Winter Photographing Opportunities

  javascript:var d=document,w=window,e=w.getSelection,k=d.getSelection,x=d.selection,s=(e?e():(k)?k():(x?x.createRange().text:0)),f=’http://snapshotphoto.net/wp-admin/press-this.php’,l=d.location,e=encodeURIComponent,u=f+’?u=’+e(l.href)+’&t=’+e(d.title)+’&s=’+e(s)+’&v=4′;a=function(){if(!w.open(u,’t’,’toolbar=0,resizable=1,scrollbars=1,status=1,width=720,height=570′))l.href=u;};if (/Firefox/.test(navigator.userAgent)) setTimeout(a, 0); else a();void(0)12-6-X3.jpg   The vast and endless array of subjects and photographic opportunities in the warm months keeps our shutters clicking away. Then how about the cold, doldrums of the winter months? During winter we […]

Bird Photography : My Past Experience’s

If you are a bird watcher, or a nature photographer that wants to focus on birds it helps to be very familiar with your camera, and the subjects you are trying to get lasting images of. Getting good pictures of […]

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Getting some good photography tips is a fundamental necessity before embarking on a trip to take landscape photos, especially if you are planning on using expensive equipment and selling the photographs for profit. Most people have taken a photography course and many […]

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Bird Photography : My Past Experience’s

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If you are a bird watcher, or a nature photographer that wants to focus on birds it helps to be very familiar with your camera, and the subjects you are trying to get lasting images of. Getting good pictures of the avian species can be difficult.

There are a few extreme conditions that usually arise to get shoots of birds out in their natural habitat.Most birds in the natural world are very cautious of all other animals, other avian species, and naturally humans. I started by taking pictures of birds near bird feeders, or in places where they are more comfortable around humans to avoid some of the difficulties that we may encounter in the wild. Also, This is a start to learning about the types of food certain species eat, and their habits and behaviors. Artists, and photographers are more successful when they know about the subjects they are taking images of, and are involved in some way with that subject. Like being involved a bird watching club, helping at a local park, and knowing the subjects well enough to do a lecture series that includes your own photographs.

During my Digital Photography class at Anne Arundel Community College, in the historic and charming state of Maryland, I had started feeding birds on our second story deck at our home in Annapolis. I found it interesting seeing what different types of species might feed there, and the ways that the birds interacted. 

I also try to shoot in the manual modes to have more control over the out come of the photograph. The picture above was taken during that class while doing our lessons on depth of field. I used a Nikon D60 and a Tamara 28-300mm zoom : zoomed in at 200mm with camera settings of an ISO of 400, a shutter speed of 1/400th of a second, and an f-stop of 5.6 to capture the image of the Titmouse at the beginning of the article. The lower f-stop and a long focal length blur’s  out much of the back ground and foreground to make the subject stand out in the photograph. 

In many books and articles I have read about photography, and animal and bird photography specifically, they say that the best images that interest people and are candidates for publication are void of feeders, the seed or suit that attract the beautiful and interesting subjects that we are photographing. When taking the image of the titmouse I took this into account and kept taking shots of it until it moved away from feed I had spread on the railing of the deck. The more interesting the photographs the more attractive an article is to the reader.

Duck.JonasGreen.SM  This photo of a mallard at Jonas Green Park, across the Severn River from the Naval Academy, was taken during my class at AACC during our studies on perspective. I was actually lying on the beach, to get in a position that most people are not looking at ducks from.

Click Here if You would Like Tips from a professional.            http://snapshotphoto.net/2014/03/06/bird-photography-tips/

 

 

People are even more attracted and  interested in birds and animals taken in the wild, or natural settings. This brings up some other situations that need addressing, and with some help and foreknowledge from experts and seasoned nature photographers you (WE) can avoid some of the problems before they are encountered.

Getting good pictures of birds are made difficult by extreme conditions in the outdoors, and the skidish nature of birds; although, there is always a learning curve with any new adventure we start, including venturing into the wilderness and bird photography. Here are some things to be aware of when venturing out.

Conditions and Knowledge to be Aware of shooting Birds

List:

  • shooting into the sky
  • knowing what they feed on
  • places they nest
  • fast movement of subjects
  • long range of flight
  • migration patterns
  • weather
  • patterns of flight

HDR: Cure to get Definition in the Shadows

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HDR an early attempt.
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                                         HDR

                        A Cure to Get Definition in The Shadows!


 

How many times have you found a location only to find that some important parts of the image are hidden in the shadows, and if you try to correct for the problem you wash out or over expose the lighter areas of the photograph? Well HDR is a solution to this problem, and it can come in handy for a lot of situations we may come across:                                                           Situations to Use HDR                               

(A)  During the times of the day when parts of the landscape or a scene are hidden in shadows, and you’d like to show more detail in those areas instead of them being blackened out or dull. This will give more detail, color, and focus to these areas. 

(B)  When shooting a building, and alley, or a tunnel; among other things, where you want to be able to see into the shadows, and/ or bring out detail in any darkened places. 

(C) Any time you want to add more depth, texture, and detail to all sorts of photographic situations whether there are Shadows or Not.

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HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and the way you achieve this is to take multiple bracketed images; one shot with the correct exposure, and two to four more with at least one under exposed, and one over exposed, and this works best if these shots are 1 1/2 to 2 stops higher or lower than the correct exposure. Now that is if you are only bracketing one over and one under exposed. I like doing five shots each one being 1/2 stop to 2 1/2 stops over and under exposed, with varying stops in between to give more variation in the detail and the color.

Then after you select the images you are going to use and open them up in programs such as Lightroom and a plug-in for Photoshop called HDR Efex Pro, and after you do some pre-HDR-generating editing in a slider window you depress the generating button, and after several minutes the compiled image appears. Waa’la, you have yourself an HDR image! From there you can post edit in your favorite editing software, and your new masterpiece is finished. 

Last I heard Nik Efex Pro collection of filters is being given away free. There are a whole host of different filter presets and programs in the Nik collection download including Efex Color Pro 4, plus more, and you can manipulate each setting to your liking. Adobe Lightroom and HDR Efex Pro 4 are mainly the two HDR filter programs I have used. I find using them an interesting and valuable tool to extend the limits of my

Abandoned Warehouse by RR. Tracks in Keyser, using HDR editing. One of the first.
Abandoned Warehouse by RR. Tracks in Keyser, using HDR editing. One of the first.
 photographic editing workflow, and helps to produce images other wise very time consuming to do using selection and adjustment tools in Photoshop and Lightroom to achieve similar results. I believe HDR          (High Dynamic Range) renders the photograph with extra detail, color and depth not possible with the longer editing workflow’s.

 photographic editing workflow, and helps to produce images other wise very time consuming to do using selection and adjustment tools in Photoshop and Lightroom to achieve similar results. I believe HDR          (High Dynamic Range) renders the photograph with extra detail, color and depth not possible with the longer editing workflow’s.To be honest my first results may not exactly be the greatest examples of what is possible with HDR, so lookout for further articles here, and watch the photographic magazines, there are always articles that HDR is part of the subject line and will show some really good photographic examples of HDR’s benefits. 

There are many other photographic HDR producing programs for you to check out, such as HDR soft’s Photomatix Pro, which Cheyene Rouse of Ancients Lights Gallery fame used when discovering HDR for herself?. Plus, Photoshop CS 5 and Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) have HDR built right in; along with Nik’s HDR Efex Pro, EverImaging: HDR Photo Pro, Unified Color Technologies, HDR Exposure as a stand along or a plug-in for Lightroom or Apple’s Aperture. That is a lot to choose from and any of these programs will give decent results. It really comes down to preference and money, I guess. For aspiring photographers we usually operate on a shoe-string budget, and a lot of fancy editing tools, and a computer with the speed and so much memory that we can operate booque programs are just not in the cards for us.

Now back in 2010, Rob Sheppard found he liked Nik HDR Efex Pro best as he stated in his article “Special Techniques for Landscape Photographers.” I believe back then there was a fee to access the plug-in. Now a days, with it being free, I find it the way to go for any newbie, or for people looking to save money. And who doesn’t want to save $Money.

Little Over Saturated. Not Natural Looking!
Little Over Saturated. Not Natural Looking!

When I first used HDR I only had Lightroom’s program to use and found it works well, and then I heard about Nik’s HDR Efex Pro. Being Free, I wanted to check out all the filters and programs they had in the download. Efex Pro’s HDR plug-in to Photoshop has some enhancing sliders to use to generate results some what different to other programs. My first attempt at using it I probably over did the enhancements and the image (Left) isn’t exactly natural looking. With practice it gives a photo all the detail, brilliance, and vibrant color you want; and you can still keep it looking natural, and Not looking over the top visually. I recommend going easy on the pre-generating edits and at least doing a little post editing to give the photograph all the corrections and flare that it deserves. I have played with the couple HDR generators I have at my disposal, and find it does give a tool I am using more often. Through the use of the software I have made some dramatic and extra interesting photographs from ones that other wise would have been just so-so. And you can to. I am referring to ones like the photograph at the beginning of this writing (article). The tree was hidden by shadow in anything I could capture without the sky being totally washed out. 

I like giving others, that have gone before me some more exposure through my writings, and give support and credit for my findings and the claims I make in my posts. This being a learn from your peers community I will be using examples of yours, with your permission of course, in some of the posts and materials found at AdvancedCompletePhotography.com “Community of Aspiring Photographers and Artists.” 

One of the professionals I give Kudo’s to is Cheyene Rouse. I like the project she has done assembling the Ancient Lights projects. When she found HDR she made the comment “With HDR, I knew I had found a process and a program that was not only friendly, but would transform these relics of the West and render them the way I saw  each one when I was photographing them”. She made the comment in the June 2011 OutDoor Photographer magazine article “Stoking the Fire” on page #58. The Ancient Lights project depicts the culture, and the items used back in the Old West, and not so new West, shining new light on them for future generations to experience if only in their minds and the images of Cheyene Rouse.  

a1-hdr-4articles-2 Pinto Valley a1-hdr-4articlesLightroom HDR that looks very close to how I saw the scene.

This image of a pond and land in the valley across from it during  Sunrise, is an HDR I did just a few days ago, to practice getting my HDR looking more like what we’d see when being there in person. The way I achieved this was by going easy with the pre-generating editing sliders. It has a little extra green, but not unusually so. You can give your images this type of impact, too.

Try adapting High Dynamic Range (HDR) to the types of photography you think you’d benefit by applying it to. Bracket several images both at your meters correct exposure, and ones over exposed, and some under exposed, and then click on all three and hit the merge file, in Lightroom, and then HDR which will merge the images, and then an editing window will pop up and just do some minimum editing (or a lot) hit the generate HDR button, and there you’ll have it, an HDR image to be post edited in some of your normal ways. Give it a Try! 

Never be afraid to try new things! If we didn’t try new things we would have never learned to walk.

@TONY (Michael) Ballas ” title=”Scott Kelby on Lightroom: Plus an HDR section”>

tony.b@advancedcompletephotography.com

PS: I hope to do another one of these articles on HDR, and go through all the steps I had taken in generating some nice HDR photographs to show you each step. With pictures of screen shots and all.

Possibly to I may just create an E-Book of my editing technics to purchase. Let me know if this would be helpful to you?

Camera Give Away: Nikon D810 or Canon 5D S” title=”We are an affiliate, and do make commissions for your orders thru this banner. Look for Camera Bags, and any accessory at this link! “>

 

 

 

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Making Photographing at the Beach Fun!

Beautiful SunRises happen when clouds are around.

Beautiful SunRises happen when clouds are around.

 

           For the first time I have taken pictures on a beach was when we went to Carolina Beach and historic Fort Fisher this May (2016) on a barrier island on North Carolina’s southern coast. I was so glad we got to go as part of a trip that included picking up a framed photograph I was privileged to display at an art exhibition at the Ellington – White Art Gallery in Fayetteville, North Carolina. After a six hour trip and a short night stay at a Double Tree Hotel, and picking up the  framed  photograph of  a close-up of a Sun Patient flower with a water droplet on one of the pedals. I used more extreme settings when editing in Adobe Lightroom to create a painted look to the flower and water droplet. It felt like a real privilege to have a photograph exhibited in another state, and at an actual art gallery. While in Fayetteville I even got to take a couple photographs. 

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I took a picture of an interesting building in the middle of downtown Fayetteville, in a circle or turn-about as some people call them. A little quick note on taking pictures of buildings, especially tall ones, is to use a fairly high shutter speed, say at least 2 stops over what the focal length of the lens you are using is (probably at least 250th of a second or more) , and lift the camera straight above your head keeping the camera as level as possible and pointed at the subject (building) so the camera is level in both the horizontal and vertical planes. Take several shots checking to see if that you are holding the camera level on the LCD screen after the images download to your memory card. The other trick is to line-up your shot through the viewfinder before raising it above your head. If your camera has a foldout, tilting viewfinder you can use the live shot LCD screen mode so you can partially see how straight you are holding the camera while you are shooting from the raised position.Cameras like the Nikon D5300, Canon EOS Rebel T5 and Sony Alpha A330L cameras have the fully articulating or tilt screens. The images can also be edited for horizontal, vertical and a couple other image plane settings to get the picture straight if and when the subject isn’t completely straight.                                                                    , 


I do a lot of looking at pictures in magazines such as Outdoor Photographer in paper hard copy and on line, and I am entering, viewing and voting on a lot of photographic contests, challenges, and sharing photographs on the photographic sharing site ViewBug. and the photographic talents are immense. So many of the photographic scenes are from places far from where I live in the eastern part of the United States. Fayetteville.Orig-0255-2

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They include beautiful mountain scenes with streams or a lake as an essential part of the photograph. When I see images like those beautiful mountain scenes, they always cause me to wish I could go to those places, enjoy, have fun and photograph those same type places; jagged peaks, and rock formations of all sorts of different colors and shades caused by an ever changing sun as it rises, or sets to create all the variety we can imagine. A lot of photographs that tends to make up nature and photographic magazines seem to come from the western parts of the country, and often times come from National Parks, and Refuges, which some day I hope to get to travel to and see in the near future.  I almost get envious, but this time it was turn to have the chance to capture some terrific and interesting pictures of a couple of the fine places North Carolina has to offer. Beaches are a real fine place to get some dramatic images too. You just have to be willing to do the work, and have an eye for creating great photographs from what nature hands you.  

 

(Link to photographs of  National Parks by Philip Hyde)     http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/on-location/featured-stories/the-art-of-making-national-parks/        

Beaches are usually relatively easy to access to take photographs. There are many public beaches, and state and national parks with beaches that have roads and trails leading to overlooks of the water or the ocean along with the beaches which have many types of subject matter that just have a different quality to them than other scenes. I am not saying saying mountain, or forest scenes are not as good as beaches just that they also have their own quality to them. It just seems the overwhelming majority of outdoor nature and landscape photographs resonate from mountain and forest scenes. No doubt everyone isn’t fond of the beach, but I bet everyone can agree they like seeing very nice pictures of the beach; both of the natural world and people having fun at the beach. Nice sunrises and sunsets accenting subjects of interest, enjoying the early morning start of the day; or fading into the night at dusk make for some interesting scenes, that captivate the viewers eyes, and cause some thought provoking images to stimulate the senses and the mind.    

Walking the Beach in Search of Seashells

Walking the Beach in Search of Seashells

 

Now we can get to the main reason of this article, to give you as readers, an understanding of some of the tricky lighting, and natural hazards of the beaches that can possibly make a photograph not seem as good as planned, or your equipment being slightly or even majorly damaged from the elements. The waves, wind, and sand can cause some serious damage to a camera, or your lenses, so being a little extra cautious and taking certain precautions can keep all your expensive, or not so expensive, equipment from harm.

First off, why and how the waves can play havoc to your shooting session. Since the best times of the day to take photographs are right before, during, and right after the sun goes down, or comes up in the morning long exposures are needed to capture these more vibrant moments and using a tripod will most likely be needed. The best way to get images of the waves and the beach it may be necessary to set up your tripod somewhat close to the level of the surf during these early morning hours or late evening times. This will get the camera closer to waves, and if you set the camera up close and low to the wave it will appear higher which may be necessary at some beaches since the waves tend to be smaller than areas in the south, like Florida, or places like California or Hawaii. When storms are moving close to a beach location the waves tend to get much bigger, and makes a great time for interesting beach and wave photographs. When being that close to to the waves your best plan of action is to watch how far the waves push up onto the beach after the waves crash, and set up a few feet back from that point since the intensity of the waves can change or the when tides are coming in, the water can flow high enough so to be ankle high, and can knock over a camera sitting on a tripod. Most professional photographers use fairly heavy tripods to keep things such as the wind or waves from shaking them or knocking the tripod and camera over.

Some good and reasonable ones are: Manfrotto 393 Aluminum Tripod with Photo/and video head , and

Zomei Z818 heavy duty tripod (at 33pounds it should be good and stable on a beach).

Crashing  White Surf

Crashing White Surf

 

 

 

In my attempts to try my hand at taking pictures of the waves, at Carolina Beach, this almost happened a few times, where the waves flowed real far past where my tripod was set up. I was right on top of it though, I watched the waves crest, crash, and splash on the beach and then watched how far the push was extending onto the beach; set up appropriately and when the wave started extending that close to touch the legs of the tripod I would snatch the tripod and camera up and avoid the possibility of my equipment being knocked down or possibly swallowed up by the wave and taken into the surf to be smashed and water damaged with salt water. Salt tends to corrode or accelerate corrosion, which would be h – e  double hockey sticks on a camera.   We sure don’t need corrosion, and another real issue is the sand which can be blown around by the wind, or we can get sand in our cameras in many ways when at the beach. A good air blown cleaning can help keep things clean. After a trip to the beach is a perfect time to do a thorough cleaning or have a reputable camera repair store do it for you. After our trip to North Carolina, I did a fair cleaning of my D3200 Nikon, and have had no issues with it from sand or anything else. I was real careful not to set it in sand, and do some quick cleans at the beach. Taking care of our expensive equipment is paramount if we are to have a camera at the ready when we need it.

 

Carolina.Beach.SM.Edit.snap--4 

Rolling of the Waves

Rolling of the Waves

          One good thing to have is a UV filter or a polarizing filter on your lens to protect the glass or front optic from getting scratched. It may not be totally necessary, although I would rather be safe than sorry. Using a polarizing filter is also a good idea to use since it puts some pop to the colors in your photos, accentuating the blue sky and water, and giving clouds more dimension. Polarizers, also reduce the glare from the water too.  Give yourself room for error, so as not to have a catastrophe happen to your equipment. We should go the extra mile to get those awe inspiring images and push ourselves, and sometimes take chances to capture the harder to get images because it my payoff down the road. In life hard work pays off, and is usually acknowledged and we can always take pride in what we work hard to accomplish. I was getting up every morning before the sun came up and going out photographing until the sun went down all the days we were at the beach, which is how I got the sun setting behind this tree to the right.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 

Sunset

Sunsetting behind a tree at Fort Fisher NC, USA.

Another thing I do when taking most photographs is shoot in the manual mode. To create the featured picture of the piling I set the shutter speed low enough to cause the milky, cloud like looking water as it moved back and forth from the extension of the wave onto the beach. Using the full manual mode on your camera gives you lots of control towards how a picture is going to look; giving it the right exposure, or causing some types of special affects. One other situation that it is good to use the manual mode for, is when a subject is backlit by the sun being generally behind the subject, so you need to open up the shutter to get the correct amount of light reflecting off the subject into the camera. What happens is the camera is sensing the amount of sun bouncing off everything in the back ground while your subject (in the case of a human) is being shadowed by their own body. There are plenty of situations like this and more where it pays off to use one of the manual, or priority settings. Learning how a camera works and how it sees and records light, and learning about light and how it reacts can help make you a much better photographer. By Learning more about your camera, and how to control it, will help you create the pictures and photographs you want, and capture them the way you see them. We, and I in particular, will always be learning new stuff about photography.

The last big issue of the beach, or even dry desert type areas, is sand and dust blowing around and getting inside your camera, or lenses. Sand inside the mechanisms and electronics inside the camera can cause them to malfunction, or not work at all. Having your camera professionally cleaned after a trip to any type sandy or overly dusty location is a great idea. Learning to clean your own camera is an option, if you get the proper information or take a class that teaches you how to do this without causing some type of damage to the sensitive sensors and mechanical parts in your camera.  Several parts can only be cleaned with air, or special solutions, so don’t make the mistake of cleaning it yourself until you are very well educated about camera cleaning; or better yet, leave the job to professionals who have the train to successfully clean a camera, and make sure it is top operating condition. You might say this is a camera tune-up, and some photo camera shops will even call it that, since they can check and make adjustments to few other things to get your camera in top working condition while they have it.

I have to say, we had a real fun and good trip to Fayetteville and Carolina Beach, North Carolina. We took some of our own food along with us, like crackers, pop-tarts, peanut butter and jelly, and some bread, and drinks among other things to help fray some of  the cost.  We met many nice people and ate out at some inexpensive places too, like

 

 

Sanderlings chasing the waves after their lunch.

Sanderlings chasing the waves after their lunch.

                    The last thing I will leave you with is the fun I had chasing Sanderlings and Sandpipers around trying and successfully getting pictures of them, as they ran back and forth up and down the beach getting mollusks and shrimp out of the sand as the water covered and receded over them leaving a breathing hole in the sand for the birds to find them. It was a sight to see.

Sandpipers looking for their food in the after push of the surf and waves onto the beach.

Sandpipers looking for their food in the after push of the surf and waves onto the beach.

 I used a fairly high shutter speed, to stop the motion of the little scamper’ers , along with a medium f-stop so to offset focus error, while panning to keep good framing for the images. A real challenge, but if you go out during a little later hours after daylight you can get an antiquate shutter speed to stop the little birds in motion. You must try getting some real great pictures, and enjoying some time at the beach the next chance you can, now that you may have some new tricks to try while you’re there.

Taken during a sunrise as a Sandpiper or Sanderling looks for it's meal in the sand.

Taken during a sunrise as a Sandpiper or Sanderling looks for it’s meal in the sand.

Canon Link    EOS Rebel T5                                       Sony Link                  D3300 Nikon                        Nikon Link

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