Friday, December 22, 2017

2017 Year End Review

Well, it is that time again when we look back at the year that has past.  I always enjoy looking back through the photos from the year and events that I was able to be a part of.  This year was not the crazy it has been in the past, but there were still lots of cool things that happened and things to be a part of.  

So here is what happened this year.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

TWIP Raptors and Foliage at Fontenelle

Warning...massive photo post!!!

Last weekend a couple of photographer friends and I made our way to Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue for a walk about.  I had never been, so I thought it would be a very interesting to say the least.  One of the things I really wanted to see was the Raptor Recovery of the area.  I have seen many demonstrations of the magnificent birds they have at the location, but never actually visited.  This was a great opportunity.  

Carrying my trust camera I was able to capture some fun images of the birds and also happened to catch a couple of interesting finds along the walking trail of the wilderness as well.  

Taking photos of the birds was a little difficult as most that have tried can tell you, that you have to take the photos through a cage.  The rule of thumb is the closer you get your lens to the cage, the less you see.  So I used a telephoto as close to the cage as allowable to get these shots of the birds.  While the birds are located in a cage, you don't get the beautiful backgrounds and sweeping skies that go with most of the wildlife photos, but you do get the opportunity to see close up what these birds actually look like.  Looking into their eyes, you get a sense of their personality.  

Here are a couple shots from Raptor Recovery followed by a couple of nature shots from around the forest.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

TWIP Focus Stacking a Praying Mantis

So this week, I found a baby praying mantis in the backyard and decided to capture it for my collection.  Praying Mantis are some of my favorite insects just due to their shear coolness.  I am unsure if it was a male or a female, but believe it to be a female as it didn't appear to have wings.  Females are larger and cannot fly due to them not having wings.  The males are much smaller and are the flyers of the bunch.  

This photo took place in my boxwood hedge which provided excellent camouflage to the bug.  No one saw him there but me.  I am pretty good a spotting little things as I was really into macro photography when I first started this journey, so I tend to spot things most don't.  

He was very keen to keep an eye on me even though I caught him glancing at a cricket in the area a time or two.  I was hoping that he was going to pounce on the cricket so I could get some carnage, but he was more interested in me not squishing him than food at the time.  I bet the cricket would have been more than enough for this guy as he was so small.  I used my macro lens with a 36mm extension tube and a continuous macro light to photograph this little guy.  

I ended up using 15 of the 30 photos I took of him in this position to make the below photos.  My previous focus stacking tutorial on here will give you a better idea about how I stack my photos.  It is pretty simple, I import the photos into lightroom, verify the photos I would like to see stacked together, and then import them all into photoshop.  Now photoshop doesn't do as good of job, at least the version I have, as some of the dedicated focus stacking software out there, but it works for what I use it for.  

In photoshop I align the layers and then stack them together.  I then touch up the resulting image as best I can and there you have it.  Takes about 10 minutes per picture if you were looking at it in a time sort of way.  

Here is the baby mantis.  As always, click on the photo for a larger version.  Like my Facebook for more of my work

Saturday, July 29, 2017

TWIP Canon Telephoto Taking on Butterflies

My vehicle has been having trouble for a couple weeks, so I decided to try and play mechanic and fix it.  So far so good.  I decided to run to Heron Haven on my drive around town to make sure everything was working, and thought it was about butterfly season...just maybe there would be some there.

Well, I wasn't as lucky as I thought I would be but I did see my three favorite midwestern flyers.  I saw a monarch butterfly, a black swallowtail, and a tiger swallowtail.  I was able to catch up to and capture the first two but the latter always was one step ahead of me.  He would either be out of the butterfly garden or inside, depending on where I was not.  He was sneaky to say the least.  I did get another photo to add to my collection of flowers.  I have something planned for those, so all was not lost.

Today, I shot butterflies with the Canon 300mm f/4L IS and my 6D.  I really like the clean crisp files of the 6D over any other camera I have and from initial reviews, may stick with this for at least one more camera iteration.  While the new 6D has all of the focus fixes I was looking for, I just love the images that come from the 6D sensor.  Taking photos of butterflies with a Telephoto lens like the 300 can be a challenge.  You have to be a little ways back from them, so there has to be a lot of room to move.  The bonus is you can be a ways back from them and let them do their thing.  I prefer it this way as I don't like to disturb nature when photographing it.  Shooting the photos of the flowers held a whole new issue, but I won't go into that.

Enough talk, here are some photos.

As you can see, the swallowtail seem to be a pecking piece for the nearby birds.  Poor guy is missing half of his cool wings.