Archives for May 2013

Today, I Celebrate…

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I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

-John Burrows-


Story behind the image…

I am drawn to the myriad of colors, patterns, textures and shapes of the thermal features in Yellowstone.  Hours melt away on an enjoyable fall afternoon at the Old Faithful Geyser area.  With a telephoto lens attached, it’s easy to isolate your subject.  Temperatures and wind direction can make or break a photo shoot around the thermals.  Too cold and you can’t see through the steam.  Wind blowing towards you not only blocks your view of the thermals but, it coats you and your lens in steam which could eat the coatings right off your lens and in the more immediate time, steam your lens up rendering it useless.  Wind blowing away. on the other hand, provides a clear view of the thermal features.

I have photographed the thermals in all kinds of weather and light and while I have never gone away without some wonderful images, my preference for conditions would be a windless, sunny day that brings out the brilliant, warm colors of the travertine against the turquoise blue of the water.  Add a polarizer and the colors really pop!

Another issue when photographing tele-macro scenes is depth of field.  Even with a still subject and the camera locked down on a tripod, I can’t dial the aperture down far enough to render front to back in sharp focus so, with a little trick up my sleeve, I mounted my Nikon D3S with AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II and TC-20E III on the tripod, composed the image, established the exposure of ISO 200 f8 @ 1/125 sec and then…here’s the important part…I set my focus to manual!  Beginning at the closest part of the image, I focus…click, focus in a bit farther…click, repeating this until I have “focused” through the image.

Back at my computer I merged the multiple images together in Photoshop using Russell Brown’s Tutorial’s on Focus Blending Techniques.

Today, I Celebrate…

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I believe in pink.  I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner.  I believe in kissing, kissing a lot.  I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong.  I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.  I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.

-Audrey Hepburn-


Story behind the image…

Swan Island Dahlia Farm is located just south of Portland in the town of Canby, OR and are the largest Dahlia growers in the US.  Every year in late August to early September they open their fields to the public, sharing the beauty of 40 acres of blooming flowers.  They bring in vendors to sell snacks, there are shows and demos going on, an entire building is dedicated to showcasing these beautiful flowers in elaborate boquet after elaborate boquet and you can even buy cut flowers by the armloads (which many people do) to take home and enjoy or order “tubers” to be shipped at planting time so you can grow your own little beauties at home.

I like to visit right at sunrise when the dew is still fresh upon the flowers, the sun is still low on the horizon, wind is less likely and the crowds have not yet arrived.  In order to respect the rules of not walking in the actual gardens, I will often times use my AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR lens for flower photographs.  I have the versatility of the zoom, I can add teleconverters to reach even deeper into the flowers or to reach those farther away and I can attach either extension tubes (Kenko makes a set of three for most major brands) or close up filters (the Canon 500D is an awesome little “macro” lens).  I also have a diffuser (Lastilite Tri-grip) and/or flash with off TTL cord for off camera use, handy to modify/control the light as needed.

My preference is early morning on a lightly overcast day, using the sky as a giant softbox to eliminate hard shadows and to extend my morning shoot.  I can get lost amongst the flowers for hours and hours.  Image created with Nikon D2Xs, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR at 105mm ISO 100 f16 @ 1/60 sec

Foxes Part 2

We didn’t linger at the fox den on Monday for several reasons…I didn’t want to draw unwanted attention (both human and wild predators) to the den and I didn’t want the kits to become too habituated to my presence.  We were also out for a nice ride with friends and I know that we photographers can be very annoying to those who do not share our passion so I do try to be considerate.  Gosh, I was thrilled just having the photos and the memories from our brief encounter so, you can imagine my absolute joy when Frank graciously agreed to make a detour in our plans and return to the den for another short visit.

It was closer to midday when we arrived (not the best time of day both for light and the little ones) and even though the kits weren’t romping around, a couple of them poked their heads out to see who was there and quickly dropped back out of view.  I approached and sat down on a rock a short but safe distance away armed with my D4 and the new AF-S 80-400mm 4.5-5.6 VR with TC-14E II and waited.  One particularly curious/brave youngster came all the way out for a short photo session before heading back into the den for it’s nap…

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I believe that mom was out hunting or taking a break from the young ones and they were keeping mostly out of sight.  I was glad to see this and didn’t linger any longer.  I wished the kits long and healthy lives and as my sweetie and I continued on with our day I thought to myself…”I am the luckiest girl in the world right now!”


Today, I Celebrate…

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I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.

-Claude Monet-


Story behind the image…

A flower bed of blooming Calla Lillies captured my attention on a visit to Fort Point, CA (it stands just under the Golden Gate Bridge).  After selecting a beautiful lily as my subject I used my AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR at 105mm on my D700 to isolate a single bloom.  With very limited depth of field at such close proximity I needed a very small aperture to render the depth of field I desired and luckily there wasn’t any wind so, I mounted my camera on my tripod set the ISO to 200 dialed the aperture as small as it would go at f38 for maximum depth of field and let the shutter speed fall where it may which ended up at 1/2 sec.  I finished the image in Photoshop using NIK Color Efex Pro B&W Infrared (at the #2 setting to achieve the glowy look), tweaked the black and white sliders, and finally brightened the whole image a bit to get the final result above.  I love the soft, dreamy effect.