Analyze This

I selected the title for today’s post and then realized that there is a movie of the same name.  Oh well!

Birds First

There is nothing I’ve made more pictures of than birds, so I have been trying feature them a little more as of late.

Bird photography is pure fun. I have sat for hours watching and photographing our feathered friends, as I know many of you have.

Much like flower photography, color and its ability to jar or shock us, is a big part of bird photography. The male Northern Oriole is capable of jarring our senses. ISO 200, Nikon 500mm lens, f/7.1 at 1/320th sec. This one was a perfect model as he posed artfully over and over.BPixBO

Sometimes young or winter birds such as this warbler, have that sort of dirty look to their colors. Just the same, warmish yellow/green against a cool blue sky can still be visually stimulating. ISO 200, Nikon 500mm, f/9, at 1/640thDSC_7277

With strong lighting, a good pose, and enough detail, even our most common black and white birds are a treasure. In a certain sense, black & white are colors too. ISO 200, Nikon 500mm, f/7.1 and 1/250th sec.20HGrebe2 041

A good pose is indeed an ingredient for winning wildlife images. White-crowned Sparrows are fairly ordinary birds but they tend to be more “ham” than bird. They seem to like the camera. ISO 200, Nikon 500mm, f/6.3 at 1/640th sec.WCrownedSparrow

The second and third eagle images below are of the same bird, and I believe the opening shot is of a different one.

Birds of prey can mean action photography that is fairly simple. Eagles especially, like to soar. They grab a hold of those wind currents or thermal updrafts and lazily “slow dance” in the sky.

Picture #1. ISO 400, Nikon 500mm, f/8 at 1/2000th sec.DSC_001

Picture #2 & 3. ISO 200, Nikon 70-300mm lens at 270mm, f/8 at 1/1250th sec. These two shots are among the few wildlife action images that I ever made using auto focus.DSC_0016



The two sunrise pictures you see below were made within three minutes of one another. I was shooting at ISO 100 with spot metering. I have nothing that indicates where I took my 1% meter reading, but I really don’t need it. I am confident that I took my reading from the right of the brightest spot or where the sun was showing or peaking through. That brought those parts of the image to mid tone. That left the trees and silhouetted clouds and reflections dark, and the sun quite  bright but still discernable. I used my 70-300mm lens for both images. It was set at 100mm for the first picture, and 135mm for the second. As the sun moved behind some clouds a burst of rays came forth, so I zoomed to 135mm in an effort to feature them a little more. I am sure that somewhere in my files is at least one photo at 300mm….or maybe even with my  500mm. I used the exposure of f/14 at 1/100th sec. for both images despite the slight light loss due to my change in focal length.1DSC_6064



There must be a million different ways to look at winter and I have looked at it in most of those ways at one time or another.

Vertical or horizontal?

The first two images are of the same trees. I love composing dark tree trunks with windblown snow.  I moved a little in or out, a little left or right, and I shot in both vertical and horizontal. To me the compositional distinctions between these pictures give me a very different feel. The vertical image creates a more stark winter feel to it (for me) as it opens up into the cold snow. The horizontal is more classically composed and the trees lead you from right to left through the scene.1Copy of Winter Pets 021

1Winter Pets 015

There are many ways to compose pictures, and normally busy foregrounds that occupy more image space than the background, are not considered kosher, so to speak. Just how much order there is in that busy foreground does matter. If it is not distracting, it just might work.

I had my zoom set at 28mm, f/25, 1/2 sec., spot metering. I likely metered the snow and then opened up my exposure approximately 1 1/2 stop.2Winter Pets 019bbb


If cool and warm colors give off an interesting visual contrast, what about warm and cool colors on a day that our life experience immediately tells us is cold? Our eyes say warm (from the morning sun), our knowledge (winter) says cold.

This was made with my 18-70mm lens set at 35mm. ISO 200, f/16, 1/30th sec. I took a spot meter reading from the sky.1Winter Pets 059

I love contrast of all sorts in photography. Color contrast, the contrast of light and shadow, two animals that contrast each other via an interesting dichotomy, you name it.

Speaking of the contrast of light and shadow. Ice is the perfect subject for a “cold” shot. Snow, ice and shadowed water. I used a wonderful old Sigma 300mm macro lens for this. ISO 200, f/16 and 1/8th sec. I am guessing I took my spot meter reading from the snow, and opened up about 1 ½ stop.1DSC_8619

I used spot metering a lot during the time when most of today’s images were made. That was a holdover from my slide film days.  I did use aperture priority for most wildlife photography, and as time went on I used that mode of exposure for most of my photography. I would dial in minus or plus (usually minus) compensation as I needed it. No matter my mode, depth of field was generally my first consideration. Shutter speed would be considered after my composition was chosen.


Summer is a long ways off but before you know it, nature’s most diverse subject, as far as photographic choices are concerned, will be here. This is the common Chicory (weed) flower photographed in August. My trusty Nikon 105 micro was used with ISO 50, f/36 and ¼ sec. Composition and vision, come compliments of the photographer. I truly love flower photography.HorA17 205

Thank you and may God Bless,                                                                                                       Wayne


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