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Butterflies (Two Photographs)n

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When I am shooting in nature I try to get some context, contrast, or framing. Not always possible but I find focusing on just the subject is bit too clinical and not necessarily creative photography. An added bonus is it makes shooting some subjects just a touch more challenging.

Fill the Screen (Two Photographs)

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Almost every photography teacher will utter the words “fill the screen”. In journalism it’s a very good idea to include all the details in the frame, but in art and nature what is in the frame or not is a matter of opinion and how close we crop is a matter of taste.

Eyes

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Eyes are important in any kind of portrait, and I find it’s sometimes a neglected element when it comes to some animals, like birds. I suspect this is because it is hard to get a catch light in the eye to make the eyes interesting and look normal.

Falling (Two Photographs)

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Once you master the basics of photography and have found subjects you like, the two stage process of composing begins to take on more importance. First there is composition in camera and while filling the frame sounds great (and it is for journalism) remember the sensor format in your camera is not 8×10 or the size of any standard picture frame. Nor does it usually follow editorial requirements. So the second stage is the crop in post production.  As a personal rule I try to leave room in the camera composition to enable a reasonable crop in post processing.

Negative Space (Two Photographs)

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Your subject needs space to sing (talk) into, as one of my photography friends once said to explain negative space. It’s not a rule. If it were, some of Buster Keaton’s better scenes of being hit by a door would not have been allowed.

Realism (Two Photographs)

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Sometimes when it comes to processing a photograph I find the raw photo extremely realistic and there is little or nothing to do to the shot but prepare it for the web. I don’t call this out-of-the-camera as the camera’s computer and the import into Lightroom modify the shot.

Hummingbird Moth (Two Photographs)

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The second photograph could be my ode to Halloween. Hummingbird moths look better just a bit further away. Their flight pattern is more like helicopter than a plane which makes some shots a little easier.

A Happy Accident

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Happy accidents do happen in photography. I took this photograph when I was distracted and not thinking about all the things I should have. Yet the photo that I saw in my catalogue caught my eye and I was pleased with the result. Doesn’t happen often but its nice when it does.

An Old Complaint (Two Photographs)

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It used to be that the phrases “time is money” and the “customer is always right” had meaning. We didn’t toss things out that worked for other things just because they were shiner and newer. Clients were not made to work harder for a not quite the same result. Help lines and complaints were listened to and not downplayed. But as corporations grew, seeing innovation as a mark of progress and their clientele grew into large numbers, only the corporation’s time mattered, only the corporation’s concerns mattered and those who had problems became whispers in the dark talking to help centres that could do nothing but parrot the corporate line.

At the end of 2021 unless WordPress keeps the old editor I will end this blog. I have better things to do than rail at a windmill.

Depth of Field

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Narrow depth of field, to isolate your subject is not just a matter of the aperture you use (the smaller the better). It’s also influenced by the distance between your subject and the camera, as well as the distance of your subject from the background. You want the background to be further away from your subject than the camera is to the subject.

 

More on Choices (Two Photographs)

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The approach we take to a photograph, the cropping, etc. all involve choices. For some that is what make photography interesting. We would all prefer to spend less time behind a computer screen, but in many cases that is where the photo comes to life and lets us further interpret the scene.

Choices (Two Photographs)

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In my last post I said photographers interpret the world around them, in other words, have choices to make as to their final product. The choice between colour and black and white could not be easier today, given that many software packages make conversions easy. Given all the options I am often stuck with hard choices.

Monarch in the Light (Two Photographs)

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If you read my last couple of posts on colour and shadows you will notice in these photos taken a few seconds apart, the change in colour due to shadow and positioning. It’s not a question of which is right or closer to reality, but that colour and shadow are variables. As a result there are choices to be made when taking the photos and some latitude when it comes to processing. In this sense (and others) photographers interpret reality.

Shadows (Two Photographs)

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In these photos of what I believe is a female goldfinch, shadows play a role. Shadows can give depth or interest to a photo, complement a portrait. In the first of these shots, the shadow can be seen as somewhat humorous, but in the second it adds to the portrait.

Colour (Two Photographs)

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Most photographers today grew up in the world of colour photography, TV and movies. That does not mean we have less appreciation for black and white. It’s just that colour is seen as closer to reality and more familiar than monochrome. The danger is of course two-fold: the technicalities of colour reproduction make it hard to be true to life, and secondly the temptation that few can resist, to improve the colours (even with just a bit of contrast). In black and white the latitude for “reality” is arguably wider as one works with shadow and light.

Painted Lady Butterfly (Two Photographs)

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By far the most compliant insect I have seen. They pose! It takes a bit more movement to frighten them off, and they usually have great eyes. Whenever I find one there are dozens and its great fun for photography.

Black-Crowned Night Herons (Two Photographs)


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The grey bird was my first and only female black-crowned night heron. The second photo is of a far more familiar male heron (the white plume indicates mating season). The male looks a little like a penguin.

The Sweep (Two Photographs)

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You don’t have to read a lot about photography before you hear about how leading lines lead the eye into your composition. Taking that one step further, the leading line can be the subject. Think of majestic staircases or vines like the photos here.

That Owl

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I was not able to see our resident Eastern Screech owl this year, and I miss seeing it. This is the last of my shots of him from 2019. The closest nature reserve to where I live is uncomfortably full of people, and as long as the current situation remains, I intend to stick to less populated locations.

Contrast (Two Photographs)

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In photographing insects its always great to have colour contrast. Many insects blend in with camouflage so colour contrast is nice to have rather than a must have. Besides beautiful flowers add to any subject.

A Background (Two Photographs)

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After my suggestion to take photos from many angles, my next suggestion is to be mindful of the background. It can help or hinder your photograph. Simple is only better sometimes. In short watch your backgrounds, change your angle or distance to get a nicer one.

 

Reflections (Two Photographs)

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I try to use reflections in water when I can. Sometimes if the water is still enough you get this mirror effect that makes the photo a bit surreal. Often it makes people take a second look at the photograph to fully understand what they see.

Local Art (Two Photographs)

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There has always been a rich array of public art where I live, these were taken pre-pandemic. Since the pandemic the growth has been exponential to the degree that many of the latest murals are reported in the local paper, giving due credit to the artists involved.

Awkward Angles (Two Photographs)

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Since I started writing about photography, I have made a point of suggesting that photos taken from different angles or perspectives make it more likely you get a unique photo. And it is true that some angles result in awkward looking shots but sometimes those angles may be all you have to work with. In my case that means taking more shots however I can when the subject is interesting, in the hope of a successful shot.

Stark and Formidable (Two Photographs)

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Building on post processing techniques I used earlier this week in another post on leaves, I have tried my hand at two more photographs I took last year, this time with a bit more contrast. Post processing software  is moving along faster than I can keep up, every update brings more tools and things to learn.

Look a Duck (Two Photographs)

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I can still remember when I first saw wood ducks in full colour. Amazing. I have taken many photographs of them since. They are accustomed to humans throwing them inappropriate food so to it is not uncommon to have a stand-off with one. But when they realize you have nothing to offer their fickle nature emerges.

The Agility Of Bees (Two Photographs)

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In the many photos I have taken of bees there has always been the element of activity, but in my most recent shots I am beginning to appreciate the coordination and agility of bees as they move from flower to flower and it’s not just a matter of flight. They have considerable energy for their size.

 

Natural Chaos and Order (Two Photographs)

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One of the parks I frequent for photography was very badly hit by a flash storm that knocked trees to the ground. For a while the animals seemed in short supply. But nature is a bit unpredictable and a very short distance from the hardest hit area was this patch of greenery totally unscathed.

Beetle with Flower

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I say beetle with flower but it could just easily be flower with beetle. Moreover a close look at the flower appears to show some strange looking faces looking back at you (or so it seems to me). Combined it’s an odd but interesting combination that breaks a few of my photographic guidelines but still has potential to create some interest.

Geese

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Geese for all their faults make for great photographs. They give off a feeling of calm paddling along in the water. This couple was particularly notable for their apparent intimacy. But I would note that geese can get hostile if you approach them too closely and with other geese in the water, with lots of noise and flapping about.

Studio Setups (Two Photographs)

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Studio work is something I’d recommend trying. I worked in pro studios as a teen and it taught me the basics. Since then I occasionally take the opportunity to try setups at home. I continue to learn new techniques, about lighting, backgrounds, exposure etc. For backgrounds here I used scarves; the camera was fitted with a 50mm lens and the light was generated by flash.

Osprey in Flight (Two Photographs)

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The osprey I see fly high and fast. In this case I used Lightroom’s scale function to magnify the photos to get the detail you see here. AI programs are coming along that do this much better, I am waiting for the second generation to work with that software.

 

Yellow (Two Photographs)

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Most people have favourite colours and science proves that colours influence our moods. I am sure there is relationship between those two facts. Nonetheless, and science not withstanding, I find my tastes in colour varies by the season.

 

The Alley (Two Photographs)

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Alleys have a special place in the urban environment. In many cities they provide great opportunities for photography and are such popular subjects that it is rare to be the only person in an alley with a camera.

Goldfinch (Two Photographs)

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I was lucky to be able to take photographs of this goldfinch in interesting light against such a good background. It’s the way it’s supposed be done (by the book), but frankly these opportunities do not present themselves as often as one would like.

Dystopia (TwoPhotographs)

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These days we don’t have to look too far for dystopia.  Eventually things will return to normal and those of us hibernating will be able to comfortably come out of our cocoons. But it’s a ways away and curbing impatience is a trial for us all.

That Chipmunk -3 (Two Photographs)

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Being completely oblivious to the camera and the large thing behind it, the chipmunk just gets on with things, including striking some amusing poses. I was told when I was very young that standing still and silent would make animals more comfortable with my presence and it has proven true over the years. Unfortunately, as nature parks are increasingly hosting bicycles, runners, dogs and noisy parties it will be necessary to go further afield in years to come.

That Chipmunk 2 (Three Photographs)

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Young animals are often trusting and oblivious to danger. Sad but true. On the other hand with owls, muskrats etc. I have had some excellent photographic opportunities due to their naiveté. It’s worth noting that feeding young animals human food or the wrong type of food  is particularly bad.

That Chipmunk (Three Photographs)

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I have a thing about keeping the number of photos in my posts to three. This is the first of a series on this one young chipmunk, with two increasingly interesting sets of photographs to follow.

Composure (Two Photographs)

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Perhaps it’s unfair of me to be so adamant that the rule of thirds is not a rule but a guide. Do I use it, yes but unintentionally, it is meant to be a guide to composition. I have almost lost my composure over clubs that rule photos out of competition because they do not following the “rule”. I believe composition is part of the artistry of photography and may at times follow the “rule”. Here I have shown an experiment in composition, two shots of the same scene to give me a choice of composition in processing which leads me to my rule: “ when possible take a shot from more than one perspective”.

Sparrow on a Walk

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In a park there is a man-made pond and it attracts a lot of animals. I saw this bird strutting along on the rocks that contain the pond. More than likely on its way for a bath. Given their variety, sparrows make for great birding and photographic opportunities.

Tableau (Two Photographs)

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Walking in the reserve I often see scenes that remind of the painted tableaus I have seen in museums.  In these photographs I have tried hard to capture that perspective. However, photography is its own art form and I have avoided any painterly effect.

 

Wonder (Two Photographs)

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In the past I was wary of any insects and scared of spiders. As I spent more time on nature photography, I learned a lot more about insects and spiders, bought some books did some studying and I was amazed. The feeling quickly translated into my photography. The butterfly you see here, I believe is a common white admiral, but its colouring, its eyes its pose, its patient work, are a wonder of nature.

Never Bored (Two Photographs)

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Photography can be frustrating at times, but it seldom bores me. Being an opportunistic photographer I am not out to shoot anything in particular. I am more interested in the exploration. Exploration of new ideas and techniques or approaches. I say this because photography is an investment in learning, skills and gear and it pays to be a bit more open to other themes in photography.

A Widgeon Couple (Two Photographs)

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These ducks seemed to be very close and rather intimate but then my view of animals is tainted by anthropomorphism. I subsequently learned they don’t mate for life, but it does seem they enjoy their summers.

Squirrels (Two Photographs)

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I think it’s safe to say that squirrels are only one of a few animals that pose. Perhaps beg would be a better word. However many codes of conduct for nature photography are very clear that we should not feed them. So I prefer to think of them as posing as it eases my guilt.

Purple (Two Photographs)

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Purple is a royal colour. In some societies it was restricted for use only by the serving monarch. Purple continues to be a symbol of royalty even if over time it has been considered garish and monarchies in general past their due date. But in nature while the colour is not rare it still stands out in a field.

A Sparrow and its Shadow (Two Photographs)

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I could have played with these photographs forever in post processing to make the shadows more prominent. Instead, I chose to the leave the photographs pretty much as they came out of the camera.

 

Flower Photography (Two Photographs)b

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I seem to take a greater number of photographs of flowers than any other subject. I tend to think of myself as an opportunistic photographer, who will take shots of anything of interest and who is always trying something new in photography. But given the numbers, I cannot avoid the statistics that call me a flower photographer.

A Frog in the Sun (Two Photographs)

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I continue to be amazed by the difference between how we see light and how the camera sees it. Our eyes can see an amazing range of light from dark to bright, which our camera’s sensors, setting aside high dynamic range processing, are generations away from capturing. Still the camera has its tricks and often much more than expected can be seen in the shadows, or brought out from the shadows in processing. In short it is possible to mimic what we see but it requires technology and technique. This frog half in and half out of the light is an example.

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