August 10th, 2011
by Varina Patel
The Mike Moats Macro Light Control Kit includes a 24-inch Wimberly™ Plamp and two 14-inch Westcott™ Illuminator Reflector Panels – one is silver and white, and the other is a translucent white diffuser. It also includes the Finding Character in Nature ebook by Mike. I went out for a leisurely “test drive” on a lovely – and hot and humid – July morning.
At first, I felt like I was carrying around too much equipment. Tripod and camera in one hand, plamp and filters in the other – useful or not, I had to find a way to carry everything more easily. So, I clamped the Plamp onto my tripod, and hung the reflector panels from it. Now, I could carry everything with one hand. Problem solved. I chose a small thistle, and got to work. Lucky for me, I had my trusty side-kick along to document the process – thanks for helping out, Jay!
First, I set up my tripod then put the Plamp to work positioning the chosen thistle just where I wanted it. I’ll go into more detail about that fabulous little tool later – for now, indulge me while I go into some detail about controlling the light.
August 9th, 2011
by Matt Dennison
West by our friend E.J. Peiker is an eBook collection of 70 Landscape and Wildlife photos taken in the Western United States.
The American West is one of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes on Earth. Millions of people from every corner of our planet visit the treasures of our western states including its National Parks, National Monuments, National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, and State Parks every year. E.J.’s eBook is a celebration of these lands.
August 8th, 2011
by Steve Gettle
MONARCH BUTTERFLY WING SCALES
One of the things I love about photography is it appeals to both the geek and the artist in all of us. On the geek side you have the technical considerations of making an image; the f-stops, shutter speeds, depth of field, histograms, dynamic range, and that hyperfocal distance stuff that we must all master in order to communicate our vision. Of course we can’t forget about all the ‘geeky’ gear, super telephotos, focusing rails, tele-converters, extension tubes, fill flash, and such. On the artistry side things are a little tougher to define, shape, color, composition, mood, balance, and that fickle mistress light, to mention just a few.
To make a great photograph you have to find the balance between the geek and the artist. If you lean too much toward the geek your pictures, while technically perfect, can lack emotion. They may not reach out and touch the viewer; they can be missing a mood or feeling. Conversely, too much focus on the artistry at the expense of the technical may leave your work riddled with technical flaws distracting the viewer from your message. Most photographers tend to lean in one direction or the other, some are master technicians crossing every t and dotting every i in their images. While others have a flair for the artistic not having the time or desire to bother with all of that technical stuff. A truly great photographer finds a balance and mastery of these two opposing disciplines.
The best photography communicates with the viewer. It reaches out and touches them in some way. Your message does not have to be some deep life changing affirmation. It can be something as simple as, “Wow look how pretty this is!” The most effective way to communicate your message is without technical flaws that distract the viewer from your message. The most powerful way to reach someone is by touching their soul with your artistry.
Browse Steve’s wonderful images, read his blog, and learn about his incredible variety of workshops at his site www.stevegettle.com
August 5th, 2011
by Chris Klapheke
Break out the short lenses, it’s time for bird photography!
Wait, did I really write that?
I’m a bird photographer (when I grow up and get really good I’ll be an avian photographer) and I’m usually lugging around a 600mm with a big old tripod and gimbal head. Of course, I’ll get comments such as, “What magazine do you work for?” Or, “That sure is a big camera!”
The comment I get most from photographers is,“I’d love to be a bird photographer, but I just don’t have a long lens to use!” Don’t sell yourself short.
Not all bird photographs are close up portraits of our feathered friends on a perch. You can make stunning avian images with your short lenses, even your wide angle. I like to call them “birdscapes”.
August 4th, 2011
by Denise Ippolito
Cymbidium Orchid ~ The curved lower petal caught my eye.
Image © 2010/Denise Ippolito Photography
When I go to a place like Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania it is important to stay focused on which flowers I will be photographing. After I scope out the flowers that initially appeal to me I begin to carefully consider the lighting, color, texture, backgrounds and shape. I will then go in for a closer look. I am searching for an element that will catch my eye; a curled petal, interesting texture, a water drop, etc. Once I find my subject I try to capture it in a way that appeals to me. It is most important to me that I like it and I don’t try to conform to someone else’s idea of what a flower image should look like. I also never worry about whether or not it will sell. I concentrate on trying to make that one feature that initially drew me in, to stand out in a special way. Once I have zeroed in on something I work on my composition. I decide if I will go in tight, on an angle, back my lens out, etc. This will most likely depend on the back ground. I like to use the surrounding flowers as an artistic back drop to my composition. Sometimes adding a flower in juxtaposition can add to the overall image design. I may also think about just using only the color of the flower as the background which can work out nicely. I think about whether or not to completely blur it out or to leave a bit of a textured look. Hand holding my camera allows me the flexibility needed to create a pleasing composition. Even if I decide to use a tripod I will first hand hold my camera to find my composition.
Often that one small curled edge or interesting leaf will be enough to get my creative juices flowing. I need to be inspired by what I photograph. If I have no interest in it I can’t get creative. So create images that you like. Find what inspires you!
You can see Denise’s website at www.deniseippolito.com.
Denise also has a new ebook in the store: My First Impressions of Bosque del Apache.
August 2nd, 2011
by Mike Moats
My best selling image at the art shows is a frog. Never in a million years would I thought a frog would sell so well. Frog are fun to shoot and easy shoot. They are like people with their own individual tolerances, so some frogs will let you get in real close and some will take off as soon as the see you coming.
Like shooting most small macro critters, you have to move in slowly, and the frogs will usually blend in well with their surroundings, so you have to really study the ground so you can spot them as far in advance as you can. Here is a Wood Frog on the side of a mossy tree trunk.
August 1st, 2011
by Rick Sammon
Here is some “must know” HDR (High Dynamic Range) info. This is just a starting point for HDR photography – but hey, you gotta start somewhere.
New to HDR? Here’s what it’s all about. You take exposures at the recommended exposure setting, and then over and under that setting – usually at +2 EV and at –2EV, but sometimes at greater extremes.
Then, using an HDR program like Photomatix Pro.or HDR Efex pro, you combine your images into a single image that captures all the tones from your three (or more) images. How cool!
July 29th, 2011
by John Batdorff
Monte Smith on the Madison
Everyone knows I love Lightroom, but one of my biggest complaints about the software is its lack of a simple send via email button. I mean seriously, Adobe built an incredible program that has amazing noise reduction features, cool presets, and social networking integration via it’s Publishing Services, but can you find a simple “send to email” button? No. I’ve used the built in export preset for email, but frankly I still find it to be a hassle.
Lightroom to Gmail plugin by Tim Armes
This week a good friend pointed me in the direction of the LR/Gmail plugin by Tim Armes. The plug-in allows you to export your images directly out of Lightroom and into Gmail with very little effort. You first need to download the plugin from Adobe’s Lightroom Exchange.
July 28th, 2011
by Robert Rodriguez Jr.
Light Mind, Rockefeller Preserve
Canon 1DS Mk III, 1/3 @f11, ISO 200, 24mm (EF24-105 f/4 L)
I’m always drawn to textures and colors, especially when the light helps accentuate them in an image. Back lighting is probably my favorite light to work with, though it is also the most difficult in my opinion. But there is no better way to bring out dimension and depth that really helps a viewer “step into” the scene photographed, both visually and emotionally.
I used an 2 stop graduated filter in the field to darken the sky, and then used Lightroom to dodge some areas around the trees that became too dark. I haven’t printed this image yet, but for sure the rich detail deserves at least a 24 x 36 print. I’ll share the specifics of how I print it, what paper I use, and how it turns out – thanks for reading!
Check out Robert’s website for images, workshops, webinars and more! LINK
July 27th, 2011
by Steve Gettle
I’m always been on the lookout for photographs of different animals using camouflage to hide themselves in their environment. Because most living creatures on earth are food for other creatures, the use of camouflage has developed as a successful way of not being noticed, and therefore not becoming dinner. On the other side of that coin, many predators also employ camouflage as a means of avoiding detection by their prey. Probably the greatest example of the use of camouflage is the chameleon that can change not only its color but its patterns as well, to better blend into its environment. We have a creature here in Michigan that also has this amazing ability. The grey tree-frog can appear a mottled grey to match the bark of a tree like the one pictured below. It can also become a uniform medium green and blend in with the foliage as well.