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Yellow Flowers (and a word about White Balance and Colorcasts)

Yellow FlowersTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

This is one of the times when auto-white balance is not your friend nor indeed any of the possible in-camera settings. White balance is a measurement of the temperature of light. When the color in a photo does not look right on import, I go to the white balance tool in my software and adjust as necessary; I am often surprised by the change that makes. Ninety percent of the time the auto fix will work. Raw images permit broad changes to white balance, JPEGs a lot less. Grey cards and other tools can get you great white balance but are a bit ungainly in the field. Your camera is looking for mid-grey but when using a white balance tool you can look for anything neutral (e.g. where red, green and blue are equally balanced – in Photoshop that could mean 50:50:50 or 75:75:75 where each number represents one of the primary colors). Changing the white balance gave me cleaner greens which has helped not cured the color balance in this photograph. Call it stylized…

Damselfly portraits (and a new Gallery)

Damselfy Portraits6To view the gallery of these photographs please click on: Damselfly

This summer I shot way too many damselflies – alone, mating and in portrait. These insects tend to land and keep their backs to the sun, so unless you are in shade your shadow will fall over them and they will fly away. When I decided some portraits were in order, I started with not quite straight on shots and as I figured out the best light and circumstances (bush between me and them) I was finally able to get them pretty much face on. Damselflies have mouths and teeth and I wanted at least part of these to show in addition to their bulbous marble-like eyes. The eyes pose a challenge because they are filled with liquid and therefore do not provide much to focus on, in addition the dust and pollen that clings to damselflies gets exaggerated in the sharpening process. In the end I believe I have been mostly successful and they appear in a new gallery on my SmugMug site (see above).

Another Glare (and a few comments on camera modes)

Another GlareTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

Birds love to glare at me, especially red-winged blackbirds. They must know something :)

I have read a few articles and posts that insist that professional photographers should work solely in manual mode, others say in aperture mode, and even others in shutter speed mode. If you are confused so was I and I read these arguments right through. What I think they meant was that a professional shooting a particular kind of photography used that mode most of the time. Manual is great if you have the time and want to fine-tune things like flash or other lighting (even window light) and your subject is compliant. When I use flash out-of-doors for insects I may risk missing something and so I go fully manual where I have more control. Otherwise aperture gives me the control I need over depth of field, which I want to push to get my entire subject in focus. On the other hand shutter speed works when taking birds in flight and birds moving quickly in branches and to make sure I get sharp shots with long lenses. I may also use shutter speed mode in the hunt for moving insects so I can freeze their movement. Shooting in one specific mode does not make a professional. It is knowing what those modes do and can do that are an element of professionalism.

 

On Canada Day

On Canada DayTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

Now that all the fireworks and hangovers have come and gone, I finally had a look at my Canada Day efforts and found this shot. It’s the closest I have come in a long time to a fashion shoot! I used some of the blur gallery effects in Photoshop to further fade out the background figures but the contrast between this person and the other revelers remains stark. She stood out from the crowd and I wanted her to jump out of the photograph.

Redstart

RedstartTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

These are the worst possible conditions in which to shoot a bird. Unfortunately it was my first chance at a redstart and I was determined to try to beat the dappled light, deep shadow and the need for high ISO. You can see what my camera’s fancy light meter made of it and how the autofocus got “most” of the bird. Almost everything is off by a tad. It may be that final one-percent that makes a great photo but can I help it if it’s my first redstart? The main reasons why I do not pursue warblers is that they are too small, too often in the bush, almost never happy to pose. I confess that I am not a birder but a photographer going after great photos, great images are what motivate me. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Tis the season…

Tis the seasonTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

Actually the season was early summer, I am just slow at processing. The mating season in the Ondonata class of insects (dragonflies and damselflies) provides opportunity to test your skills in almost all facets of photography. You have little time, the light is often not optimal and your subjects aren’t helpful. It’s not the activity they’re engaged so much as it’s the quest for the perfect heart-shaped coupling that drove me to spend considerable time shooting in the heat and humidity. I will probably have a gallery up before long, celebrating the art of the hunt.

White on Black and Grey

White on black and greyTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

The title is a bit of a snarky reference to the titles given to paintings in modern art galleries. I could have called it 23. I have seen a lot of flowers done in black and white and I have done some as well. In some ways the easiest of black and white subjects is a white flower. Some are truly works of art others mere imitations. A friend told me that the best way to deal with color problems in a color photograph was turn it into Black and White. While I am relatively new to the latest means of doing B&W photography, I can see where this may be the case. It has not stopped me from trying to replicate some of the better white flower treatments, or looking more closely where a limited tonal range and greater contrast might improve a photograph but I am conscious of my friend’s comment.

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