I’m not going to get all wordy with these posts. I’m shooting like mad, but can’t process efficiently because this old laptop of mine is just not enough for the new technology. Luckily a new one should arrive today. In the mean time, here’s a couple more from recent outings –
How are a landscape photographer and a vampire alike?
Neither goes outside at noon.
Seriously, it makes you wonder doesn’t it? Blood-sucking fiend and Fun-sucking fiend, both taking the joy right out of life.
I recently stopped following a landscape photographer’s blog because he just kept going on and on about only shooting at the crack of dawn. You know what? It’s pompous. It makes me wonder if the guy is really any good. Why can’t he get a terrific photo during the day, huh? Why cantcha snooty landscape photographer guy? You know what else? It’s boring. Every single photo looks the same as every single other photo. Lots of pastel-colored snow scenes with blue shadows and a few fences, trees and churches. Nice, but dull. Technically well-executed, but a yawn fest. I mean, if that’s all you do it’s pretty repetitive. Plus you have to stay inside all day and where’s the fun in that?
Don’t misunderstand, I get the appeal of shooting when the sun is low, but I don’t get the strictness about it. It’s almost like religious dogma with some photographers. I mean, hell, I’m out all day sometimes, does that mean I shouldn’t take pictures? Baloney.
I. Don’t. Buy. It.
I took that shot at about midday last spring. No, it isn’t subtle and all soft and glowing with pastel shades, but it’s still a good photograph. Sometimes photography means working with the light you have. It’s knowing how that can help you make the most of what you find. Using this same shot as an example, what did I do that helped? I used a polarizing filter. Knowing that color would be one of the things to make the shot work, I made sure I had the best of it in that reflection.
Ever hear the expression “perfect is the enemy of good”? Well, that’s how I think of these other golden hour only photographers. They sacrifice good images on the altar of perfect (or their ideas of perfect) and who knows if they ever please themselves. Yes, there is such a thing as perfect light, but it varies by subject matter and what kind of photograph you want. I’d rather be flexible than rigid. I’d rather know how to deal with “imperfect” light than only venture out twice a day. With the vampires.
So what else. Oh yeah, how about vacation. For most of us it means going to a place we probably won’t go back to again. Once in a lifetime kind of thing. You have to work with what you find. What if the sky doesn’t have nice, puffy clouds in it like that first photo? What if the sky is boring and dull? Well put something in it –
Or find something in the foreground to take its place –
Another one shot when the sun is high and guess what? It doesn’t suck. Who wants to drag their asses out of bed at dawn on vacation every day? Not this little gray duck. Once, maybe twice, but not every day. Hell. It’s vacation.
All right, what if the light itself is flat and dull? Isolate. Get out your telephoto, baby. Sometimes tightening up on big vistas can give you little slices that are just as interesting.
Another thing you can do is scout your location beforehand. This can present you with ideas you can use when the light changes. Take this example –
I shot this on my 2nd or 3rd trip to this location. From past visits I knew how the light would track in the afternoon and because I’d seen it in the trees before, I knew that it would also light up the ice in the gorge. Ta da! It worked. And it’s what makes this photo. Not the subject – the LIGHT. And it’s not sundown either. By the time the sun sinks that low up there, the light is gone from this gorge. Mr. Snooty Landscape Photographer would have missed this completely.
See…you don’t need to only photograph during the golden hours (roughly ½ hour before and after the sun rises or sets, also called civil twilight), but if you know how to manage the light you have, you can usually come up with something you’ll be happy with. After a little practice you can make almost any scene work for you. Good light is what you make of it. Of course, getting there early is never a bad idea –
Suffering for my art.
Snagged a branch off a wonderfully photogenic, but wickedly invasive, bittersweet plant. They’re everywhere now, like purple loosetrife, choking the life out of native plants.
Anyway, I haven’t been shooting macro much so decided to bring out the big guns for these – the OM 90mm f2 and the OM 35mm f2 and the 25mm extension tube. No tripod, just my bag of barley and very bright shade.
I love how the berry coverings make them look like tiny lemons before they’re shed. The berries are just under a centimeter across. The background of this next one is an old grill cover (the one the frogs were living in) on the deck. It only looks good out of focus.
The combination of the extension tube and the 35mm lens allows me some really great angles of view. I like how it makes the berries look slightly menacing –
Son of Massive Dynamic. Told ya I’d go back. Yesterday afternoon was a pretty good day to be out. Better than today which is overcast and blah. Anyway, I didn’t take these two shots deliberately to match. They’re like bookends and I only noticed it when I got to processing them. I mean, it’s not too shocking considering how I compose shots and the time of day, but man, they are pretty cool together. Even though there is a bit of color in the trees and sky, I still went with monochrome to preserve the feeling of the bridge set as a whole and to emphasize form and lines. That’s my excuse anyway.
Oh, so you want some color now do you? Well, ok.
I’m really pleased with how that one turned out. After repositioning the tripod a few times, I got that ridge of white water to angle where I wanted it. The combination of polarizer and neutral density filter gave me the colors and exposure I wanted. The Merrimack is no river to fool with and so while I did want to convey an idea of it’s flow, I also wanted to preserve the feeling of power and so a 1 second exposure was pretty good at doing both. I tried both slower and faster and neither works as well as this. It also brings up the yellow reflections of the leaves pretty well which to me, adds interest.
Anyway, I have a few more from this ramble, but I’ll save them for another post.
A couple of summers ago I noticed a pretty plant in the backyard. It’s a floaty vine with beautiful flowers. The bees love them. I didn’t give it much thought until I tried to photograph it –
Very difficult. Those leaves are like sails and catch the least little breeze. What a PITA, honestly. But the flowers were so pretty and reminded me of Shooting Stars though I knew they weren’t. So I did some checking and discovered what I had on my hands is Bittersweet Nightshade also called Deadly Nightshade although I think they might be different species that only look alike. Either way it’s poison. Bittersweet nightshade won’t actually kill you, but I it will make you wish you were dead for a while.
So I kept an eye on it and after a few weeks I saw this –
Aren’t they the cutest things? They look just like tiny tomatoes. No wonder since tomatoes are in the nightshade family. Not surprising people thought they were poison for centuries. After a few days they look like this –
OMG aren’t they awesome? Don’t you love how the stems turn black and evil looking? I want to eat one they look so appetizing. I won’t, but something does. When they all turn red they disappear quick just like the leaves which get eaten down to nothing. Deadly sure, but only to us.
Over the Independence Day weekend my husband and I traveled to Seattle for a wedding (eek! I forgot and totally didn’t read aloud the Declaration of Independence for the first time in years…oh the shame). It wasn’t a photography trip per se, but I did manage to get a few photos that don’t suck.
I wasn’t in the groove though, you know. Lately I’ve been feeling awkward and weird with the camera despite many satisfying hours behind it. A lot of it had to do with exhaustion. Well, impending exhaustion. We stupidly and somewhat inadvertently walked the entire way from downtown to Discovery Park. It’s 6 miles. Not that big a deal when you plan for it, but definitely sort of strange when you don’t. Especially when you leave the tourist areas and end up in a freight yard –
Right after walking through this (there is a designated bike/foot path) we got dumped into a suburban area and a helpful sign said Discovery Park 1.8 miles. Uphill. Yay. But what the heck, we’d come that far. When we got there all we wanted was a bench and we found one not far from here –
My not being in the groove shows a lot and I only got one decent picture of the beautiful moss and other small details of the rainforest –
Eventually the paths come out of the forest and onto headland and meadow which leads right down to Puget Sound and some very popular beaches. Paved roads and bike paths lead right up to them as well. The same wildflowers that were everywhere in California are here, too and provide for some spectacular color. But again, I wasn’t feeling it so didn’t even bother to shoot many of them. And the light is a bit harsh anyway, so it would have been a waste of memory.
So after adding another 4 miles or so to our total from walking all over the park, we were dead tired and tried to get a bus back to downtown. Alas, no change and we had to hoof it back to the park’s visitors’ center where a very nice lady gave us change and we were back down to catch the 33 to downtown. The hotel lobby never looked so good –
And a stop here was a must before dinner –
Overall we enjoyed our couple of days in Seattle and will probably go again, but this time we’re going to rent bicycles.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to see her build it, but she had one on several blossoms in her little territory. Clever girl. She was able to take down many an unwary bee with this set up. Handheld at 1/250 f4 with the OM 90mm macro. She was very hard to sneak up on and when she sensed my looming presence she’d dart under the flower and escape.
I started singing that great old Blind Faith song while out today at a local Audubon conservation center. Meadows and fields just get to me I guess. Especially on a perfect summer day. Gorgeous flowers. Soft wind. Bright sun. Puffy clouds. A feeling of simple joy and well-being suffused my being. It was pretty great so I send it along to you –
I love daffodils and flowers in general, but come spring every northerner with a lens and a sensor is out photographing them. Most of the shots are the same over and over again. I’m guilty of it just as much, but this time out I decided to try something different. The rain had just barely stopped and I went outside while it was still fairly bright, but I also brought an Olympus T10 ring flash just in case.
I love it when a plan comes together.