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Pileated Woodpecker

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I caught this woodpecker taking a drink from the lake. I was closer than I would have liked but woodie did not care.

Gull

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It may just be my experience but gulls seem to pause for their portrait, not for very long but just long enough.

Egret

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I have yet to see an Egret that didn’t look like some maddened wizard.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

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What a name! Certainly doesn’t look like a sap. The bird kept peeking around the tree and having got his rhythm I took this shot.

Canada Goose

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In black and white there’s old time look to this shot. The Goose does not disappoint with its stance and gaze. Ready as it is for its portrait.

Medley of Wood

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Just a mix of old, new, texture and chiaroscuro. While I like photos that have a more general subject like texture, I recognize they break some of the established “rules” of photography.

Mallard Duck

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I am always impressed at how these ducks just plow through the water like tugboats. They go a lot faster when they have to,  much faster than I would have guessed possible.

Light

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The object here was to preserve the natural spotlight of the sun coming through a hole in the canopy of trees in the forest. A natural vignette just as I saw it.

Last Call

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I realize that not everyone enjoys their time behind the computer screen, but I find some photographs are surprisingly interesting to edit. Working on this one I realized how dark the mood of the picture was and I had some fun with that. The process had the opposite effect on my mood.

Cabbage White

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Every nature photography article I have ever read talks about the importance of eyes. When it comes to butterflies, frogs and other nature subjects, the eyes are amazing in color.

Not Graffiti (Two Photographs)

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The designs on most coloured cardboard packaging like Kleenex boxes are dot matrix, up close it’s just dots and ink bleeds. I thought it would make good modern abstract art.

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Leaf

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Ending the week on a floral note. This time an HDR of a leaf in the forest.

Bluenose (Two Photograhs)

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This is a detail from a Canadian dime, it shows a portion of the deck of the Bluenose Schooner at 5:1. The dime at 1:1 is below.

Excitement on the Trail

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All kinds of wonderful things happen in the forest, most unpredictable. But when a mating pair of dragonflies landed on my wife’s hat when she was taking a photo it was hard not to laugh!

Old 43 and 45 (Two Photographs)

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Details of wartime Canadian nickels. Given shortages in some metals, coins were made of different mixtures of metals left over from the demands of the war effort.

 

A Political Pose

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I know of at least one politician who thinks Mussolini’s up the nose pose still works today. I don’t recommend this unless the idea is to show off haughtiness.

Wood (Two Photographs)

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This is a continuation of my work at 5:1 (at that magnification light and sharpness are a challenge). The first photo is of a pencil shaving and the second is of a scratch in a wooden spatula.

Bucolic

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Among the things I am looking forward to this summer.

Spring has sprung

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Heres hoping I can find a forest where I can take photographs and social distance. Nature walks have become popular in these pandemic years. It’s easy for crowds to form.

Butterfly

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Overcast skies make for great soft light. But just like soft light in studio you lose a bit of brightness and detail. In addition, nature photographers have to deal with trees and shrubs blocking light. Challenging but fun.

Chinatown

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A bench with cut outs and some shadows. Simply interesting.

13

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One of the better ideas in street photography is to take things out of context. Or find things in odd contexts.

Tulips

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Spring is marked here by the tulip festival. They restricted crowds without success last year, I wonder how they will handle it this year.

Goldfinch

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I went years without seeing a goldfinch. Then in 2019 the fields seemed full of them. Lucky for me.

Books (Two Photographs)

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Most of the studio photographers I know of have a few lighting patterns they rely on. Given the possibilities it’s understandable to choose a few that work for you. This is my side lit pattern with diffuser and soft box. (24×24 softbox and Easy Up stand with diffuser from Strobopro)

Souvenir

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This was a bronze souvenir from the Louvre. What I like about it is the texture. A simple highly diffused light above the camera did the trick.

Antiques

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The telescope and compass are brass reproductions from India, almost indistinguishable, except for their newness, from those used in early colonial days. The book is the Boys Own Annual 1899-1900.The lighting pattern here is a soft box to the side, shooting through a diffusion panel. Depending on the tilt of the box, the panel and strength of the flash in the box you can get more or less light fall off, I chose less. I placed the soft box higher, giving a darker table on the side of the soft box and more light farther out on the table.

Fabrics (Three Photographs)

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Shot at 5x life, fabrics can look quite interesting. The subjects here are a tie, a table cloth and a wool scarf.

Monochrome

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Shooting monochrome with flash has one potential pitfall. Your object can fade into the background and be unrecognizable. Specular highlights can help the composition, positioning them is a bit of work. In this case the light was above, behind and to the right of the bowl (see the shadow).

Product Shot (Two Photographs)h

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Most jewelry product shots are against a white background. You can buy a box made of diffusion material and the lights to put outside the diffusion to get a pure white background and a well lit product (cost from $50 CDN to $100CDN). I used two Elmer’s Bi-fold foam boards around the sides and a white foam board background (almost a square around the subject) as well as an acrylic white base (cost $27CDN). The flexibility of Elmer boards is helpful and you can always put another form board on top if it helps. The black version was done with a black foam board background and a black table, the light was a top down flash with a snoot just slightly in front of the watch. Good proof of concept if I want to do this again.

Abstract Macro (Three Photographs)

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At a magnification of 5x on a cropped sensor many things look abstract. The Jackson Pollack type abstract is attractive. But with macro at this level you almost always have to tell your audience what they are seeing. In order:  toilet paper, paper towel, Kleenex.

 

 

 

Onion (Two Photographs)

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I could not resist trying to shoot an onion. In the first photo, I backlit a piece using a snoot (a modifier for the flash that narrows the light to make spotlight). I hung the piece of onion from a miniature magic arm.

Two Lights and Three Reflectors

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The light on the left hit a white card on the right and reflected back on the cube, the light on the right hit a card on the left and fell back on the the subject. Another white card was held over the cube to illuminate the top with the light from the two flashes. A bit of tilt of the top reflector might have lit the background.

Shadow and Highlights

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By lighting from above and slightly in front of the subject the shadows and highlights are enhanced and give form to the scarf piled on the table.

Red Pepper

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I saw a similar photo on the web and decided I would try to emulate it. Not knowing how it was shot, I had to make some guesses. I clipped some black paper to a light stand and let it fall onto the table and then I clipped the bottom to the table, giving me a curved background. The light is to the side and fades across the face of the pepper. The highlights define the pepper.

Another Teapot

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Here I placed a light above and to the right of the teapot pot angled down, and placed a white card on the other side to reflect light back in the picture (hence the shadow in the middle). I let all the rest of the highlights and shadows stay as they fell. You can see a window etc. The idea was to give the post some life, a more elaborate effort would be needed to avoid all shadow and highlights and it might be very boring.

Arm Bracelet

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A silver object is going to reflect light, especially if directly lit. But the technique here was diffusion and feathering of the light. Feathering takes advantage of how light spreads before it fades. In this case, the light from a soft box is in front of the object and the spill off of that edge is lighting the subject. Just remember that light fades the farther it is from source (the “inverse ratio rule” if you want to look it up). So in this example the light is very close.

Tea Pots (Two Photographs)

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One thing that usually stops people from doing artificial light photography is fighting specular highlights (fancy name for bright spots). Highlights can occur even on non-reflective objects in some situations. Specular highlights may in fact be a good thing in some cases, helping to define the object. But most of the time annoying highlights are reduced or removed by taking the photograph from an angle that is not directly impacted by reflection plus using a lot of diffusion of the light (shower curtain, lite panel, soft box, bounce lighting off a wall or ceiling etc). In this case the teapots were done in what is known as low key light (dark). There is a faint light hitting the background for separation.

Lighting (Three Photographs)

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This week is about lighting, artificial lighting. I used flash but most of what I will feature could be done with LED lights, or in some cases regular light bulbs. This photo shows three different shots of a back lit book where several pages have been fanned. The key point here is that modest changes to lights and exposure can give dramatically different results. I like to experiment and this is a good example. A blue colour filter, over exposure and a more normal shot make up this trio.

 

Colour Bubbles No.4

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This is last of the bubbles. Next week I will try something altogether different. Definitely less messy and finicky.

Colour Bubbles No.3

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I have seen better photos of a space station but this seems to have come close. I was shooting against a black background, so the colour is entirely due to the soap.

Bubble Cheat

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I found a way to avoid most of the fuss and bother with bubbles. Using a macro lens, and a bottle of dish soap shaken not stirred, I got some interesting bubble photos. If I had removed the label I might have been able to avoid the use of a macro lens.

Colour Bubbles No.2

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When the bubbles break up there can be some spillage, I used plastic petri dishes with the lid under the main dish but I still had some splash over.

Black and White Bubbles No. 2

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When photographing bubbles, the colours are sometimes a little strange, however bubbles make nice black and white photos. I used flash in all of this week’s bubble shots, and while not a studio flash head, the Godox 200 (200watts) was just enough power for the work. I know others use 300 and 400 watts of power or very bright window light.

Black and white Bubbles Bubbles No.1

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This a shot of some former bubbles and their remains.

PPAH (Pandemic Photography at Home)

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On YouTube there are several do it at home photography projects. Some interesting, some not so much. This week I am looking at bubbles. Six parts water, two parts glycerine, two parts dish soap and a straw. Messy and frustrating. You wait for the colour to emerge, hope the bubbles don’t burst before you shoot and depth of field is a devil. Hint: No.1: When working with bubble photography, the longer the bubble lasts the more colour.

Wall No.7

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Even fading walls can have character, and a bit of nature never hurts.

Wall No.6

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Like mailboxes, house numbers don’t need to be mundane. I liked the stencil approach and the how the rust only improved the original idea.

Wall No.5

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This the last wall mural I will shoot without taking greater care to save the name of the artist. However, I do think my composition does justice to a piece of the whole.

Wall No.4

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Walls sometime lend themselves to a minimalist approach and a clear concise message. Out of context it’s almost abstract art. A bit like Marcel Duchamp’s art.

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