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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Family Sessions

Over the last couple weekends I had the chance to experience two special families each with their own story.  One I had privilege of capturing young ones growing up in this world.  The other, capturing siblings making lasting memories to cherish for a lifetime.  This week, I am sharing a special time with a family spending a weekend together, enjoying one another.  This group was a blast to photograph.  I can tell they are a close family which makes being able to capture this special time in their lives all the more meaningful.  Here are a couple of my favorites from the session.











Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Family Sessions

I recently had the privilege of photographing a family with some very handsome young men.  The little guys braved the wind for a fun run around the arboretum.  I love photographing families at the Arboretum due to its dual use.  It has many places for posing families in a natural setting, but it also has an element for exploration which works great with children.

I take the same philosophy with shoots such as this as I do with my own children.  I love photographing them in their element, playing and having fun.  The arboretum leaves many places to explore and gets them moving with their natural curiosity.  It does involve a little bit of follow the leader, but it makes it worth while catching them at work.   I get to experience what their parents do, seeing their little minds at work and hopefully capturing their fun loving spirits.  I had a great time photographing this family and appreciate their mom and dad providing me with the opportunity of capturing this special time in their lives.

Here are a couple of my favorites from the session.









Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday Macros

It has been a little while since I had made a blog post.  I have been busy working on Mother's Day items and other activities.  I hope the spring has been full of enjoyment and a newly found enjoyment of the outdoors.  Here are a couple for the spring fever types.  






Saturday, May 3, 2014

Spring blossoms

Some flowers and tree blossoms from the past couple of days.  I am hoping to get out and get some more in the near future.




Thursday, May 1, 2014

Happy May Day!

Happy May Day Everyone!  To celebrate this day, I am offering a 1 day only 30% sale on everything on my site.  This includes my fine art prints, portrait galleries, wedding galleries.  Everything!  Use the code MAYDAY for your discount at checkout!  Just follow the link or click on the picture.



Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It's a big kitty right?

An early morning visitor and an unwanted guest.  I have only viewed the opossum at night dodging headlights and running away from dogs, but this guy had the guts to walk the fence in broad daylight.   It was larger than most I have seen in this area which leads me to believe it's a little more mature and experienced at moving around in the daylight hours.

Here are some interesting facts about the Opossum, the only Marsupial native to North America.  They are very slow moving and cannot flee when scared.  Instead, they freeze and play dead.  This is where the term "Playing Opossum" comes from.  The females have a pouch on the belly that carry their young.  When they young become too large for the pouch, they are carried on their back. They eat bugs, berries, leaves, grass, rodents, snails, eggs.  They live in trees and use their tail for stabilization, but do not hang from their tails like they are believed to do.  They also live a very short time, usually 2 to 4 years.  Being a greatly misunderstood creature, they are perceived as a pest.  

Having said that, I still don't want them in my yard and I was glad to see it go.  




Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easter Images

Posting a few days late.  Sometimes you need a little time to gather all of the interesting images from the day.






Friday, April 11, 2014

Tutorial Time - Focus Stacking

Spring is right around the corner and one of the most interesting things to me is photographing the budding plants and little things that make there way to take delight in the warmth of the spring time sun.  If your photographing a flower, but just not getting everything in focus like you want.  Well, I have your answer...focus stacking.  Focus stacking is a major tool in the macro photographers arsenal when we want more depth of field (DOF) that what we can get by using our regular settings.

The trouble with digital photography is the ever present restrictions of Defraction.  Defraction, in basic terms, is when your aperture is greater than what your lens and sensor can handle.  You reach a point of diminishing returns and will actually make your photo less sharp by increasing your aperture past a certain point.  For me, I shoot with a Canon 7D.  With the 18 megapixel sensor and combining in the crop factor (for Canon it is 1.6x) I reach my defraction limiting aperture (DLA) at f/6.9.  Bryan at The-Digital-Picture has a great chart for refraction and I suggest checking that out if you are at all interested.  Full frame sensors are much better at handling defraction, but you gain some DOF by having a crop sensor so it all kind of evens out in the end.

Back to my point.  Shooting at macro distances, your DOF becomes smaller and smaller the closer you get to your subject.  The only way to get your DOF larger is either increase your aperture and risk the effects of defraction or take multiple pictures and combine those photos in software (Focus Stacking).  My method of choice is Focus Stacking.

I previously wrote and brief tutorial some time ago on focus stacking.  This article included multiple pictures of a fly.  I know that isn't a subject the majority of people want to see so I have decided to use one of my bubble photos to illustrate focus stacking.

To illustrate the process and what can be achieved here is the final image.  This is an image stacked with 12 different photos of the same bubble.



I will display the process with the bubble wand photo, but it all follows the same principle.   The photos below were the 12 photos I used to stack and make the photo above.  Each part of the bubble had a different section in focus and when combined, all photos create the final image. 















 The below image is a stack of 9 different photos.  I didn't include the others because you get the idea, but the blue bubble below is the final image.  Here is how I focus stacked the below image.



First we need to make the images.  Find a subject is the first step.  Then we get our settings as we would like and begin to make the photos.  Many people choose to use a tripod with a macro rail which definitely would make the subject and the process more accurate, but I have found them to be cumbersome when it comes to trying to photograph things in nature.  The tripod and focusing rails would work great if you were using them in a studio and didn't have to worry about your subject moving or you having to move yourself.  I brace myself as sturdy as I can, focus on my subject using the manual focusing ring, and shoot anywhere between 10 to 20 photos of the subject.  Getting different parts of the subject in focus requires you to move your camera back and forth while shooting your burst.  I do not refocus the lens due to a different perspective it could give when focusing which would mess up the stacking in software later.

Next, we import the photos into a photo editor of your choosing.  I prefer to use Lightroom for my Raw file editing.  It is a simple way to keep your photos categorized and organized.  Plus copy and pasting your settings is super easy.  After the files are imported into your editing software, I flag all of the photos I think will want to combine into the final image.  I select one of those photos and edit it in the develop module.  Once I have the single photo as I like, I select the files I am using and sync settings for all of the photos I am including in the final image.  



Then I export them into Photoshop by choosing the photo tab, then selecting export to photoshop as layers.



Once the files load into photoshop the process gets pretty simple.  Select the top photo of the layers stack in photoshop, hold the shift key and click on the very bottom photo.  This should select all of the layers.  Then move your mouse to the edit tab and select auto align layers.  After a couple of seconds your files should all snap into alignment.  

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Next, go to the same edit tab and select auto blend layers.  A pop up box will show and you will want to select stack images. 


This will take a couple minutes to complete depending on the processing power of your computer.  Once it is done, you will see the magic of focus stacking before your eyes.  The images will combine and the photo will automatically snap into a perfectly focus photo.  I usually combine them all into a single layer by command(control on PC)-alt-shift-E.  Clean up what you would like about the newly stacked photo and save away.  


I hope you have found this informative and simple to use.  Now go photograph something and give it a try.  Trying is the only way to learn!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jelly Fishing

By far one of the best parts of the zoo is the newly remodeled aquarium.  One of the coolest parts, once you get past the big walk through shark tank, is the jelly fish aquariums.  I have taken many photos of this area and each time I get something a little more unique.  The kids absolutely love this area.