I thought it was about time I revisited the subject that I created this blog for in the first place, photography. Of course the images are weathered and old, but then so I am I.
Depth of field and contrast, are two of the most important aspects of photography. They are guaranteed to alter and to either add or subtract from the visual quality of your images. As a photographer, I had a love affair with both. Like most love affairs I’ve had my share of arguments (with myself) because of them as well.
My love of contrast of light with the land is known by most of you, but contrast in wildlife photos can be challenging at the very least.
Not only was the high contrast light of sun and shadows challenging when I made this image of a male Common Goldeneye, but the bird itself is inherently contrasty with its combo of dark and white. The saving grace was the bird’s namesake, so to speak. That golden eye. An eye like that will “pop” out visually from any dark corridor. As per usual, I thanked my subject and moved on.
Another high contrast dilemma solved by the subject itself. The midmorning light was intense as I photographed this Great-horned Owlet. Luckily, the bird was in one light, the bright sun. It’s sibling was also in one light, deep shadow. Despite that, the bright, light shade of the bird itself, pops out of the shadows just enough for viewers of this image to see her/him hiding in the shadows. A pleasant surprise!
When it comes to wildlife, they themselves are the art.
Speaking of subjects that are art in and of themselves, with or without contrast, the Belted Kingfisher is an artist. I caught this one on a quiet Wisconsin day and was grateful for the opportunity. Contrast or depth of field, was neither a help or a hindrance when I made this one.
When it comes to the subject of depth of field, regardless of what photographic subject you are embracing, there can be drawbacks and therefore compromises to be made.
The flower below is either a Canada or a Michigan Lily. Either way, I have only found them a few times in Wisconsin. I made some distant images but wanted a close up. A hopefully artistic interpretation of their beautiful markings. These rounded flowers ( the overall shape), would require more depth of field than possible to yield every portion in focus at this close distance. I used a Nikon 105mm macro lens at an aperture of f/16. My depth of field preview lever showed me that even in full stop down mode at f/32, only a few portions of the blossom could be rendered in focus. At f/16 I was able to maintain a shutter speed of 1/50 sec which helped freeze the slight movement from a even slighter breeze.
Photography is often a compromise, but don’t let that stop you from making the image. The fact that there is sharpness at the closest point to us as we view the image, hopefully carries us visually the rest of the way without any need for the whole flower to be sharp.
Depth of field is always a consideration when you are working up close to your subject. With an aperture of f/14, and a shutter speed of 1/80 sec., I was able to render the most important parts of the image sharp in both depth of field, and in the arresting of the motion of the subject. Our eyes, go right to the sharp part of the image.
This is a Spiderwort and a Hover fly. A zoom lens set at 220mm gave me and my subject some breathing room.
Forgetting about technical considerations, let’s just view a young Black Tern catching a few winks in a marshland.
They create the art, and we recognize it and share it.
Capturing the likeness of this baby bird was a pleasure for me, and really pretty easy. A tripod, a 105mm lens (yes the same macro lens as before), a few quick snaps and I left. A parent was nearby and retuned right after the few seconds it took me to make a couple of frames.
I believe this American Bittern was convinced that its camouflage stripes, while in the middle of some cattails, made it invisible to me. I enjoy the feeling that we are in the marsh with the subject. In reality. I was in my car with my Nikon 500mm lens resting comfortably on my trusty Wal-Mart throw pillow. My tripod was in the trunk but who needs it with a five dollar pillow as a substitute.
The Top of The Mountain
The top of the mountain is more beautiful, if the journey begins at the bottom. It’s as much about the journey as it is about the mountain. The climb to the top, makes a statement about who you are and why you belong there.
You only get to where you are going, if you are willing to make the trip. Nobody should hand out trips to the top. The character that is built while on the journey, will prove valuable beyond comprehension.
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