You’ve all I am sure noticed, that one of my favorite things to do is to just grab a bunch of photos, and then talk (or write) about them. As impassioned as I am about political/social subjects, the joy of discussing photography is something that never seems to diminish for me. Now expressing my religious convictions, and helping or at least hoping to help others discover what I have been shown, is in a separate category of its own.
Today’s images are mine and as is usually the case, they were chose randomly from a couple of folders which reside on a separate hard drive from my computers.
Fact or fiction?
I have made and shared a lot of images that were made in moody, if not down right spectacular light. Photography is about light. There is no photo without it. I live for those moments. Many of those images might provoke the question did it really look like that? How much is in the editing?
Below we have two images made in the Badlands of South Dakota a long time ago. The question is, was the scene that spectacular when I was there making them?
Pretty much, but not totally.
My data says they were made at 3:51 AM and I can assure you they were not. I believe these to be a late afternoon sunset in a storm pictures. Round about 15 years ago, and they are digital originals.
They are “by and large” as they were made. I have (yesterday) taken the sky area and used what is suppose to be a noise removal tool (software), and used it to add a wispy feeling to the clouds. Both images. They conveyed that mood to begin with, but I enhanced it. I did not drop the exposure on the sky, or add exposure (or color saturation) to rocks, but I did add a couple of small rounds of contrast to the entire image. That separated the dark sky and brilliantly lit rocks a bit more than nature did. These pictures are close to the originals, but I admit that about 10% percent of the drama came by how I edited them.
Most of you know all too well that I love creating dewy macros. Especially with webs. It is one of the more difficult, and oft times tedious jobs in nature photography. It is soooooo easy to touch a plant five feet from your subject and in a domino affect have that bump knock the dew off your subject. Then there is the background. I love the picture below except……….. that one vertical out of focus plant stem that appears just left of center. It drives me crazy. Luckily I made dewy web images often enough that I have many that are pure. I could digitally “fix” that by either making the entire background black, or by using the cloning tool to slowly add other background over the bothersome part. I chose not to do the first, and I have not the patience to do the second.
Flash photography can be a blessing when chasing butterflies around a woodland, a meadow, or a butterfly house. The old slide picture you see below “I believe” (I am not sure), was created in a butterfly house. The only way to photograph fluttery butterflies with unnatural indoor lighting and a crowd of people, is handheld with a electronic flash. The flash coverage was a bit uneven and the background remained black ( like that and it is often the reality of woodland photography), but how many opportunities do we have with unique and rare butterflies?
When we do not use a blind for wildlife photography, and we are on foot and in the open, the general consensus would be that we might get a distant shot of a subject and then stick with it, and if the animal is agreeable, we can get a closer image.
I can not express to you how often I have gotten the closest image first, and then followed my subject to get more behavior oriented pictures.
This just after sunrise image of a Wyoming coyote on the hunt, is the closest image I have ever made of this species. He/she initially walked past me within 2 feet. I had a 300mm lens employed and it was too close. I waited and got this image. My subject then went into the grasses for a vole or some such critter, and I caught the coyote as it struck a pose for me.
I got this close-up of a Northern Water Snake in a hiking area near a marsh in southern Wisconsin. This was made with my 105mm macro lens. This was my first attempt at close distance shooting with this species. I was amazed to say the least.
This is a later shot with a 300mm lens. The snake was curious in the first shot, decided I was no big deal, and moved on down the path. I put on a bigger lens for a more distant shot of my subject flicking out its tongue in search of catching a scent of a potential meal.
I began up close, and then got my more distant images.
There are seven or eight Great-blue Herons in the next image. Group nesting sites are favorite locations for photographers and for good reasons. Part of photographing wildlife is art, and a part is food gathering, and a part is showing where they live and breed and the proper habitat in general.
Nature photography can certainly be art, but never forget the “art of disseminating information”.
One of the best ways to combine natural history, information giving documentary style image making with art, is to capture the artful activity that is displayed during courtship. Let your subject create the art.
This male Common Goldeneye Duck is “showing off” for a lady of course. My memory fails me as to if he was successful, but I suspect not or I would have some pictures to prove it.
Have a great day,