Some of my favorite photographic subjects are lakes at sunrise or sunset.
The morning after Christmas, I decided to head out before daylight and try my luck. There really is a lot of luck in shooting sunrises and sunsets. Sometimes the weather forecast can be helpful but most of the time, you never know unless you go.
This morning was supposed to be cloudy with a 30% chance of rain. Fortunately, they were wrong. Had I slept in, I would have never known what I had missed.
Insects are a fun, challenging, and abundant photographic subject.
Click here to see a short slideshow of some of my favorite insect photos.
Although not mandatory, a good macro lens can help the photographer enter the miniature world of insects easier. A longer telephoto lens with the ability to close focus can also be a useful tool in capturing these small subjects. As illustrated by the image above, I often approach insect photography as a portrait photographer might approach their human subjects. Look for interesting details and fill the frame with them. Flashes, diffusers, reflectors, and other tools can help you manipulate the light in these small places. Some insects are more tolerant of the presence of your camera equipment than others though. It helps to learn as much as you can about each of your subjects. With 900,000 known species, the opportunities in insect photography are nearly unlimited.
A large print of this image hangs on my wall and it’s a constant source of inspiration.
This is from a trip to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, undoubtedly the most enjoyable photography trip I’ve made so far. I came back with a number of meaningful images but I keep coming back to this one from the first morning there. This winter day started off cool and cloudy with some light snow. Of course I was on the beach before light. I was working on this scene, thinking that the magic hour was coming to an end, when a beam of sunlight broke free of the clouds and illuminated this breaking wave. It was a magical moment that I feel very fortunate to have captured. Whenever I need a little inspiration, all I have to do is reflect on this photograph.
Big Spring, near Van Buren, Missouri, is one of the largest springs in the world. The average flow is 470 cubic feet per second and it carries away 175 tons of dissolved limestone every day. That’s a lot of rock! This photo is a composite of three long exposures blended together. I hadn’t tried this technique with flowing water before but found the results to be quite interesting.
Would you believe it if I told you that I live 800 miles from this place and I have never been there until the evening I made this photo yet I knew exactly where the sun would set on this mountain? If you’d like to know how I did it, please keep reading.
Google Earth helped me begin to frame this scene weeks before I made the trip. Just follow these easy steps and you can do the same.
1. Turn on terrain features in Google Earth
2. Tilt your view and zoom in until your view approximates how you would see things on the ground
3. Show sunlight and move the slider until the time of day you’re interested in is shown
4. Fine tune your position and direction
5. Jot down your GPS coordinates from Google Earth and plug them into your GPS device
6. Go there and get your shot, knowing the position of the sun, direction of light, and placement of shadows
Technology can be really cool. While part of the allure of outdoor photography is leaving it all behind, there is so much information available on the internet to help you plan for your next outing. Happy shooting!
I wonder if this little Robin is waiting for spring? Maybe making the best of what one has now is a good lesson for us all. I haven’t done much bird photography in a while. See, I’ve been wanting one of those giant 50 million millimeter lenses for a long time. I’d almost convinced myself not to bother with the equipment I have. Finding this little guy and filling up the frame with him was just what I needed to realize the error in this thinking. Maybe 50 thousand millimeters is enough and I just need to get out more!
I had the opportunity to travel to Idaho and had a few hours to make some photographs. I was very impressed with the high desert landscape and the wide open spaces. My first stop was the Lucky Peak area near Boise. I was fortunate enough to catch the moon setting as the sun was beginning to rise. I spotted a row of rocks leading to a solitary tree and captured this image.
A little later on, I found a great view of Lucky Peak Lake. Although not the most dramatic sunrise I’ve captured, the subtle colors really made for a nice image. This was my favorite from the trip.
Finally, I discovered a great canyon view of the Boise River. As I had gained some elevation, a dusting of light snow became more prevalent.
All of these images were an experiment of sorts. Since traveling light was a bigger priority than photography (this time), I had only taken my Canon G9 with a Gorillapod. This combo turned out to be a decent substitute for landscape work. Using an aperture of f/4.5 and manually focusing at just under 10 ft (hyperfocal distance = 6.69 ft according to dofmaster.com) proved to be the trick. I touched off the shutter with the two second self timer and was able to get some good long exposures. I look forward to going back with my full kit one of these days.
For those of you who might be interested, hyperfocal distance is the closest distance you can focus on and still get objects at infinity in focus too. In the case above, I had everything from 3.4 feet to infinity in focus with the settings I described. Wide angle lenses, smaller apertures, and larger sensors all give you an advantage when applying this technique. It is well worth doing some research on hyperfocal distance if you’re a landscape photographer not currently utilizing this technique. It works on small cameras too!