Thursday, March 31, 2011

Star Burst ~ Exploration Thursday!

"Afternoon Entrance"
(1/100 sec.@ F/10, 20mm fl, ISO 160, 18-55mm kit zoom, handheld, shade)

Thought I'd post an image from one of my most favorite locations, Dundurn Castle. But because it's Thursday, I knew it had to be something with a unique element. So I chose a new one I had yet to edit till now. However, I wanted to post this because this past year I realized I hadn't experimented much with star bursts.

The norm for clear blue skies and easier exposure for a landscape is to pop a nice filter on your lens (or later in PS) and shoot away with the sun behind or beside you... except when you want a star burst effect. Then you must shoot into the sun. Then the trick becomes 'what can I use to naturally filter the sun light'. And not too much, but something to block just enough of the actual sun so that it spills out from behind the obstacle. I've discovered it takes some practice, and usually a smaller aperture than normal. I start at an F/10 and go from there... sometimes stopped down to an F/16. The smaller the aperture, the more prominent the beams of light are as they're forced to reach through the narrow aperture to get to the sensor.

Obviously the weather conditions and time of day will effect what you get. This was late morning in early November. No haze in the sky, very bright out, and low enough for it to sit tucked behind most foliage if I got down low to the ground. The other trick is to avoid compromising your composition as you attempt to get the sun to peak through at just the right spot. I liked the POV I had approaching the arch that leads to the front of the historical property, and was determined not to sacrifice the large tree in the foreground if I could help it. It took some time and some angling and hoping the trees would stop swaying in the slight breeze. But I got it.

For more tips on star bursts check out this article.
Thanks for the ramble folks, have a good one eh!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Odd Spaces ~ WideAngle Wednesday

(1/80 sec.@ F/8, ISO 200, 18mm fl, Pattern Metering, 18-55mm kit)

I get asked all the time, "why, when you take such inviting landscapes, and graceful florals, do you always post those grungy city shots?"... I guess the best way to answer this is to quote a mentor of mine from my early film days who once said to me after a frustrating day of shooting garbage cans on the street, taxis on the curb at the school, and someones lost gym shoe with little enthusiasm, "Every photographic subject has a pulse. Find it's rhythm and your image comes to life. That simple!" 

Garbage cans never looked the same to me again after that. Sure, landscapes can be soothing, and nature can be enchanting! But unusual spaces, difficult perspectives, and random elements found in the day to day places just have an undeniable rhythm for me in the lens. Odd places, old buildings, harsh elements challenge me. They taunt sometimes, whispering "nothing to see here..." Well, not really but you get the picture. And I love photography too much to walk away from such a challenge. In small ways what I learn about photographing the city, always gets applied later on to photographing nature too. Tricky compositions, more interesting angles, weird lighting... I've learned never to take anything for granted in that respect.

The excitement is taking an everyday space and capturing the most interesting part in such a way that anyone can relate to it, and better yet, be captivated by it if they choose. Or haunted by it. Or inspired by it. There's a thrill to finding it's pulse. And it's where I started 17 years ago with a film camera, it's a pulse I'm familiar with. And I hear it loudest sometimes... in odd spaces.

Thanks for the philosophical ramble, and have a good one folks!
This one goes out to all those students that had the inexplicable Mr.Shoveller for photography class! Cheers.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

DOF ~ Telephoto Tuesday!

"Softly She Emerges"

Perhaps my favorite image from the trips I made to the Spring Show is my post for the day. This was the only open magnolia blossom on the branches in the displays, and when I saw it I knew it needed singled out in whatever shot I took. Isolated is perhaps a better term.

Used my trusty modest telephoto zoom, dialed her wide open to an F/4.5 to soften everything but the blossom, spot metered against her white flesh, and got off a series of shots. In the background were banana trees, bird cages, and other visitors but you'd never know it with the depth of field I chose.

Almost as important as what you are featuring in your shots, is what you choose to exclude from your shots. And this is one way of getting that. I am always aware of the background, constantly recomposing around the subject in order to get the best image with the perfect backdrop. My new favorite compositional word is "cohesive". Everything needs to work together.

Thanks for the short ramble folks! Have a good one!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Inner Sanctum ~ Mono Monday!

"Holy Presence Waiting"

Time to dip into the older files once again. Was inspired to convert an image I took over a year ago into an old fashioned B&W with one of my newer Nik Efex plug-ins. The trick I find with special filters and plug-ins is to know when it suits your photographs. I try to ensure that if I'm going to take a photograph in a certain direction or give it a certain tone, that the conversion or effect is is fairly cohesive with the subject matter and the style you shot it in.

This church is remarkably restored, and sits in the hub of the city. All the wood detailing glistens, the stained glass sings in the sunlight, and you feel like you've taken a step back in time. So when I started to think about doing this shot taken from it's balcony(with the terrifyingly squeaky floor boards that make you wonder if it'll hold together long enough to get a shot) I went through my arsenal of B&W filters and effects to find the one the represents this image the best. This is a retro platinum effect, and after I applied it, I thought "jeez, it looks like an old postcard from the 20's"

I also like it in B&W because the lines and space are really emphasized. Very suitable for an ornate space waiting to be filled with His presence by the Sunday seekers about to enter.
Photographed any remarkable architecture lately, from the inside?

Thanks for the ramble folks, and have a good one!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tropical Puffball ~ Floral Friday


They look like festive exploding fireworks to me. Fireworks that shout "the weekend has arrived, everybody party!" Or something to that effect. These trees from the tropics bear a bud that turns into the softest of fluff, and are called, therefore, the Red Powder Puff flower. It's actual name is the Calliandra and I've tried in vain to get a decent photo of these at our local tropical greenhouse over the last few months. But it's been difficult, I'll admit.

The reason being is that they are on the far side of the koi pond, and up high where the light is the harshest. And they really beg to be photographed. I think they're wonderful. Like a fantastical flower in a Dr.Seuss book. So here's one that turned out using my telephoto and my handy dandy tripod, and the cloudy weather that day helped even out the light coming directly from above. I will indeed keep returning, hopefully a branch will lean out close enough to the path that I can get nice and close, and if I time it right, the staff will have just sprayed everything with a fine mist of water first thing in the day...

So stay tuned for an update on whether I can get the shot I really see in my mind everytime I visit this fantasty plant. And have a terrific weekend! 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guest Post for Exploration Thursday!

"FLAMINGO"  ~South Florida by Bob Grauer

Today we explore an image taken over in Florida! Bob Grauer, my guest blogger for today has had his work featured here before and am thrilled to pick his brain a bit about how today's post came together. His sea and skyscapes continually amaze me (not to mention he's a killer scrabble player), and in the last couple of years I have learned a lot from Bob about exposure, editing, and getting beautiful color in the camera.
Here's Bob to explain about today's image:

 "It was Halloween 2009 and to escape the constant knocks on my door I headed out to Everglades National Park(ENP). Arriving before dawn, it was a long and very rewarding day of shooting with quite a few images that eventually made it to my portfolio. By late afternoon I was thinking about where I should be to catch the setting sun. I decided on Florida Bay so I headed west on the main ENP road to Flamingo and the pristine Gulf of Mexico, (pre BP disaster). It still looks pristine now, but one has to wonder how much Corexit is in the water.

Upon arriving I found a couple of clouds close to the western horizon. There was a space between the horizon and the clouds. This is a perfect set up where the sun lights up the clouds from underneath. I still had a 1/2 hour so I carefully staked out my spot. Set the camera on the tripod and put on a ND grad filter. Nothing to do for 15-20 minutes but wait. Just as the sun emerged beneath the clouds a flock of birds landed about 15 feet in front of me. I looked through the viewfinder and found the composition was perfect and didn't have to move the camera at all. The birds knew exactly where to be to make my shot perfect. With a few more minutes until the sun met the horizon, I was hoping the birds would stay put. It was my lucky day, this kind of luck is one in a million. It still would have been a beautiful sunset photo without the birds. But with them the image became magical. I couldn't resist using it for the cover of my portfolio book."

As mentioned earlier, I am a huge fan of Bob Grauer's work. To see more of his images please check out his flickr stream here. Also, I know he would be thrilled to have you wander over to check out his book
...a beautiful photography book filled with images that transport you to the Everglades region and beyond. Thanks to Bob for sharing one of my personal favorites of your collection with us all, and letting us explore with you!

Thanks for rambling with us folks, get out there and capture a sunset or two yourselves, wherever you are!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Idealistic ~ WideAngle Wednesday!

(1/320 sec.@ F/8, 18mm fl, ISO 160, 18-55mm kit lens, dusk light)

Southern Ontario is getting hammered with ice and snow as I type. Well, my part of Southern Ontario anyway. And I mean hammered. Horizontal blowing snow, freezing rain, gale force winds. Looking nothing like the idealistic image I've decided to post today so that for a few minutes I can look at this blog and enjoy even the remotest slice of denial. Blizzard? What blizzard?

This will be one of my last posts from my Bayfront Park trek. It might even be my favorite. It's fairly symmetrical for a landscape, soothingly composed, and peaceful with it's warm light and lack of busy scenery. For a moment I can forget pulling out the winter boots one last time (PLEASE let it be the last time) hoisting a shovel, and digging enough snow to cover three front yards 5 feet high. Well, almost.

It's wonderful when photographs can transport us. Take us to places and times that bring back wonderful memories, inspire us, or remind us there won't always be blizzards upsetting our routines. As a photographer that's my hope when I edit images. To me it's the most exciting part.

Tomorrow will be a guest post from my buddy Bob Grauer, so check in tomorrow for another great post and have a super day folks, in spite of the snow!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fill the Frame ~ Telephoto Tuesday!

(1/80 sec.@ F/9, ISO 100, 62mm fl, 55-200mm telezoom, overcast diffused light)

Telephoto's are my favorite way to fill a frame with a subject. Naturally most people think telephoto and they automatically think distance photography. And obviously that's the main use. But my favorite subjects also look good through a telephoto, for a different reason.

As a tele lens brings everything closer, it compresses the percieved distance. This means I can not only get a closer view of the tulips at the Spring Bulb Show in Hamilton, but the lens allows me to get a very tight composition. Filling the frame with loads of color and giving wonderful depth of field even at an aperture of F/9. It ensures the main subject(s) still retains a ton of detail too. Makes for a very dramatic image. Puts the viewer right in the middle of the patch of tulips, as opposed to a more wide angle view, which would look more like the viewer standing before a patch of tulips, but certainly not in the midst. I actually wasn't too far away, and so the flowers look like they surround the lens, again thanks to the compression of the telephoto zoom I used.

It's one of my favorite tools to photograph flowers with. Have you tried it?
Thanks for letting me ramble on folks! And have a good one eh!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Any Opportunity ~ Mono Monday!

"BayFront Thaws"
(1/80sec. @ F/8, 23mm fl, ISO 160, 18-55mm kit lens, late evening light)

Ever feel driven? Have all consuming thoughts? Can't shake the urge?
Just can't help yourself?

That's me and photography. Next to serving God, and caring for my family, photography pretty much finds a way into everything I do or say. Just ask some of my closest friends. I eat, sleep, and breath it. I'm always looking for any opportunity to shoot. My eyes always scouting for fresh possible subjects every where I go. Watching the weather. Biding my time. Rearranging my day in order to include it (and sometimes that of my family, heh heh). Those who know me well understand that it just comes naturally.

The images today came from an opportunity to shoot with another local photographer whom I mentioned in my post last week. And it was an opportunity to photograph the sunset. And it was an opportunity to use the nice light to stretch my B&W skills once more. Low laying light is the optimal lighting for emphasizing texture, contrast, and shadow.
Hamilton's BayFront Park proved to be a good place for all of that.

"Spring Approaches the Bay"
(1/125 sec.@ F/8, ISO 100, 18mm fl, 18-55 kit lens, late evening light)

It was a wondrous evening. The light took it's time, the sun gently setting down onto the horizon. All the while, we wandered the park, finding ways to use the light. Being inspired. Making mental notes on where to return to... next time. There's always a return visit. Always.
Can't help it.

Thanks for letting me ramble. Have a good one folks! 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bold Color ~ Floral Friday!

"Tropical Flare"
(1/80 sec.@ F/7.1, 50mm fl, ISO 125, 50mm prime lens, spot metering)

The Spring Bulb Show is on at the Tropical Greenhouse of Gage Park. So naturally I am using a photo from my visit this week. The greenhouse is bathed in bright wonderful colors. Heralding spring with tulips, daffodils, pansies, and even their tropical plants like the one above are bursting with color. You can't help but feel happy after a visit there.

Color lifts the spirits. It says life is vibrant. Fresh. Beautiful. Exciting.
Put something super colorful into your weekend. A bouquet of flowers on the table (and photograph them of course), go for a walk into the sunset (and photograph it obviously), or pull out your spring wardrobe (heck, photograph the mess that ensues from that one act alone! ha)... but put some color into your day and watch how everything just feels better.

I don't think it's a coincidence that our world was created with gazillions of amazing colors. I know it does me a world of good every time I look upon it all. How about you?
Thanks for the ramble folks as March Break comes to a close...have an amazing weekend folks! Get out there and capture some color!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Days End II ~ Exploration Thursday!

"Sunsational Exit"
(1/200 sec.@ F/8, ISO 160, 18mm fl, Late evening light, 18-55mm kit zoom)

No, nothing fantastical has been done to today's post. An yes, it's still Exploration Thursday! But instead of posting an image I played with in PSPx3 to see what effects I could explore, I thought I'd post about getting out there and exploring where you live.

Ever get in a rut creatively? It happens. You start thinking you can't do the same ol' thing anymore. Everything feels redundant. And seeing as you don't have the money to hop on a plane with your gear when the mood strikes and fly off to Patagonia to be inspired by the views and come back a creative genius... what's a photographer to do? Especially if you have other hats you wear everyday too, you're a wife, a dad, a corporate accountant (strike that, you'll have the money to go to Patagonia), a nurse, a postman, a farmer... you're limited to the time you have left to wander about with a camera.

Time to change your thinking and explore your immediate area. And at different times of the day is the perfect way to start. The image above is one of the most eye catching I've taken all year so far, and all because I did a little planning and went back to an area I thought I was done photographing for a while, but this time at the most magical time of day. Suddenly I was no longer just "at the park"...

Also, expand who you are creative with, or learn from. I have a wonderful friend/photographer from flickr who the hubby and I finally met for the first time in person the same night I went out to photograph the sun setting. He knows the area like the back of his hand, and knew when the light would hit what section of the bay, and for how long. He had me shooting from vantage points of the park that I had yet to consider, and it truly got me thinking of all the new possibilities I had yet to consider. I know I'll be meeting up with this gentleman again, there's much to learn from someone who has been doing photography for 40 yrs.

Stuck in that rut? Change the time of the day you explore and work. Change the way you approach it. Change who you exchange ideas with. Change the location. Find one small thing to change and your creative juices will thank you.
Thanks for letting me ramble, and have a great Thursday folks.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Days End ~ Wide Angle Wednesday!

"Heaven Light"
(1/320 sec.@ F/8, 18mm fl, ISO 160, 18-55mm kit zoom, sunset light)

This time of the year is a tricky time for me to get away to do any kind of sunset shot. For March and April, sunset is right around dinner time for my family, which is still a very important time of the day for the four of us. But since it's March Break, our supper times are all over the place, and the kids are home all day... so I took the opportunity to fit in a sunset photo walk with a new photog friend from Hamilton. It was damp and fairly windy, but we had a great time chatting and trading techniques and camera info... and came away with images like this within a one and a half hour period down at Hamilton's Bay Front Park.

My wide angle kit lens was obviously used here. I knelt down in the cold and soggy grass to angle the camera to include much of the cloud cover being illuminated in the suns last light.
Light like this I'm hesitant to manipulate too much in editing. The air was heavy and damp which gives everything it's own softer glow... so I've refrained from sharpening which eliminates the soft look. I've gone easy on the contrast too... I already liked the amount of shadow and light. And really, sometimes I think we need to do our utmost to just capture creation in all it's subtle lighting and colors, and show restraint and moderation in regards to what we add in pumped up crazy colors, HDR gone wild, and tricks to make it look so much larger than life. If I was in awe as I stood there, and I pay attention to my camera settings, then that's often times enough.

I stood there in this lovely light, thanked my Creator for His own daily attention to detail that gives us these amazing sunsets whether we deserve them or not, and snapped the shutter over and over so I could enjoy the effect long after the light was gone.
I'd love to post anyone elses sunset photos if you have one you're especially thrilled about... just leave me a message and we'll arrange something!

Thanks for letting me ramble on folks! Have a marvelous Wednesday...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring's Thaw ~ Telephoto Tuesday!

"Spring Thaw's Grace"

So our family went down to visit the Bay Front area in Hamilton, and visited the three Mute Swan families residing down there right now. We were going to feed them but first we learned they eat mostly algae, bugs, and of all things shrimp (in certain climates anyways, obviously not Canada). Okay then.

Then we learned they'll eat vegetable scraps and really love spinach. But at 10:00am we didn't have any of that either. Then we realised feeding them wouldn't be good in the long run anyways, they become too dependant on humans and won't survive on their own. So we simply went and enjoyed all the honking, and flapping, and paddling while they began enjoying the water in the marina that was slowly melting from the giant slick of solid ice covering most of the bay. They were like little kids! Not the kids... the swans...

I approached this fella above who was very intent on eating whatever he was catching way down into the water, so every time he ducked under, I scooched over closer down the boat launch next to him. My telephoto is a Nikkor, and is pretty silent zooming in, so not once did he seem concerned with my presence overall. If you click to enlarge the image you'll see the water still running off his beak from his underwater foraging. And gosh he was beautiful.

Take the time to get out with the family for March Break, and enjoy your surroundings. Thanks for the short ramble, and have a good one!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Anchors Away ~ Mono Monday

"The Haida Under Hamilton Skies"
(1/640 sec.@ F/3.5, ISO 200, 18mm fl, Nikon D40, 18-55mm kit lens, bright morning light)

It's March Break for the kids this week, so I won't be posting any long elaborate ramblings for the next few days as I hope to be out with my family more. Nor will I be editing very much, since that still requires me to hover around the computer. I was looking back through some older files looking for the odd image I may want to share, and came upon the photo above.

I took this a couple years ago now, with my Nikon D40. My first DSLR ever and I still have it. It's my emergency back-up in case something were to happen to my regular camera the D80. I loved that camera!

In the warmer months this is a great spot to take the family, down at the bay front. This is the HMCS Haida and it has resided majestically in Hamilton's waters since 2003. They give tours and demos in the summer, and little kids and most men stand, necks craned looking up at her decks with more than a little awe. She is the last remaining Tribal Class Destroyer of 27 built for the Royal Canadian Navy, and the Royal Navy and I chose this view of her since it makes it very clear how massive she is to stand beside.

And what is it about battleships and destroyers and ships in general that suddenly turns men into instant sailors? Stand near the Haida long enough and you can hear every man within a hundred yards spouting off stats and random sea faring facts to their families or unsuspecting tourists, making it sound as if they've sailed her themselves. When in fact the closest they've gotten is in their grandfather's dingy to go fishing. Seriously.
Well, I find it amusing anyways!

So enjoy your march break folks, see some local sights with your kids, try to impress them with your knowledge... and then when your 6 year old corrects you, take them for pizza and hope they forget about it.
Have a good one!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Drizzly Days ~ Floral Friday

"New Peonies, New Rain"
(1/800 sec.@ F/2.5, 50mm fl, ISO 100, 50mm prime, rainy overcast light)

Today's image was inspired by the rain. I use the word inspired loosely. This is because for the last number of days, and a great deal of the last two weeks even, we've had wet, soggy weather. If it's not snowing, it's freezing rain. If it's not freezing rain, it's fog and sleet. Fine mists, and steady sheets of the wet stuff. It keeps coming. Even my brain is water logged. No comments from the peanut gallery.

So I thought why not post an image to acknowledge that even the rain can be beautiful. When it dots the tender buds of new plants, when it puddles in the fresh new grass, or when it washes away the grit of winter. I get especially excited when I spot new shoots popping up out of the soil for the first time. Before my garden has a chance to turn into a wilderness out of control. Usually around July I'm rendered useless against the wildflowers and weeds, and I start spending more time keeping them watered then keeping them orderly. But from April into June, everything looks great. And it's usually got nothing to do with me and everything to do with the spring rain.

So, next time you feel compelled to be frustrated with the weather, remember the flowers are coming! And then remember your umbrella. And your galoshes. And your rain coat. And your need to fore go all the gear and just stay indoors with a good book.
Did I mention the flowers are coming!

Thanks for the ramble folks! Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Exploration Thursday!

"In the Square"

Something fun for today. A bit of city life inside the glass front of an office building in London to be exact. Where I wandered around for a day on my own, riding the tubes (wee! love the underground) and trying not to get so lost that I'd miss my flight. The next morning. But that's another story.

I love reflections. As if you can't tell. This one is more fun than most because of the way the building is constructed. It is a massive compilation of angles and rectangles jutting out in intervals all the way up the building. And it sits in a corner. So this shot gives you views down two different street corners. The obvious being the scene that includes the bus and another tourist photographing something across from a cathedral. The other view being a glimpse of the newer office buildings across from it all, blue against the sky. A sort of contrast, and yet very complimentary. And the image serves as a great reminder of that wonderful day out.

I wandered the whole area. And I did find my way back to the hotel. And I did make my flight that morning. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Have I told you about the time before that, when I lost my passport?
Maybe next time.

Have a great day folks, and thanks for the ramble.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just a Walk ~ Wide Angle Wednesday

"Escarpment in Winter"
(1/50 sec.@ F/8, 18mmfl, ISO 200, 18-55mm kit lens, pattern metering, overcast light)

I was reminded this week by a good friend that to be successful at what you do, no matter how hard you work, or how frantic a pace, you still need to also work... on yourself. That sometimes we become overwhelmed because we haven't remembered to include time to just be ourselves. To relax. To dream. To pray. To explore. To hang with family.

So I set aside my week this week to regain my perspective on how I'm filling my days, and if I'm really using time wisely, both as a working photographer and as a person. I took time Monday to find one pretty image to hang in my office space. Something that will inspire me every time I look up for a break from the computer screen. Yesterday I walked and walked along the Bayfront. Just me. And the camera. But no agenda, no "must have" shots for a blog or a site or a contest or a client. Just to enjoy the spontaneous act of shooting. And I had missed it! In the routine of research and marketing homework, meeting new photographers, hunting down materials, blah blah blah, I had forgotten to just explore. It was exactly what I needed.

Today I spent time looking at works by every photographer I've ever loved, getting inspired. Writing ideas down for projects coming up that I had put off because I felt drained. This "new" routine will now become a regular occurrence through the coming months. It feels so nice. And the things I do still have to take care of suddenly seem easier to accomplish in the meantime. The next couple days will still be busy, but there are things I intend to do to slow down at some point as well. It's just too important.

The shot above is from a winter wander with my family a little while ago. It has no agenda. It's a simple composition of the escarpment dusted with snow, and the trees that hover close by protecting it. No fancy editing. It was just a walk. But thinking about it now, it was an important walk. Healthy time with my family, getting fresh air, laughing, freezing, listening to the snow crunch and the odd twig snap on the still trail, warming up with giggles in the car after.

Have you taken a moment this week yet to not "need" anything, to just be you, to be thankful for what you really have. To get outside, just cause, away from your desk, computer, blackberry, iphone, facebook, deadlines. I dare ya.
Thanks for letting me ramble folks. Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

For the Ladies ~ Telephoto Tuesday!

"A Graceful Exit"
1/2500 @ F/8, ISO 250, 200mm fl, 55-200mm nikkor zoom VR, handheld, Colored Edges Filter in PSPx2

The Swan ~ by Mary Oliver

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?

Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air -
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music - like the rain pelting the trees - like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds -
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

The image above was taken today, and I could not think of a more graceful way to thank all the women from my family, my friends, and fellow photographers that have been so encouraging to me as I stretch my wings in my photography journey, and in life period.
I couldn't do any of it without you ladies! Happy International Women's Day!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Flavored by History ~Mono Mondays!

"Up Against The Wall"
(1/25 sec.@ F/6.3, ISO 100, 18mm fl, 18-55mm Nikkor kit zoom, pattern metering, dusk light)

Monochromatic. It's almost safe to say that I see equally the scenes before my camera in color and black n' white wherever I go. Perhaps because my first foray into the art world was me at 11 yrs. armed with a pencil and a sketch pad. I sketched everything and anything. The neighbor's dog, my Nana's budgie Mike, a ceramic rooster in the kitchen. Later, it'd be dancers in charcoal, garden scenes in pastels, and a portrait of what I thought I'd look like at 70 yrs old. And is it really a surprise that the guy I fell for in high school who I'd eventually marry, was just as agile with a #2 pencil and could sketch the components of the exterior of the local hydro building, in perspective, in under 20 minutes, from memory... just for fun?

My first photography classes taught me even more about the beauty of B&W, but in film. Developing my own prints taught me to appreciate the entire process of photography, from hearing the film roll click into place inside the camera, to using a light touch and restraint while hand tinting an image I developed myself, with colored inks. Many of which still hang in my house today. There's just history within them.

Which is what I thought about when taking this image two years ago on Regent St. in England. Regent is lined for as far the eye can see with architecture that just seeps out history. I had a few hours to roam the area, and I almost didn't know where to start. I immediately did the tourist thing, getting as much of the street in my shots as possible... but my art brain eventually got hold of my frantic snapshot brain. I started to select angles, details, and better perspectives.This was one of those first "art brain" shots. I've always wanted to share this image. It represents everything I've ever learned I guess.

I haven't revealed this photo before now. It was sitting in an unused folder because it had a rather distracting flaw I initially never spotted in my gleeful photo marathon. At one point it had a rather long flag pole attached to the stone work. It's always bothered me that it was too much work to fix. But over the last couple years, I've learned how to wield the cloning tool just enough that I've managed to rescue the odd photo. And so I was able this past weekend to rescue this shot from becoming "history" and winding up in delete-land. (The first one to guess where the pole was gets my deepest congrats!) And now converted to B&W, it just feels like it contains a certain history... it's own, and mine as well.

Are you letting your story, your history, flavor your endeavors behind the camera? You are anyways, whether you know it or not. Draw the best from it and let it help inspire you.
Thanks for letting me ramble on for another day. Have a good one folks!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Today's Tulips ~ Floral Friday!

" A Time For Tulips"
(2.5 sec @ F/9, ISO 100, 50mm fl, 50mm f/1.4 prime lens, Nikon Speedlight Sb-600, Gary Fong Light Sphere)

Happy Friday everyone! My post today is short and sweet. I'm just itching for the weekend!

I've been playing with my flash more this week, and I have to say that when I pair it with my 50mm prime and Fong's flash diffuser, you get some wonderful results. Light is dispersed nicely through the light sphere, and the 50mm lens makes me more conscious of my framing and my DOF. Here's two very different results.

There has been some slight editing to both images. In the above, I applied some of PSPx3's clarify filter, and desaturated the color a tad which emphasized the textures from the clarify application. In the image below, I only had a bit of return strobe happening as the shutter released and relied more on the available light coming in from the right side. Later in editing, I selected the warm light tones and heightened them a bit in a new layer before saving. I like them both, but I believe my favorite is the later...which one is yours?
Have a fabulous weekend folks, and thanks for letting me ramble on!

"Tulip's Last Light"
(1/2sec @ F/9, ISO 100, 50mm fl, 50mm f/1.4 prime lens, Nikon Speedlight SB-600, Gary Fong Light Sphere, diffused side light, tripod, remote shutter)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dancing Tulips ~ Experimental Thursdays!

"Beauty When They Sway"
(5.sec @ F/8, ISO 100, zoom back to 110mm fl, 55-200mm zoom lens, spot metering)

Our image today is a result of a floral shoot I did over the weekend. I was feeling poetic, creative, artistic. And bored. Yup, you heard me. Things felt stale, photographically speaking. If novelists get writer's block, I guess photographers get ... camera block?

Meeting deadlines, having routines, and setting personal goals can be great, till they begin to stifle your passion and your delight with what you love doing. Creative types especially fall prey to this. If we're not careful, the practical takes over and we lose inspiration to keep exploring. Especially if what we love pursuing is also our full time vocation.

Was making great progress on learning some new lighting, which angles and POV's worked best, and looked beautiful with the tulips I'd set up on the seamless. But flicking back through the camera to see the contents I'd created, everything looked elegant but stiff. Dare I say it... boring. Ugh. Not one spontaneous image amongst them. I was so used to being in work mode that my playful side had disappeared.

So, I placed the tripod close, dimmed the lighting a little and using a long exposure and anchored camera, I began zooming in and out of the frame with my telephoto zoom. When you do this as the camera is still taking the shot, you get a blur effect. Results are fairly spontaneous, you'll always find a rather abstract yet delightful surprise lurking in your collection of shots. And it was fun. I personally love abstract art, especially work based on nature itself. I chose this one to show, because the initial subjects are still fairly sharp considering what I was doing with the lens, and a very subtle wash of color fills the background. Later I applied a bit of a displacement layer in PSPx3 to create an artistic 3D shaping to the front subjects. It adds a soft definition. What do you think? All I know is that I spent just as much time playing with my camera as I had being serious, and the change felt good.

Don't forget your initial passion for what you love. When it shines, you feel motivated and rejuvenated. Throw your reserve out the window and play. Your photography will thank you for it.
Thanks for letting me ramble, have a good day exploring what you love!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Double Take ~ Wide Angle Wednesday!

"Where the Stairway Ends"

Converging lines and vanishing points. Ever think about them? I do. All the time. I'll say it again - all the time! In fact, it's often to the exclusion of all else. It's just the way the creative side of my brain works. I see lines in the everyday scenes around me before I notice anything else. So forgive me if it seems to be a strongly recurring theme on the blog. Couldn't help it if I tried, or did I say that already?

Repetition is the theme if you haven't noticed by now. Go get a coffee and then come back... better? Still seeing double? That's because the only thing better than one set of really great lines that tantalize the eye in a photo, are two. Both the images from today's post were pretty nice images on their own... after all, any kind of lines that run completely through an image and become the actual subject are pretty interesting. But, every once in a blue moon I get an image that begs for more, that asks to defy reason even. These images can be tremendously fun to work on. You're almost creating an alternate reality. Almost. So stop with the "twilight zone" track.

The image up top was from a world wide photo walk. The set of stairs was interesting to me but tucked into a tight area of buildings. It became impossible for me to find a composition I was happy with. The ideal wasn't possible. I walked away frustrated at the time because what I was envisioning seemed impossible. I figured I get home and delete the shot completely. But after converting the initial composition into Corel's Platinum B&W filter, the lines I loved popped a bit more. And I immediately thought of my art influences... specifically M.C.Escher, whose most famous works are true mind benders and cannot be viewed casually or you miss the genius infused within each piece.

The beauty of digital darkroom and programs like Photoshop and PSPx2, is you can play without committing to a result. So I started to play in a kaleidoscope feature, rotating mirror tools, and lens distortions. Rotating mirror, a feature that allows you to find the compositional center of an subject and not just divide the actual image in half like some editing tools, won out. I suddenly had the stairway to nowhere. For someone fairly new to photography at the time my response was "cool!"

The image below is now the result of someone who automatically sees interesting vanishing points and lines within a composition, makes them the subject, and knows instinctively that when I get it home it'll get the mirror treatment. Do I use it to the exclusion of all else. No. Do I use it to create things totally unrelatable to you the viewer? I hope not. The image below simply looks like the people in the market were walking along a mirrored ramp way to the stalls below. But in fact, this shot had major space on the left where the ramp drops away. I knew when I took the shot that the lines covering the right side of the shot were engaging. I essentially knew I'd mirror this shot. It has an impact the original never had because of it. Especially since there were people moving into and out of the frame, the sense of the moving crowd is increased for effect as well. And I get a kick out of the one gentleman staring at me out of the crowd.

"Market Reflections"

I think I may challenge myself next week to find some cool mirrors to photograph. Without the extra editing to aid the shot. Just to see what can be done right in the camera. Wanna try along with me? I'd love to see your shots folks! We can feature them here for you too! But it'll mean you'll be seeing double again... and I'd hate to give you a complex.

Thanks for letting my ramble on, in my own quirky way! Get out there and find those cool lines all around you begging to be photographed... and have a super day all!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

You Looking at Me? ~ Telephoto Tuesday!

"Stare Eyes" ~ Great Horned Owl
(1/640 sec @ F/5.6, ISO 250, 135mm fl, 55-200 Nikkor Tele zoom VR, Bright side light, handheld)

Sorry for the later post today, but here we are! I decided I should post an actual image depicting the main use of any telephoto lens... to get closer! Telephoto lenses are the go to lens when you can't or shouldn't get any closer to your subject physically, but still need that shot that has that wow factor. And what better place to do all that than at the bird exhibition at the local fair grounds...

I try to get out to local community fairs, zoos, and conservation areas frequently. There's always a variety of interesting people, animals, and nature to photograph. And basically my telephoto zoom never leaves my camera for the day. Any number of things may be going on, and if the crowds are out enjoying the weather like I was the day I took the above photo, then your telephoto is a definite must. There's so many times you need to get in close, and simply can't or with this fellow, shouldn't!

This was a demonstration of various birds of prey. And the Great Horned Owl was one of the main attractions that afternoon. As beautiful and quiet as he was, they asked everyone to stay put and behave themselves. Like any photographer worth her salt, I snuck down to the side as close as I could... and let my camera do the rest. I jacked up my ISO a bit even in the bright afternoon light, to ensure I could freeze any of his actions for good detail, and had my auto focus on. I also kept the Vibration Reduction on since I was handholding for the series of photos I was going to take. Standing at least eight feet away, I zoomed in to compose the shot to include his handler, and as I pressed the shutter halfway to meter for the light, my auto focus beeped. No one else took notice, but Mr.Owl suddenly swiveled to stare right at me! I knew I good opportunity when I saw one and got this image before he turned to eat the mouse the handler offered next.

Regardless of the fact I'm no wildlife photographer, my telephoto never leaves my kit. It's useful in so many different situations and applications... and that's the point of quality gear. That it can adapt to many situations. And that it'll get you to adapt to different kinds of photography too.

Keep exploring who you are as a photographer... or whatever you love to invest your time in. And thanks for letting me ramble on about owls, and lenses, and... and have a good one folks! See you for Wide Angle Wednesday!