We do get a decent variety of butterflies in the warmer months here in New Jersey, but I always get jealous of the vivid tropical butterflies that I see from the warmer states and tropical countries. I was fairly successful in shooting some of my target species in Florida, and so here is a Julia, one of them:
Photo taken handheld with the Tamron 90mm VC macro lens mounted on a Canon T2i Rebel camera. An aperture of F/8 yielded very high sharpness, and acceptable depth of field for a fairly flat subject.
I have no problem photographing the ordinary and trying my hardest to make it look flattering, but every once in a while you stumble upon an animal or scenic opportunity that you feel very lucky to have encountered. That’s how I felt when I discovered a group of young American Alligators calling for their not too distant mother. I assumed I would have plenty of opportunities to photograph adult Gators on my Florida trip, but didn’t dream of a golden chance like this.
Young American Alligator
I typically shoot landscape/scenic photos with pretty wide lenses (somewhere between 10mm and 40mm), but in this case the stand of trees I wanted to isolate was a bit too far away for lenses of that category. Having a lens arsenal that includes a medium telephoto helped eliminate most of the distracting foreground foliage, and halted the need for walking through mud and swampy areas.
Morning Fog at Big Cypress
This particular shot was taken with a tripod mounted Tamron 70-300mm VC lens, zoomed to 200mm.
I think there really is no such thing as “bad light” in nature photography, as long as you are able to think outside of the box. This recent photograph of an Airplant in Florida was taken while the sun was fairly high, and also a bit behind the subject. Typically, this is an undesirable ambient light angle as the illumination of a subject is very uneven and will cause high variations in dynamic range, which in turn will probably blow out some of the highlights and block up the shadows.
Manatee River Airplant at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
I find this lighting angle difficult to utilize, and implausible in some scenarios. However, it can yield some nice dramatic photos with a little experimentation. In this instance, the sunlight has “kissed” or highlighted mainly only my target subject but caused most of the frame to fall into shadow. Perfect for an isolating effect.
I just flew back home to NJ from Florida yesterday morning and I have lots of files (hopefully good ones to sift through. I will be uploading new images from the trip regularly to http://flickr.com.com/davidraymond but I hope to provide some commentary and technique on individual photos on here as well.
Here’s one sample landscape image from the trip to take a look at it, meanwhile I’ve got to get back to the RAW file processing!
Sunset over Wetlands
Weather permitting, I will be flying out of New Jersey to South Florida on Saturday morning in an attempt to capture as many aspects of nature as possible.
Tamron 70-300 VC, Tamron 90mm VC Macro, and Tamron 10-24mm
Utilizing Tamron’s line of professional grade lenses (SP), I should be ready to tackle scenery, details, and wildlife. All I need now is mother nature to cooperate!
I dusted off my Alien Bee’s AB800 strobe to prep for some portrait work, draped my black muslin over my backdrop holder, manually pre-focused my 17-40mm lens (very small working conditions), and was happy to come up with this self-portrait.
Self-portrait with Strat
I’m actually sitting on an unseen stool here, so that was what I prefocused the lens on. I thought I’d try a pretty stark sidelighting angle with the AB800 angled slightly downward on camera left to create a “masculine lighting effect”. I do have the diffused beauty dish adapter, so I left that mounted on the AB800. I’m happy that there was not much light spilling on the background, which helps contribute to the somber and mysterious mood of this image.
One of the best parts of shooting on black is not worrying about background exposures!
This was one of my favorite recent bird photos. Getting a sharp close photo of any songbird is usually somewhat of an accomplishment, but capturing one doing something “cutesy” can be especially endearing.
This photo was largely the result of right time, right place. But composition-wise I knew I wanted a bit of negative space on the right side of the frame, so the image would not appear too crammed. I went with an aperture of F/7.1 to pull some of the vegetation into focus as well as ensure decent sharpness throughout the bird’s body.
I know this is a ridiculous looking photo, but this is actually my own image, and a setup that I do use from time to time. A great amount of my nature photography is wildlife based, and wielding a super telephoto lens around through the woods and wetlands means having a dedicated tripod with a heavy duty head. That is fine and good, but I hate being limited while I’m exploring, and feel a bit naked not having an easily tripod mountable macro or all-in-one lens to fall back on too.
Super Telephoto and Macro Lens Solution
Pictured here are two of my Canon DSLRs, the top camera with my Tamron 90mm VC macro lens is bound to my Canon 500mm f/4 setup via a Gorillapod Focus (portable tripod). Granted there are plenty of opportunities for the whole combination to swing and sway, yet I am still able to get some macro shots from the top camera using low ISO speeds for maximum image quality.
Note that I don’t walk around with them bound together like this, as it isn’t entirely stable. Generally I sling the big tripod + big lens over my shoulder, while wearing the smaller camera with Gorillapod connected to it around my neck. I connect the 2 setups only when I am going to shoot with the top camera. It ain’t foolproof and it ain’t pretty, but sometimes it does what I need it to do.
If you have a better solution, please let me know!
A fairly basic photo, but hopefully it has enough going for it to make viewers look twice.
First of all, I went to a section of the beach where I anticipated possible foreground elements to create a multi-dimensional image. I set my alarm so that I’d have some time to spare before first light came above the horizon, made sure I had my essential camera gear, grabbed a flashlight, and made the short drive over to the beach.
Gnarled Tree and Sunrise
I walked past this interestingly twisted dead root as soon as I neared the beach, and made a mental note that I could try to incorporate it into my scene. I continued to scout around for a few minutes after that, but realized that I probably wasn’t going to be able to beat the character of the root.
I set my tripod to a pretty low level so that the widest part of the root would not converge with the horizon for this frame, and I will admit to snapping off a vertically extending portion of the root to make sure it would fit into the photo. Another important part of this photograph is the sunburst effect, which I know is generally best achieved with my lens/DSLR combo at an aperture of F/22. I’ve found that having the sunburst disperse across a solid object to help amplify the effect, and I knew that I wanted to frame the sun within a portion of the root to further draw the viewer’s focus to the sun itself. That took some fine movements of the tripod to get things just right.
I also shot some horizontal frames before the sun came above the horizon, and will upload and possibly discuss those later this week.