Thursday, May 28, 2009

Community Photo Challenge- FLOWERS!

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Flowers is the last challenge. We will resume in September. So go find some flowers....or anything to do with flowers for the challenge. Post anytime from now till Thursday, June 4th 9PM EST.
Remember to follow the Guidelines.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Community Photo Challenge-Our Photo Stories!

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I hope everyone got to visit all our photographers' blogs to view their Photo Stories. If not, here are the links to all our Photo Stories.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Community Photo Challenge-A Photo Story

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Our Photo Story Challenge starts today & ends on Thursday May, 21st. You have a week to post on your blog a 3-5 image Photo Story. Come back here & add your link in the comment section of this post.. Please follow Guidelines.
The post below shows an example & 2 links to show more samples of a Photo Story.

If you do not have a photo software editing program & cannot display them on one document, you can post them all in one entry. They can be anywhere from 3 to 5 images for your Photo Story.
Add some information &/or location of your photo story.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Community Photo Challenge-A Photo Story INTRO

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We will be doing Photo Story Challenge next. It is a small group of 3-5 images that either tell a story or relate to each other.
1. A newborn baby, a shot of him or her arriving home, a few close ups like baby booties..bottles...
2. Vacation trip- could be any shots that relate to each other.
3. Wedding-bride & groom, closeup of flowers with rings, a church/alter shot

Here is an example of one.

We posted early so you can see more examples. CLICK HERE
Photographs & Memories
and here, Gina's Space.

Cameo Factory Visit

This was taken last year on my visit to the Cameo Factory in Italy.

If you do not have a photo software editing program & cannot display them on one document, you can post them all in one post. They can be anywhere from 3 images to 5 for your Photo Story. This will take time so I am posting this early so you can work on it.

To enter your Photo Story you will have to wait till Thursday to post. As usual, you will have a week to post.
I plan on posting another entry for this challenge. So PLEASE wait till Thursday to post.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Community Photo Challenge- Tranquility

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Even though we did not have many images for this challenge, we did have some beautiful images. I want to thank everyone who contributed to our challenge & even those who visited our blogs & left comments. They ARE appreciated!

As a reminder, we only have 2 more challenges left till the summer break. So if your thinking of joining in, do it within this month. We will resume in September.
If you missed our entry "Changes in the Winds" click & read it.

I will be explaining the next challenge this weekend. I will also show some samples.
So watch out for it.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Finding Something New....

Someone mentioned to me that they were going to Buffalo, then heading to Niagara Falls to take photos, but said it was hard to get a shot that no one else has done.

This is what I do...Ü

Let say we are going for waterfalls...
  1. I would get as many shots as I can even if they were very common shots
  2. I walk around & try different positions & angles.
  3. Try wide angle & closeups
  4. The time of day is also a major factor. So consider early morning,or evening shots.
  5. Night shots with interesting lighting(Niagara Falls)
  6. Adding something in the foreground like ...people, bridges, grass or rocks. Try EVERYTHING!
Here are some examples of a small local waterfall found on walking trails near the Bronx River Parkway, in Scarsdale NY.

Bronx River

This one is my favorite. I used the texture & pattern in the rock in the foreground to pull your eye inward towards the waterfall.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

On The "Technical" Side...

I attended about a half a dozen classroom sessions at the Foto Festival. There were so many choices, but as I made my selections I had one primary goal in mind. I wanted to learn more about achieving good exposure. I'm happy to say that I came away with a better understanding and a lot to practice with.

As a photographer, you have a concept of what you want to convey or capture in an image. But without an understanding of exposure, it becomes an issue of luck. I definitely have a problem with nailing my exposure more often than not. But I intend to put these points into regular practice and hopefully with time, they will all become second nature.

The number one tip I learned (which I already do) is to put your camera in manual. As long as you're shooting in aperture or shutter priority, you are not in complete control of your exposure. Your camera can make a very good estimation of what you're going for, but it is programmed to make white gray. If you want to stay in one of these priority modes, learn about EV and how to use it to compensate.

A stop is a halving or doubling of light. If you shut down one stop, you have halved the light that will hit your sensor. If you move up a stop, you double it. One click of your shutter speed, aperture, or ISO is not necessarily one stop. In my camera, it is set that each click is 1/3 of a stop. So, I need to make 3 clicks in a single direction to adjust my exposure one stop. The stop adjustment can be made using a combination of ISO setting, shutter speed and aperture depending on what the photographer is trying to achieve with the image. (Stop action, bokkah, etc)

Expose for highlights! If your highlights are blown out, they are gone and that often blows the image. In bird photography, you cannot blow out white highlights and capture feather detail in the white end of the spectrum. I had a lot of trouble with this, I was not as sensitive to the location of the hottest highlights as I needed to be. This is where the histogram becomes invaluable.

The histogram is a wonderful tool. I would check my histogram on many of my images, but until now I didn't take advantage of some of the valuable information it provides. Your histogram shows you the distribution of tone in your image. If it is pushed to the right, you are going to have a light image. If there is a spike on the far right, you are going to have blown highlights and you need to stop down. I can see that even a small spike on the right indicates that something is overexposed in the frame. It might be just the top of a bird's head, or a peak of light between leaves. In that case I might want to stop down a fraction of a stop to correct that.

Stop down = increase shutter speed, increase aperture, or decrease ISO. Any of these actions will reduce the amount of light reaching your sensor.

If your histogram is pushed way to the left, your image will be very dark or underexposed. This is preferable to overexposed as the details may well exists in the shadows and can be revealed in the editing process. However, they may be a lot of noise in the shadows as well.

A histogram shaped like a wide U means that your tones are concentrated in both highlight and shadow. This is a tough exposure situation. I would probably shut down to accommodate the highlights (hoping to retrieve detail in the shadow), change my angle or composition to attempt to remove hot highlights from the scene, or wait for the light to change.

A histogram that has a skinny spike in one area is not a bad exposure (unless it's all the way to the right or to the left). I believed that a good exposure was indicated only by a nice bell curve, and a spike was bad. This is not the case. It means that all the tones in the scene are concentrated in one range. This is the type of histogram that would often occur photographing a bird on the beach or in the sky. Most of the tones in the scene are the same (the spike) with the tones of the bird being spread throughout the rest of the histogram.

Learning to get the right exposure is a real challenge. The beauty of digital is that we can review an image instantly and the camera provides us with a histogram for exposure evaluation. We're not taking home a roll of film and crossing our fingers while we wait for processing. We're all destined to miss the mark again and again, but with practice, we can develop an eye for proper exposure. I believe it's part of learning to see with a photographer's eye. I intend to go out and shoot a lot in less than perfect conditions, the challenge being learning to see the exposure that will make the best image.

I want to take it to heart that a day of shooting, with no great shots is not necessarily a bad thing. Yeah, those days are disappointing, but I have to look at them as an opportunity to learn. I'd like to share a wonderful post I read recently by Marc Graf on Embracing Failure. After reading this essay, I will never look at a "bad" day of shooting the same way again.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Florida Birding & Foto Festival - One Week Later...

Well, I had the best of intentions of blogging from the festival with my latest pictures. I should have known that the time I was participating in the events, my driving time, and the time involved in reviewing/editing pictures would prohibit much of anything else. I didn't want to waste a moment of my field time, and the number of images I came back with is staggering. Finally, I have a days worth ready to share.

My second day of the festival was primarily in the field. I started with a morning long visit to the Jacksonville Zoo, featuring their wood stork rookery. What an amazing place for a bird fan. It was fascinating to watch them nesting and caring for the babies. I could have stayed there all day. If I lived in Jacksonville, this would be one of my regular haunts, at least during nesting season.

The woodstorks weren't the only birds to be seen there, of course. These are a few others that I came across that day.

After four hours at the zoo, I drove the hour (plus) down south of St. Augustine for a workshop on some tips for bird photography. The speaker talked about all kinds of gear and how to approach the birds to get a great shot. PATIENCE is the's that simple. I learned that the truly great wildlife photographers are either the most patient people on the planet, or they know all kinds of tricks to stage a shot. Personally, I'm disappointed to think that some of the photos that have wowed me in the past were not a spontaneous capture, but a well thought out staging. I was naive, I guess. One speaker talked about going out into the wild where he knew there were eagles and throwing fish into the lake in front of his camera. They would swoop down and grab the fish right where he wanted them...and that's how he got the shot. It kind of bursts your bubble, doesn't it.

I wrapped up Tuesday with a four hour field shoot at the beach. They drove us out in pickup trucks and when we spotted interesting birds, we'd all pile out and start shooting. I got some decent images, but I felt like a rank amateur. There were at least a dozen guys with HUGE lenses on their cameras. They had them mounted on a dish type support that held the camera low to the ground and could be pushed through the sand. This would allow them to belly crawl slowly toward the birds like GI Joe. It looked kind of hysterical really, and I didn't mind that I wasn't prepared to crawl through the sand. I did fine kneeling behind my tripod with the other less experienced avian paparazzi. It was a beautiful night and we were out until we could see that the tide was about to render the beach impassible. I returned to my sister's that day with three 4 gig cards FULL...and a lot of work to do.

Aren't these terns a riot?!? I think they look like they're both wearing a bad toupee!

I'll be posting more images on my blog 'In My Dreams I Can Fly...,' tonight if I have the time. If not, they'll be there sometime tomorrow.