Field Work

This image was created in spring, in a small clearing in a forest. It had been a dewy night but the late night and early morning was unusually hot. All that accounted for atmospheric conditions which produced a haze that hung over this fresh green ground cover.

Getting up early allowed me to photograph a lot of natural phenomenon that other photographers miss.

I’ve only seen wild Canada Lilies growing in this corridor of southeastern Wisconsin/northeast Illinois twice in my life. I found this one, which was part of a small patch growing in an Illinois state park, right next to a parking lot. The sidelight and backlight was difficult yet gorgeous. I had somewhere to go so I made a few ordinary images and began to pack up and get in my car. I decided I would return the next day and do a proper job. Then I allowed myself a second thought. Shucks, this is what I am and who I am. I could afford another fifteen minutes to “see” the art of a Canada Lily. As most of you know I love side and backlight, especially if my subject is translucent enough to allow some light to seep through a blossom or two. We are supposed to be interpreters of what we see. I did just that, and then jumped in my car and headed out to take care of my business. On my way home that day I decided that I would return tomorrow to continue what I started.

I returned the next morning to find the grounds crew had mowed the grass and the Canada Lilies with it. I was grateful that I was a stubborn photographer and spent that fifteen minutes with the flowers yesterday.  I never did photograph another wild Canada Lilly in my career.GhopperLily 137

I always forget what sort of flower this is but I found a couple of these “escaped” domestic blossoms near some wildflowers in a nature sanctuary. Once again, I made my images because the flowers were beautiful, but at first I never really thought about how I viewed about them personally.  This time I was graced (with one of the flowers) with some side to top light, and I was able to eventually make the image that was rattling around inside of my head all the time. Our images are, well, our images.

Bird photography has occupied a large part of my photographic life, so as is usual as of late, I’ve got some pictures of a few “feathered friends”.

I truly do love Cormorants. I am especially grateful for the fact that after diving, they need to dry off their wings.

These pictures were made about three days apart at Wisconsin’s Horicon Marsh NWR. I have a lot of close-ups of these birds but sometimes when they are wing drying or preening, I love backing off and making them a visual extension of the trees and branches that they are using for a perch. Under certain circumstances, backing off a little from your subject can provide the catalyst for more artistic images.

I made over 40 trips to Horicon that (2009) year.

This is another Horicon shot. The bird is a Wilson’s Snipe and they are a very cooperative sort of shorebird. I spent at least 30 minutes with this Snipe and two others.

Grebes and Mergansers are certainly superb subjects and they have the bonus (for us) of being diving birds. This little Pied-billed Grebe managed to dive whenever it was somewhere where I couldn’t get the picture. I forgave my little friend as she/he flew over the small bank into a perfect pond of Duckweed. Soon after this the bird left, so I gave thanks and moved on.

There is nothing like wandering the forests and prairies first thing in the morning, tripod and camera with a macro lens in hand. It is almost impossible not to find an ample supply of subjects, although it can be just as impossible to make a good picture of that subject.

A lot of careful tripod positioning was required to make this picture of a spider and its dewy web.

Caterpillars are great subjects. They move slow. That being said, they do move, and don’t be surprised if you create fuzzy pictures with extra long exposures. I managed to (photographically) stop this Milkweed Tiger Moth caterpillar with a blazing shutter speed of 1.8 sec, that’s one point eight, not 1/8th sec. I used my trusty Nikon 105mm Micro lens. Sometimes you have to “just shoot” and hope for the best.

This gnarled old tree was found in the Black Canyon of The Gunnison in Colorado. The original shadow marred image that I created, was missing too much detail due to those shadows. My picture did not display the twists and turns of this very old tree trunk. My solution was to make (at home) one overexposed copy, and one underexposed, and then combine all three in an HDR software program. HDR imaging does not have to mean over saturated sunrise/sunset images. It serves the purpose of revealing details in order to make images of natural history subjects as well.

Oft times photographers finish their day in the field by making a sunset image. I’ll finish this post in a backwards fashion with a sunrise image of Balanced Rock in Arches N.P. in Utah. Way back in 1992, this image was my start to a long and dramatic day in the high desert. I use it today to end a fun (for me) article on the Earth Images Blog. Given my choice, I would be back in Utah again, but sometimes you take what life gives you, so I am happy.

God Bless,                                                                                                                                      Wayne

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