A Personal Project (Three Photographs)

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You often hear about professional photographers taking time to do personal projects, something that is a little distance away from their normal work, rules and even comfort zone (that cheery friendly place we amateurs can inhabit). I was in a garden and had been explaining shallow depth of field with macro lenses. When that was over I took advantage of an opportunity to shoot some birds and insects. But what I had said during my explanation wasn’t far from my mind and I went back to take these shots again. As a matter of practicality, narrow depth of field means you have to ensure that enough of your subject is in focus to be coherent or else choose a smaller aperture, larger Fstop. In this case the narrow depth of field seemed to create a situation where the subject could speak for itself and still leave something to the imagination.

A Personal Project

A Personal Project-3



Little Wood-Satyr (Two Photographs)

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I was amazed to see this butterfly in the very early spring, but apparently that is not unusual. Given the cold it stopped often but with some patience allowed me to get a long distance shot at 500mm. Its furry face caught my attention. The light was hard and changing, with a slight green color cast. Talking to another photographer who was interested in insect photography, one of the points I made is that insect photography is taken with all variety of lenses from wide-angle to moderate telephoto. I would not recommend taking insect shots at 500mm, you can lose some resolution/detail.

Littel Wood-Satyr

A Dialogue

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What makes a great photograph? It’s not the camera, the exposure, sharpness or depth of field, although they contribute to making a photograph. The vast majority of photography speaks to a small audience, those interested in the subject, e.g. travel photography, family snapshots, and manuals. I would argue that the size of the audience to which the photograph is aimed at or exposed to is neither crucial nor relevant to great photography. When a photograph speaks for itself and you don’t need a caption, when a photograph tells a story or because of shape and form has impact on an audience then that’s a great photograph. Photographers talk a lot about gear and technique in camera and in post-processing; we talk a lot less about impact – we know it when we see it. People have views and preferences and what is a great photograph to some will fall flat on others. A professional photographer has to be concerned about his audience; an amateur photographer has more latitude. We all want our photography to be appreciated and the first step is getting beyond the gear, the technique and focusing on impact.

A Bird in Difficult Light (Five Photos)

Juvenile 5-2    To view more of my photography please click on

When I came out from the trail onto the lake I saw this bird and was anxious to take photographs. I was worried it would fly away and so I did not chimp (look at the back of my camera checking my exposure). Had I done so I would have increased the ISO and used spot metering. I was left with noisy underexposed/back-lit photographs that were a bit tough to edit. I increased the brightness and contrast adjustments to brighten the bird, while leaving the rest of the photos alone (using masks and levels in Photoshop). A rescue for sure, and a reminder not to get distracted from checking settings. By the way in the second photo the bird has a dragonfly in its mouth.

Juvenile Black-Crowned Heron

Juvenile Black-Crowned Heron-4

Juvenile Black-Crowned Heron-3

Juvenile Black-Crowned Heron-2


Dragon Storm (Five Photographs)

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I missed the dragonflies emerging from the water again this year and only came across their discarded shells (exuvia). You can see these in the third photo. The strings are part of the larval breathing system. However, I was able to see my first dragonfly swarm. Hundreds of dragonflies were flying about in a relatively small area. Nothing hostile, nothing frightening – it was just a wonder to see. Normally dragonflies are a bit territorial but as you can see they hung like Christmas ornaments off the bushes. From my readings these swarms occur when food is plentiful, and indeed the midges that had plagued the park were not in evidence where the swarm was present.

DRgonfly Storm -2

DRAGON Storm-3

DRAGON Storm-2

DRgonfly Storm -2-2


Pine Warbler (Three Photographs)

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When I took these shots I asked some birders what they were and I was told Pine Warblers. Not being fully up on my birding and finding the guides somewhat confusing I will go with that name. They say the best way to become a nature photographer is to know your subjects and in some areas I am still learning my way around. That said knowing what to expect and identifying patterns of behavior can be a great help. Surprisingly it has been slightly easier with insects than the smaller birds.

Pine Warblers-3

Pine Warblers-2

Ladybug (Two Photographs)

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It is no surprise that I enjoy close-up/macro photography of insects. I have written a few articles on this blog that go into the techniques. In this photo there is an added bonus of some butterfly eggs on the bottom right side, more in focus in one shot than the other. I have had to fix some specular highlights created by my flash. Ladybugs are beetles, not bugs, and as such have wings. While I have seen ladybugs fly, more often they just run, and they can move very fast. The truth is no matter how many times I go out to take photos of insects it is an adventure if not a hunt. Expect to see more, and I will refrain from the gruesome.



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