sunnuntai 2. elokuuta 2020 Photographing the Micro Landscape

When I began making pictures of the landscape, it was always the big picture that mattered. And I suppose it’s the same for most of us. It was a case of taking a few exposures and then moving on to the next grand view.

Then came the day when I needed to make some pictures—photographers will know what I mean—and the weather was against me. Uniformly grey clouds and lousy light are no recipe for great landscape shots.

micro photography

Photo by Gino Andenmatten; ISO 250, f/13, 1/200-second exposure.

With the itch in my shutter finger unsatisfied, I had to find a subject, so I began casting around the area. And, what do you know, there were dozens of them. Of course there were, for those who have eyes to see. The big picture is made up of thousands—maybe millions—of smaller pictures, and this is what I had been missing.

And, it’s not only the weather that can be against the making of the big picture. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid the crowds in a popular spot, for example, but if we are attuned to looking within the scene for its components and are able to recognize potential pictures among them, then our frustrations at not being able to make pictures because of situations that are beyond our control can be relieved.

The same applies when the big picture just isn’t right. Maybe it’s the light that is wrong—from the wrong direction, at the wrong time of day—or something in the scene is just not photogenic and it can’t be gotten around by moving it or moving our viewpoint. This happened to me recently when I went to the Snowy River in the New South Wales high country in Australia. The attractive scenes that I knew from five years ago had disappeared in the disastrous bush fires of January 2003 and the area had not fully recovered. There were dead trees everywhere and the whole area had a scrubby look about it. Its former beauty will come back, but it will take a lot more time. Big picture scenes were out, so I concentrated instead on close ups of some of the spring wildflowers that were brightening the river bank.

And, when I spent a week last year on England’s Cumbrian coast, the weather was less than kind but nevertheless I found subjects to shoot between the bursts of sunshine by looking into the landscape.

It was the weather that first forced me into exploring for smaller pictures but now it’s my natural approach to landscape photography. I do not shun the big picture, but now I am loath to leave a place until I have made some images that show something of its intimate details. I have learned to not only look but also to see.

micro photo tutorial

Photo by Flickr user 鎮邦; ISO 1600, f/5, 1/1250-second exposure.

And, that is the first step to making pictures of the micro-landscape, the bits that make up the whole. You may have heard the comment by camera club judges, “a well seen picture” and that is what we have to be aware of when considering our photography. We have to look and then, more importantly, we have to see the picture opportunities that present themselves. We have to take our time. We have to immerse ourselves in the area. We need to feel for the place. We need to experience wonder at the age of rock formations and how, over millenniums, they have been fashioned by wind and water, at the way in which trees and other plants survive in less than perfect conditions and how they cling to life and overcome obstacles by growing round and over them. We need to be in awe of the power of nature.

I try not to have preconceived ideas of what I am looking for as subjects when I begin to explore. To do so would defeat the object of the exercise, which is to first look and then to see. However, depending on the location, there are some obvious subjects that crop up repeatedly. For instance, in Britain’s ancient woodlands the twisted and contorted trunks of old trees, the bases of the same trees which often incorporate huge boulders, and in the moorlands, the wildflowers that fill the meadows in high summer, the fallen golden leaves of the deciduous trees in autumn and, in the winter, the plants that brave the snow, the streams winding between snowy banks and the footprints of animals, and birds in otherwise undisturbed snow.

On the coast, there are the rock pools gouged out by centuries of water action, and their inhabitants, rippled sand, flotsam and jetsam, the plants that bind the sand, the multi-colored pebbles, and the many wonderful shapes of rock platforms and the strata in cliffs.

Wherever you are, look up. Sometimes a wonderful, and generally fleeting cloud arrangement will make a great image. And there may be a photogenic arrangement of leaves on a tree or at your feet. Check the trunks of trees, especially after or even during rain when the bark of some trees, especially in Australia, is magnificently colored. Watch the swirling water in creeks —apart from anything else, flowing water is very therapeutic and calming—especially where it ripples over boulders.

Then there are the grasses, especially when back lit, or flowers or fungi, or fallen trees or…the list is infinite. Those are just some examples but it doesn’t matter where you go, you will find subjects to fill your viewfinder if you really look.

micro garden

Photo by Abhishek Vanamali.

As far as technique is concerned, the important thing is to ensure that your subject is sharp and possibly isolated from the background by using a large aperture. Unless you’re using a fast film or ISO setting, a tripod will be useful, if not essential, to ensure that your camera stays focused where you want it and that camera shake does not ruin a precious picture.

If you want to make close-up pictures, a macro lens or a set of extension tubes will be necessary. I sometimes find focusing when using extension tubes a bit difficult especially when the lens is practically touching the subject. It is sometimes easier then to move the camera backwards and forwards to establish correct focus rather than using the focus adjustment.

Close-up images of flowers are often better when made under overcast skies as the reduction in contrast suits the subject and enhances the colors. I carry a plastic sheet when expecting to do close-up work at ground level to make the job a little more comfortable.

As the light level on grey days or in woods is sometimes a little low, you may want to use some fill-in flash to enhance your subject. If you can, adjust the output of your flash gun; aim to produce a flash about two stops under the exposure setting of your camera, which will produce a natural looking image. I have been able to produce quite good results at times with a very basic flash gun by shooting through a couple of layers of a white handkerchief. Not very scientific but it has worked. But, do experiment with your equipment before you leave home!

Aluminum foil can also be useful to bounce light into your subject and it’s worth carrying some in your camera bag. I have a Space Blanket which I bought many years ago, which is very useful as a reflector. I can also wrap myself in it if I get lost and have to spend the night outdoors in low temperatures! One question that crops up every now and then about the photographing of the natural world is: do we take the picture exactly as it is found or can we move things around and even import an item from somewhere else? As far as I’m concerned, that is up to you!

For the record, I do clear away distracting items, some grass for instance, and I have been known to introduce a greenish leaf from a few centimeters away on to a pile of autumn colored leaves to provide some contrast. But, if I can, I leave it as I found it. If I do make changes they are only minor. But, it’s your picture and your choice.

I have used film and digital to produce my micro-landscape pictures but what you use is immaterial. It is the result that counts and that result will come from your ability to see the picture in the first place and then from your technical know-how.

About the Author:
David Bigwood is a photographer in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia.

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via IFTTT Interesting Photo of the Day: Colorful View of the Alps at Sunset

Sunsets are an amazing example of how an end of something can be beautiful too. The following photo of Schrecksee by travel photographer Sebastian Ruef  is a perfect example of a beautiful and colorful end to a day:

Schrecksee Alps during sunset

Schrecksee Alps During Sunset by Sebastian Ruef (Via Reddit. Click image to see full size.)

He used his Fujifilm XT-20 camera with the 18-55 kit lens at f/2.8, ISO 200, and shutter speed of 1/60 second to capture this photo. Because the conditions were dark, Ruef had to brighten things up a little in post. He also shares that the most stunning part of taking this photograph was the sky which changed by the minute. Now, that must have been an experience to remember!

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via IFTTT Tips for Photographing Lightning at Night

Lightning is one of those classic yet spectacular shows that mother nature puts up every now and then. As spectacular as lightning can get, the images come out equally great. However, one very important thing to keep in mind when photographing lighting is how intimidating it can get. You need to know what you’re doing and ensure your own safety. If you’d like to take lightning photos but don’t know how to plan for it, photographer Nick Page shares his tips and techniques for photographing lightning at night:

A lightning strike can come and go before you can even blink your eye. You can’t photograph lightning if you’re planning to press the shutter release button manually. Page talks about how you can use either the time-lapse mode, bulb mode, or even a lightning trigger to photograph lightning.

“The benefit of using bulb mode is that you’re taking fewer photos, and you’re pretty much getting a lightning strike in every single photo.”

Compared to photographing lightning during day time, shooting them at night is comparatively easier as far as getting a proper exposure is concerned. But, nighttime has its own set of challenges in regards to dynamic range, composition, focusing, and depth of field. As you’ll see in the video, Page explains how you can tackle these challenges.

And be sure to pay the utmost care for your own safety. Maintain a good distance between you and the storm. Shoot from the edge of the storm and make sure that you don’t have the storm over you. It is definitely not a good idea to be standing out with a camera on a tripod close to an area with high lightning activity. Read the situation and know when to call it quits and head back home to safety.

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lauantai 1. elokuuta 2020 Best Practices and Tips to Photograph Your Dog

Taking great photos is difficult at the best of times, however taking great photos of your pet dog can be a whole new challenge in itself. Taking pictures of animals is tricky because they won’t just sit or stand as they’re told. However, the secret to a great pet photo is really when you can capture it in the moment. The following are some of the best practices and tips that you can use to photograph your dog and get great photos from it.

dog with toy

Getting Your Dog to Cooperate

Getting your dog to cooperate can be a difficult thing, depending on the location and setting you’re taking your photos in. In the end it really comes down to patience and a lot of time. However here are a few additional tips to get you started.

When trying to get them to look at the camera you can do a few different things:

  • Have someone stand next to you or behind you with a toy or food to direct their vision towards the camera.
  • If you don’t have someone helping you, you have the option of doing a couple of things. These include:
  • Get a squeaky toy and holding it above your head while you take the shot with the other hand.
  • Get a hat with a band and place your phone securely between the band and the hat, and play a squeaky toy or a video that your pet will find intriguing to look at. This will help to free up your hands to catch that perfect shot.
  • Make funny sounds or higher pitched sounds to get their attention so they look your way.

When trying to get their attention, make sure your camera is focused and locked on their eyes, and the composition is set. You may only have one chance at getting the perfect shot.

Use Great Quality Equipment

While you don’t need to get the most expensive camera in the shop, you do need a good quality one that has a fast capture speed and flash. External flashes are the best choice for taking high quality photos. Especially if you’re going to do some indoor shoots. The flash will help to bring out your pet’s natural beauty, and will also fill in some of the immediate shadows on and around your pet. The flash will also capture the dog and freeze them in time creating a steady, clear, and detailed image.

While the flash is your best friend you still need to be careful about how you use it. The best thing you can do when using the flash on your pet is to point it just off to one side of your pet and not directly at them, unless of course you have some sort of diffuser. In most conditions, direct flash will make your pet look ugly, washed out, and just horrible. If you’re capturing indoor shots, and you have low ceilings, point the flash at the ceiling and let the flash reflect back down onto your pet while you take the photo. This will help to create a more natural light.

how to take close up photos of dogs

Taking Great Shots

There’s a few different guidelines to keep in mind when you want to photograph your dog. Here’s some rules to follow to bring out the best shots of your pet.
Always focus your camera on the eyes. Without focusing on the eyes you’re wasting your time. Try to place the camera on single point focus so you don’t have to worry about your camera autofocusing on the closest thing, which is generally the dog’s nose.

To gain a pleasing composition when cropping your image, try to focus on the closet eyeball that’s in the lower or upper frame quadrant.

When taking a photo try to get at or below the dog’s eye level. This will add a unique perspective and a more intimate feel to your image.

Close Up Portraits

For close up portraits of your dog, try and set your camera to aperture priority mode and the lens to the lowest f-stop number or widest aperture possible. The next thing you need to do is get them to sit or stand a few feet from the background before you get as close to your subject as possible so their head is in the frame. When taking photos with this setting you may have some pictures with a blurry nose and head but focused eyes. If you want the whole head to be more in focus, simply close the aperture slightly. Another alternative is to zoom out slightly.

Taking a great photo of your dog isn’t impossible. By knowing some of the tips and tricks as seen above you can easily capture that perfect photo you’ve been looking for. So have you managed to take a great photo of your pet dog?

About the Author:
Born in Mexico, a country of vivid beauty and colourful people, Cecilia Casillas brings the passion of her country of birth into her current artistic work with pets. Cecilia has painted since childhood, and studied with Mexican painter Paul Achar and Chilean painter Carlos Arias. In 2014, she came to Melbourne to continue refining her artistic skills, and finishing her bachelor’s degree. Founding Colour Pet Studio in 2014 has allowed her to share her pet painting skills with people from all over the world. She now brings pet owners joy through her painting.

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via IFTTT Interesting Photo of the Day: Neowise with Northern Lights

When we refer to a shot that’s taken in a decisive moment, we usually say that it’s a “once in a lifetime” type of shot. In life, there are certain events that truly occur once in a lifetime. Take for instance the appearance of comet Neowise. It has an orbital period of 6,766 years which means that we will not be around to witness its next appearance. Photographer Herry was lucky enough to have a magical sky with the Northern Lights and comet Neowise together in one frame. And the shot that he came up with is truly phenomenal:

aurora and comet Neowise

“Comet Neowise and the Northern Lights” by Herry (Via Reddit. Click image to see full size.)

The image is a 25-second exposure that he took on a Nikon Z6 with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens at 29mm, f/2.8, and ISO 2500.

Everything about this image is super striking. What immediately captures your attention is a mystical sky showing off the beautiful Northern Lights. The eye-catching mix of yellows, greens, and purples give such a vibrant look to the image. Further, the comet on the right is like the cherry on the top and adds to the supernatural vibe in the image.

Herry’s choice of including the grain bins and the barns in the center is indeed a fantastic choice. It adds a human touch to the image which otherwise purely appears godly.

Hats off to Herry for capturing this masterpiece of a once in a lifetime event! Did you get a chance to observe comet Neowise?

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via IFTTT Wildlife Photography From Your Backyard

It might sound weird at first, but you’ll be surprised to know that you can do a bit of wildlife photography even when you’re stuck at home. We often don’t realize it, but our own yards have some frequent visitors who can be perfect subjects for your wildlife photos. Birds, squirrels, and even insects in your backyard are some perfect subjects for the job. Wildlife photographer Richard Peters shares some ideas on how you can go about wildlife photography even when you’re stuck at home:

It’s probable that a number of birds frequently pay a visit to your garden. If they don’t, you can always encourage them to come around with some quick fixes. Simply try using bird feeders, or place some water out for them to drink and bathe in.

“The important thing to remember with this theme is we have no control over the subjects that come into our home.”

The next step is to think about the lighting, flash, lenses, and props you can use when photographing. Peters elaborately describes how he decides what kind of lighting he wants to have on the birds. He also demonstrates how you can alter perspective by using different focal lengths and by pointing your camera in different directions. He then showcases how you can use flash creatively, and also how to illuminate the subject well.

Since most of us have been spending a lot more time at home, it can help to connect with nature. Besides promoting healthy living, it also helps us maintain a calm and peaceful frame of mind.

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perjantai 31. heinäkuuta 2020 The Importance of a Focal Point

A focal point is the part of an image that draws the eye of a viewer to the most important part of the image or the area that you want to highlight. How you do this will make or break the final image. If you don’t know how to create this point then you will not achieve much in your photography.

point of interest in photographs

photo by Dominic Alves

The professionals have all worked this one out and if you are attempting to create similar images then learn this point well. It frustrates the eye of a viewer if there is no focal point, as the eye is not drawn to any one particular part of the photo. The focal point only occupies a small part of the scene but will make or break the whole image. The simplest form of this is an isolated object seen from a distance on a plain background.

So how is this achieved successfully? Let’s take a look at a few pointers.

1. The Rule of Thirds

Fundamental to photography this rule needs to be learnt well and executed to perfection. If you know where to place your focal point then you will shoot great images every time. A focal point needs to be off centred and never in the middle of an image. The rule of thirds places it at a point that is very pleasing to the eye as discovered by the ancient Greeks. This golden rule will bring you success every time. Imagine a noughts and crosses or tic-tac-toe grid. Two lines across the image and two lines down the image—vertically and horizontally placed. Equally spaced, they cut the image up into thirds. Where these lines intersect are your focal points. The horizontal lines are where you place your horizons. The human eye loves to view subjects placed at these intersections. Take a magazine or travel book and take a look at how many times this rule is used effectively and see how your eye is drawn to them.

2. Selective Focus

This is an incredibly effective way to focus attention on your subject of focal point. You need to know how aperture and depth of field works in order to use it properly. But, basically it’s very simple. Your settings (e.g. f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6 and so on) change the size of your aperture all the way up to f/32. You only need to be concerned with the lower apertures for this effect. If your lens goes to f/1.2, brilliant, but most lenses won’t take you below f/4 or f/2.8, as they get more expensive the wider the aperture. Depth of field is the area of focus in front of and behind your subject. With the aperture wide open at f/2.8 you will have very little in focus which makes it so effective with selective focusing. Everything not on the same focal plane as the subject will be out of focus and thereby excluded from the viewer’s attention. The longer your lens, the less depth of field you will have and the more you will be able to selectively focus.

It’s a great way of drawing attention when used in conjunction with the rule of thirds.

3. Exposure

By underexposing parts of the image (i.e. making them darker), the areas that are light will stand out. If you are able to able to use this effectively the light parts will stand out as focal points and whatever you place here will become the point of focus in the photo. This really works well if you have a subject that is lighter than the underexposed, darker areas. Key to the process is knowing what the final image will look like in mind’s eye.

4. Light Source

This really pushes your photographic eye to the limits and if you see the opportunity and go for it, will result in a stunning photo. How this works is that when you see a shaft of light or a ray of sunlight entering a window or coming through the clouds, use it to place your subject. A patch of late afternoon sun in dimming light will create an area that is much lighter than the surroundings. When you shoot an image and take the metering off this area, the surrounding environment will appear darker. The image now has a focal point that draws the eye in to the image. This will also work at night where a solitary window is lit and the surrounding area is dark. Experiment with this technique and you will soon be creating dramatically lit photos.

5. Eyes

By placing a person’s eyes on a two thirds intersection a viewers eyes are immediately drawn to that area. When the subject is looking down on something else like a child or an object your eye will be naturally drawn to the point where the subjects eyes are focused. Whenever you shoot a person eyes they will automatically become the focal point so if they are the focal point then you have a problem and they will compete for attention.

6. Two Focal Points

Sometimes you will have two focal points and there will be competition, but, you can offset this by using size. One of the focal points must be considerably larger which will draw the eye but immediately your focus will move to the smaller focal point. If they are the same size the viewer’s eyes will dart between them. So be very careful when using a double focal point.

A focal point is essential to any great image and you need to be able to create this in every image. An image lacking this will appear flat and without impact. As you learn digital photography it will become easier and easier to place it in the right position. Happy shooting!

About the Author:
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years and has written three books on photography. He has produced 21 Steps to Perfect Photos; a program of learner-based training using outcomes based education.

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