Thursday, December 3, 2009

These five did it for me

Canon EOS Rebel XS, 75-300mm telephoto lens, ISO 320, 300mm, f/7.1 at 1/400 sec

This was my favorite bird shot.  It was partially luck, I'll admit, but I love where I froze the pelican's wings here.  A couple making the best of a rained-on date.  What could be better?

Canon EOS Rebel XS, 75-300mm telephoto lens, ISO 200, 75mm, f/5.6 at 1/200 sec

The spartan beauty of Belle View, VA as the year ends.  This is what it's like to be there.  As photography is the "honest" medium, that's what I hope to accomplish.  I simply love my hometown, any time of year, and want to share that with others.

Canon EOS Rebel XS, 18-55mm lens, ISO 400, 48mm, f/5.6 at 1/60 sec

I've been taken in with depth of field stuff.  I love the close ups with the blurred out background.  Photography class has definitely given me some new shooting ideas, and it's opened up a whole world of possibilities that I never really gave much consideration.

Canon EOS Rebel XS, 18-55mm lens, ISO 200, 55mm, f/8 at 1/200 sec

THIS is the bay on a gray, rainy day.  The oyster basket was genuinely just sitting there, as so often you'll find.  The very tip of St. Mary's Co., MD is where you'll find the natural, wild Middle Bay finally reaching civilization.  Again, I hope it's not only me, but I was hoping that others could see just how fine the sands of the bay are, running through your hands as soon as you touch them, the unique color of the water, how violent the tranquil little tides of the bay can be, and the gloomy but strangely optimistic grayness that hung overhead.

Canon EOS Rebel XS, 18-55mm lens, ISO 200, 55mm, f/8 at 1/120 sec

No comment.  This is the view from my home, Belle View.  I live right by the water, and this image shaped me as a person, growing up, learning how to laugh, love, create, and dream.  It still makes me a bit teary eyed.  I hope others were able to enjoy 1/100000 the satisfaction I do from this truly remarkable place.

Natalie Brown

Natalie Brown is a Maui-based photographer who specializes mostly in humpback whales.  She also does weddings, fashion shoots, and other local commercial ventures to make some money, but it's clear that her passion is nature's underwater beast.  Her work was quite stunning, and as I've found my favorite wildlife medium in birds, I was trying to see what I could learn from her experiences following moving subject matter.

Examples of her work

What I learned most of all is that even novice photographers do better when they are in an environment that is familiar to them.  Knowing the rhythm of the local tides, winds, and movement of the quadruped and winged local inhabitants seems to make picture taking that much more intuitive.  Natalie is a local--Maui is her stomping grounds, and I'd be willing to bet she can give even the most seasoned professionals a run for their money.

I've also thought about the end of my Nature Photography class.  I can't believe how far I've come in terms of equipment owned and how my own appreciation for photography has grown.  I still have miles to go in terms of my own picture quality, but I am hoping that will come with time.  I plan to continue to sample professionals' work frequently and see if I can keep learning as I now go forth to shoot with no master except myself.

Senior Art Show

I was able to go to the Ryniker-Morrison Gallery only briefly to see the work submitted by Krista Hoyes, Monica Geary, and Cassie Scheidecker.  As I always find art to be interesting and expressive (regardless of the subject matter), I was not disappointed. 

Hoyes uses very vibrant colors, and a good medium with what I believe was satin.  Her work focuses pretty much exclusively on Latin dancing.  Not my cup of tea, but a major function of art is to expose people to ways in which they don't ordinarily think.  Her use of color and motion through her work was stunning.

Geary seemed to be a lot more interested in fashion than traditional art, and seemed to be heavily influenced by the fashion of decades prior.  I found the vintage feel to be well-utilized and not trite.

Scheidecker's art provided plenty for contemplation.  She was apparently diagnosed with arthritis some time ago, and her paintings are an almost surreal visual manifestation of the pain she feels going through her daily life. 

All in all, a pretty good display of art and definitely worth a trip.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

There once was a photographer from Nantucket...

For my final project, I'll be doing some of my shooting Wednesday-Saturday in Nantucket.  It's a nature photographer's dream, teeming with seabirds, natural, unspoiled habitats, the peaceful sound of silence during the Thanksgiving season, and beautiful sunsets.

I checked out Nantucket Red in preparation for my trip.  Bill Hoenk, a professional photographer who is based in Nantucket during summers and Pittsburgh during the off-season, does some nifty things with infrared photography on the island.  He started off as a waiter at the Chanticleer (a fine-dining establishment that brings in quite the clientele) one summer, and like so many others, fell in love with the place.  He received his photography training at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where he was introduced to the technology of infrared photography.

His stuff is pretty good.  It feels almost as if it has a gothic touch to it, which decidedly isn't my thing, but nonetheless gets me thinking about ideas I can shoot on the island.  The windmill is a famous marker on Nantucket and oft-photographed, but I've rarely seen it look like this.

Brant Point Light is also a familiar marker for those who have spent time on the island.  The delineations between sea and sky show up very well in this infrared shot, but in some ways, the lack of blue makes an island purist like myself cringe a little.

As  I mentioned in a previous blog, I'll also have the privilege of getting to shoot some aerial stuff (as long as the weather holds, knock on wood).  Let's just hope that it all works out and I can have some different material on presentation day in photography class than the rest of my classmates.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wish I had that Rebel

It wasn't as fun taking these without them.  I still can't complain, having Riverside Park within a short driving distance.

First, we can see the color red:

Nature provides a better mirror than man, no doubt:

 The Rule of Thirds:

A detailed close-up:

 Panning captured these ridiculously quick little guy:

Tried to blur it a little more but hey, it takes some practice, I guess:

 Just for fun:

Hyperfocal setting in the waning daylight near the Billings LDS Temple:

It is one of the more impressive buildings in Billings:

Oh yeah.  This was one of the best weekday afternoons I've had in a while, and I love taking pictures, even if I'm not that good.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Aerial Angles and Wild Flora

Reading in National Audubon Society Guide to Nature Photography, I was instantly drawn to the section on aerial angles.  For me, everything looks better when viewed from above.  Probably a natural disposition I have as a pilot.  According to Fitzharris, all the "arresting studies in line, form, and pattern that are the hallmarks of Cessna-snapping" can be created simply from a well-positioned tripod and a zoom lens with macro capabilities.

From directly above the subject (where this would have to take place), finite limits to the composition (such as top and bottom) simply don't exist.  Any angle can be achieved after the proper zoom magnification is correctly identified.

The photo on page 186 of the orange sneezeweeds is a good example of something I'd like to achieve.  I'm hoping I can incorporate some of these tips when I plan to shoot a week from this Sunday in a Chesapeake Bay marsh not far from my home.

The how-to of my favorite brand of photography

Aerial photography primer

Downtown Chicago from the air.  A tragedy that Meigs Field was destroyed, as images such as these could be seen on approach once upon a time.


Oh, how I love aerial photography.  It is my full intention to get a few shots from a Cessna 172 this Thanksgiving break in preparation for my final project.  With a family full of pilots and Thanksgiving spent on Nantucket, I fully intend to capture as much of the island's stunning natural beauty from above as my limited skills will allow.  This article gave me some tips as I prepare to shoot from above.

The author suggested the best platform for aerial photography is a helicopter, and that's plain to see.  With the ability to get down to lower altitudes, fly without a door, hover, and go slower without stalling make it simply the best aerial platform that exists.  However, they can be more difficult to obtain, and often times more expensive.  As far as fixed wing aircraft go, the Cessna 177RG Cardinal (RG designating that it is the retractable gear model) is recommended because of its lack of a wing strut and the fact that the landing gear won't be in the way of shots.

All the typical rules apply, perhaps some even more so.  Because of where the sun sits at midday, the terrain looks horribly flat when pictures are taken from the air at this time.  The magic hour produces the shadows necessary to truly appreciate the shape of the hills and rolling terrain of the island.

Vibration is the major obstacle to overcome when shooting from the air.  Perhaps if there is some way I can rent a gyro mount, which is the only way to properly capture video from above, I will try--but it seems like something that one would have a hard time getting their hands on unless they buy.  I have also been thinking about keeping my D40 that I recently purchased in the box (as my parents have said I could upgrade to a Canon Rebel as a possible birthday present if I needed something a little slicker) and getting a Rebel, which has better image stabilization qualities.