Today I received an E-Mail from the Canadian Geographic society that one of my Beaver photo was published in an article on their web site ! You can read the short article by following this link: http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/blog/posting.asp?ID=1946
My photo is the one with the Beaver swimming on a foggy morning, my name is at the bottom of the photo.
This week it’s a photo of a Rose Chafer that i found on a walk near a pond. there were a lot of them i just had to choose the one who was best positioned and most photogenic.
Friday it was 13°C and the next morning (yesterday morning) it dropped to -1°C and it was falling big wet snowflakes 😦
The photo below was taken at the Ecomuseum of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue near my home. Taken with my Pentax K50 and DA 55-300mm WR.
Last autumn i entered a contest in OPC (Outdoor Photograhy Canada ) magazine, one of my photo was selected for an honourable mention. I would have liked to win but you can’t win them all 😉
It’s the last photo at the bottom of the page “Smoky water and ice“.
This past week was quite cold here in “La Belle Province”, a true Canadian winter week 🙂
On the morning that i took the photo posted below it was -30°C (-35°C with the windchill factor), the trees along the St-Lawrence river were covered with frost. I converted the photo in B&W because i felt it was better looking like that.
Not much time to shoot this week but got a photo on the shore of a Lake close to my work. Birds are staying later and later now, some even stay here that were flying South some years ago, warmer climate probably ?!?!
Finally we had some colder days this week, i was waiting anxiously for below 0°C temperatures for more opportunities, especially frozen waterholes and ponds. I like photographing leaves caught in ice, it’s a subject that you can find easily. This week photo was taken at a pond, what attracted me was the contrast between the pale leaves and dark water and ice. The 2 water drops were frozen on the leaves which added some interest.
I took this week photo along a river that is on my way to my work, i had about 30 minutes to find a subject and get a good shot. I finally found that moss covered rock with the river in the background.
Frogs are easier to find now that the temperature is warmer, so this week it’s a photo of a Green Frog. I converted it in B&W because i felt it would look better that way.
Now that i talked about the gear and how to use it, i will talk more about the artistic part and how to record and compose shots. The good thing about Macro/Close-up photography is that you can do it everywhere, you don’t need to live in a wild area, you can get some great shots even in your backyard. When i’m walking in the forest most of the time i’m looking on the ground to find an interesting subject. Once you found something interesting you will need to look for the best angle from which to photograph it, walk around (if possible) and get down on your knees if necessary.
I like this photo of a young Leopard Frog that i took early one morning on the shore of a small pond because it shows the animal in it’s habitat. There is enough DOF on the frog but not too much that the background would become distracting, the Bokeh of the lens also helps here. The low point of view and the dew covered grass adds to appreciate that little fellow.
Pentax K-01 with DFA 100mm Macro WR, ISO 1600, 1/60 sec. at f/5.6, handheld.
Background and DOF control
When shooting Macro photos you need to be aware of the background and always position your camera and also choosing the appropriate aperture to blurr the background so it will not distract the viewer from the main subject. You might need to move some weeds or branches in the background to have a cleaner composition. Color of the background can affect the final look of your shots and give different feelings when looking at the result.
Sometimes the background can add to your subject especially if the subject is smaller in the frame and it’s part of the habitat (like the photo above of a Leopard Frog).
Pentax K-01 with DFA 100mm Macro WR
You might need to control the light hitting your subject, you can use a flash, but personally i prefer natural light (i don’t own any flash). I often use myself, camera bag or even took off my shirt to shade my subject from direct sunlight when necessary. If i need to fill-in some light i use my DSLR book (which is always in my bag) to do that or you can have a small reflector.
I was looking for photographing frogs at one of my favorite pond and saw this Crab spider with her prey on a flower. Since they were underneath the petals the light was not so good so i used my DSLR user guide to fill-in some light, even then the white petals were blown-out but i can live with that. So always keep your eyes open, you never know what you can find.
Pentax K-01 with DFA 100mm Macro WR, tripod.
Often the most difficult part is finding an interesting subject, taking time to look around, taking time to relax will open your mind and be more productive than walking too much in hope of finding a better place. Usually the longer i stay at the same place the best shots i get. When i’m shooting frogs it’s the same thing, i try to find the frog that is in a better surrounding and let me get close enough to make a good photograph. After that i work around it and try different lenses if possible.
This was taken after a rainy day followed by a cold night, the water drops just frozed on the leaves. The difficult part was finding a subject with a beautiful surrounding. The technical part was easy, just stopped down the lens to have enough DOF to render everything in sharp focus.
Sony NEX-3 with SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm/4, tripod.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with shutter speed, DOF, lenses or even WB and ISO. Modern cameras give you a lot of choices and you’re only limited by your imagination. Don’t forget to bring your camera with you as often as you can since a Macro lens and a camera don’t take that much space and you never know when a small subject will cross your road.
Pentax K-01 with DFA 100mm Macro WR, Tripod.
This week the photo was taken around sunrise, some Mallard Ducks were resting on the snow. I captured that one as it was preening in the sunlight.
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6 L, tripod.
This week photo is a closer composition of ice and snow taken in a river, i crossed the river to get in place on a small “island” of rocks in the middle of the river. I converted it in B&W since there wasn’t much colors anyway.
Canon T3i with 70-200mm/4 L with a Polarizer, tripod.
Quality of light is an important thing in photography, it can make a big difference in the rendering and impact of a photo. I always try to have the best light for my subjects and that means going out early. Sure you can take great photos in beautiful light at other times of the day but i prefer the mornings because there is often fog, frost or dew and those also adds impact in combination with the beautiful light !
Here is the same subject but in different light, see how the look and feeling is affected by the quality of the light:
I took this photo before sunrise with flat light, i think it doesn’t do the subject justice.
I took this photo later when the sun was up and hitting the wall sideways. I prefer this one because the sidelight show the texture better and is less flat.
Both photos taken with Canon T3i, 70-200mm/4 L on a tripod.
Some subjects demand flat even light and some needs directional light to have more impact.
This one have very subtle sidelight, just enough to accentuate the raindrop marks in the mud.
Pentax K-01, DFA 100mm Macro WR, tripod.
Backlight is a very effective light for transluscent subject.
Pentax K-01, DFA 100mm Macro WR.
Fog help to tame high DR landscape,it’s easier to expose the shot.
Pentax K-01, DA 20-40mm Ltd WR, tripod.
This time it’s a photo of a Black Duck that i took last week-end on a cold morning (-22C) around sunrise. The fog add to the atmosphere of the silouhetted Duck.
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.
This time it was around -22C with winds from 40 to 60 Km/h, so the temperature with the windchill factor was around -32C. First thing, if you want to keep shooting and be comfortable enough to concentrate on your photography and not on your cold feet and fingers you need to dress for the conditions. So i was well dressed so i was able to stay out and shooting without any problems.
My goal was to show how hard it is for the Ducks to survive during winter, most of the Ducks were trying to keep their body heat by sleeping on the ice on the shore of the river. I’m always impressed that those Ducks stay here all winter in those conditions when they can flew south, peoples giving them food probably persuaded them to brave the long Canadian winter.
So, this time i finally concentrated my efforts on capturing the cold and foggy mood of that morning. The Ducks were covered with a thin layer of frost and some even had ice on their back.
A Male Mallard Duck on the ice, i wanted to show him in it’s habitat and included the frozen waterfall in the background.
Canon T3i with 70-200mm/4 L, tripod.
Bath time, a Black Duck covered with ice on it’s back, the sun hitting the fog added to the atmosphere. I let the Duck go darker in PP to keep the silouhette effect.
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.
Male and Female Mallard Duck in the river, in PP i kept some of the blue cast in the snow to convey the coldness of the morning.
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.
Stop it, your feathers are beautiful now !
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, Tripod.
When i was walking down the trail to the river in the morning i found feathers on the ground and the remaining of 2 wings, i decided to wait and go for the Ducks first and get back to photograph the feathers later. So when i finished photographing the Ducks i walked back to my truck and was looking for interesting feathers to photograph when i felt that something was looking at me. Looked up and saw a Hawk on a branch, pretty sure that it was a Cooper’s Hawk, he found a very reliable source of food for the winter !
I probably interrupted it’s hunting session. I have to admit that it’s not a very good shot but i managed to grab some quick photos between the branches before he flew away, missed the focus on the eye and cut the tip of it’s tail.
Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.
After 2 hours the sun was too high in the sky and the contrast was too much to make interesting photos, so i decided to end my photo session there. I wanted to take photos with my WA lens but it didn’t happened that time, maybe next week-end. I didn’t got “The Photo” of a frosted Duck i was looking for but i got some usable shots anyway and you always learn something about your craft and especially about the birds. By going often i will learn the habit of those Ducks and will eventually get better photos from that place.
This week i took mostly shots of leaves caught in ice on a Lake near my work, it’s not always easy to find the best subject, but you know when you find the right one !
Pentax K-01 with DFA 100mm Macro WR, Tripod, RAW.
Didn’t had time to take photos this week, so i’m posting one taken in late Autumn. It’s a leaf caught underwater in the St-Lawrence river.
I want to talk about a topic that is not often talked about in Photography forums. Peoples that or not photographers thinks that it’s easy to be a good Nature photographer, you just have to buy a good camera and then you go in the wild and you will take great Wildlife shots for sure since you have a very good camera !
I will not talk about learning the skills here like exposure, composition and knowing your gear, i will talk about how it can be tough on your body to be out in the field with a camera bag full of cameras and lenses in difficult environments and weather. If you want to be serious with your photography and come home with good shots and push yourself to get the best out of your subjects you will have to be out early and in sometimes in very bad conditions.
Eventually if your interested in photographing wildlife and especially birds you will need at least a 400mm lens, sooner or later your camera bag will get heavier and it’s your shoulders and back that will take that load. Add to this that you will be walking in rough terrain and often off beaten trails, your body will take some abuse over the years and as you get older all those years will get into you. Now we are lucky to have great camera bags and backpacks that help a lot carrying those heavy camera bags in the wild, when i started photography about 26 years ago i was using a camera bag like the journalist (a big square bag that you carry with the strap on your shoulder), not good for the shoulders and neck.
Blood sucking Mosquitoes are another thing that you have to deal with here in Canada and many other places in the world. They can drive you crazy while you’re trying to compose your shots, especially when i’m photographing frogs on the shore of a pond.
Canon 7D with EF 70-300mm IS + Extension tubes, tripod.
That Green Frog photo was taken on the shore of a little pond infested with black flies !
You will have to get wet and often shoot while getting flat on the ground on muddy terrain like when shooting along a pond. So you will get wet and cold even on not so cold days, as you get older your articulations will not like this too much.
Pentax K-01 with DFA 100mm Macro WR handheld while laying on the ground.
Cold temperatures are inevitable around here, so if you want to take great shots in winter you will have to go out in bad weather. I really like to get out early in the morning when it’s -15C or lower because you can take photographs of fog over the rivers. When shooting in winter you have to be well dressed, but your hands will get cold when handling metal tripods and lenses, i prefer to use thin gloves but there are times when manipulating the gear is easier with your bare hands. I once frozed my little fingers and they felt like i had a 100 needles planted in them for about 1 week.
When i saw that a Fox had walked on the Lake and the sun was just about to rise above the horizon, i stopped and didn’t had time to put my gloves on. It was -20C, my fingers got frozen quickly at handling the Graduated Split neutral density filter in front of the lens.
Canon T3i with EFs 15-85mm, tripod.
I may sound not too positive but it’s really like that, it’s hard sometimes, long hours waiting for wildlife on a cold day sitting in the snow but that’s what makes it so much fun. If it would be easy everyone would get great shots and there would not be so much interest in trying to get beautiful shots. Not everyone knows how much work it takes to get beautiful photos of Nature’s wonderful world, but YOU know what it takes to get them.
This week was not very productive for photography, so i just got some shots this morning. I’m sharing a Macro shot of a leaf frozen in a water hole.
I’m just starting this new series, i will post my favorite photo that i took every week, a photo that i like or represent something for me. So lets get started, November is a transition month between Autumn and real winter and opportunities or not always evident depending on the years. This week i’m showing a photo i took before going to work, it represent what the November month is for me, cold and brown.
Frosted leaf on an icy pond.