Tag Archives: technique

When You are Locked Down, It’s Got to be Macro Time

Not being able to go anywhere means you can only photograph things close to home.  Why not dig out the macro lens.  I have no doubt that many photographers have been doing the same thing when stuck at home too.  I initially didn’t have any obvious plan for this.  I just decided to photograph anything around me to see what it looked like when seen up very close.  Textures on the surface become apparent in a way that aren’t normally.  I also discovered just how much dust on on somethings that I never noticed until looking at the images.

Spider Hiding Out

My effort at shooting macro images of bees in our front yard (this post) also yielded a surprised.  While I was waiting on a flower for the bee to come to me, I noticed the flower already had a resident.  A little white spider was hanging out in there.  I am not sure what its intended prey was.  It seemed a bit small to take on a bee but I have no idea if that could happen.  Maybe it wanted something smaller.  I got a couple of shots of it that interested me.  The prime shots show its “face” in detail.  Macro shots have a very shallow depth of field so I missed with plenty of shots but one or two had the end of the legs in focus.  The detail of the hairs on the legs was so cool so I include that too even if it looks like I missed focus on the shot (which obviously I did!).

Bees at Work

The Puget Sound area is currently abloom.  Everywhere you look there are flowers.  It is quite beautiful.  We haven’t seen too many hummingbirds on our feeder recently and it’s not hard to see why when they have so many places to feed right now.  We have some blooms in our front yard too and this means the bees are visiting. I decided to try and use the macro lens to get some shots of them.  My lens is a Tokina unit.  I bought it for the negative scanning process for which it worked well.  However, the focusing drive is not fantastic and it hunts a bit when I use it for things other than manual mode.  However, it is still worth a shot.  Here are a couple of bee shots from the yard.  I can’t go anywhere so I may as well shoot at home!

Another Look at the Hoh Rain Forest

I was recently watching a video of a landscape photographer and he took a trip to the Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.  Nancy and I went there on a vacation a few years ago and I posted about it here.  I decided to go back and look at some of the images from that visit and see what I liked.  I had taken a bunch of photos in multiple locations on that trip and I found that I had not really given many of the shots any effort.

I decided to take a look at both those that I shared in the original post but also some “new” ones.  I realized that a little effort made the images so much more interesting.  The rain forest is so lush and there is so much green that it almost seems unnatural.  I brought down the exposures a bit and did punch of the saturation a little.  It does look a little overdone but I assure you it is actually a reflection of what the place is really like.  I think digital cameras tend to tone down greens a bit and, when the place you are looking at is all green, this is a bit of a problem that needs to be addressed.

Oho is about four hours drive from where we are now.  A bit of a trek for a day out but I think a trip over to that side of the peninsula is definitely something we should do again before too long.  We can also check out the coastline over there which is really stunning.

Air to Air With United Jets – Or Is It?

When putting together some images for a group online that I am involved with, a dug out a couple of shots of jets departing O’Hare I shot years back.  When coming off 22L, some of the jets make an early turn to the south and you can get a view of them that is either quite level with the wing line or slightly above.  When shooting them, they are climbing so it is obvious what you were shooting.  However, as I looked at these shots, it occurred to me that they looked a lot like an air to air position except the angles were wrong because of the climb.  Since I had shot quite tightly, re-cropping the shot required some Photoshop work.

Taking the image out of Lightroom and in to Photoshop, I selected the crop tool and rotated the image to be the sort of angle that an air to air shot might be.  Doing this crops off the nose and tail of the jet.  However, one feature of the crop tool in Photoshop is that, if you then drag the edges of the tool back out, you can expand the canvas size.  You now have the whole plane in shot but have added some white space in each corner where no image previously existed.

It is a simple task to then use Content Aware Fill to add sky back in to these areas.  The result is a shot that looks almost as if you had been flying in formation at altitude.  Would you have spotted it?  Having done it with an A320, I then had a go with a 757.  The light angle makes it look a bit like we are flying along towards a setting sun.  I was rather pleased with the trick.

Charlie Jumping the Horse

I’m not sure what is was that prompted this but something made me think about shooting action sports and I remembered a time I was visiting my friends Jon and Charlie in the UK.  Charlie has always been an active horsewoman and has raised many horses, some of which she has jumped competitively.  They have a jumping area in one of the fields of their farm and she was interested in getting some photos of her jumping this horse.  (Something makes me think this was Grace but I am probably mistaken.)

I was keen to give it a go and was also interested in what angles would be most interesting/dramatic.  Of course, they couldn’t just keep jumping all the time to allow me to try different things so we had to give some ideas a go and move on.  I would like to have had some remotes with me to have set the camera up in some dramatic spots.  Maybe I can come back guys and have another go sometime?

An interesting part of this was seeing what things are of interest for different people.  The shots Charlie liked the best were the ones as the horse is coming down to the ground again.  Apparently that works well for her and is popular with other horse people. For me it made for an awkward looking shot.  (Maybe it is good for evaluating technique?). I liked the ones when the horse is just coming up over the fence as it looks more dynamic and elegant.  It’s strange how different things make a shot good for different people.

Why Not Shoot an M-21 While I’m Here

I was at the Museum of Flight for the IPMS exhibit but, while I was visiting, I figured it would be churlish not to take a picture of the M-21 that dominates the main hall.  It is actually a bit difficult to photograph and there is a lot of contrast with the background and it is always busy so a bit cluttered.  I knew it wasn’t going to be a great shot but decided to crop tighter on the airframe and shoot bracketed exposures and maybe go with an HDR process.  It isn’t great but it came out better than I had expected.

Butchart Cove

Just before Christmas we made a trip to Vancouver Island to see Butchart Gardens at night with their illuminations.  We got there before the sun went down and took a stroll through the Japanese Garden, a section that is closed for the night event.  At the bottom of the garden, you come to Butchart Cove.  There was a hole in the trees that provided a very predictable but worthwhile frame for the view into the cove.  I decided to go for HDR for the shot given the extreme range of light between the shady trees and the exposed cove.

Astrophotography on the Beach

Tofino is a remote town.  Being on the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island, it is a long way from built up areas with only Ucluelet being anywhere close and that does not provide much light pollution.  Combine that with cold and clear nights and you get a fantastic view of the night sky.  Stepping out of the hotel and on to the beach (keeping the light of the hotel behind you), the sky opened up in an amazing display of stars.  I have been to places with great night skies but never at the time of year when the Milky Way is visible.  It looked fantastic.

I had not thought about this possibility and did not travel with a tripod.  I figured I had to have a go at photographing this sky.  I Googled some settings for night sky photography, grabbed the camera bag and headed out on to the sand.  Focus had to be set by using live view and a distant lighthouse with manual focus.  I then set the camera up at 30 seconds and f/4 with a 10 second delay on the shutter trigger.  Then I put the camera on the bag propping it up in the position I thought it needed to be.  Live View was of no use when it was this dark.  I then let the camera sit there for a while to settle.  Gentle pressing of the shutter button and then wait.  I got some good views of the shoreline with the stars including the lighthouse as well as a shot straight up at the sky.

The Conflict of Sharpness and Prop Vortices

Damp days can make for great prop vortices on takeoff.  However, I have been feeling less than satisfied with my results recently.  As I was going through some shots, I made a discovery that should probably have been something I worked out before.  I like to have a good amount of prop blur so drop the shutter speed down when I can.  I go with a high frame rate with the aim of getting a good sharp shot amongst the more blurry examples.

As I go through the shots, the sharp ones have okay prop vortices but not great.  Then I will come across some really nice vortices but the shot is otherwise not sharp.  It seems that, in panning with the plane to get a sharp shot, the trailing vortex gets blurred out.  If I am not panning well, the vortex can be the thing I have tracked better and it shows up well.  I have seen shots from others with the props almost frozen with a high shutter speed and the vortices easily seen.

Consequently, I am going to have to make a decision in future.  How much prop blur do I want versus the ability to see the vortices well.  A little trial and error will be involved.  At least it is fall/winter so the Pacific Northwest will probably provide me plenty of damp days on which to experiment!