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Forest in the Fall

Forest in the FallTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

Fall was several months ago, but I like mixing things up and I never get around to editing all of my photos the same season they were taken. I tried this photograph a couple of different ways, this version is all about color and its gradations from the forest floor to the sky. It is one of those pictures I would like on my wall when there’s a foot of snow outside, reminding me of warmer and friendlier times.

Summer Flowers 2013 ( A New Gallery)

Summer Flowers 2-1 copyTo view the gallery of these photographs please click on: Summer Flowers

Another gallery for my Smugmug website. We had a great summer for flowers last year, lots of opportunity and variety. The challenge this year will be bringing something new to this subject and finding more interesting specimens to shoot!

Fall Lakeside (the love it or hate it approach to dynamic range)

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

Our cameras cannot see the full range of light that our eyes see. To compensate, the High Dynamic Range (HDR) technique permits the combining of more than one photograph of the same subject with different exposures to capture all of the light. There is a time and place for HDR. If you go too far with HDR you get a surreal and often weirdly colored result and it is hard, but not impossible, to get realistic results with traditional high dynamic range software, although the software is improving rapidly. One the hardest things to work with is clouds and we are admonished by experts to avoid black clouds, which is sometimes hard to do. The photograph above is not an HDR, it is a single shot, underexposed to keep the sky as you see it. I have worked with the shadows, highlights and contrast to bring the rest of the picture to a normal exposure. You could call the processing “false HDR”. I wanted the foreground and the far side of the lake to look good so I had to compromise on the clouds. I am not yet convinced that this is the right way to go about things, and this summer I hope to have the chance to try other techniques and share them.

Capturing Mood with Color

Capturing Mood Landscape-2To view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

I am a color guy who should take some time to work on black and white. B&W can be more evocative than color by focusing your attention on the key elements. There are those who say that if color did not add to the story the photograph should be in B&W. It will be no secret that this photograph would not work in B&W, the tonal range is too narrow (more gray than black). The gray leaves, carpets of wet moss reminds me of late summer/early fall and the dampness after days of rain. One thing color does allow for that B&W cannot do as well is tonal texture and there are lots of that in this photograph.

Country Scapes (and a new gallery)

Barn with BirdsTo view the gallery of these photographs please click on: Country Scapes

This picture did not make it into my Brebeuf gallery on SmugMug, however I was keen to showcase it. One of the things I did with that series was to go back to the basics of post processing and editing using the histogram, ensuring that the full range of tones in the photo was used. Normally, I would ignore the histogram and adjust the picture to taste without regard for whether I was using the full range of light in the photograph. In the case of this photo and the others in the series, this technique saturated the colors and provided more definition. I was careful not to have anything fall off the edges of the histogram, which would have made the photograph even denser.

A Robin Sings – Two Photos (and an example of the wonder of Photoshop)

A Robin -Wonder of PSTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

Not wishing to sound picky, but this photograph would be almost perfect with a lighter sky and if the tree branch had not been exactly where it was. Clouds would be great too but lets not push our luck.

Robin - wonder of PS 2

Voila through the magic of the spot healing brush and clone stamp tool in Photoshop (as well as hue, saturation and luminance adjustments in Lightroom) we have a new view of the bird! I know some people have a problem with this kind of manipulation and that it puts in question other work you do, but I would ask those who object to reflect on what other photographers they admire did in the darkroom and lab before Photoshop came along. I do not do this very often but the occasional mucking around with reality is fun. When I do it, I make it very clear what I did.

We have had some wicked weather this year, but things are looking up. Where my wife and I like to walk and take photographs, there is still lots of snow and water But we were surprised to see butterflies yesterday (Mourning Cloaks), the birds are out and we also saw our first flies of the year. Next two days the forecast is for substantial rain. Better weather cannot come soon enough.

Finding Insects to Photograph Outdoors

Can't get enough (beetle)To view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

What is the single best way to start finding insects to photograph? If you are starting out, the best solution is to look for those insects that are not hiding or using camouflage, and their coloration contrasts with the environment (see above). The second solution is to examine closely any flower or bush from root to top; after one or two bushes you are likely to see something. Thirdly, look for tiny movements (stop, stare, wait). Finally, look along the edges of paths and waterways (no need to wade into the fields). The advice I get most often is to choose a bug in a book, find out what plant it likes and go visit those plants. This works if you have the books and lots of time, but if your starting off, my suggestions above should work just fine.

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