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.

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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.

Have You Had Your Daily Dose Of Beauty?

beauty abounds

It’s about time. There is so much horrible stuff going on in the world I thought a timely reminder that there is free beauty out there we can all share just might be welcome. It’s easy to get caught up in all the war and nastiness, the economic doom and gloom and walk around with clouds around our heads. But if we blow the cobwebs away, perhaps with a short walk or drive into the countryside, perhaps just a stroll round the garden and open our eyes, beauty is all around us. My garden has been adopted by a baby blackbird who obviously left the nest a few days early. He sits listening to me when I go out to throw him some mealworms and apple to feed him up, then dives straight onto the food. He is gorgeous! I can’t show you, because the danger of me taking the camera out there is that he’ll panic and end up food for a local cat.

Calendula beauty. Pure sunshine in a flower

But flowers don’t get frightened! So today’s pictures are here as testimonial to the wonderful world we live in, even if us humans do make a mess of it, the beauty still abounds, and we should hang onto it with all our might. Some of these shots were taken before I bought my trusty Nikon, but nonetheless remind me of lovely times of gorgeousness that helped me switch my brain into a more positive mode. I hope they do the same for you.

Mint. Beautiful flavour, beautiful flowers

Spring has brought me inspiration. I’ve been taking photos, seeing friends (it was a long, lonely winter) and working on new projects. I discovered a couple of weeks ago a site called Squidoo. What fun! And it’s somewhere I can showcase my work with photography and with Zazzle. Having started with WordPress last year as a reluctant technophobe, I appear to be well and truly hooked on computer wizardry. I’ve been so wrapped up in all of this I hadn’t realised I’d been neglecting my blog. oops! Finding the time to do everything is getting more difficult, but I can’t complain. At least all of this keeps me busy and making lots of new cyberfriends. In case you’re interested, Squidoo is a great site for doing very tightly focussed ‘lenses’ that deal with one subject and really go into detail about it, usually with accompanying links to relevant sites and helpful hints and tips, plus where to buy relevant stuff. It’s quite easy to get lost in it for hours – much like on WordPress. I’ve so far made eight of these lenses, some of which are photography and flower ones. It gives me the opportunity to write about subjects that wouldn’t really fit under a general photography blog like this one, so I feel the two compliment each other. You might want to take a peek at my Grow Hellebores in Your Garden  lens or Spirals or even wild flower garden one.

Happy Spring!

Photographer Spreading the Word. Work is For Sale

It’s been a busy old week. Having spent three glorious sunny days last weekend catching up with the gardening, when the weather turned cool I came indoors and began  working on actually being found on the wonderful web. As we no longer have effective agencies to sell our work, us creatives have had to find creative solutions to the question ‘how do I get seen?’ Of course a WordPress blog and a website is a start, but experience has shown me it’s not enough to get you off the ‘starving artist’ income I’d like to avoid.

So I investigated Squidoo. The first day was a nightmare. This none techy person was alsmot driven to the point of baldness and rescued by advice from Zazzle people and my partner. The second day I mastered some of the technique need to build a Squidoo lens. Now I’ve got something to tell you about! I’ve made three lenses so far. (go on, cheer!).

Lenses are very specific. Apparently, the more focussed they are, the more successful they are. So I have one on Digital flower art, one on Photographic Flower Art and one all about hellebores, which I featured in a recent WordPress post. They are quite good fun to do, once you learn the system.

I’ve not stopped taking photos, needless to say! So todays offering is an arum lily. My partner brought them for me (yes, he’s a sweetie, though that might ruin his street cred). It’s not an easy flower to photograph, I’ve found. But I’m fairly satisfied with the result. What do you think?

My Photos on Products

Just a quick post today to show off the products from Zazzle we ordered as gifts. I’m really pleased with them and can now vouch for the quality Zazzle produce. The mousemat is thick durable, and comfortable under the wrist. The mugs are great! I’m glad I decided to use some of my photos this way, as well as offering others as prints on my freshly updated website.

Here are photos of them, modelled by my partner Jon.

 

Shell Mug

Houseleek mugs

Pride Mousemat

 

 

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!

My Parent’s Garden. Photos at last

Well, my sister has done me proud. I asked her to capture some shots of my parent’s garden having spent three days in the rain working on it for them, only to finish as it was going dark. Today was lovely up in northern England, as it was here, so she popped down and has emailed me some shots I’m sure she won’t mind sharing with you. She is a singer and singing teacher, but has talent with photography too! Thanks, Pam.

 

Parent's garden in February. Photo by Pamela James

Parents Garden in Feb. Photo by Pamela James

In addition, I’d like to thank everyone for being so supportive with all your lovely comments and congratulations this week. It was exciting to be on Freshly Pressed, as well as an honour, and I hope the  people I’ve been visited by continue to visit and communicate with me. Your views and perspectives are always welcome.

 

 

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