Wildflowers in the spotlight

There are fields behind our house. I took a walk one day last week between downpours, and found many more wildflowers than I’d expected. The land appears to be just grazing meadow, so meadow flowers abound, and I thought it would be a crying shame not to do something with them. Hence the camera and my enthusiasm came out. It’s a pity the light didn’t. Even with a light conservatory, it was difficult to get enough light through the lens for my macro lens and tubes. In the end, I settled for my standard lens and the macro tubes to get the details I wanted as I didn’t want to resort to artificial light.

Bush Vetch

Wild Comfrey

Hawksbit

Black Meddick

I wanted to capture the beauty others miss. Either they wouldn’t even notice the flowers, as some of them are tiny, or they wouldn’t stop to look.  Maybe some of these photos will make you look twice next time you take a walk with the dog? If you click on the photos you can see them much larger and in more detail. I’m planning a set of wildflower photos in macro for my website, and therefore for sale, quite soon. I’m not sure if these are going to be the shots. Probably not. I’ll need better light to get the top quality shots I want, and time is important, as these flowers will only be around for a short while.

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.

Macro Photography Magic

Macro photography is wonderful, mysterious and fascinating. I was the kid with a microscope, peeking into unknown worlds, many years ago. Now I can do it with a camera, macro lens and macro extensions. Today no gardening, we’re rained off. My partner brought me flowers yesterday, so out came the camera and macro kit.

I’m always looking for  a new, fresh way to present flowers. After all, they are probably the most photographed subject apart from people. People don’t look good in macro and won’t stay still, so I prefer to work with nature, and flowers in particular.

So, today’s shots have been fun to do. Light levels were not brilliant as it’s raining, so I used a white reflector behind the flowers, raised the blinds in the conservatory and adjusted the exposure a little once I got the shots into the computer. Much has been said about photography and computers, and fierce debates continue, but I’m all in favour of any tool or paintbox an artist can utilise. Minor adjustments to improve photos can only be a good thing, in my book, and allow more flexibility to the ‘artist’.

Anyway, here are the results of todays fun. I hope you like them!

macro photo white dahlia

white dahlia macro

Perfect petals macro

Perfect petals macro

macro petals

Macro petals photo

vision-in-white

vision in white gypsophilla

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.

Rare chance to Photograph Baby Birds

While on our travels this summer, we visited Porlock in Somerset. It’s a lovely little place with friendly people, a picturesque village and a visitor centre. Imagine my surprise when I saw a swallow flitting in and out of the  porch there, looked up and spied these swallows.

swallows

At least that’s what I think they are. Of course, if you know different…let me know, please! Here’s a close-up picture of the babies. All I could do, technique-wise, was steady the camera, point in the right direction, get someone to tell me when mum (or dad) was coming in and shoot with fingers crossed.

Baby Swallows?

Next Blog…Drowned forest at Porlock bay.

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!

Birthday Wanderings into Beauty

Weir 1

It is my partners birthday today. We decided to take time out from computers and visit a previously unexplored local haven, Watermead Country Park near Leicester. What a gorgeous afternoon! The first thing we saw when entering the park was a weir, and I had to play. So I’ve given you three of the shots taken each with a different effect in mind. They are abstract shots, and all I changed between each was the shutter speed, then a little curve readjustments to get the effects I have done. On the last shot of the three, you can see the swirling water in front of the weir.

Weir 2

Weir 3

We watched herons fly overhead and glide down onto a lake, saw cormorants (I think) roosting in the trees and a beautiful sunset. We had to wrap up warm, but just look at the colour for this time of year! Imagine my delight, too when we found catkins. Looking up at them the contrast with the sky was stunning, so I had to show you. So today is all about winter wonder and my partners birthday.

Catkins

Gorgeous sunset

Watermead Country Park

Sunset at Watermead

We came home and had a lovely meal, candlelit of course. He’s now busy blogging, so I’m taking a moment to get this post out to you. I’m investigating some nifty websites with Photoshop tutorials. When I’ve finished going through them I’ll pass them on to you. Photoshop is and amazing programme that seems to have endless possibilities, and for those of you who, like me, want to do more with their photos than just shoot and post, I’m hoping to find some new ways of using Photoshop to enhance or even transform the humble photo.

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