Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Queen Anne’s Lace

Come on, you didn’t think I’d show you Queen Anne’s Lace with out a bug did you?

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sunset Sail on the Ardelle

This is an awesome time to catch a sail on the Ardelle. Here she is coming in from a sunset sail.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Eine kleine Nachtpost, Four Dragons

Here in Massachusetts the dragon season is at its peak. Thus I’m getting an abundance of material to share. Here are two dragonflies in one shot, a Blue Dasher and Slaty Skimmer

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

This female Widow Skimmer popped over the bush.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

On the same bush was a Spangled Skimmer. For those of you that caught last night’s depth of field tutorial, this was shot at f/4.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

The same bug shot at f/18.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Inner Harbor, Gloucester, Massachusetts

I go by here every day. Yet, I still have to take a snap or five!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday Evening Creature Feature and some Tips

Tonight’s Saturday Evening Creature Feature is a Slaty Skimmer that I happened upon in Dogtown. He’s on a Staghorn Sumac branch. I would like to share some techniques that I use and some of the though processes I go through when I’m in the field. 

Like many photographers, I shoot in Aperture Priority mode. First, let me define aperture for you. In optics, an aperture is a hole or an opening through which light travels. (There, that wasn’t so bad.) If you are not sure about this, go look in the mirror, see the black circle in your iris? That’s your eye’s aperture.

The aperture does a couple of things for you. It regulates that amount of light that hits your detector. The second thing it does is it helps determine how deep the focus region is.

To get you oriented to this lesson, look at this shot here. I focused on the back of the dragon’s head. For a theoretically perfect lens, everything that the camera sees that is at the same distance as the dragon’s head will be in focus. You can see stuff closer to the camera become fuzzy. The dragonfly’s head and forewings are sharp. As we go further up the stem, things get fuzzy. That’s depth of field, some of my buddies out there call it DOF.
   ©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Now depth of field is a very important artistic tool. It’s so important, that camera manufacturers give us a semi-automatic method of dictating whether we get a shallow DOF or a deep one. It’s called Aperture Priority. This is a program mode that lets us set the desired aperture and the camera will figure out the correct shutter speed depending on the ISO setting. DOF is one of the most important considerations when I compose a picture. I may want it shallow or I may want it deep.

Skip this if you’re mathematically squeamish
Here is another bit of trivia. The f-number of a lens is the ratio of the lens's focal length (in my case, 300mm) to the diameter if the aperture. It is a dimensionless number that is a quantitative measure of lens “speed”. Just to take some of the mystery out of that. So for my lens, 300mm f/4, my maximum opening

D = 300mm / 4 = 75mm.

At f/8,

D = 300mm / 8 = 37.5 mm.

Note that the diameter gets smaller as we sent from f/4 to f/8. This cuts the amount of light, but increases the depth of field. What is going on in the lens is with the smaller opening, you are restricting light from the outer areas of the lens from hitting the sensor. This “sharpens” the photo. Thus the perfect lens would have a miniscule pin hole for an aperture. But, you’d have to wait a long time for your exposure and your subject going to fly away and you may get a distracting background!

Alright, I’m done.
I just wanted to give you some information so you could get some deeper understandings about what I’m going to show you.

I came across this Slaty Skimmer on a Sumac branch. Pretty cool. In these shots, I’ve done a minimal amount of fussing with the photos. I’ve made not attempt at white balance adjustment. These are all full frame. These were all shot with a tripod and a remote shutter release to reduce camera shake. (This is a fricken heavy lens and I going for some relatively long exposures here.) I had my camera set on ISO 320 for all shots.

First up, when I came upon the bug, I knew I had enough time to compose a shot.  Here’s the boring stuff: 1/250 sec at f/7.1. The sun was behind the clouds.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

There was a slight breeze, so I waited for the sun to come out. Note that the color temperature is a little warmer? 1/640 sec at f/7.1.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

See that distracting brown stick in the bottom of the frame? I going to sneak up on the bug and get it out of the frame. Now I’m still focusing on the back of the head. Note that as I move up closer, my DOF gets shallower. You can see it in the sharpness in the back muscles where the wings attach. I’m still shooting with lots of light, 1/640 sec at f/7.1

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Now it’s hard to tell, but what I’ve done is extended my tripod up so that more of the dragon is at the same distance from the lens. I want looks straight on the bug my line of sight to be perpendicular to the wings and abdomen. This will put a lot more in focus. I’ve got a little more sunlight from the clouds parting. 1/800 sec at f/7.1.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Now I’ve got plenty of light, plenty of shutter speed to trade in for a tighter aperture. This is going to be a documentary shot more than an artistic shot. Let’s see how much we can push this. I dialed in f/14. So the boring stuff, 1/160 sec at f/14. Notice that the tail is getting sharper?

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Now I’m losing some sun behind the clouds. I’ve lost some shutter speed, but I’ve still got a good result. Here is a killer tip for shooting dragons: Note that in the shot below, the shadow of the wings is gone?  Compare it to the one above. Which do you like? 1/80 sec at f/14.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

The sun is coming back out, 1/100 sec at f14. See the wing shadows?

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Okay, let’s push this scene. Let’s cut the aperture again. With lots of sun we get 1/80th sec at f/22. Now I have to be careful to wait for the breeze to die down or I get a fuzzy shot.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

My minimum aperture on this lens is f/32. With lots of light the result is 1/30 sec at f/32.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Okay, if I haven’t got a good shot by now, I’m not going to. Let’s just open the lens all the way and get a comparison shot. 1/2000 sec at f/4.0.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Well, that was one dose of photography lesson. You have to decide what you like and what you don’t like for yourself. On this blog, I have a mixture of art and documentary photography. I take photos for different reasons. And I hope you do too.

Depth of field is an important tool. Items in focus and out of focus create interest in an image. I hope that this is helpful to many of you.

For those of you that dig the art scene, yet yearn to take more art inspired dragon shots, check out my high key, low key dragon post.

Visit Camera Critters for more photos from the animal kingdom.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Forgotten Photo Friday, Portsmouth Navy Yard

From deep in the archives comes two shots from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I took a tourist tug cruise around New Castle Island and we saw this submarine coming up the Piscataqua River. I was shooting into the sun and, well, rather nervous about taking shot of the sub so I didn’t have much time to think about the shot. I was preoccupied by all the Navy and Police boats buzzing around and the sailors with guns on the sub. I wasn’t sure if pointing cameras at a sub would be hazardous to my health.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Twelve Spotted Skimmer Photo Study

Today I have a Twelve Spotted Skimmer photo study for you.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Just for comparison, here is a female Common Whitetail so you can see the difference.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Please don’t ask me how I got them all to face to the right. It’s a trade secret.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Second Mowing

Here in New England, it is time for the second hay mowing. This is the scene from Appleton Farms on Saturday Morning.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saturday Night Creature Feature, Catching the Bandit taking a Bath

Early this morning, I took a drive out to Appleton Farms to see what what happening. The dew was evaporating off of the grass as the sun rose in the sky. I was setting up on this Female. I heard a Common Yellowthroat and saw him duck in a bush on my right, across the way. Then he flew across the trail in into a large brushy patch. I’ve been gunning for the bandit all spring and summer, with moderate success.

The one thing that I have learned in wildlife photography is that you cannot split your attention and you must take advantage of the subject that is willing to work with you.

So, let’s see…set the aperture, set the focus spot on the subject, check the shutter speed, mind the shadows, set exposure for the subject…yes Huston, all systems are GO! Expose the frame. Got it.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

What! A Yellowthroat 15 feet away????? Shoot! SHOOT! Damn the shutter speed! Damn the aperture! Damn the highlights!  SHOOOOOT!!!!!!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

He’s taking a bath in the dew on the plants! Holy cow! SHOOOOOOOT!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

KEEP SHOOTING! UZI MODE!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

What’s the exposure? I don’t know! Just shoot!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Where’s the focus spot? Who gives a damn!

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

In less than five seconds, I shot about 12 frames. I almost never, ever shoot Uzi mode but I knew that this bandit was not going to be hanging around. Now, where was I? Oh, that’s right, I’ve got this Slaty Skimmer in front of me.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

The one thing that I have learned in wildlife photography is that you cannot be too focused on what you are doing.

Visit Camera Critters for more photos from the animal kingdom.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Royal Palace Lamps

As I promised earlier in the week, I have put together a little photo study of the streetlamps around the Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

©2012 Steve Borichevsky©2012 Steve Borichevsky

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