New Jersey Nature Photography: Settings Sun and London Plane Tree

I do often find myself seeking uncluttered and distinctive shapes when preparing to photograph sunset.  To move beyond a basic sunset snapshot, one generally needs to avoid the urge to make a telephoto picture of just a “flaming fireball” sinking on the horizon.  Under certain conditions, a close-up view of the sun can be interesting, but often times it lacks a noticeable mood.

Conversely, too broad of a shot containing a lot of “visual chaos” or a horizon that has not be leveled will also look like an amateur snapshot.  While I am not sure that I have yet created any epic sunrise or sunset photos, I do feel like I’ve progressed in my compositions over the past 2 years.

New Jersey Fine Art

The late afternoon sun silhouettes an old gnarled Plane Tree at Fort Hancock, New Jersey. Photo taken with the Tamron SP 150-600mm VC lens and the Canon EOS 7D.

Exposure settings: 1/2000 F/8 ISO 100

New Jersey Bird Photography: Magnolia Warbler

With a full day for photography ahead of me, I concocted a course of action to head to Sandy Hook National Recreation Area in New Jersey.  Many photographers are drawn to the area for various reasons: portrait shoots on the beach, sunrise/sunset captures, and bird photography.  Tentatively, I blocked off the time in my head… afternoon of chasing around birds and early evening to try some creative sunset images.

I did wind up with several pics that I liked, but this one really stood out to me:

NJ Birding pic

Up close and personal view of a small and vivid woodland songbird, a Magnolia Warbler. Photo taken with the Tamron SP 150-600mm VC lens and the Canon EOS 7D.

The above uncropped telephoto view was taken with the Tamron SP 150-600mm lens and the Canon EOS 7D DSLR.  Exposure settings: 1/1250 F/8 ISO 800

New Jersey Landscape Photography: Worthington State Forest

When trying to photograph detailed landscape photos, the natural inclination is achieve the greatest depth of field possible.  Why?  The detail resolved in a DSLR photography will exhibit much greater definition than a capture created by a cellphone or compact camera.  The differences in medium may not be apparent until an image is displayed at its largest size.

Are there times when it is “okay” to intentionally limit the depth of field in a landscape view?  Yes.  There are no laws in art creation, and an artist does not advance in his/her field by conforming to the norm.  The scene that I have presented here does quickly fade to soft focus.  Why?  Because I like it that that way.

NJ Fine Art Photo

An Autumnal View of the main drive through Worthington State Forest. Photo taken with the Tamron SP 24-70mm VC lens and the Canon EOS 6D.

Exposure settings: 1/80 F/3.5 ISO 100

New Jersey Studio Photography: Flashpoint Rover RL-600 Monolight

My prior home studio setup for headshots, candids, and formal photography was based on 2 Alien Bees AB800 strobes.  They are great lightweight units and very reliable, but having read about the very low introductory price on Adorama’s Flashpoint Rover RL-600 strobe I felt it was too good of an opportunity to pass up on.  Key features to me are the built-in lithium ion rechargeable battery as well as the “light throw” of 600 watts of illumination.

Adorama Flashpoint RoveLight RL-600

The RL-600 is not only a sleek design, it also comes with a very convenient and well thought out transport case.

I do own a few Canon and off-brand Speedlites which are extremely lightweight and convenient, but I find their light output and relative projected size to be impractical in many scenarios.  The new Flashpoint strobe was delivered yesterday, so I figured the best thing to do was to test it immediately.  Right out of the box, the included remote control worked great.  Next task was to get the monolight mounted on a lightstand and shoot my most convenient “model”, me.

New Jersey Studio Photography

Lit with RL-600 and also a YN 560 for fill light. Tamron SP 70-300mm VC lens and Canon 6D captured the image.

Strobist info and exposure settings:

RoveLight RL-600 shot against silver reflective umbrella @ 1/64th power. Yongnuo YN560 as a kicker @ 1/32nd power. YN-622C triggers. Tamron SP 70-300mm VC + Canon 6D. 1/100 F/8 ISO 200, 70mm.

New Jersey Landscape Photography: Lake Hopatcong State Park

I mistakenly left my treasured 82mm 10-stop Neutral Density filter at home today, par for my course.  However, I did bring along my newly purchased slim mount 82mm Polarizing filter.  The filter it replaced was not slim mount, causing noticeable vignetting at focal lengths under 28mm on my full frame camera.  No signs of darkening of the corners at 24mm today… yay!

Rainy and cool days are not necessarily my favorite days for nature photography, but then again it is still more bearable than an 85 degree summer excursion in New Jersey with our humid climate.  I liked the curvature of the stone retention wall in this scene, but I do feel the bright metal handrail is a bit overpowering.  Yes, I did arrange the leaves myself, thanks for asking!  Having taken several similar frames, I chose to process this one because I like the Mallard swimming by.

NJ Landscape Photo

Autumn leaves lead the viewer into the scene of a small canal in New Jersey. Taken with the Tamron SP 24-70mm VC lens and the Canon EOS 6D.

Exposure settings: 1.3s F/20 ISO 100, 24mm

New Jersey Landscape Photography: Speedwell Falls

This morning I stopped briefly at a small but picturesque nature photography location.  I have photographed the same manmade spillway a few times before, with the camera oriented in a similar manner.  My approach and end product was slightly different today, as I’ve been using a 10-stop Neutral Density filter which greatly increases exposure time.  The images usually display a great exaggeration of motion in natural elements, which we commonly refer to as a “painterly effect”.  There are times when this approach can be impractical or too clichéd, but it also demonstrates great patience and technique in one’s repertoire.

NJ Landscape Photo

A sweeping view of a scenic spillway in New Jersey. Photo taken with the Tamron 14-150mm All-In-One lens.

Exposure settings: 50s F/10 ISO 200.  Photo taken with the Tamron 14-150mm Di III All-In-One Lens for micro four thirds cameras.

Pond Run Creek

Today I made the drive from New Jersey to the not-too-distant scenic destination of Bushkill Falls.  The walkway around the series of waterfalls can be very busy on weekends, but a cool and overcast Monday morning only brought a few dozen admirers out to explore the network of trails.  I did shoot some panoramas as well as straightforward single frames of the cascades, but I really liked the view of the clear water in the creek bend that you can see below:

Fine Art Nature Photography

A wideangle lens angled downwards provide a dramatic view of a bend in the creek at Bushkill Falls in Pennsylvania. Photo taken with the Canon EOS-M camera and the Tamron 18-270mm VC lens.

The above photo was taken with the Tamron 18-270mm VC lens and the tripod-mounted Canon EOS-M mirrorless camera.  Exposure settings: 1.6s F/14 1SO 100

New Jersey Landscape Photo: Rainbow Over Reservoir

We had dramatic clouds earlier this afternoon, and I’d previsualized photographing in such conditions at the very scenic Splitrock Reservoir.  So off I drove with my Tamron zoom lens and Olympus compact camera to “see what I could see”.  Unsurprisingly a light rain began midway through my short drive, not an issue for me because I try to keep camera rainsleeves in my car at all times.

The rain broke just as I parked my car for the hiking trail.  Initially my view of the horizon was obscured but as I walked towards the slope of the reservoir a vivid rainbow did present itself on the opposite shore.  Frustratingly, my view of the rainbow was intersected by many trees and when I made my way to my first clear vantage point the rainbow had all but disappeared.  Feeling dejected that the opportunity seemed lost, I pressed on towards my favorite vantage point along the shore.

Alas, a new refractive arch of colors presented itself…

NJ fine art photo

After a rain shower a rainbow pierces through the clouds above Splitrock Reservoir. Taken with the Tamron 14-150mm All-In-One lens for micro four thirds cameras.

Above photo taken with my tripod mounted Olympus PEN E-PL3 m43 camera and the Tamron 14-150mm Di III zoom lens. Exposure settings: 1/125 F/11 ISO 200

Don’t Forget to Photograph the Small Things

This featured photo is from my most recent trip to Ricketts Glen State Park, a stunning place for nature photography.  With abundant waterfalls and silky streams, one can’t help but try to include as much scenery as possible in every frame.  I did shoot broad views of the falls and was thrilled with the results.  However, the range of captures shouldn’t end with the typical photos of the falls, there is a world of more intimate scenes that can hold their own as art.

Nature closeup photo of Autumn leaf

Closeup view of a fallen yellow Maple Leaf with softly running water below. Taken with the Tamron 14-150mm Di III lens for micro four thirds cameras.

Above photo taken with the tripod-mounted Olympus PEN E-PL3 camera and the Tamron 14-150mm All-In-One lens.  Exposure settings: 6s F/10 ISO 200

Autumn at Lake Ames

Below is a panoramic landscape photo taken yesterday morning in Morris County, New Jersey.  My initial photo was a single capture of the prominent yellow tree (near center of the frame).  Having read recently that “the best time to shoot a vertical shot is right after shooting a horizontal one” I have started thinking that “the best time shoot a panoramic image is right after shooting a single image”.  In other words… just do it!

New Jersey Fine Art Panorama Art

A sweeping view of the lake’s shore shows us the gentle slopes of changing trees at Lake Ames. A distant hill is also reflected in the still water. Taken with the Tamron 14-150mm Di III All-In-One lens and Olympus PEN E-PL3 micro four thirds camera.

The above panoramic art measure over 17,000pixels of leafy goodness.  Taken with the tripod mounted Tamron 14-150mm Di III All-In-One lens and the Olympus PEN E-PL3 m43 camera.