Believing is Seeing

Let’s begin today’s photography post with two contributors to the
Earth Images group on Flickr.

I love lizards and this medium sized beauty was photographed by G.
Corsan. He/she did not label the species.

The expression of ferocity and the composition and low angle of the
photo, make this a top-notch image in every way.  Also notice that
depth of field is shallow. The point of focus is right on the face,
just as it needs to be.
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I’ve shared pictures from Patrick Cavanaugh before, but this is the
first time for a dewy plant photo. I know not what this is but I love the
composition along with the extras droplets on the stem and the out of
focus washes of tone in the background.
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Natural art is everywhere just waiting for a visual artist to find and
exploit it.

These final images, all ten of them, are mine and therefore they are
older pictures made with old equipment.

All it usually took was one cooperative bird and then birds might
become my subject for the day. Once you start, it’s hard to stop.

I caught this young Warbler on the perfect perch, with the perfect
background. Clean and simple. That said, photography is rarely simple.

Solving problems is a part of photography and with the advent of a
digital image making, the opportunity to fix a problem grew
easier.

The only issue when making this photo was the front of the bird was
both in partial shadow do to the position of the sun, and it was
affected by a cast shadow from the very branch it was perched on.

While editing in Photoshop, I used the Magic Wand tool and clicked on
the sky. Next I clicked on “inverse” which meant that everything was
reversed and the bird and the branch were featured.  Then I simply
added brightness to a point that more detail was revealed on my
feathered friend, without “blowing out” the background.
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I always loved catching (photographically) small birds in action.

I found this male American Goldfinch ravishing a Sunflower for seeds.
I was in fact in my own backyard and out in the open. I moved my
tripod, camera and chair closer and he cared not.

I would have preferred a simpler background, but I can live with this.
The out of focus blossom in the background could have been removed in
the editing process via the cloning tool, but I avoid that whenever
possible.
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I was combing the shoreline of Lake Michigan when I scared up this
Lesser- yellowlegs.  With a long lens and tripod, not to mention
manual focus, I needed to be “quick on the trigger”.

This resulting image is by no way perfect but sometimes we take what we get.
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Mom and dad and the kids on a family outing.

I photographed this family of Trumpeter Swans at Horicon Marsh NWR
here in Wisconsin. Horicon is the Everglades of the north as long as
you know when and where to go.

The birds are lit from behind which can be problematic. In this case
the birds are white and with some light bouncing off the water it is
acceptable to me. It also helps that this is not a super close-up.
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Every time I think I’ll never get any more mileage out of the
Great-blue Heron nest photos that I made a few hundred years ago, I
bring them back again anyway.

A long lens, a sturdy tripod, and the willingness on my part to
actually back up away from the birds and their “high in a tree” nest,
netted me pictures that actually puts viewers fairly close to eye
level. Long lenses flatten out perspective and backing up does the
same. Add them together and they do make a difference. The two images
below are the biggest crop that I have ever made of these shots.  The
were made in 2008 with an average quality camera.
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I love western South Dakota in the Badlands as well as the Black
Hills. When I would head west from Wisconsin, it was this part of the
country that announced to me I was in the west. I always called this
area my “gateway to the west”.

Custer State Park in the Black Hills is a delightful mix of wildlife,
forest and rock.

When in doubt, carve the road through the mountain.

Its always difficult to know what’s real and what isn’t in this
digital world. I try to make sure to let my readers know when I
actually make an edit in a photo that departs from the traditional
things that everyone does.

In this case I made that patch of green at the end of the road “pop” a
little more than it did in reality. I raised the exposure a bit and
added some more green. Having the end of the road jump out just a
little, makes this image, which is really an editorial shot, a little
more compelling.

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No matter where I traveled, I tried to always tune my radar in to
color, form and texture. This image of the side of a tree, was made
only a few frames before the road through the mountain.  Subjects of
this sort, can be found anywhere in the world. There is never a reason
for a photographer to be without a subject.

Even though we may be making a literal photographic capture of a
literal subject, it is advantageous to call on our imaginations to aid
is in “seeing” what is around us.

Imagination and reality, really can coexist.  What do you see here?
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Of course, then there is the Badlands.

I have known photographers who hate the Badlands. They say, you
(meaning me) need to visit the high desert of sandstone country. I
always explain that I have visited those places and I concur, they are
great.

It never pays for a photographer to be closed minded, or to lack
vision. I know wildlife photographers who only photograph birds of
prey. Birds of prey are great but come on, you’re missing 99% of the
wild word.

You can do the same thing with landscape photography.

The Badlands are an incredible location. You just need an open mind
and a broad vision, maybe along with some variation in weather and
light, and a tiny bit of knowledge of how to use it all.

There are always compositional choices for photographers. Two
differing images of the same location under the same light, can still
be different. Which image do you prefer?

A spectacular storm approaching, with some rock formations underneath it.
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An incredible landscape full of rock forms, with a storm overhead.
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I found out a long time ago, every photographer can create nice images
of a variety of subjects.  We just need to “see”, with eyes, mind and
heart.

Happy Trails,
Wayne

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