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Canadian Colour (Two Photographs)

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The waterways in Fall always have wonderful reflections, and Canada Geese are usually well represented too. Although the geese are often considered pests, that’s not always the case.

Macro Gear

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My preferred gear, for many years, when shooting insects was my Nikon, a 105mm macro lens, an extension and a soft box on camera with flash. This worked well for insects in the wild. But I rarely if ever took photos at life size 1:1. During the pandemic I am avoiding the parks, too many people. From previous experiments I had an original Nikon bellows, and a really good 50mm Nikon enlarger lens (recommended by http://extreme-macro.co.uk/) but I had a hard time getting good results with that and a generic focusing rail. It was clear I needed to find another way. The photo here is of a small part of a candy wrapper . My new set up has the bellows automated on a macro rail (wemacro rail and stand). That and some specialized software looks much more promising.

 

Macro

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This seashell was taken with stacked shots at larger than life size. There are three types of macro: 1) pseudo macro, what most of us call macro but is really close-up photography. It seldom if ever gets to life size shots. 2) Macro, the real thing, This results in photos where small things are larger than life (e.g. over 1:1), and then there is extreme macro where images are 5 times life or more. This photo is are over 1:1, less than a centimetre of shell filling the frame (cropping does not change magnification). It’s a project to help avoid boredom during the pandemic. I don’t pretend to be an expert. I have had many failures and still working for the best results.

 

Cones (Two Photographs)

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As a photographer I am always drawn to shape and form. I could be in a minority, but I suspect that shape and form influence our view of many elements of life, and that our minds have a particular affinity for symmetry.

A Couple (Two Photographs)

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It’s always nice to see a wood duck pair close together, especially in good light and colour. We are very fortunate where I live to have so many of these colourful ducks. But before I get too romantic, wood ducks like most ducks form seasonal bonds and do not mate for life.

 

How much magnification? (Two Photographs)

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I am told that to get to 10x life size, a microscope and loan from the Government is required. 3-5x life size is a fairly good extreme to begin with. My bellows with a 50mm enlarger lens, and a 24mm extension tube can manage about 4:1. To get some context, here are details of Canadian and US dimes. Specifically the Queen’s profile and Roosevelt’s ear.

 

Bored (Two Photographs)

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Up until now I have never seen an animal that looked bored. I strongly suspect that like many people, the wood duck got a bit fed up with the constant snapping of photographs. Or was it the people throwing bread?

A Berry Thief (Three Photographs)

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This cardinal did everything to make me think he was illicitly munching on someone else’s berries. In late summer the cardinals feast on the berries and it provides a good opportunity to shoot the birds after they moult and display their fresh new colours.

I am in my ninth year of posting every day. I am hoping to make it to ten years, but with a whole series of things going on like the pandemic I may lack the content for this blog. I have decided therefore to focus on some indoor photography projects. Hopefully I will still be  posting everyday but it is not certain.

Urban Grunge (Three Photographs)

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In any modern city there are these grungy dark corners. The shapes and colour remind me of some of the older forms of modern art in museums. The composition can add to the inadvertently attractive  grunge.

Depth of Field (Two Photographs)

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I was surprised to learn that creative use of depth of field is not one of the first things taught in photography. It’s a technique that is immediately attractive and engaging for the photographer and I think encourages further study of photography in all its forms.

Cantankerous (Three Photographs)

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The word cantankerous is one of the wonderful Irish-english gifts to our language. It also catches the mood of a disgruntled Cardinal caught over lunch. I am always surprised when animals clearly see you and start a stare off, rather than fly away.

 

Old (Two Photographs)

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These were taken outside an antique store. The objects are much bigger, but I have chosen a closer look. When the owners permit, any antique store can make for a wonderful photographic safari, just erase the price tags.

Explosive (Two Photographs)

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I like how these flowers seem to be coming out of the ground in an almost explosive spray. It happens in nature just like florists arrange their bouquets. A great deal has been written about composition, but in the end it comes down to personal choice after trying all of the “expert advice”.

Majestic (Two Photographs)

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One thing that can be said for raptors like the Osprey is that they have a certain majesty. That far out in the distance adds a slight bit of humour to its look. The photo is much more ominous in black and white.

That Bee (Two Photographs)

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Another sweat bee, doing its thing and taking off. Because of their colour and antics they are the most popular type of bee in our local woods. They are best found in late summer when they are looking for their final meals of the season.

Lovely (Two Photographs)

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This is another female cardinal, this time a bit more curious about her surroundings. I recall she stayed on the branch for less than a minute and I was not sure I had any good shots until I reviewed them at home.

 

Banal (Two Photographs)

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The word “banal” is more substantive and positive sounding than boring. The banal sights around us sometimes need to be captured by artists not just for historical reasons, but because we forget the complexity of modern life. The hydrant goes down a story underground to meet up with water pipes but all we see is a colourful and functional tool.

Reach (Two Photographs)

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I have a few new projects I would like to work on which is good thing with the pandemic still around or ready to come back. Increasing skills, reaching new goals is a great way to keep the love for photography fresh.

OSPREY-Classic Pose (Two Photographs)

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I wish all birds would take a classical pose every so often. These poses give a clue to character and their “look”. But like many things in nature photography perfection is rare, very rare.

Love and Hate, Macro (Three Photographs)

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What I like about close-up photography is that I get to see things I otherwise would never see. On the other hand narrow depth of field, difficulties with light and capturing detail lead to some effort in achieving a good result.

Not as Angry as She Looks (Three Photographs)

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Female cardinals are hard to see they almost always hide or fly away on sight. A few however, hold their ground, and like many animals get on with life. I have been lucky with cardinals over the years and have some very good shots of both male and female cardinals.

Poppies (Two Photographs)

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I love the wild poppies we get in my area. At the same time there is their majesty and what they represent to us because of Flanders Field and WWI. I cannot make up my mind, colour or black and white.

Hairy Woodpecker – 2 (Three Photographs)

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The unusual lighting in these photographs appealed to me. Cameras and their light meters sometimes come out with surprising results, usually poor. This time things seemed to have been for the better. Nature photographers seldom get a choice of lighting, except by choosing a day with good weather, some clouds and of course the time of day.

Monochrome versus Black and White (Two Photographs)

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I knew I would process this photograph in black and white, but the gradations of grey in the colour/monochrome version were very appealing as well. They make for an interesting study side by side. Given a choice I would normally opt for Black and White as it has more emotional impact. But in this case the issue is highlighting urban design.

Another View of Fall (Two Photographs)

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My favourite camera is the Fuji XT-3, it makes taking a slightly more artistic approach to the world so much easier. It handles like a charm, the 18-55 f2.8 lens is especially good. Sad to say but with the complications of the pandemic I am not getting out enough nor am I taking many photos.

Garter Snake (Two Photographs)

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I see the occasional garter snake, usually just. Glance their way and they move away rapidly. They are not dangerous, though I was advised by a student who was studying them that they do bite. We have no poisonous or venomous snakes in our area, only water snakes and these garters; these are our most beautiful.

Bee Fight (Two Photographs)

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I was very surprised to learn that bees fight. This bout took about 4 seconds, and in the last round the bee on the right chose to fly off, leaving leftie to carry on pillaging the flowers. Nature Photographers are always on the look out for the unusual. This time it just happened while I was trying to shoot a metallic bee.

Hairy Woodpecker and Choices (Two Photographs)

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If you follow me you will know I pay close attention to eyes, posture and impact in my nature photographs. I usually take many photographs of the same subject both to overcome errors, and to have a choice of shots (not too many and no motor driven machine gunning shoot, just a few). In this case seven. These two shots were the best.

 

Hairstreak Butterfly (Two Photographs)

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I have posted photos of the Hairstreak before, so this time I wanted to try a black and white treatment. Black and white brings out elements that colour hides and also brings out a bit of drama (almost always a good thing in photography).

 

Hummingbird (Two Photographs)

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Assuming a good shutter speed and focus, there is a good chance of a great hummingbird shot every time you see one in the frame. Therein lies the catch. Finding a small object with a telephoto lens is always a challenge. After practicing you can get it right more often than not, but it’s a learned skill.

Chiaroscuro in Colour (Two Photographs)

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I showed these same photos in black and a white a week ago. They also work in colour, but in this case the shadows, for example, do not have the same impact as they do in black and white. In my view colour or black and white is often a choice, and both might be just as pleasing.

The Tilt (Two Photographs)

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What differentiates these shots is a slight tilt but that subtle tilt pushes your eye down the path. It’s an old trick that works most of the time in landscapes. If you put a person in the frame it will more than likely not work.

 

 

Posture or Eyes?

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I always choose a subject’s eyes over posture if I can. This chickadee’s eyes were almost invisible and efforts with Photoshop to improve them were virtually imperceptible. When this happens your image depends on the posture of the bird, or some other story.

Hummingbird Moth (Two Photographs)

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If you see one of these wonderful creatures, time is not on your side. You need a super fast shutter speed and great reflexes just to get a few good shots. The moths are almost always in flight and hovering means a bit of jitter. Nonetheless they are quite a catch as they are not common where I live.

Your Position Matters (Two Photographs)

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Your position matters and not just in politics. The difference in these two photographs is where I was standing. In the first and better shot, the reflection of the tree adds to the composition rather than becoming a distraction.

Chiaroscuro (Two Photographs)

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Chiaroscuro is a term for the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, modeling with light in painting and drawing. I have yet to see a definition that applies chiaroscuro directly to photography. But it does often apply.

Daffy Duck (Three Photographs)

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Every so often you come across a natural actor. As a photographer I am always looking for the unusual, or a story. But definitely something unexpected. At first I thought the duck was in difficulty but my next shots disproved that.

Sober Second Thought (Two Photographs)

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I posted these in Black and White, under the title “pandemical”. It struck me that the colour versions tell another story worth telling – that there is often a brighter side of things. I think it’s worth thinking about when we consider what photographs to display.

A Bee on Echinacea (Two Photographs)

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The echinacea flower is a favourite of bees and makes for a classic bee shot. The trick is to take many photographs while moving closer and filling the frame. My preference is to have the bee less centred on the flower, but I get what I get.

Not As Shy As She Looks

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This duck was preening close to shore. It was that time of year when ducks know people will throw food to them. So even though she had things to do she was not going miss lunch. While I don’t like the idea of feeding ducks, I am an opportunistic photographer.

A Hornet (Two Photographs)

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Hornets are not my favourite subjects and fortunately I don’t see many. This one took me by surprise. I saw an insect but it was not until I got close up that I realized what it was. Thankfully it was otherwise occupied and ignored me.

The Look (Two Photographs)

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In previous posts I showed how light can make a big difference in animal photography as it does with people. I talked about catching interesting expressions and eyes. This time I wanted to make the point that these are not unique approaches or opportunities, but in my view the best ways to approach composition.

Victorian Wallpaper (Two Photographs)

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I took these shots not really thinking about the outcome. My interest was in testing my camera after not having used it for awhile. But I love this pseudo Victorian wallpaper look. I did it in colour and black and white because the shot works both ways.

Duck Shot ( Two Photographs)

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I am fond of headshots of people and animals. With animals I will often try a few shots. With little control over light and subject it’s the photographic equivalent of Russian roulette. Very few have the impact I like. In my view, these shots worked.

A Slight Obstruction (Two Photographs)

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Insects often try to hide behind things, as do rabbits etc. I was once asked what I do about that. I explained that sometimes it doesn’t matter, sometimes it tells a story and sometimes it’s annoying. Two out of three are not bad odds for a good shot.

Common in Colour (Three Photographs)

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I dislike hearing photographers say they have shot everything, are looking for something new, and they won’t shoot common things. It tells me that as a photographer there is something missing in their imagination. One of the best ways to improve your work is to try something difficult, and that does not mean having to fly to Venice.

Perspective (Two Photographs)

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When shooting butterflies my rules include being able to see the eyes, and capturing as much detail of the wings and body as I can. I rarely go for the top down shot and these photographs are the exceptions. But they do make it easier to identify the beast.

Pandemical (Two Photographs)

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It’s hard to be positive under the pressure of the pandemic. Gloves, masks and social distancing does not help my photography. The nature paths are too narrow and there have been too many nuts just breaking all the rules. They don’t see the harm they can do by ignoring health authorities. These bleak images reflect my feelings on the worst of days under Covid-19.

Welcome (Two Photographs)

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I like to think that when ducks do this they are being welcoming or at least playing. But in reality they are just making sure the water runs off their backs. Still it can be spectacular show if the duck does the full dance.

A Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

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When I took these photographs I had never seen these butterflies before. The camera overexposed the photos, but not so much that I could not fix it later. Like most butterflies the visit was short but sweet.

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