Friday, April 29, 2011

Very Quaint ~ Floral Friday

"Lady Fieldcote in Spring"
(1/80 sec.@ F/11, ISO 200, 20mm fl, overcast light)

Ever get excited about a hidden gem you've discovered, then when life barges in, promptly forget about it. Dentist check ups, groceries, and finding better ways to save on toilet paper take over. Then, almost a year later, you stumble across a memento of some kind and realize you haven't really paid much attention to it since.

Well, suffice it to say, I photographed a little local gem last spring then pretty much let it escape my mind... till now. Fieldcote is a beautiful little Tudor style house/gallery/museum and has these beautifully cultivated flower beds and gardens about it. Local nature trails hover nearby and it's just a lovely little spot to visit with a camera.

A month from now, I will return to see how she looks this year and this time I'll not forget to go back. Summer and Fall must be equally beautiful and full of color. Different lighting, different weather, different growth. Provides an excellent way to practice your photography. To stretch your skills. A different view or feeling of it each time. You'll see differences in yourself too, from photo file to photo file. It's a pretty cool exercise no matter how seasoned a photographer you are.

So I double dog dare you to find a hidden gem of your own, and photograph it a different times of the year, in every season and see what happens! And if you live near the Ancaster area in Southern Ontario, take a little jaunt out to Fieldcote to say hello and acquaint yourself with local talent and history.
Don't forget now!

Thanks for the quaint little ramble folks. I'd like to say hello to my readers across the pond in the UK today, all 32 of you, in honor of a very memorable wedding taking place just after I post this. (That's right, I see you lurking in my stats menu, lol) Pack extra batteries for all that wedding photog! Thanks so much for reading along with us here in Canada. And have a brilliant day!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Until We Meet Again ~ Exploration Thursday

"May the Road Rise Up to Meet You"

Today's post is dedicated to good friends who are moving a few provinces away. It's a sad day, but a joyful one as their long awaited future is becoming a reality. They're a couple who have watched me practically grow up and have been there through the thick of it. So they're important to me and my family.

 Do you have someone like that in your life? You know the type, they'd come to your rescue in a heartbeat, they never back down from an obstacle, they just love life. These friends are exactly like that. They've been great friends, and great mentors. So I thought it only fitting to post this for you both today, as you make your way back home and to the desire of your hearts. The image above is dedicated to you, with all our love.

I tried to fit in your suitcase you know... next time pack less, there was only room for one elbow and an ear.

Thanks for the sentimental ramble today folks. Tell someone close to you how much you appreciate them just being a part of your life today. If you don't, I may threaten to climb into your suitcase!
Until we meet again..... Have a good one!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Playing Tourist ~ TelePhoto Tuesday

"Idyllic Niagara on the Lake"

One of my favorite times of the year is approaching. The second half of spring, when everything wakes up, blossoms, and thrives. Then, I start playing tourist. I grew up about 45min. away from the Niagara region, and now, I love photographing it. And although I try to stay away from your typical visitor's shots, sometimes one steps right out in front of you and you zoom in across the huge intersection to capture it.
Hence the image above.

I've had funny things happen while playing tourist too. People see all the gear, and the woman crouched low on the ground trying to get decent angles of unusual shops or people, and they stop and get down beside you to see what it is you find so fascinating. Sometimes that's when I stand and say things like, "Oh THERE'S my contact!" and pretend to walk away delighted with something in my hand. My hubby just shakes his head.

Once I was shooting the rim of a balcony covered in ivy way above me on the main drag in Niagara on the Lake. As I was focusing and getting my meter reading, I could feel someone breathing on my neck. I turned suddenly, and another lady was standing directly behind me, camera around her neck the size of a small dog, backed up just enough to lean in and say, "what is it you see?" When I told her just the ivy with the nice light filtering through, and asked if she minded not standing over my shoulder, she took a few steps back. But as soon as I moved away, she literally stepped right into my prints on the grass, hoisted the camera that must have cost her a pretty penny.... and took the exact same shot right in front of me.
I know right. Tacky. And let's face it, very lame.

But it makes me chuckle. While the photographer is out there playing tourist, some tourists are out there playing photographer.

Thanks for the ramble, looking forward to tourist season.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Give 'Em the Gears ~ Mono Monday

"Lift Bridge Unlocked"
(1/30 sec.@ F/8, ISO 400, 34mm fl, 18-55mm kit zoom, handheld, late overcast light)

Not the usual view of our local lift bridge I'll admit. But it is indeed a photo of a lift bridge. Everyone that has a camera takes pictures of this awesome example of structural ingenuity and hydraulics and pulleys. And it's hard to do, for the Burlington Bay Lift Bridge straddles the waterway from the lake to the bay and is sandwiched between narrow beaches and a busy and massive causeway for all the highway traffic arching up and over. Not an easy subject to photograph at times.

To avoid needing a ultra wide lens, or magical light, this time I photographed it much closer while out on a walk. I liked the jumble of shapes and lines. And I liked being able to zoom in and get the nuts and bolts of this giant but with the wide zoom so that I could include the network of girders and beams.

What I really want is permission one day to climb up into it. There's a series of platforms and narrow stairs that ascend towards the innards of the bridge. Call me crazy, but I'd love to shoot the bridge from way up inside. Anybody that knows somebody, that knows somebody, that knows the guy that can do that? You sure?

Well anyways, there's my post for Monochromatic Monday. As you recover from all your Easter feasting this weekend past, think about all the cool subjects in your area that you can dissect with a closer POV. That's my challenge over the next while for myself, as mentioned in a post last week. Let me know how you do, we can post your images here!
Thanks for the ramble, have a good one folks!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Passion Flower ~ Floral Friday

"Lavender Passion Flower"
(1/30 sec.@ F/7.1, ISO 100, 10mm fl, diffused natural light, tripod)

Call me a traditional girl, but I thought I'd post a floral photo today that represents the fact that today is an important day for believers like myself around the world. In fact there are thousands and thousands of believers in other countries this very minute that are risking their very lives to observe the great act of the Cross on this Good Friday of the Easter weekend. Thought I'd post this beautiful flower that has great symbolism attached to it on this sacred day.

The Passion Flower, representing the great passion Christ showed on the cross has different meanings to it's different parts. Just a little botanical history for you all today;
~The pointed tips of the leaves were taken to represent the Holy Lance.

~The tendrils represent the whips used in the flagellation of Christ.

~The ten petals and sepals represent the ten faithful apostles (excluding St. Peter the denier and Judas Iscariot the betrayer).

~The flower's radial filaments, which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower, represent the crown of thorns.

~The chalice-shaped ovary with its receptacle represents a hammer or the Holy Grail.

~The 3 stigmas represent the 3 nails and the 5 anthers below them the 5 wounds (four by the nails and one by the lance).

~The blue and white colors of many species' flowers represent
Heaven and Purity.
My hope is you all have a wonderful weekend, whether you celebrate this special holiday or not. Find something beautiful and touching to photograph over the next three days perhaps. And thanks for the ramble folks.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Simple Effects~ Exploration Thursday

"Pink Canopy"
(1/160 sec.@ F/8, 55mm fl, ISO 160, bright direct sun, processed in PaintShop Prox2)

Had to work on something cheery today. Southern Ontario has decided sunshine is against it's religion... or something like that. We've had grey, more grey, and various shades of drab now for weeks on end. Ugh.

So you can see why I wanted to post a shot like the one above. This was originally for the City Parks contract last spring. It was such a nice bright day, perfect for glowing canopies of soft crab apple and cherry blossoms. This gnarly ancient crab apple has so much character to it. So I took this shot into Corel's PSPx2, and added two great filter fx to an already sunny shot so that everything would glow and all the textures would pop a bit. Here's what I played with today;

I don't know if there's an equivalent in PS but I took the image into Corel's Cross Processing photo filter, found in the Photo Effex drop down menu and into the Time Machine option. It takes the overall color and adds a very retro coloring to them (big in the 70's) and you can adjust just how extreme you want the color to be. Cross Processing adds a green tinge to brighter hues so you need to decide what style your image is going to take before hand.
I'm of the "less is more" mentality so I apply the cross processing fx filter in a whole new layer so I can control the opacity, how much of it shows up in the final image, and where.

Also, because the filter causes tones overall to darken (not the colors but the various shadows and highlights) and causes details in the darker ranges to disappear, I decided I'd play in a second effect called Colored Edges, found in PSPx2's Effects drop down menu. Again, it's different sliders allow you to be subtle and not over whelming so that the effects themselves don't steal the show, instead of the actual image. I despise when that happens. Again, less is more in most instances. So a very subtle bright white is applied and it edges and rims every detail, so that textures and lines pop a bit, like outlining a picture with a soft crayon. The result is a nicely saturated, brightly colored spring image with great textures and clean details.

I remind myself that it won't be long before the trees will be blooming, and the temps rising, and soon we'll be enjoying sun. In the meantime, the electricity bill is going through the roof because every light in my house is on while I soak in some false rays of light. Where'd I put my mammoth bottle of Vitamin D anyways????

Have a fabulous Easter weekend one and all! Spend it with family and friends!
Thanks for the ramble...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Power of Shape ~ Wide Angle Wednesday!


Reading primarily about the building blocks of a composition right now. More specifically, how the combination of light and shape determine how an image feels. And perhaps even more importantly, how to stop giving labels to the subjects around us and instead photograph them as abstract forms.

The great Freeman Patterson likens it to going back to having the mind of a child. In other words, dust off those imaginations!!! You have to stop seeing a thing as it's label, and begin to look through the lens as an explorer.

In design, primary shapes are powerful, and represent structure, rules, and indestructibility and order. Primary shapes get your attention! These would be any subject that resembles a circle, square, or triangle. They really get your attention when one shape is the theme throughout. Look at the image I posted for you today. When you look at it, do you only see a hydro tower? Or are you seeing the myriad of triangles? In fact, the entire composition of smaller triangles when looked at as a whole, is one giant triangle or pyramid... do you see it?

Having difficulty finding things to aim your camera at? Turn off your analytical brain and start seeing things in a different context. The context of shape.
Thanks for the ramble today... I dare you to head out later with the camera and find some cool shapes to explore!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Creativity ~ Telephoto Tuesday!

"Brilliant Gerbera"

Freedom to be creative. That's what getting my first DSLR a few years back meant to me. My original camera, a point n' shoot, would be considered a dinosaur now. And it was restricting. I would get all these photography books out of the library that would talk about bokeh, aperture, depth of field. And quickly figured out that my tiny little digital couldn't offer me any of that. Point n' shoots have come a long way since then, but I knew when I held my first DSLR that I now had the power to be creative.

To this day I love the deliberate use of a wide open F-stop. Soft shapes with very selective detail, a single subject with a twinkling bokeh as the backdrop. A large aperture on my telephoto as close to a subject as it will let me get (in the case of the posted photographs today an F/4.5) means I can use almost anything as a background. In the image above it was my dining room wall, in the following photo it was a rather abstract oil painting I produced a few years ago. Anything that would contrast nicely with the reds.

"Come Away With Me"

I guess what I needed to remember this week, is how easy it is to play with settings in your camera and create some dramatic photos out of simple ideas. Some great light and a shallow aperture are sometimes all you need. Watch your meter carefully, and away you go. I'm amazed at the amount of people who never leave the comforts of automatic. But a few simple basics and you'll be on your way to learning what your camera really can do for you. And then how to creatively express yourself. I myself have gotten away from doing some close-up work... so I think I'll take the next couple of weeks to find some inspirational subjects to zero in on.

Personal projects! Let's get creative! Thanks for the ramble folks! Have a super day, and get out there with your cameras... in manual for a change!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Determination~ Mono Monday!

"Evening Over Lake Ontario"
(1/50 sec.@ F/8, ISO 200, 18mm fl, pattern metering, late overcast light)

Recently I participated in a live workshop online. It was being taught by a fairly celebrated wedding photographer. Yep, you heard me right. I spent an entire weekend being inspired by a wedding photographer. But Christine, you say, you're a fine art photographer. What in the world would one have to do with the other?

The answer is simple. You can find inspiration anywhere. Actually, I should say it this way... you should find inspiration anywhere! And the workshop with Jasmine Star couldn't have come at a better time. To be honest, I was feeling a little like I had hit a wall with the photography. Tapped out. Drained. Perhaps a little pointless. Maybe I was doing something wrong? Maybe I was never going to learn how to make a career out of this vocation?

Instead, what I heard during that webinar was how to keep pressing through, how to never let the big dogs intimidate you, and how to be patient, to let your photography take it's time and become what it needs to. And above all, to be yourself. Sounds like a theme on this blog I know, but that's because it's crucial to growing. The speaker didn't so much teach about wedding photography as share exactly how she learned to become a pro at photography, period. I had desperately needed to hear that. And I connected with her evident passion and joy for sharing what she loves. Exactly why I blog about my photography journey in the first place.

In the image above, there's a wee lighthouse on the horizon. (If you click on the image it should give you a bigger version.) There are days my calling as a photographer (or as a mother, or as a best friend, or as a business manager, or as a singer or...) is like the photograph posted; you can barely make out the guiding light on the horizon but it's there just the same. And you may have to be brave enough to leave the safety of the shores, navigate through the rocks and obstacles of doubt and fear, and head into rougher waters in order to approach the lighthouse on a larger scale, but all of that isn't meant to stop you from doing what you love. It's just meant to give you new things to master along the way.

I had to decide after the workshop just how determined I really am to make this a career. My full time vocation. Ever have those moments? That "do I give up while the gettin's good" moments, or the "I couldn't stop if you paid me moments?"

How 'bout you? Ever struggle with plunging head first into a new project, or continuing with one when it becomes harder to see the finish line? Believe me, I know the feeling! I'll cheer you on if you cheer me on, deal?
Thanks for the ramble folks, have a great day pursuing what you love!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Guest Post ~ Floral Friday!

"Rose of Sharon"

I love these guest posts! I get to share great inspirational photos with all of you, and I get to introduce you to some of the photographers that have been an inspiration or influence for me. Today's images are from a good friend and mentor from the Boston area, David Pratt. David was one of the first photographers to help me around the digital darkroom a few years ago and continues to be a huge encouragement to me. We first met at BetterPhoto where you can view his online gallery and I'm happy today to share two of his favorite floral images with you!

Here's Dave to explain how he captured these photographs;
"This was taken right after a summer shower. It was cloudy so I could have some nice soft light. I had been waiting for a shower to come by so I could get out and take a few shots of these beautiful flowers with the water droplets on them. The bloom above caught my eye and I set up my tripod. I shot this in manual mode. I was also shooting RAW so that I could have more control over the final version. I zoomed in nice and tight so that the flower would fill the frame. After tweaking the levels and curves in PSE , I then used Nik Effex for some final adjustments. I used clarifier, and tweaked the saturation a bit. Below is the shooting info."

Tv( Shutter Speed ) 1/8
Av( Aperture Value ) 20.0
Metering Mode Evaluative Metering
ISO Speed 100
Lens EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Focal Length 55.0 mm


"I wasn't even out shooting for this shot. I was actually sitting on my deck enjoying a cold beer, when my wife noticed this swallowtail sitting on our butterfly bush. So, like any photographer I know would do, I ran inside and grabbed my camera, quickly switched to my Canon 70-300 zoom, since I knew this guy would not be hanging around if I was too close.

Luckily he was still there when I got back outside. I got as close as I felt I could without scaring him off. Zoomed in on him and snapped away. I had the focus on servo mode so that I could follow him around if he flew. He hung out on the flowers for about 5 minutes, then flew off. This was my favorite of the bunch. I had the camera on program mode, since I did not have time to play with my settings. Made some levels and curves adjustments in PSE, ran it through Nik Effex for clarity and boosted the saturation a bit. This was the one and only time I have even seen a swallowtail around the house."

I'm extremely grateful that Dave agreed to be a guest for today gang! Hope he has inspired you all to keep photographing nature, and to be ready for any surprises that might come your way! If you've enjoyed his post today I encourage you to visit both his flickr page AND his new David A. Pratt Photography Page on Facebook. There you can also inquire about purchasing a print! Be sure to leave a comment below to let him know if you enjoyed the post below.

Thanks David for joining us, and thanks for the ramble folks! Happy Friday, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Strength ~ Exploration Thursday!

"Rivets and Gears"
(1/40 sec.@ F/8, ISO 300, 18mm fl, late overcast light, Burlington Lift Bridge)

I've been photographing nature and skies lately... and anyone who knows me, knows I love to point my camera upwards. So today's image is a little more industrial, and a little less natural. An intense perspective, an intense structure, and an intense processing. And yet... not overly complicated either.

Anyone who really knows me, also knows I like to keep things simple. Complicated techniques start to suck all the fun out of photography for me actually. Not to say that I won't try new things or try to master new skills. But it's the capturing of an image artistically and knowing already how I want it to express itself to you the viewer, that excites me about photography. Today's shot reflects that for me.

Was out to the Burlington Harbour, and the lift bridge is iconic for that area. Towering, sturdy, strong, practical for all the ships and barges that come into the harbour and the steel mills. I pointed the lens up from underneath it, got this composition, and was careful to emphasize it's perspective over me. In editing, I played with the color levels and added a layer with Corel's Cross Processing filter. Adds that more industrial feel to deep greens and contrasting oranges. But that was it. Too much after that and suddenly I don't feel free with a camera in my hand, and that's the whole point. For me anyway. Too many things to do to it and it suddenly becomes an obligation. That squelches the artist in me. 

Shoot what you love folks, and edit it how you feel compelled to! And the trick is to keep learning from each other in the meantime, expanding your artistic vision. Thanks for the ramble, and have a great day!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Big Big Skies ~ WideAngle Wednesday!

"Swept Away"
(1/320 sec.@ F/8, ISO 160, 18mm fl, pattern metering, handheld, overcast evening light)

Braving the elements. That's what it takes to get skies like this. At least, that's what I kept telling my husband as we wobbled around on top of some sand dunes in some chilly, blustery weather a couple evenings ago. He was not impressed, especially when wet sand kept crunching about inside his work boots. But I knew the skies wouldn't wait, so as soon as he was in the door from work we flew right back out it with my kit bag and some rain coats, sweaters, and gloves, and drove like mad over to the beach. As a thank you I made him a very nice supper afterwards... but oh the things we do for the people we love that love cameras. Right dear?

It was overcast enough that when the light did anything at all, it was only for a few seconds. Then it would change or disappear. I thought my hand was going to be permanently frozen to my camera. And the sound of my hubby's teeth chattering was scaring off gulls from the next beach over. And wow were those clouds moving along. 40km/h wind conditions (minimum) meant a) the sky felt like it was flying past you pulled along by some massive unseen hand and b) there was no way I was using a tripod, even weighed down with a bag of sand, that puppy was just as blown about as we were.
But you know what, I was happy as a clam. Like the gull hovering in my photo. The gulls would hang in the air, facing into the wind, delighted to swoop once in a while and get swept away. And for a moment the light became nice and warm. And I was ready.

I may post some other shots from this outing, but the light is more stormy and green, very cold looking. I'll have to play with them to see if I can enhance the greens a little, make sure they really will look menacing. The image above only needed the contrast and saturation levels adjusted in Corel, and the Nik Color Efex Graduated Blue Filter applied last to emphasize how dark the clouds overhead were.

My husband mentioned how nice it would be if one of these days I could find a nice still pond to photograph, preferably one located beside a coffee shop or a Home Depot. Next stop: google maps!

Have a very non-blustery day if you can folks, and thanks for the ramble!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Soothing ~ Telephoto Tuesday

"Complimentary Color Display"

Today completely got away from me I confess. As I type it's 10pm and I know I need to go edit tomorrows post too. Where did the hours go today? Between doing some photo file work, tracking down a missing bank statement (ugh) and trying not to kill myself playing Wii baseball I'd lost track of my day. Wonder why?

I'm not posting the image above because it's anything very special or shows any digital camera brilliance on my part. Far from it to be honest. But I'm okay with that. I also need to just be me. I don't always need to be in top form here on the blog do I? The wonderful readers I've managed to entertain a little (and I know who you are *wink wink*) have made it clear that I'm doing okay just being myself most days. So here I am. I'm posting it because the colors soothe me right now. It looks delicate and fresh. The opposite of how I feel currently. And it was taken during a relaxing morning too now that I think about it.

Simple images sometimes ease the restless soul, and help the stress disappear, if only for a moment or two. Actually, the colors above may cause you to have a different reaction to the image. Was reading yesterday in Freeman Patterson's "The Art of Seeing" that "responses to color are often very personal." It can be the pure motivation for even taking a photograph, or why someone will stop to even look at it on display later.

Going through my files, this one called to me. And personally, I feel better having posted it. Hope you too are out there letting emotion and experiences motivate your photo taking... and viewing.
Thanks folks, see ya again in a few hours for Wednesday's post.. wink, wink.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Line Please! ~ Mono Monday

"Rail Yards At the Bay"
(1/30 sec.@ F/10, ISO 100, 52mm fl, tripod, overcast evening light, pattern metering)

Found a photo card yesterday given to me one year by my very first photography teacher. I've talked about him before on the blog. He's the one that showed me how important passion for your photography was. He had no use for you if you were just there to get an easy credit. He could pick out the fakers out in a heartbeat. I was honored then to receive a card with a B&W photo he'd taken, a very Ansel-ish scene of a rock quarry. I'm in the process of finding the perfect frame for it. I was saddened when he passed away last year... I had been in the middle of writing to him to thank him for his profound influence on me when I heard the news.

His influence is never far away. When I started out in photography I already had three years of advanced art to my background. But it was Mr.Shoveller who forced me to dissect what made a scene work. I would shadow him on a shoot and inevitably he'd grab my tripod, plant it in the ground and shout, "Look at those lines Chris!" He'd stand right over your shoulder and describe why the light was working or not, why the composition was engaging, and whether or not you should have your head examined for not noticing the way the lines traveled through the shot earlier.

I could distinctly hear his voice the day I crossed this bridge heading down to the park. I was heading to a shoot and I looked to the left... and there was the train yards below. "Look at those LINES Chris!" is all I heard. So I planted my tripod on the sidewalk, checked my settings, and composed the way Shoveller taught me. Letting the lines lead right through the entire scene. He would have approved the result.

Originally this was a color shot, with a glaring orange sunset sky. But another friend suggested it may work better in B&W. Shoveller would have approved of that too. It's a spot I know I'll return to, to get a better sky in the background. But this will do for now.

If all you ever do is pay attention to the light and the lines in a scene, you'll have better composition over time. It'll be a start anyway.
Thanks for the sentimental ramble folks, and have a good one!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Needs a Boost ~ Floral Friday!

"Wandering Heart Found"
(1/125 sec.@ F/13, ISO 320, Exp.Comp-0.7, 32mm fl, overcast light)

I'm desperate. In my city, we've had zero sun. For many, many, many days. Ugh. The weather people taunt us, saying the sun is waiting for us just one day away... but so far, nothing. Twenty minutes away in the next city they've had sun all week. So what's the problem people? I need answers!

Yes this is a photography blog. But there are just some days you post an image because it speaks to you, or lightens your spirits, or reflects exactly how you're feeling. In fact, I'll go one further. That's often the very reason you took the image to begin with. What you saw spoke to you, affected you, inspired you.... and you even edit it accordingly. Your experience paired with your craft and your editing vision. Cohesive and effective every time. Maybe a  scene spoke to your loneliness, so you tilted your camera, got an off-kilter comp, then tweaked all the dark tones in editing to help convey that mood.  Or, like the image above, you're out on a warm lazy late spring day. You know you must show a corner of the public rose garden in full bloom for a job, and notice how standing by the arbor filled with roses lifts your mood from a busy day. And gives a POV of that of an explorer in a secret garden.

I shot this from under a rose arbor, bringing my composition in close to the delicious roses but leaving some of the backdrop in the framing for context. Like when you discover a new path in a garden. And in editing, I boosted color to jewel-like tones so that it felt fresh and inviting. Emphasis was placed on the mass of roses so that they fill the scene with color but continue to lead the viewer into the shot the same way the arbor lead me into the rest of the rose garden with delight.

 Subjects, points of view, colors, and spaces used well together with your gear... equals expressive images. And for a photographer, it's how I find a way to feel better even. So this post is for all those needing a boost today. It won't be long before you can wander through the garden again.
Thanks for the ramble. And have a good weekend!
P.S. ...Our next Floral Friday will feature a guest I can't wait to post! Wait and see who!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Featured Guest ~ Exploration Thursday!

"Feathery Sunrise" by Christine Kapler
(1/1250 sec.@ F/3.8, ISO 400, 105mm fl, macro, Nikon D300)

Today's blog is with a special guest. Last week I mentioned macro photography. Well today's guest has continuously mesmerized me with her magical macro images of feathers, rain drops, and flower petals, as well as her bird photography. And I knew I had to share her photographs with all of you and her evident passion for what she does. Her name is Christine Kapler, and here she is to explain a bit about the type of photography she loves; 

"Macros or close-ups come to me quite naturally. I don't really take landscape or people photographs at all. With the exception of birds in the wild, macro is what I love to do.
Rain and sunshine are my friends. Once I see something what looks unreal at the other end of my lens I'm thrilled and I can't keep from photographing it. Anything can be turned into some kind of abstract when photographed with a macro lens. I use a Nikkor 105mmf/2.8 VR lens. This lens is my work horse."

"There is another side of me, that gets excited as well. When I see a bird in action, I get the same thrill and I can't help but photograph them. I'm not a morning person, I like to stay up late. But when I'm on holidays I get up as soon as I see the sun coming out and I'm out too with my camera waiting for some action. However, if there was any rain during the night, I will be out with my macro lens taking pictures between petals, grass and leaves."

"The important part of my photography is post processing. I shoot only in RAW format; it gives me flexibility to work on my pictures later in Lightroom. All my pictures are processed only in Lightroom, they are not photo shopped. I play with light and white balance. I move sliders until I get the look I have seen through my lens when shooting."

"The picture "Feathery Sunrise" was taken a while ago; I didn't like it at the beginning, as I wasn't able to pull the right colour. Then I went back and did it two months later. A tip from photo pro Bryan Peterson's book helped me get the desired color.The feather I used in this picture is a natural bird feather I found outside when photographing birds. I sprayed it with water to make the overall image more interesting and to have something to focus on."

"Hanging There in the Wind"
(1/200 sec.@ F/4.2, 105mm fl, Nikon D300, macro lens, -1/3EV, ISO 200)

"The other picture "Hanging there in the wind" was taken in Mexico in the morning after night rain. It is an edge of secretia leaf covered with raindrops.
I cropped it a little to make a nice composition and the rest is basic adjustment in Lightroom from raw to jpeg."

.... Macro photography. Like stepping into another world. Be sure to see Christine Kapler's photostream here. Look for her incredible bird images on her flicker page as well. And you can catch her profile here for more info. You can also contact her through flicker if you wish to purchase a print!
Huge thanks to Christine for allowing me to feature her work here, I am constantly impressed with her eye for creative possibilities. I find her images very inspiring, and it's my hope that you will too.
Thanks for tuning in today for our guest post! Have a great day folks!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Night Lights ~ Wide Angle Wednesday

"Marina Magic"
(4 sec.@ F/8, ISO 100, 18mm fl, tripod, remote shutter, late dusk)

I love evening strolls. It's where I decompress, and become reflective. When the weather's just right, I like to come down to the bay front with the hubby or a friend... sometimes I have to make sure I don't have my camera. I know, can't believe I said that either. But it's true. If I have it with me, I can't always relax and walk, I'm so busy seeing shots that I can't pass up. But then sometimes if I don't have it I can't relax, cause I see all the things I should be getting if I only had the camera. Must it be so complex? 

This was taken on a true photo night, when my photo rambling partner Kelly and I set aside time to ramble and shoot the bay at sunset. And it's the best of both worlds... I relax AND get cool night shots.

The more I photograph at night, the more I'm learning about the capabilities of my camera actually. Anyone who knows me knows I'm more concerned with composition, lines, and design than calculating hyper-focal distance off the top of my noggin. But I also know that in order to effectively portray those elements I also need to understand how best to use my gear.

I've discovered I learn about my camera best at night. I take for granted how to photograph daytime scenes in most cases. In ideal lighting, I can anticipate how little the camera will need to work to get a shot. I know how to meter, adjust, shoot and feel confident I got it. But for the image above, it makes me take my time. I begin to understand how aperture affects the lighting, creating blazing flares or star burst effects. How no matter how low my ISO is dialed down, if my exposure is unnecessarily long, I'll get more noise or less detail, so finding the right shutter speed is a precarious balancing act. And for years I had no idea I needed to turn off the one feature that is supposed to help with camera shake or any movement if the camera is on a tripod... the Vibration Reduction feature on long lenses. Simply because it'll want to fight against what's anchoring it. It's meant to give you better control handholding. And not for anchored exposures.

The image above just seemed quiet and a bit romantic. The type of setting I like to stroll through. I made sure I kept the winking lights warm to complement the deep blue. And the extra sky gives a feeling of vast open space surrounding the marina.
For some excellent night photography tips I'd check this out once you're done reading today's post. I know I'll be getting to know my camera better all this year.. out in the dark. Relaxing AND doing what I love.
Thanks for the ramble folks, and have a good one! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Keep Out ~ Telephoto Tuesday!

"Look But Don't Touch"
(1/125 sec.@ F/11, 85mm fl, 55-200mm zoom, midday bright light, center weighted metering)

Revisiting an older image today. One I took with my trusty telephoto... from a dirt road. I was dying to explore this run down farm house, oh the photographic material that would have been at my disposal. But there was wire around the house and an ugly sign down the road that said "Keep Out". Not to mention a rather large sounding dog on the farm over the hill to the left of the property. And he didn't sound happy that a car had stopped. His road too I guess.

So I made do with what I had at my disposal. I'm no rebel, and I'm usually a big chicken when it comes to unknown elements I must admit. Got as close as I could without falling into the roadside ditch (wouldn't be the first time) and used my longest lens. The light was slightly harsh that day, but I did my best to ensure highlights wouldn't be blown out, and the resulting shadows suited the subject regardless. Nothing fancy done to this in editing. Just some contrast adjustment and some high pass sharpening...

I think prowling someones property unannounced, whether it's inhabited or not is a bit creepy to say the least... no matter your reason. I'm hearing about too many photographers being chased off properties and farmland and we're beginning to get a bad rep. Standing by the car on the road is one thing, capturing the scenery, but exploring without permission is something else altogether. Especially when if you introduce yourself, most people will grant you permission, and even come along to see what the heck you find so interesting about their old rundown shed. Sending them a print at the end of the day doesn't hurt either. It's called being considerate.

And asking permission also ensures your safety. After asking a farmer on a tractor about this building I found out it was no longer safe inside, there was structural problems after so many years of neglect. I thanked him, and he asked to see the final picture I snapped. Seemed to think it was alright. And that I was indeed a real photographer.Apparently people pose as photographers so they can case a joint for later exploits. It had already happened to him and his old house pictured above.

Glad all I used was the telephoto and obeyed the signs. So photogers, let's be respectful of older properties. And be safe too.
Thanks for the ramble! Have a good one!

Monday, April 4, 2011

5 Things I've Learned ~ Mono Mondays!

"Where Even the Rocks Grow" - Eramosa Karst
(1/50 sec.@ F/8, ISO 160, 18mm fl, kit zoom, mono pod, overcast light, pattern metering)

Having to do a B&W every week has really helped me realize what tips and principles I've needed to apply to each ramble I go on. So I thought I'd share what I've learned over the last couple years with all of you. Ready? Here's five things everyone needs to remember if they want to make better B&W images... beginner or not.

1) When at all possible, refrain from allowing the camera itself to convert your color photo into a monochromatic one on the spot. If you haven't figured it out yet, your camera's auto settings are good for one thing, generalizing every scenario you give it. Including your B&W's. Your camera comes with software, basic perhaps but better than the actual camera, to put on your computer... somewhere in that small program is a way for you to convert the image yourself, controlling your contrast, brightness, etc... so that you get a B&W that pops. The version your own camera gives you will generally be flat and with a minimum range of tones.

2) Lighting is STILL important. You can't just ignore your exposure or settings because you won't be looking at it in color. On the contrary, now you need to pay desperate attention to the light. The quality of shadow and highlights is always key to begin with. Don't relax that simply because it's B&W. Subjects and shape alone can't carry the bulk of the image, as folks tend to let a color image do. Worried you may not get the light just right? Shooting in Raw is key for me. It allows me to edit and tweak areas that need some help later on without destroying the initial quality of the file.

3) Refrain from "image salvaging". I'm referring to those that constantly go through their weaker images left over from a shoot and decide to try them all out as B&W's when they don't work in color. I know I've done it, I'm not too proud to say. Instead, train yourself to look at a new composition and see it's color and monochromatic possibilities before you take the shot. B&W conversion shouldn't be a last ditch effort to save a shot. This is something I've emphasized to myself every time I explore a new subject. And it pays off. I knew taking the image above that I was going to love it as a B&W.

4) Remember Tone, Form, and Texture. Great range of tones comes from sizing up your light, weather conditions, subject, and knowing then how to get a good exposure of your scene or subject. Again, you may have to be brave and get out of those auto modes. Tones are important, and can be tweaked further in editing. It comes down to this... your blacks should be black, your whites nice and white, and a wide variety of greys in between.
Form should be taking the starring role in your composition. Too often people snap a photo of a scene they like without knowing why exactly they like it. B&W makes you aware of what one thing is anchoring the scene, grounding it. It is what needs to grab your attention, since color won't.
Texture becomes a way to enhance and ensure your image has detail and definitive light. Texture isn't popping? You need better light, lower in the sky, or coming from the side so as to highlight all the details that make up an engaging B&W,

5) Lastly, B&W can be useful for subject studies. Scenery or weather/lighting conditions not ideal? Sky looks flat and cloudless? Go tight. Close framing of unusual natural elements, story telling shots of a single subject on the street, wild perspectives of close architectural elements... could give you the best shot of the day.

Black and White. More versatile than you thought. And these are just the tip of the iceberg... but these really are second nature for me, so I thought I'd share. Any other key tips you can't live without when it comes to B&W? Leave them in the comments section! Thanks for the ramble... and have a good one.

Friday, April 1, 2011

NOT a Macro ~ Floral Friday!

"Quietly She Waits"
(1/640 sec.@ F/4, ISO 125, 50mm prime lens, tripod, overcast light, pattern metered)

Delicate petals, rich color, dramatic framing. All reasons why I love taking images like this. You can fill the composition with a single subject and it never gets old, for me anyway. But, like many things in the photog world an image like this gets different reactions. Some will say of this photo, "lovely close-up!" (at least if they like florals) and I've had others say, "great macro!"
Which is also a nice thing to have said to the photographer. But the later would be wrong. Quite simply because this in not in fact, a macro.

Now, most would say..."close-up, macro - big diff." But there is. A macro gets you so close to the subject that it's tiniest details can be captured. So much so that you can lose the sense of scale associated with the bug, flower, or dew drop the artist chooses to capture. And obviously you use macro type gear to achieve it. Macro lenses, extension tubes, bellows, lens babies, they all are needed to make that uncompromising macro image. Like the ones you'd see at a friend's site here. And there is more to read about macro photography here.

Knowing that, when you look at the image above you then know it's just a close-up. My prime lens (my portrait lens for most days) emphasizes detail and soft depth of field under low light, allows me to get in fairly close, and then I can crop in even closer if I feel like it provided I'm shooting in RAW and working in a large file. This also works very well with my modest telephoto too. Except instead of leaning into the flower, I'm at least 4 feet away and zooming in tight. And it's still a dramatic image without needing additional gear which is always nice. But hey, if anyone wanted to donate a macro lens to my meager collection, I'd not turn them down. Anybody? Hello? Ahem... moving right along then.

This was taken last fall in the Gage Park Rose Garden, in Hamilton. I loved its perfectly shaped petals and the subtle color infused around the edges. A very graceful, innocent specimen. Like a young girl. Eagerly waiting to be noticed. Waiting for her "close-up".

Have a great day gang. Thanks for the ramble! Next week our featured guest will be a fellow photographer from Canada who really truly excels at macro photography. Prepare to be amazed.