Common Sweat Bee (Two Photographs)

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When taking photographs of insects I am limited by what I can see and able to photograph. My curiosity about insects leads me to try my hand at almost everything I see. Often insects are in positions that can be boring and photos tend toward the scientific and not the dramatic. I never interfere with the insect, which does not make things easier but satisfies my own ethics. Most insects can flee, fly away or hide and along the way I have seen all of this. It is worth noting that many bees and other winged insects do not always perceive humans as a threat. When asked if I worry about being stung or bitten, my answer is that my subjects seldom bother me, though mosquitoes may feast on me while I take my photographs. In the case of this Sweat Bee it had a plan and I was not interfering with it. My effort went into getting the best perspective.

Sweat Bee

Lighting as the Subject

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When you shine a spotlight on something you make it the subject. Looking at landscape paintings new and old, artists have had to decide on/recreate natural lighting that compliments their scene. In photography we have a lot of latitude especially in post-processing, to change/enhance the light in our photographs primarily by working on shadows and highlights. Lighting can be used to frame things, make them more interesting. But what if it were all about the light, what if the subject is the light?


A Dragonfly (and few words on Objectives)

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When I go out for a day of shooting I cannot predict there will be anything to shoot when I arrive (and believe me that happens a lot) or that the photographs I take will turn out to my satisfaction. Moreover I cannot know that what I do shoot and process will be worth the effort until I have tried. It is the trying that is important. The other day I was on a walk in a wonderful new spot we found. I went ready for landscape photography and that may not have been the best choice but I made do with what I had. I try to avoid surprises and get what I can from the circumstances I find myself in. More is the pleasure when I come home with something workable and shareable.

Landscapes (Two Photographs – and a note about Raw Files and Lightroom)

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Here is a perfectly good example of what is possible with a Raw file and Lightroom. If you look at the second photo you will see how it looked right out of the camera, no sky and a host of other issues. In the Crop Panel I fixed the horizon, I was also able to pull out the sky using the Luminance Panel Tool, added contrast in the Tone Curve Panel, and sharpened it all in Lightroom. I then exported it as a JPG with sharpening for computer screens, and having set it up ages ago the export module added my copyright. A classic landscape created in five minutes of editing. I could have done other things like a vignette but I left it as you see it. Lightroom is a product that once set up and learned is a joy to use.

Landscape test

A Green Heron and some Thoughts on the Camera Market

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A few months back I was talking to some photographers and the subject came up about what cameras people were buying: mirror less, DSLR, full frame, point and shoot, cellphones etc. The data is easily found on the web. Not surprisingly, the more expensive cameras do not sell as well as the less expensive ones and cell phones with cameras. Their interest was peaked by a downward shift in mirror less cameras. Conjecture ensued. I did notice one interesting thing when looking at this data over time and that is that anything new sells well early on. New lenses boost camera sales. Advertisers, I expect, would say any excuse to get their product in the spotlight, even a firmware upgrade can help. I worry about the older companies going out of business like Minolta did. Being a Nikon user, and invested in Nikon products, I hope that Nikon continues to sell products I want with the least amount of problems (Nikon has had a few).

Osprey in Flight (Three Photographs and Thoughts on Nature Photography)

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When I started nature photography I did not really know where to start. Over time I have given thought to the things that make it work for me. The first thing is to get close enough that the subject is clear and the corollary that the background does not over-power the subject. Secondly you need some context or impact so the subject says something, usually this means including more than the subject so a story or circumstances are clear. Thirdly, the most important features must be sharp and clearly seen (eyes, wings, etc.). Paradoxically, like most rules, the reverse of all these points can be effective as well. With birds in flight distance gives them meaning, negative space gives them context and some movement even if minor, is expected. These are the things I think about when capturing what my eye sees (p.s. it looks like I may be giving a talk on just this subject later this year).

Osprey in Flight

Osprey in Flight-2

A Rant on Gear Reviews

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I am beginning to wonder if any piece of camera equipment or software is ever panned. I am sure that someone loves every bit of tech other than just its creator and the company supplying it, but that does not mean mass-market satisfaction. When I read reviews I am keen to see the pros and cons, read about the rough spots. Far too many reviews can be summed up as saying the product is amazing. Let’s be frank, nothing is perfect. When shopping I look at forums searching for the one naysayer that might be onto the truth. I did find one person who panned a lens I like and I would agree with him, if I were using the lens for the same purposes he was. It is really hard to get the full facts on products so that there are no gotchas, its best to try them first. I have bought more than one product that promised to do something, which it did, but neglected to say anything about the hoops one has to jump through to get there. On the other hand, I bought a product (a soft box) that some have said just barely meets expectations. I have found it works for me and has other benefits I had not thought of and I have told the manufacturer. I would be happy to write reviews but I would want to make it very clear to buyers what they are getting and what I based my tests on.

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