Monthly Archives: May 2011

What Do YOU See in This?

I had been to this location before. A small lake right off the road, near one of my favorite Bald Eagle areas (like there’s really a single spot for that!) I had never really spent much time at this lake. I would stop by now and then and if something wasn’t happening right on queue, I would move on to the more productive location. In other words, with that mindset nothing would ever happened.

But today I was trying out my new tripod and it just seemed a good fit to wonder off around this lake to a secluded part of the bank and shoot some pictures.

I probably spent 2 hours photographing two loons.  I could show you ALL of the shots and you would probably say “Yep. That’s a loon. Nice.” Loon swimming, loon ducking its’ head under water, loon doing this and loon doing that. Even a loon- rump or two as they dove down underwater.

But what I was NOT able to get on my camera SD card was the wonder of seeing these birds disappear underwater and then staying under for minutes at a time. Long minutes.  I tried to focus my camera on where I thought they would come up, thinking how cool it would be to catch a loon breaking the surface of the water as it popped back up. But they would always surface way off somewhere else. By the time I could get my camera on them and –SNAP – all I had was another shot of a loon swimming on the lake surface.

Canon 60D + 70-300 @ 270 w/monopod  (as shot)

I soon gave up on trying to capture that event and just decided to enjoy  watching them dive, surface and dive, over and over again. There were several times I was sure they surfaced in some hidden place and then went back down and up where I could see them – because they were under for such a long time. Every time they would pop back up, I would laugh this silly childish giggle. It was just so cool. And it seemed like they knew I was watching them and they were having fun surprising me.

That’s when it hit me: the photographs we share are events captured in time.  But what is not captured is everything before and after the photograph.  Some of these events are not memorable at all, and we tend to discard them rather easily.  But this “submerge and surface” event was a very memorable for me.  When you see my loon pictures you might say “Nice loon.”  But when I see them (or perhaps any loon shot) I think of a magical time on a small, often overlooked lake, enjoying these loons giving me a show.

Some day I’ll have the combination of patience and luck to get that shot of a submarine-loon breaking still lake waters as it surfaces.  Not this day, however.  But what I did walk away with was  incredibly cool memory! Sorry, that’s mine. You can’t have it.

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Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Wonderings


My First Love in Photography – Depth of Field

When I first went from point-and-shoot cameras to SLR cameras, I very quickly learned the relationship of aperture to depth of field. To this day, I still consider it the coolest feature of a DSLR.

Without understanding aperture or knowing how to use it, focus is always limited to one spot in the picture. I can remember many shots where my trusty point-and-shoot camera refused to do what I wanted it to do in this regard.  The subject was in focus and a related background wasn’t or background was in focus and subject wasn’t.

Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO are the three points of the triangle you need to understand in regards to the way a camera evaluates light to determine correct exposure. Correct exposure is simply the correct amount of light given these three factors.  An aperture opening that is much smaller (higher number) naturally lets less light through it than a aperture opening that is larger (higher number).

But aperture is also key to the depth of field, or how many points in the depth of your photograph are in focus.  Lower aperture openings (higher number or F-stop) have a higher depth of field and vise verse.  Meanwhile, F stops right in the middle (f/9 f/11) don’t matter much one way or another in terms of DOF.

This picture was taken with a aperture setting of F/22: a higher aperture number/lower aperture opening.  Because of this, links all along the chain are in focus.  (The reasons the closest ones are a bit soft are due to minimum focusing distance and not so much aperture.)

If I had used a lower aperture number/larger opening (say, f/5.6) then only the focus point where I directed the camera to  focus would be in focus. The other links would be out of focus.

Once you understand this, the next question re a high number/small opening is “OK, if it’s all going to be in focus, where to I actually set my focus point.”  Good question!  Generally, about a third the way back in your depth is the best spot. Using my picture above as an example, there are 15 chain links.   If I was interested in depth of field and wanted them all in focus, I’d set my aperture on f/22 or higher and focus about the middle of the second link.

Of course, you need to understand that triangle relationship to ensure you have enough light with such a small opening.  You can also set your SLR on Aperture Priority. When you do this you are telling it – “I want to set the aperture because I have a specific depth of field situation in mind. You, Camera, are to adjust everything else so I can get that. OK?”

Understand the triangle of aperture, Sutter, and ISO and then learn to manipulate depth of filed. Then you can invite others to really step into your photography or mute out things that don’ matter.

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Posted by on May 28, 2011 in Wonderings


Rear View Right View Light View Night View

I was stopped at a road construction site. Flag-person, single lane, heavy equipment. Stop and go and wait. You know the drill, right? 

My Canon 60D almost sits in my lap in any vehicle I am in, just in case there is a WOW shot nearby. I was getting a bit frustrated. It was late (About 11 pm) and I was trying to get to a spot where I could pull off and get some good sunset shots. But I was stuck in this non-Wow place.

At first, the sun sinking down behind me was a taunt.  “Your not going to make it!” it chided me. But then I saw this pond approaching beside the road. Sure enough, as we inched up foot by foot,  I was able to get this perspective in the passenger-side rear view mirror. I waited until it all lined up. The pond, the trees and the Sun.  I pointed my lens into grimy mirror. The distortions played out well.

I was satisfied. -CLICK- O.K. Sun, NOW you can go to bed.  See you in 4 hours!

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Posted by on May 24, 2011 in PhotoFun


Hello World . . . Again!

I have blogged here, blogged there, blogged everywhere. I want a place where I can share my photography and the stories that go with it.

I took this Eagle picture last winter. I had just taken several shots of other eagles in a location nearby. They were much farther off, and even with my 300 mm Zoom on my Canon 60D, the shots would need to be cropped some to be usable.  I had left that area and pulled my truck off to the side of a road, directly under this tree. I heard the unmistakable sound of an Eagle, and it was very close.  I got out of my truck and looked up at this beautiful bird, amazed that he was still content to sit there, undisturbed.  I grabbed my camera, still with that zoom lens and shot away.

After several minutes he got a bit restless and I just patiently waited. As he leaped  into the air, I got off several high speed shots, including this one. What fun that was.

I love sharing pictures. But I also love the stories that go with them.  Hence my re-appearance into the bloggasphere. And, like I said, FREE is good. Thanks Blogger

Buy this picture here: My SmugMug Site

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Posted by on May 17, 2011 in PhotoFun


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