Thoughts Behind Pictures, Part 6…..& Stuff

Before we begin, I should mention that I use fairly old software programs when I work on my photo files.  I can only imagine what is possible with the latest version of Photoshop or Lightroom, Corel and other programs.  All but the very lowest forms of photo software contain a cloning tool.  The idea of cloning is to take one portion of your picture and to clone it over another.

I know that most who read this blog already know how to use software cloning tools. There are however tons of new but very good photographers out there, who see the tool on their software programs, but either can’t see a good reason to use it, or it may seem complicated .  The first subject is for you.

I have shown both these Common Grackle and the Bald Eagle photos previously.  I showed the un-cloned version in both instances.  To me there was no reason to do any cloning in these two images.  The fence and the branches are basically in focus and are a true part of the picture.  If they would have been out of focus,  especially in the foreground, I would have then cloned them out of the image.  I used these two shots as examples because there is some nice continuous tone sky in both pictures. That makes cloning less precise and therefore easier to accomplish.

Between the two Grackle pictures I truly prefer the top image where the fence is showing.  In the second image your eyes search to see what the bird to standing on.  The most difficult part of this job, was cloning bits of the bird’s tail over a small part of the fence.  The portion of the fence that was in the shade of the bird also needed some careful cloning.

The eagle shot was easier to work on than the Grackle.  There is no shade and there are no branches crossing over the body of the bird.  The area of branches that meet the eagle, did require some rather tedious detail work.  When you are working on something that needs some attention to detail, open up the “view” box and enlarge your image.  I will sometimes work at 400% the original size.  While I was more than happy to accept the “true” original version of this eagle, I must a admit that the visual purity of the second shot is nice.

Now for some discussion on photography.  One thing I continually write about is perspective.  Perspective, much like depth of field, is a part of your composition. I often call this your point of view. Can you think of anything more important in making sure that a picture……your picture?  I especially like to use telephotos from 70mm to 500mm in landscape work to compress features in the land.  On the other side of the coin, using super wide-angle images to stretch the land is also wonderful act of expression.   The shot below was made at Monument Valley.  The image was made with a 18mm lens.  Most of the Nikon (not the D3) digital cameras that I used to use had a 150 percent rule.  In other words a 100mm lens is actually 150mm.  I used a true (to Nikon digital) 18mm lens when I made this picture.  That’s pretty wide.  Those land forms out in the desert are very close to the camera.  The Agave plant in the foreground is only inches from my lens.  This image is very carefully composed.  Landscape photography is a wonderful medium for personal photographic expression.  If you make a good picture, everyone will just accept it as a very nice photo.  You have made a thousand choices to create that “nice photo”.

When I was out making pictures, anything and everything was a potential subject.  I found this piece of cut wood early one morning.  I liked the color of light, the design and direction of the grain, and the texture.  Simple to find and simple to create.

If perspective and depth of field adds up to “point of view” in landscape photography.  Those same two disciplines mean “point of focus”  in macro photography.  I often use spiders to illustrate this point, because they usually don’t move, giving you an opportunity to work from different angles and to use different f stop/shutter speed combos.  The first spider picture was easy. I squared up the camera back with the spider, set my tripod mounted camera at f 14 and clicked.  I used my 75-300mm macro zoom set at 195mm instead of my 105 micro lens in order to keep some distance between my tripod legs and the orb web.  This is a slight crop. I then carefully changed the position of my camera/tripod, lining everything up while backing up.  I used the same lens set at 240mm.  The increase of focal length made up for the increased shooting distance.  I shot at f 20 because at this angle, point of focus would have to be precise. The increase in depth of field helped me to cover that needed precision.

Then there are flowers. The choices are almost infinite.  I was attracted to this group of flowers and made a lot of compositions.  From a small portion of one blossom to dozens of flowers.  I was very attracted to comps that contained small clusters of blossoms.  For about ten minutes the wonderful light you see below, gently illuminated this particular group of flowers.  That light and the somewhat translucent quality of the blossoms became more important to me than any other aspect of making this image.

As I cruise the world of social media, including blogs,  I continue to be amazed at the willingness of naturally “timid” people to share their thoughts.  It is amazing at how “hidden” many people feel they are as they share their inner most feelings, political views, and links to groups who love to spread hate.  People will share with thousands, what they would never share with a single friend.  I do think blogs and websites are different from Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus, in the sense that we have to take the step to make a search or follow a link to arrive there, rather than just opening your home page only to be faced with much that you did not seek.

It is amazing at just how political the world is today, as both friends and foes continue to divide themselves into two camps.  My first foray into politics came as an eight year old during the Nixon/Kennedy campaigns.  Today on TV, we are consistently inundated with all of those “expert” pundits who tell us what “the truth” is as viewed from the left or the right.  The debates of the Sunday Morning talk (shout?) shows are pretty much a “ I can yell louder than you” contest.  The first of these was a weekly political debate during that same Kennedy/Nixon campaign. This eight year old watched each and every one as writer Gore Vidal, and columnist William Buckley, engaged each other in a vigorous, but intelligent and civil, series of TV discussions.  They actually cared about the truth, instead of just repeating gossip (internet related fodder?.)

On a personal note I remember only so well when to the chagrin of my Father, I (as a 17-year-old) grew my hair over my shoulders and seemed to embrace everything radical from the left. Of course that was a while ago and many years and life experiences will (hopefully) create growth, and things do change.  I would hate to think that at 60, I still follow the exact same philosophical road that I did as an immature 17-year-old.

One thing is for sure, no matter how different the opinions of any given population are, we all share in the same daily struggles, to make a better life, and to grow beyond whatever it is that we once were.  In the end we really are in this together.  For better or for worse.

God Bless

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