Beaver (Two Photographs)

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This was the first beaver we saw in the 2015 season. Like most beavers its paddle shaped tail is hidden and I for one can vouch for the challenge of photographing them with their tails in plain sight. In the first shot you can see the orange enamel of the beaver’s incisors, that enamel is rich in iron. Their teeth grow throughout their lives and they must eat if only to keep them from getting too large and curling back, and creating an existential problem for the beaver. In these shots the beaver is eating a layer between the bark and the heart of the branch it is holding. Where this was taken you can see a lot of the yellow and brown torpedo shaped remnants of its feasts floating in the lake.


Damselflies do it (Two Photographs)

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The male damselfly hangs onto the female until the eggs are laid in open water. When mating their bodies form a heart shape. Damselflies are one of the curiosities of the forest, savage hunters and incredibly flexible in flight. You can tell newcomers to the forest, as they seem to shy away from these creatures while children can stand transfixed by their antics (just like me). In earlier posts I have spoken about photographing them and my use of flash (which creates highlights, but helps light the subject and use faster shutter speeds). You can avoid using a flash in bright sunlight if the overall definition of the insects stands out and the shadows are good. Going between flash and no flash requires a number of changes that take time and might risk missing good shots so I use flash more often than not.



Farm Scene (and some general words on processing)

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I processed this in Lightroom for basic corrections, Photoshop for sharpening and for removing a large white board that was just sitting in the field, MacPhun Noiseless Pro for noise, and Nik’s Viveza for overall general enhancements. My objective was to enhance the cloud and detail, open the shadows and fix the lighting in parts of the image. Viveza is great tool for selective changes, for example, highlighting the field of corn stalks and opening the shadows in the trees. People I know who take pride in their processing try to avoid global changes. As in this photo, they may be interested in the impact of the whole but the work is done subtly and selectively. Global changes are tempting and sometimes work on landscapes but most processing software has a way to target selected issues like brightness, contrast detail etc.

Ask Questions

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Photography is a learning curve. I don’t hesitate to ask other photographers questions when I need to. When deciding what you might like to photograph, looking at the work of others, deciding what photographs you like of your own and others helps to formulate a direction. Manuals need to be read and can be confusing but they provide an opportunity to ask questions on forums or of photographers you know. The same with processing, there is a steep learning curve. Just taking pictures and not learning about your lens or camera; processing, and not trying different things means ending up with a lot of snapshots not photographs. The squirrel made me think about this because when I was taking squirrel pictures a year ago, someone on the trail had questions, but the one thing they did not ask me was why I was photographing the squirrel. I forget the question but I worked the squirrel into the answer.

Perfection/Imperfection (Six Photos)

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There are three sets of photos here. My preferred photo is the first color one. Unlike the others it has a flaw but one I think can be overlooked, the tip of the nose is out of focus. In the progression from a straight portrait to one with some character and impact, I think the choice is between the two photos where the bird’s head is turned. The more exaggerated of the two has the flaw but as we are drawn to the eye it is probably not something everyone would note. In the digital age, tolerance is lower for soft focus. In the days of film a bit of softening was not as much of a problem – especially as we did not get as many chances to photograph the same subject. Today tack sharp is a “rule”.

The Eye-2

The Eye-3

The Eye-4

The Eye-5

The Eye-6


Plant Bugs (Two Photographs) And a Word on Aperture

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Cropped sensor cameras give you more depth of field than a full frame camera with the same aperture. The smaller the sensor the more depth of field you will get. For example, a Nikon DSLR with a 1.5 cropped sensor F4 is actually F6. The argument is made that because of this, bokeh and good out of focus backgrounds are harder to achieve with cropped sensors but that is not necessarily true. As long as the distance between you and your subject is less than the distance between your subject and the background, the largest aperture (e.g 2.8) will get you a good background. Increasing the distance between subject and background will only increase the lack of focus in the background and increase the possibility of bokeh. This is why cropped sensors might be better for close-up photography (more depth of field) and why they can still give you good backgrounds. FYI I only used cropped sensor DSLRs.

Plant Bug

The Thing About Chipmunks

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The Chipmunk sees you and freezes. When you move forward or backwards it flees. They seem to prefer a standoff. As long as your movements are limited there they stand. When a squirrel comes along they will chase it, never mind that pound for pound the squirrel is larger, has bigger teeth etc.  I have never seen them catch their prey but if everything else remains true I expect they would be quite ferocious, sort of like how they demolish pines cones, systematically and with purpose. Chipmunks may be cute, somewhat shy, but I think that hides a smart little devil.

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