Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tech Talk Tuesday - WORK THE SCENE

Late yesterday afternoon I took a drive about an hour away from my home on the beautiful Mr. Nebo scenic loop,  (in northern Utah), that within a few short miles took me in elevation from around 4,500 ft. to near 10,000 ft.  I was hoping to find some late blooming spring wildflowers. 

I've mentioned this before, but since I just took my own advice with the following photos, I'll say it again.  When you find a location that begs you to pull out your camera..... make your time worthwhile.


Think out of the box and be as creative as you can.  Change up your view point, your perspective, the height you hold your camera, how close you are to your main subject.  Think of all the ways you can change the dials on your camera.  Use your aperture setting to create a sharp image from foreground to background, or the opposite with a narrow depth of field and only your main subject in focus.  Maybe you might try a slow shutter speed to purposely add motion.  Have you tried dialing up the exposure to try a 'high key' look.  So many possibilities.

After that it is time to switch lenses, if you have that opportunity.  A telephoto lens will bring the background closer, a wide angle lets you see the big picture, a macro will let you get close to a small subject.  Once again, so many possibilities.

And the fun doesn't end after you download to your computer.  If you are like me, you will delete most of your shots.  (Mediocre shots are not your friends.  If you can't decide if they are good, neither can anyone else, and to save them just takes up valuable computer real estate!)

You'll have a few that are 'keepers' for sure, and then a group that are 'maybes'.  First choose the ones you love immediately and are almost perfect, or need a minimal amount of editing, such as an exposure adjustment or a color correction and voila, you are happy with the result.  Then there are the 'maybes'.  These are the ones you just know have potential, but to bring that out you will need to use your imagination and your creative abilities.  Try a major crop, a change to B&W, or maybe experiment with a new filter or preset from one of the many photo editing programs available.  Yet again, so many possibilities.

I went through this procedure yesterday,   and here are a few of my 'keepers':

 wide angle 16-35 lens, taken at 27 mm

 My first priority was to find a composition with a leading line.  I need an example of this concept for a class I am teaching.  I thought the fence would work nicely, but fences are pretty common leading lines, so I positioned myself where I could get a bit of sun flare from the late afternoon sun.  (As a side note, my in camera flare was pretty weak so I embellished it in post processing.)  I also positioned myself very close to the flowers in the lower right hand corner so they would hold a fair amount of 'real estate' in the frame and give the leading lines something to.... well, lead to!  (One mistake new photographers often make is having leading lines that either take you out of the picture or that lead to nothing of interest.)  I also liked that the leading lines go from the background to the foreground which is less common that from foreground to background.

 wide angle 16-35 lens, taken at 19mm

After I got the above shot for my class, the pressure was off and I could just enjoy myself in these beautiful surroundings.  Here I was going for the big picture with interest in the foreground, (the flowers), the mid ground, (the fence), and the background, (another layer of flowers and the blue sky).
I positioned my lens within about 10 inches of these flowers so they would be the focal point of the image.  One thing to be aware of when taking grand landscapes is to figure out a focal point and make it stands out in some way.  If all objects are the same size, and all are similar in color and shape, there is nothing for the eye to rest on, and this makes the picture either boring or confusing to look at.

   100mm macro lens

After taking a bunch of wide angle shots, I then started focusing on single flowers.  As I've said before, my favorite macros are ones that include an interesting background which adds more color, or more texture, and more interest to the image.  Sometimes I like the background extremely blurred, and sometimes I like some definition.  In this photo, for example, you know you are looking at flowers in the background even if you can't see them clearly.

15 mm fisheye lens

When I'm through being 'serious', and it's time to be wild and crazy, I bring out my fisheye lens and see what happens!  One effect I really love is to use an extreme wide angle lens, (like a fisheye), and position my camera as close to my subject as the lens will allow me to focus.  The result is a subject that is greatly exaggerated in size.  This is an unusual perspective that most people don't see and unless they are photographers, don't quite understand why the photo looks 'different'.

15 mm fisheye lens

And finally, here is my best, really wild and crazy, out of the box shot that I kinda like.  Once again, taken with my fisheye lens, but this time, tilting the lens so that the curvature of the background forms a circle around the exaggerated flowers. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Lady Bug on Daisy

Balancing Act

For those of you who have enjoyed my garden photos, here are a few thoughts:

Sit in a garden and be still.

Try for early morning when the world feels fresh and hopeful. Push all thoughts of schedules, worries, and unfinished tasks, to the very back of your mind for a while.

Be aware of your sense of smell, of sight, of sound, of touch. Be in the moment with the small creatures that frequent your summer garden....a bird searching for a breakfast worm to take back to her nest, a buzzing bee busily collecting his daily quota, a ladybug balancing easily on a gently swaying daisy petal, the graceful flutter of butterfly wings floating from flower to flower. Notice the vibrant colors of the flowers, and breathe in deeply of their fragrance. Take off your shoes and let the grass tickle your toes. And be sure to look up to see if there are a few well placed puffy white clouds skimming across a blue sky.

Let yourself be fully in the moment in order to balance your busy schedule with some quiet time. Let yourself feel refreshed, invigorated, and eager to make this a great day.

Finally, this would be a perfect time to say a little prayer of gratitude for the beauty of a simple garden, and the peace with which to enjoy this gift.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bee on Daisy

'Stinging in the Rain'........(I know, bad pun!)

Amazing how a little sprinkler shower can add soft circles of bokeh light and a watercolor effect to a nature image.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Garden Visitor

I spent a few minutes this morning in my garden with a visitor, enjoying the sunshine and the daisies!

Monday, June 22, 2015

My Men & Their Cars

I don't usually post family photos on my photography blog, (I have a family blog for that), but I thought since I have been posting so many flowers lately, that I should post something 'manly'!  Here are three of my four men and their classic muscle cars.  My husband has helped our three boys each restore a car and he has restored several himself.  (For you car buffs, you may be interested in Jeff's story of finding and restoring the car in this photo.  The story is HERE.)  The colors on these cars are original and I love their names:  Vitamin C, Top Banana & Plum Crazy.  There is almost nothing our boys, (now men),  would rather do than spend time with each other and their Dad, with their heads under the hood of an old car!!!  Our third son lives in another state now and is so jealous he can't share in the fun more often.  
I think this is a pretty handsome group, (especially my grandson).....and the cars aren't bad either!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Good Morning!

It was a GOOD MORNING in my garden!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tech Talk Tuesday - Imperfect Usually Means Interesting!

The Last Petal to Open

To make macro flower compositions more interesting, look for a bloom with an abnormality, or an unusual feature to act as a focal point.  Draw more attention to your focal point by using a large aperture to create a very narrow depth of field so only the unusual part of the bloom is in focus.

A perfectly symmetrical flower is usually not nearly as interesting as one with a unique character or 'personality'.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Monument Valley - The Mittens

When we first arrived at this viewpoint in Monument Valley, the sky overhead was blue and soft sun light was filtering through a few white, puffy clouds.

A short while later, the storm caught up with us.

It passed through quickly leaving the mittens and monuments in a hazy, watery mist.  
So interesting how the same scene can look so different in such a short period of time when the weather is in control!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Mirror Lake, Utah

Mirror Lake, Utah
(Taken in August, 2014)

If you love love love taking pictures and if you are anything like me, your computer, like mine, is always overloaded with photo shoots that I haven't yet gone through to decide their fate.  I always have a bunch of photos that I can't decide whether to keep or not, so they sit waiting for a decision.  Then there are the keepers that I will eventually get around to editing and posting on this blog or Facebook or 500 px, or save in my Smugmug account.  The result is, I have hundreds, (maybe thousands), of photos sitting in a temporary folder waiting for me to dispatch them to their final home.  I actually have more important things to do in my life other than photography, (did I just say that??),  and there are never enough hours in the day,  so I'm not real efficient about handling my 'post photo shoot' work in a timely manner.  

Which leads me to this photo.  This morning I was spending a few minutes shuffling through photos from last year that are still patiently waiting for me to notice them.  Well I noticed this one and was surprised it didn't catch my eye before now.  The sky in the background was covered with clouds, but the late afternoon sun was shinning in blue sky, lighting up the trees and water reflections.    I think it is worthy of a second look and a post.

(P.S.  I boosted the lighting and colors in the foreground as the boat was in deep afternoon shadow.)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Friday, June 5, 2015

Red is the Rose

Red is the Rose
This was taken in my garden the same day as my last post.  I call this a common landscape rose bush, but have no idea what the actual name is.  It stands about 4-5 feet tall, and has a riot of these small blooms covering the branches.  When I look at it from a  distance, it is just a bright, red blur, with no distinct features.  

I love how a photograph can isolate, enlarge and draw attention to the details and beauty of one single bloom.  

(You might think this was taken with a macro lens, but I used a telephoto lens and I was standing several feet away from the flower.) 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Pastel Pink

The peonies in my garden are in full bloom.  I enjoyed photographing them this morning.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tech Talk Tuesday - Storm in Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah

I know I've said this before, but I'll say it again:  when the weather is dramatic, when the clouds are ominous and low, when it's lightning (at a safe distance), or rainy or windy,  you will be well rewarded if you grab your camera and head outside to brave the elements.  (Of course you need to take safety precautions and be prepared to protect yourself and your equipment from moisture and lightning.)

I wanted to capture the 'feel' of power and intensity as the storm descended on the cliffs in the background.  I did this by using a wide angle lens to capture a large amount of sky, making the storm the focal point of the image.

 Here I used a telephoto lens to bring the background closer and to make the beautiful light in the foreground, the subject of the image.
 (These shots were taken on the same day and in the same storm as my previous post of Horseshoe Bend, Arizona.

When I find myself with this kind of 'weather' opportunity, the first thing I think about is how I 'feel' about the scene.  What is it that 'moves' me when I look through my viewfinder that I want to remember and also convey to others.  In this scene, I wanted to show how the weather dramatically affected the lighting, colors and mood of the landscape.  I wanted those who viewed these photographs to have a sense of opposing forces.  I wanted to show how 'mother nature' can cause a powerful and ominous spring storm to blacken the skies and at the same time allow soft, magical light to scrape across the beautiful desert landscape.  (I hope I succeeded with these two shots.) 

One thing to consider when deciding how you will photograph such a scene, is the focal length you use and how much of the scene you will include in the frame.  Both will affect the 'feel' and mood of your photos.  If you notice, I am standing within the same vicinity when I took both of the above photos, yet each one gives a vastly different interpretation of what I was seeing from my vantage point.  Of course which one you favor, or which one you are drawn to, is a personal preference.  There is no right or wrong image.

For me, both of these images capture what I was seeing and feeling at this moment in time as I watched the storm unfold, gather intensity, and transform the landscape with ever changing patterns of light and color.

P.S.  I thought this was the highlight of my day.  Of course I was unaware of the adventure I would have at Horseshoe Bend a few hours later!!