And then in a dark moment she left (Three Photographs)

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In my experience to get shots of a female cardinal is pure luck; they like hiding and staying out sight. I got a few moments to capture this bird. It meant not having much time to assess the light and adjust. The photos were warmer than was natural and this affected the color. I adjusted white balance to correct this, 4500 kelvin to 6500 kelvin. Once that was done I took care of a color-cast with saturation adjustments and I made adjustments to the exposure. And finally I took the shot of the cardinal just before it flew off and turned it into a black and white, just for the fun of it.




Shady (Three Photographs)

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I think we are all amazed by what we see in nature and in part we take photos to capture that feeling. Wild flowers are not always in the brightest of light and the books tell us that is something that needs fixing. While we all add our own touches to our photos, what happens if in doing that we stick with dark lighting. Sometimes the results look more real than if we brightened, adjusted the contrast and highlights of our subject. Although these were taken with flash and are processed for the web in doing so I avoided adjusting things that changed the mood I captured in camera.




Sweat Bee on Yellow

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I wish I had seen more insects this year, the drought, heat and humidity probably contributed to the low numbers. Among the insects I enjoy photographing are the metallic/sweat bees, just for their color. In this case, out of the corner of my eye I saw an insect doing the Grand Prix around the inside of a flower. By the time I focused, I figured it had been around the center of the flower twice already.


Eastern Kingbirds, Last of the Series (Seven Photographs)

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Taken on August 6 and 7th, the birds were growing up incredibly fast. Due to the rain I missed their fledging, what shots I did get showed their growth in and out of the nest. When I returned after the rains even the nest was gone. I will admit that these were hard to process and I used luminosity masks to darken the over-lit background and brighten the birds. Leaves kept getting between the birds and the camera and the only clean background I got was when the birds moved out of the nest. Seeing these birds grow up was amazing and being able to get semi-decent shots wonderful.











Detail in Insect Photography

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There are three ways to get detail with insects: a) Bellows and flash (camera at one end, lens at the other, all manual and nearly impossible to use in the field; b) image stacking and flash, where many photos are taken with different parts of the subject in focus and then combined for a very detailed result, possible but awkward in the wild; and c) extension tubes and flash, you do not get as close but the tubes enable your camera to focus closer, and flash both stops motion and illuminates your subject. The first two techniques need more time than solution (c) to carry out. The other important thing is to learn about sharpening in Photoshop and get plug-ins like NIK or Macphun that have tools for tonal detail, structure and micro detail. You won’t need many of those tools but one or another of those plug-ins will help pull out that last quantum bit of detail.


Kingbirds (Eight Photographs)

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Taken on August 3rd, I got some better views of the birds. However, better views did not translate into easy to shoot. I finally decided to use spot metering and exposure compensation along with high ISOs to get as much detail as I could. The shots are noisy and leaves between the subject and my camera obscured some features. Using layers to darken the surroundings, and brighten the birds added to the noise but brought out features. The blue strips you see are salvaged garbage the parent birds used in the building of their nest. Next set of Kingbird shots on Sunday.








The Nifty 50 (Four Photographs)

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A lot of photography articles talk about the “nifty 50”. A good 50mm prime lens is a joy to have. It has a host of uses, most importantly it mimics the optics of the eye. On a cropped sensor DSLR it’s angle of view may be cropped but it is still a 50mm lens. There is little or no magnification, or wide-angle distortion. Reversed it makes for a great macro lens (albeit a manual lens). More importantly they are inexpensive and a good way to learn to use prime lenses. My first photography kit was all prime lenses 28, 50, 135mm. The quality of most zoom lenses will not match a good prime lens, for technical reasons. More importantly, prime lenses force you to zoom with your feet, think more about composition and get closer to your subject. The discipline and constraints of a 50mm is one of the cornerstones, in my view, of learning photography. These photos were taken on a day when I had errands and was just walking down the street. I carry this lens when I go out for a city walk, as it’s compact lightweight and versatile.




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