Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Shooting Hummingbirds

      As many of you already know, I spend allot of time photographing hummingbirds. They have long been one of my favorite species, and I love the challenge of catching them in flight. Thankfully, digital imaging has made the task much easier than just a few years ago. Thanks to the development of increasing low noise digital sensors, we now have the ability to shoot images at very high iso's with very little digital noise. Those higher iso's have enable us to shoot at incredibly high shutter speeds, which are demanded by this kind of photography. Typically, I shoot hummers at 1600 iso, and I try to achieve a shutter speed of between 1/2000 th of a sec. to perhaps 1/4000th of a sec. The shot above falls somewhere in the middle.
      I'm often ask if I use either a flash or filters to get the job done. The answer is neither, as I don't like the effect of a flash, nor do I like filters, as I think they tend to degrade my images. I try in all cases to capture my images without adding anything to the lens or lighting. I just feel it gives a more natural feeling to the photograph. Others may disagree.....this is simply my personal approach.
      Fortunately, I live in an area of the country where we are blessed with lots of hummingbirds. My gardens are generally buzzing with them all summer. However, that is not to say that I don't employ the use of feeders to attract even more. In fact, I have lots of feeders that can be easily moved around the gardens. These feeders are extremely helpful in bringing the hummers to areas of the garden that have the most flowers in bloom. The above photo came about by moving several hummingbird feeders into a area of the garden filled with Iris. While hummers aren't especially attracted to Iris' for feeding, my feeders brought the birds to the Iris and I managed to capture some interesting images. Very few photos come from luck alone. Good photos are generally well planned in advance, and then executed with skill and least that is my take on it. Enjoy your photography.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Revisiting Old Photos
        It's time to have another look at some of our old photos. Images that you may have stored away, thinking they weren't up to par, may surprise you when you reprocess them with new updated software. Lately, I have been going through some of my older files and taking a second look at images that disappointed me just a few years ago. Fortunately, I still have many of those images, and I am now thrilled with them, after seeing them reprocessed with todays' software. If you haven't tried this yet, don't wait any longer. Some of those images that are buried deep in your old folders may turn out to be some of your new prize winners.
       The latest versions of software converters make it easy and efficient to get the most from our files. For example, the latest version of Lightroom (Adobe) can take an old file and make it sparkle. With all of the software improvements, you won't believe the quality that has been hiding within your files. Could well be that you're a better photographer than you think. I suggest you pull out a few of the those old images and run them through a new converter and see just how good you really are. I think you'll be surprised. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What Makes a Photo So Popular?



     It's always been a bit of a mystery to me as to why some photos seem to have such mass appeal, while others, some of which I think are great, simply do not.  The photo above has been one of my most sought after images for the past two or three years, and it seems to have something special that the general public finds appealing. It's been one of those images that I have to print over and over to meet the demand of buyers.
    In this post, I'd like to discuss why this image has held the position of #1 for so long now. Let's begin by looking at what the image has to offer the viewer. Clearly, the red screen door demands your attention first and foremost. The green plant entering the image from the left and attaching itself to the door adds some interest. The Bluejay, while just a minor figure in the image, still adds some interest and perhaps even a focal point to the photograph. The peeling paint of both the door and the old house provide an interesting texture to the image, while the arched windows in the front door give us another area of interest. The angle of the screen door, which is hanging only by one secure hinge, adds yet another component to the overall impact of this photo. Finally, the shape of the photograph, which is long and narrow, usually printed 20 x 40 inches, replicates the shape of the door itself. All of this makes the photograph an image viewers seem to enjoy.
    I believe it's important to look at our photographs in terms of the various elements within the image. Strong images are made up of many components, and it's those individual pieces that work together to create something special. Photographs are different from "Snapshots", in that they are thoughtful in their preparation. Good photographs need a degree of thoughtful examination before one hits the shutter button. In order to call oneself a photographer, we need to commit to creating images that are thoughtful in their execution, and that take the viewer into their own thoughtful journey. I believe the success to this image "Visiting the Old House" is due to the fact that it takes the viewer on his or her own secret journey. It takes the viewer to a personal memory or a fantasy of a place they wish to be. A good photograph should do just that.........take you on a journey.  Good luck on your own journey toward photographic excellence.