Thursday, August 14, 2014

Super Moon 2014

I told myself that I wasn't going to give in to the pressure of photographing the Super Moon this time around.  I have taken photos of the gigantic moon in the past and have always come out with some results that just made me yawn.  Nothing was too exciting about it.  Last night the dog was taking a little longer than normal to get ready for bed and I had my camera right inside the door so what do you do.

Here are a couple snaps to satisfy this years Super Moon fix.  Now if I could somehow keep myself awake enough to try and catch the meteor shower.

Click on the photos to be taken to my website to view larger.

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Time With Salsify - Take 2

Part 2 of my post about Salsify takes us closer and to more creative avenues.  I have viewed photos in the past that I had the hopes of recreating in my own way, but could never get close enough or get drops to hold correctly on the seedlings.  I always attempted to photograph these on a dandelion and the seedlings weren't quite strong enough to hold what I was trying.  Discovering the Salsify plant, I immediately started thinking of ways to get the photo I have always wanted.

So once I had the plant home, I placed the stem in an old flower vase and started shooting.  Seeing my assistants having fun with the water sprayer was enjoyable.  The enthusiasm they have for everything really is infectious.  I grabbed an old eye dropper and finally captured the photo I was looking for.  All of the photos were stacked from multiple photos except the first and last.

This is the photo I have been trying to get for the last 4 years.  Finally!!!

In my part 1 of this photo topic I posted a link to free wallpapers.  Stop over and have a look if you would want one.  If you would like to see more of my work, please visit Alder Images.  You can follow me on Facebook.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Time with Salsify - Take 1

Playing soccer with my kids, I happened to notice a very large looking plant with a fluffy head.   My son saw this also and thought was a giant dandelion.  Coming from a farm I knew that the plant in question was Salsify or commonly referred to as the Oyster Plant.  These weed looking plants are actually grown and picked for their roots which apparently taste like an Oyster, hence the name.  I for one have never tried Salsify, but was fascinated by its fluffy seeded exterior.

Having attempted many photos of dandelions over the years, the larger fluffy head of the plant presented numerous opportunities to get the ideal picture I have wanted for a very long time.  So yesterday hunting butterflies, I picked a plant and brought it back for some one on one time.  It was a windy day and the seeds do blow away quite easily so I attempted to contain it in a plastic bag.  The bag did damage part of the fluffy, but I was able to manage.  With help from my curious assistants, a handy spray bottle and eye dropper, we made some pretty interesting images.  Feel free to click on the images to see them bigger on my website.

I have made a couple available for download if anyone would like a wallpaper.  The are sized for a 16:9 computer screen.  Follow this link and you will be taken to the page for downloads.

Feel free to leave comments at the bottom or visit my Facebook page and give it a like.

These two were my original attempts to photograph the Salsify in the field, but wind and other weeds made it difficult to get on the proper level and get some good closeups.  I also did not have my tripod with me so anything super close was going to be blurry.

We finally got the Salsify home and started taking some photos.  Without the misted water on the seedlings, the Salsify look like a dandelion seed covered in spider webs.  Water drops give the photo life.

For this photo I tried refracting a photo of a brightly colored dandelion photo I made a couple of years ago.  I couldn't get the photo close enough to get a good refraction, but it did leave some nice colors on the water drops.

Thank you everyone for viewing.  If you have questions or comments, please leave them below or on my Facebook page.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Purple Trumpets

I haven't exercised my shutter finger in a little while and decided to take it out for an interval run.  I took these with my old XTi since all of my batteries were dead on the 7D.  I took these photos with the purpose of focus stacking, but the frames per second and buffer limitations of the camera left me with less than ideal conditions for that.  Instead, I decided I would use what I had and try to work on some texture backgrounds.  I used an umbrella from the kids sandbox to block out the harsh sunlight that this area has and decided to use the weathered wooden fence as a good background.  The purple and cream blends in nicely with the gray of the wood.

Here are a couple photos from the shoot that show what it looked like before I replaced the background.

The first photo is what I was planning when attempting to focus stack the flower.  I was going to focus all of the way through the flower and post and condensed version.  I think it would have been cool and may try it with some full batteries in the 7D before they all wither and die.

This is the beginning photo I was looking for when considering a texture and background replacement.

This was the photo I finally determined was the prime candidate for background fixing and minor texture due to the proper framing, exposure, and focus.

I used an old photo from a purple colored rock, stretched it, used a blurring technique, added a little canvas texture, then reduced opacity and used a soft light filter.  Lastly, I had to dodge and burn a little of the flower to blend it with everything.

Here is the final result.  Click on the picture to be taken to my site to view it larger.  

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.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Tips to Photographing Flowers

You see them every day.  You probably see photos of them every day.  Some of the photos are as stunning as the creations themselves, while others will melt your eyeballs.  My purpose in this article is to give a little insight in how to take photos of your flowers and when too take them.  After all, we all need our eyes to see them.

I don't plant flowers in my yard.  It is a personal choice due to allergies and three children that would love to pick them at the first chance the saw.  Then I have dogs that would more than likely dig them up given the chance.  I have to go out in search of my subjects.  This provides an added incentive to get out of the house but also gives me a chance to do something with my kids that most people don't.  I usually let them bring along their little cameras and do a little photography of their own.  Their results usually are expected, but every now and then you get something truly unique and amazing.

First of all, please do not take photos of your flowers in broad daylight.  Your camera doesn't see things the way you do.  Your camera is limited in the amount of dynamic range it can see.  What seems dark to you will appear black to your camera.  What appears bright to you will be a blown out highlight in your cameras eyes.  So the next time your photographing a flower, try shielding it from the sun with your body or some type of paper.  White paper works great for this.  It gives a natural diffusion to the sun.  Black paper works great for a backdrop to flowers.

Place your body between the sun and the flowers and use the black paper behind the flower.  Perfect subject isolation!  If your not able or don't have any type of diffusion handy, can't block the sun with your body, use the bright sky as your backdrop.  Back lit subjects are easy to photograph and look cool.  Just don't forget to up the exposure compensation.

This photo was taken shooting straight up at the sky.  I was holding one end out of camera left.  The sun was being blocked by a tree just off to the left of the photo.

Use your exposure compensation.  I believe most cameras, even the newer point and shoots, have this little life saver.  If your shooting into something that is back lit or is brighter in the background, bump the exposure compensation up 1 stop or 1 1/2 stops.  This will usually give your subject the proper exposure and will isolate it by blowing out your background.  Same goes for shooting a white flower. Your camera will compensate for the white flower and will make your picture dark unless you bump the exposure compensation.

If your shooting down on the flower and dirt is in the background, you might want to lower the exposure compensation.  The black dirt will cause your camera to see a darker that it should be scene and adjust the exposure accordingly.  They only way to combat this is the lower the exposure to make it work best.

Kill the flash!  Please do not use a flash when taking a photo of a flower.  Flash is used for fill light when there isn't light present.  Flowers are more than likely outside so the use of flash is not necessary.  The only times a flash should be used when lighting a flower is when you are taking an extreme macro of the flower or if you are working in a studio doing still life.  You actually need the flash to light your subject in those circumstances.

I used a flash as the main light source of this photo since I was taking an extreme macro of the lilies anthers.  Taking photos this close to your subject drastically cuts the light that can reach your sensor so you must give it a boost.  If possible, try to diffuse your flash somehow to avoid harsh light and harsh shadows.

Try to take pictures of single flowers and have them be the focus of the image.  Sure a whole flowering bush looks nice for the scrap book, but if you want something someone will ooo and ahhh over, isolate the subject.  Try focusing on the details of the flower that you find the most pleasing and make that your point of emphasis.  This will not only convey what you see when you gaze upon the flower, but it will give the viewer a better understanding of what it is that makes this flower so beautiful.  If you do decide to photograph a group of flowers, don't just shoot them.  Compose the image using the golden rule or one of your other photography rules.  You can look those up.

Or use them as a competing pair.  Some like to keep both flowers in focus, but I prefer to have the focus on one and have the other nicely blurred in the background.

Don't be afraid to switch it up.  Sometimes it is nice to see what else is interesting or beautiful about a flower.  I personally thing the back of the flower is just as interesting as the front.  Seeing how the stem connects and flowers out in the back is one of natures wonders.  Shooting up at the flower from the bottom often provides a unique perspective on the flower and will get your picture noticed.  If you place your subject correctly, you can get a nice sun flare or backlight to shine through your subject.  This would be one of the times I would say it is okay to shoot in broad daylight without diffusion.  Here is a quick idea of what a different perspective can do for the same flower.

Straight on the flower gives a great view of what the flower has.  Also helps getting the most in focus.

This one, I tiled the camera up and lowered myself to get a little bit of focus, but maintain a smooth background.

This one I was sitting beside the flower and pointing the camera straight at its side.  This give a beautifully blurred background and keeps the focus on the part of the flower I wanted to emphasize.  A majority of the flowers I shoot, I enjoy shooting shallow depth of field.  I do this by using the widest aperture when possible.

Here is a shot from the back of a flower.  You still have beautiful texture, but get a unique look at what others miss.

Last tip, don't be afraid to go crazy.  Sometimes straying from the norm is what makes the photograph.  I for one love to shoot subjects that most don't think about.  I love shooting the seeding dandelion.  Thistle is another one of the cooler subjects to shoot.  What some view as weeds are beautiful as well.  Just not in my yard.  So don't be afraid to stray from the normal type of garden flowers and check out some of your local weeds.

Another suggestion to bring a little pizzaz to your photos, is the water bottle.  If I have an idea that I am going to be taking photos of flowers, sometimes I choose to spray a little water on the flower to give it that little extra.  

If your prepared, sometimes you can catch a glimpse of nature at work.  

I hope you have found some of these tips informational and useful when your out gathering photos from this years crop of spring flowers.  Remember, beauty is what you make of it!