focus. Not quite happy with the resulting images I decided on a more abstract composition, using a macro out of focus approach. I choose a 50mm lens setting and set the aperture to f/6.3. I then moved the tripod and camera to access the impact on the depth of field and composition. Once happy with the abstract and the out of focus adjustments I released the shutter at 1/100 seconds.

Mar 20, 2010

Monthly Photo Tip - March 2010

I am always on the lookout of ways to minimize camera vibration during exposure that may result in low quality and blurry images. One of the widely available camera gadgets is the self-timer. I regularly use this feature when shooting in low light conditions or with long telephoto lenses that require long exposure times. I got so used to it that I almost always use it when I photograph still life. Even when using a tripod pressing the shutter release button may cause significant enough camera shaking to blur photographs. The one accessible solution that every camera provides is the camera self-timer. The self-timer starts counting after the release button is pressed all the way through. A ten second delay is most common and allows the camera to stabilize on your tripod (or other support gear) before the shutter is released and the photo is taken; thereby minimizing camera vibration and optimizing image quality and sharpness.

At Home

Last weekend New England was hit with record pouring rain. Although a big fan of heading out during rain storms to photograph I skipped it this time. Nature was still in transition from winter to spring providing mostly gray hues. Instead I made my way over to a local flower shop to see what they had for me. I found a few bundles of Gerber daisies that showed potential for floral photography. I was planning to shoot the flowers over black so I stopped in a local Staples to buy some black card boards. Back home I started out with some single flower arrangements and while capturing "Flower over Black" I happened to notice a little opening that would allow me to get close and focus straight into the Gerber. I instantly went into macro mode. I moved my tripod and camera into a couple of inches of the flower's reach and started composing. The aperture setting of f/5.6 and the 80mm macro lens setting provided me with the shallow depth of field I had in mind. I adjusted the polarizer filter for maximum elimination of reflections and to saturate the red and yellow hues in the floral image. Once satisfied I let the self-timer get to work while I was counting till 10. During post processing I applied minimal auto contrast adjustment and lastly sharpened the image.

Mar 12, 2010

At the Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary

The Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary is located near Worcester, MA and is a short 55 minutes drive west of Boston. Butterflies are the main attraction for me but there is also very nice birding and hiking through woods and fields, along streams and marsh. According to their website there are 78 different species of butterflies present throughout the year. Last year I stopped in a couple of times to look for and photograph butterflies in their natural habitat. It was somewhat successful but a slow process and I still have a long way to go. At the speed I am producing it may take many, many visits but it was a tremendous fun. I remember the second photo shoot as a very challenging undertaking since the weather was not cooperating. Windy conditions are not beneficial to photograph butterflies but after a couple of hours I had captured some images to work off. After arrival I first scouted the garden area to see if any butterflies were present and found one Monarch nervously flying from one flower to the next. Excitement took over and I pulled my camera and tripod out of the trunk. Ready to shoot I first followed the butterfly around and tried to determine a flight pattern. In the end I settled for a location where I patiently waited and hoped the Monarch would come back to. Although a good approach it did not work for me that day. Instead a dragonfly landed right in front of me and started to pose. It wasn't bothered at all by my presence. I took the opportunity and snapped a few images and then moved in closer and closer to capture more; always praying that the dragonfly wouldn't decide to move on. Luckily my prayers were heard and I brought home some nice dragonfly close ups. In the meanwhile the Monarch was going about its business and I decided to handhold my camera to follow it around. The wind was moving everything from the flowers to the butterfly wings. There was not much hope but a few times I lucked out and the wind came to a standstill for a fraction of a second with the Monarch in place. The handhold approach provided me with the flexibility to capture the Monarch in a couple of images. I like especially the one with the unusual perspective. During my last attempt to photograph the Monarch I set up near one of the butterfly's favorite flowers and waited for it to and right on it. Although ready to release the shutter immediately the Monarch never returned and instead I went home with this floral image. The Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary is a wonderful place for everybody to visit and I am sure you will find me more often there this year!