Mixing It Up

Today’s post is of mixed content.

First a few photos.

Today’s images are my own. It appears that from this point forward,
when I do share imagery from others here on this blog, those photos
will be from Facebook friends and locales other than the Earth Images
group on Flickr. After many, many years on Flickr, I have been
unceremoniously tossed out.  Probably for not buying their pro features. In the many, many years there, I started two groups. The first one, North American Nature Photography, I gave to a friend many years ago. The second, Earth Images Nature
Photography I can only assume, still exists with its almost 1,900
members.  No reason has actually been given for removing my ability to enter. I
have never been anything but friendly and uncontroversial on Flickr. I
am sorry for all the friends I leave behind, as many or most of them
are not face to face friends, but rather friends from every corner of
the planet, that I made while on Flickr.

Now for photos

When people who make pictures (that’s everybody today), decide to get serious
about their image making, one of the first things most want to
accomplish, is subtracting some contrast from sunny day, outdoor
images. It is a good thing to learn, as is knowing how to add some pop
(contrast) to flat images. Keep in mind, removing all shadow areas or
bright highlight areas, often serves to reduce the drama and beauty of
what you behold.

The picture below was created at Guadalupe Mts. N.P. Texas, and the
mountain is El Capitan.

There are two “apparent” high contrast areas in this image, and in my
opinion, they are what makes the photo.

There is an inherent contrast of light here. The Agave plant is in
shadow, while everything else is in bright sunlight. I think the
plant, with its sharp shape, contrasts beautifully with the rest of
the image. I also think the dark against light, helps accentuate the
pretty light of that day.

The second contrast is the color contrast. The warm reds and the cool
blues contrast with each other and cause those warm reds to advance
towards us when we view this image.

Contrast can be your enemy or your friend. Which it is, is often
determined by your attitude and technical skill.

I should also confess, that I once made an HDR version of this
picture, that reduced the contrast and looked  pretty good.

I took the image below, which is shown “as shot”, and made a copy In
which it was intentionally overexposed.  I then took the image below,
and underexposed it. I then combined them with HDR software, and wound
up with a perfectly exposed and blended, compromise photo.

Personally, I still like the image below better. I like the “pop”!
1Copy of DSC_0136

Clean backgrounds in wildlife images, or in this case a relatively
clean background, can “make the case” for your center of interest of a
photo, which in this case is a displaying male Red-winged Blackbird.

The actual background here is a series of marsh/prairie grasses, of
varying contrasts (light and dark), and colors. A 500mm lens used wide
open with an aperture of f4, allowed me to get the picture I wanted,
keeping the grasses out of focus, soft and unobtrusive. That narrow
aperture also gave me the opportunity to shoot with a shutter speed of
1/1000th of a second. That stopped bird movement, and camera shake.
In a case like this, on the money focus with the bird’s face and
red/yellow epaulet, was essential.
2BongMay2014 008

Similar issues evolved with this Whitetail Prairie Dog among
prairie flowers, in the northern high plateau of the Rocky Mountains.

This time f5, and a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second, made
everything a little more dicey, but doable.

I made some pictures at this locale, with Prairie Dogs and the close
grasses on this side of the critter in focus. That works as well,
but might be a little less artistic than this rendition.
3DinoANWR 049

One of the mistakes (my opinion) that new wildlife photographers make,
especially with little critters (yes they are wildlife too) like
dragonflies, is the seeming need to get every part of the subject in
the picture frame, and sharp.

Now do understand, if you are shooting for a book, especially a field
guide, you need to get the entire critter, with enough depth of field
and overall crispness, to have the whole animal sharp, as to ID it
properly. I have made innumerable numbers of such pictures. When you
begin to “create” imagery for yourself, or for fine art, worry about
making images that say what you want them to say, not what the majority of
the rest of the world might want.

I do believe, these images which were both made with a 75-300mm macro
zoom set at 300mm, are both un-cropped after the fact. In other words,
I moved physically in in and out when I was making the photos, in an
effort to get two different looks at the subject.  I definitely prefer the bigger crop of the second image.

4KBdfly 081

5KBdfly 080

This is a very old image made on film. It was copied into the digital
format in 2010. I do not know anything about the original data, except
that it was clearly made with flash and my trust Nikon 105mm Micro
lens.  Now I love the eye-popping view it gives because of the flash,
but I realize it is not for everybody’s taste. I do remember that
during my copy into digital phase, I corrected an area around the
butterfly’s head, to add more exposure. My original film picture, had
a dark unlit area right about where the subjects head is. I simply,
separated that area while editing using a Photo Shop tool, and added
some light to it. I am only guessing, but I would not be surprised, if
some disturbing spotty highlights showed in the original background.
Areas where the flash hit bits of foliage. If that is the case, then
when I worked on the background with Photo Shop,  I likely reduced all
light on the background, which gave me the image you see below.
6Slides7 043bcdz

Now for something serious!

This past weekend in the greater Milwaukee (WI) area, there were five
fatal drug overdoses in five hours. There were three more in the few
hours before that. Eight deaths from drug use, in about 10 hours. Some
crazy party you say? Maybe one dealer sold some bad drugs at a party?

As near as police could tell at the time, there were no connections
between any of the eight deaths.  Just a normal fun weekend in

Crisis is an overused word, but we have a genuine drug crisis in
America. Men and women, people of all colors and nationalities and of
every economic class are involved.

Some drugs in the opium family, are gotten from illegal prescriptions
and drug theft.  Most of them however, along with Meth,  Angel Dust
and others, arrive here from other nations. The most common source of
entry is the Mexican border.  I suggest that those who stand in the
way of a solid, impenetrable southern border here in the U.S., maybe
could foot the bill for the damage done from drugs in America.

While those who commit crimes and use deadly drugs must take
responsibility for their own actions, those who enable those acts
should share in the punishment.

The drug culture (we are currently in the most deadly one in history),
does more than kill people, it rots the infected society from the
inside out.

As today’s title suggests, this post has been pretty mixed up. That
has slowly become my signature.

Have a great day and may God Bless,

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