Lost A Year Gained New Photography Kit And A New Year Begins…..

Last year I had to abandon a lot. My garden, photography, crochet and sewing, and my holidays and visits to friends. Why? Well, a series of health issues – cataracts ruined my vision and a severe health problem threatened my life. Everything went on hold. But now I can see, thanks to the brilliant new lens in my eye, courtesy of the NHS, and my health has improved dramatically thanks to my GP and a heart specialist. We super-celebrated new year as I’m still here for it!

And I’ve just been looking at other’s achievements here on WordPress, from last year. I now feel inspired to make this year my best ever, and to get this blog going with photography like never before. Tonight I can sit and plan a little. I now have a radio-controlled remote for my Nikon D90, and love wildlife photography. I can’t go far yet, but I feed lots of birds, and have built a pond and garden for wildlife. You can read more about that at Earth and Hearth. But with my new kit   I can ‘stalk’ the wildlife from a distance, as long as they land where I hope to lure them. I can see to play with macro shots again now too.   I also have a gorilla tripod, so hope to be able to get shots I couldn’t get before.

And on top of that, I have new graduated filters which help balance light and dark, especially in bright skies. And you can use them to allow longer exposures. This is useful to make water appear smooth.

Anyway, here are the results of my first go with one of my new filters.

20947281215

With a grey-grad Filter skies keep their colour without under-exposing the foreground.

20852281215

This sky should have been blue, but had to over expose it to get the foreground right. It’s December on a campsite in Cornwall

Explore with macro photography. It’s another world!

I’ve had time to experiment today. Macro photography is another world to explore, and I like exploring. Here are some photos from todays batch. The fine tuning in macro is time consuming and eye-tiring, I have to say.What looks absolutely perfect when focusing doesn’t always come out as clear as I’d like. So many shots are taken to get just one or two. As I’m often asked, I’m using a Nikon D90 with a Tamron 70-300mm macro lens and extension tubes.

I don’t always focus on wildlife and flowers. There are objects around the home that make interesting experimental pictures, too. Here’s a candle pot I gave the macro treatment.

Candle pot photo

Candle Pot. Height 3"

candle-pot-macro

Candle Pot Macro attempt 1

candle pot macro photo

candle pot macro attempt 2

Pretty, interesting and pretty interesting, don’t you think?

Then there’s the glass ball that is part of another ornament. It’s about 2″ in circumference and has a pattern on it that intrigued me, so here we are. I’ve played with the temperature and tint settings in Adobe Photoshop RAW to get the colours.

glass ball macro photo

Glass Ball macro 1

glass ball macro 2

Glass Ball Macro 2

But I couldn’t resist totally the lovely colours and light on some flowers and plants today, so here they are.

muscari macro photo

Muscari macro

leaf macro photo

Leaf Macro

African-Violet-macro

African Violet Macro

See, told you! It’s another world.

Abstract perspectives in photography

It’s difficult to choose a subject with over 1,000 to process currently, so I’ll concentrate on one tiny aspect of what I’ve been up to. As I’ve been running around on my travels I’ve been inspired to do some abstract photographs. There are always lots, of course, but some things just strike you as worthwhile the time and effort to shoot. When looking at objects, move around them, or of they’re small, move them around. Look at them from different angles. try to obscure or leave out any distracting elements. Play with that camera! Play with colour and light. Experiment. It costs nothing to press delete of you don’t like the results, and you might get something special.

abstract spades

abstract fishing

fishnet abstract

old rope

Look for a good composition, balance, colour and interest. The technique you use should be creativity. Forget which lens, which filter or which camera even. Just LOOK until you find that composition. Then you can play with equipment.  Try different shots from different perspectives of your abstract until you find something you’re happy with. Think outside the box! Above all, have fun with that camera and find your own image of the world.

Photos of a Drowned Forest and more….

Porlock Bay in Somerset was a new experience for me. I’d travelled to Porlock to meet friends on a campsite there in my trusty camper. I couldn’t help myself, especially when we saw the delights the area has to offer. Out came my trusty Nikon D90! I have a passion for the coast as I was born by the sea. St Annes in Lancashire doesn’t look anything like this, though! Out in the bay is a sunken forest that dates back to the last ice age. I’ve found results in google that purport it  and others like it to be proof of global warming, but unless we were pumping out greenhouse gases eight thousand years ago, I don’t believe we were responsible!

Drowned Forest

It was fascinating to see these trees, and very difficult to photograph in any detail, as my tripod shook in the wind that day. The usual technique of a nice steady tripod was used, but I also needed my partner to act as a windbreak, and even that only helped a little. Balancing the tripod on stoney ground wasn’t easy, either. I tried to get close-ups of the lichens growing on some of the bark, but macro and windy conditions don’t go together. Here’s my best attempt.

lichen

The beach at Porlock is very stony and very photogenic.There are more shots on my website

Porlock bay

Porlock weir, a little further along the coast threw up a whole load of photographic opportunities. I really enjoyed myself clicking away. Not very shot works out of course, and here’s an example of one I’m not too happy with. It’s not well composed, but gives a flavour of the spot.

Porlock Boats

Sometimes, enthusiasm carries me away a little. The difficulty was keeping people out of this shot, which I recomposed and tried several times. I have one I feel might be worth putting on my website.

I also took several images of this abandoned old boat. One of these has inspired me to Photoshop it into a picture you might want on your wall. again, you can find that on my website. There are far too many to place on here!

abandoned old boat

 

Spring’s Spectacular Displays

Tulip Tarda Macro

Hyacinth Macro

Primula Denticulata close-up

Fritillaria Milleagris

Bee Fly

Spring Finally arrived, bringing colour and life into my garden. Hooray! It’s hard NOT to be dazzled by the sheer exuberance of spring flowers. They shine out even on the gloomiest of days, announcing their wares to the insect world. While taking my photos of these glorious blooms something caught my eye. I thought at first it was a busy bee. I tried to capture its image on a hyacinth, but it didn’t stay put long enough and I chased it around the flowers until it landed where I feed the birds. Here it sat, grooming itself as I watched it through my Zoom macro lens. I found out later it’s a bee fly. They sip nectar as adults, but lay their eggs in solitary bees nests, where the grubs hatch out and feed on the bee grubs. Gruesome yet fascinating. Everything seems to have parasites, once you look closely enough.

Anyway, it hasn’t deterred my enthusiasm for spring. I wish I had the energy to jump up and down about it. Writing and taking photos and smiling like a Cheshire cat will have to do. Happy spring, folks everywhere. What’s blooming in your garden?

Macro Versatility and Creativity plus Website Updated

How can I ignore the fantastic shapes and forms of flowers? They are beautiful, fascinating and better than anything humans could design!

Hellebore, seed pods forming

Hellebore, flower fertilised

Hellebore, freshly opened flower

Hellebore just opening

These last shots are as close as I can get with my equipment, and give you an idea about the creative us of macro. It doesn’t matter if the entire shot is not in focus. Throw some of the image out of focus and use it to create a softer, more artistic picture.

Hellebore macro creative 1

Hellebore macro creative 2

Who can resist such diversity on one plant? I think some of my friends believe I’m a bit strange as I wander around in my macro world. They miss it, busy getting to the next point (eg the car or the shop). What fantastic stuff they walk past and never see! It’s all there for free and beats a lot of entertainment you pay an arm and a leg for.

What can you see in your garden? Do you have a magnifying glass? Take it with you. Or get the camera out and have a closer look. There’s a miniature world waiting for you to discover it. Be careful, though. You might just find yourself buying extension tubes or macro lenses. Then you know you’re hooked.

PS I’ve cracked it! Sorted my website out, put lots of new images up, organised my prices and sizes and actually got PayPal to work so that my customers can get the image they want with minimum hassle to them. Whew! As a photographer and not a web designer, this was no mean feat, despite using a great web hosting service. I’m just not cut out to understand the logic of the silicon chip! It’s abstract and can’t be composed in a frame. You’re welcome to visit and let me know what you think!

Of course, there are some macro shots on there now, soon to be joined by more. I haven’t just been playing with raindrops. As you know, flowers attract my eye more than anything else usually.

Magic Macro Moments-What’s in a Raindrop?

I’ve been playing again. I’m finding macro both fascintating and frustrating. Here’s what happens. I spot gorgeous raindrops on a plant. Then I rush outside, camera in hand. Set up the tripod, switch off image stabilisation, focus with all my concentration, camera on delay shutter release. The raindrop is in perfect focus. Then…whooosh. One tiny bit of breeze makes the leaf shudder and my shot useless. Try again! And again, and again. Then there’s the light, changing by the second, changing the reflections, the brightness of the shot, the sparkle appearing and disappearing. I think you need almost as much patience to take macro shots as you do to shoot wildlife. But the results are both as rewarding and fascinating as wildlife. A whole world in a raindrop! I’ve had a lot of people asking me about macro, and how to go about it. Here’s what I do.

The biggest problem, you’ll quickly realise with macro, is that you have a long lens, possibly with extension tubes, as I do. The minutest movement will be magnified, cause camera shake and blur the shot.

Use a good tripod making your camera as still and stable as possible.

If you have delayed shutter release on your camera, use it. It locks the mirror up before the shutter is released, thereby reducing any camera shake from the mirror movement.

If not, use a remote or wired cable to press the shutter, as this will also reduce any camera shake.

Spend time getting the focus as you want it. Increasing depth of field will enable more in the shot to be in focus, but increase shutter speed. Only you can decide how much time you can allow the shutter, given your lighting and weather conditions. If it is the slightest bit breezy you’ll need the highest shutter speed you can obtain, therefore the smallest depth of field. Be creative and position your main focus of interest well in the frame, allowing the blur of out of focus items to frame the shot. I sometimes underexposed slightly to allow a faster shutter speed. I can correct this under exposure in Photoshop, as I shoot in RAW.

After shot processing usually means a simple exposure adjustment, a little colour and contrast boosting and cropping to improve the framing if necessary.

Macro can be taken to different levels. In the first two shots I’ve used all my extension tubes on my Nikon D90 with a 70-300mm Tamron lens, but didn’t switch it to macro, just zoomed in as much as I could.

Macro water 1

Macro water 2

The next few are full-on maximum, with my current equipment, macro. All extension tubes, lens on full zoom and maximum macro, focussed as carefully as humanly possible. It’s another world in those raindrops! Oh, of course you can cheat. No rain? Get the watering can out and give that plant a sprinkle. This works really well on alchemilla mollis (ladies mantle), which naturally hold rainrops like jewels, due to the tiny hairs on its surface.

Marco water3

Macro water 4

Macro water 5

Macro water 6

Macro water 7

This last shot is full on macro, but I put the tripod a little further away as I liked the jewel like quality of the smaller water droplets.

Have fun with macro and investigate another world!

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