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Bees (Two Photographs and a word about Close-up/Macro Photography)

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

When I started doing close-up photography of insects it was clear that with many subjects the eyes would not be seen without flash. Professional portrait photographers have a lot of tools to get a catch light in people’s eyes and I do not see why it should not be the same for bees. Using flash also means highlighting the things insects pick up along the way.  I learned from professional entomologists who photograph insects indoors, that they spend a lot of time and effort cleaning the insects before shooting them. It’s unbelievable what shows up after sharpening, some of it is just plain dust and not pollen. Digitally cleaning the photograph after sharpening can be time-consuming. Bees are great subjects especially when preoccupied. In this and other examples where the subject gives me a chance, I will wait and anticipate the bee coming face to face with my camera. This bee did not stay very still even while it collected the pollen. In these two shots the bee performed meticulously and we both got what we wanted.

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Grackle (Four Photographs)

Grackle-2To view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

For wild looks and lack of anger management, few birds can beat the Grackle. Catching these birds in the open is rare enough that the chase is worth it. This one appears to have some dragonfly nymphs in its beak. The vivid colors of this bird come out in the harsh open light but when they hide along the shore many mistake them for crows.

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Grackle

 

Color and Black and White (Two Photographs)

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

Some of the most famous photographs in the world have been taken in Black and White and it remains an important area of photography. With digital photography Black and White is now something more often done in post processing than in-camera. I returned to Black and White in the past few years, selecting photographs that had the right elements of contrast, composition and subject. In my view it’s harder to do right than processing in color. That is not exactly the way it should be, color depends on quite a few factors: the calibration of your monitor, the color work space of your camera, the white balance you chose to shoot in, the processing software color profile, and the color profile you select in your camera. Color is a science in itself. In Lightroom and Photoshop we have the option to change the camera profiles, change the color space to suit; in addition many of the plug-ins for those applications also affect color. This photograph was taken with a Olympus OMD which has some interesting and dramatic color profiles. In short there are as many options with color as with Black and White, all worth exploring. In my experience vibrant colors can have a dramatic impact; Black and White can isolate the essence of the scene and subject. Both can be used to direct your audience to the nature of your subject. I like how the photographs here have come out but they are two very different photographs.

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A Weevil (Two Photographs and a few Words on Close-up/Macro Photography)

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

I believe this is a common weevil, Polydrusus sericus, hard to find given its coloring. I got a few shots before it ran off. I had no chance for test shots so there were some blown out parts that needed repair in Photoshop. The use of flash is tricky and often it would be far more pleasing to the eye to shoot without it. We need it to stop motion and for fill-light in close-up photography. Natural looking flash needs a lot of diffusion and sometimes even that fails and we get hot spots. Diffusion does what it says, spreads the light, softens it and reduces its severity. There are so many DIY and commercial ways to diffuse light but a soft box is my favorite approach. With respect to the weevil, had it not been moving, I would have missed it against the green background. I was lucky to have learned early on that the edges of paths are the best place to look for insects; even moving slowly you will miss an enormous number of insects but a few will stand out. The fields are full of them, but like the little birds you hear but cannot find, insects are camouflaged, crafty and exist in vastly greater numbers than you would guess.

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Pileated Woodpecker Chicks (Seven Photographs)

Baby Pileated Wood PeckersTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

In an earlier post I showed this nest being built (See it here). We passed by as often as we could and one day we saw the female feeding the new chicks. She left and the male came by, he preferred to feed them inside the nest (the nest must be huge to fit three chicks and the two parents). These photos are all from a feeding by the female. Once the parent arrived a loud bee-like sound came from the chicks. There was about 10 to 30 minutes between feedings to start with and the pauses between them grew to as long as an hour and a half over time. Many photographers chose to wait for hours for their shots. I can understand why; intermittent clouds changed the light in some cases adding a color caste. Someone cleared brush to get a better vantage point (a waste of time in my view and more importantly destructive). The space around the nest grew a bit crowded over time, which was one of the reasons we did not hang around long when we visited. It was a friendly crowd, but still a crowd.

Pileated Woodpecker Chicks

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First Steps in Photography (Two Photographs)

Rhetoric-2   To view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

Often when carrying a camera you get a lot of questions and comments. It’s easy when someone makes comments about what a nice camera you have. But if you have a conversation with someone who is new to photography, what would you say? Not all beginners are suited for photography school, not everyone is techno savvy. Sometimes the conversation leads to help with the technology, and other times it’s questions on technique. We are all on a learning curve; none of us have finished learning. I have learned a lot in talking to other people about photography and have found it difficult but very helpful to explain what and how I do it to others. In fact I think it’s been one of the most important elements in improving my photography. Instead of doing things by reflex I am thinking more about what is involved and as a result I tend to ask myself is there another way. When I meet experienced photographers the best chats are about technique or the use of the gear we have, the conversation almost always leads me to new approaches.

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Adding Drama to a Raptor (Eight Photographs)

Pergrine in BW (enhnaced)To view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

A Peregrine Falcon studiously studies his surroundings, including yours truly. I think it’s more concerned about crows and other birds chasing it away and wants to focus on an easy meal. While its nice to photograph a bird against a blue sky, it is still back-lit to some degree. The tree needed cleaning of spider webs and other distractions that looked like sensor dirt. The bird is sitting in a magnificent tree but if I include too much of it the bird disappears. This bird was not going to give us any more poses and I was lucky to get what I did. Given that I have posted a peregrine in this tree before, I thought about trying it in Black and White. The sky looked dull (Photoshop – render clouds with a blending mode of soft light – three or four gradient layers to fade it and voila a dramatic sky). I ended up with a series of photographs I really like (the color versions are included for comparison). You will note I removed a branch in the black and whites to improve the composition. Let no one say I do not come clean about my manipulations!

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Pergrine Falcon

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