2014 Challenge, Week 31 Nature & Wildlife – SHADOWS

One of the least practiced forms of Nature and Wildlife Photography may very well be SHADOWS. Nature can be so pretty in itself, full of colors and textures that we often fail to notice the SHADOWS it casts.

20100213 - IMG_6941One of the most classic examples may very well be the insect SHADOW visible through the translucency of a leaf. An advantage of this technique is that it works particularly well at mid-day. This is when the light from the Sun is generally to harsh for regular nature and wildlife photography.

Spider LeafIt doesn’t necessarily have to be through the leaf. Nothing seems to give the heebie-jeebies like the SHADOW of a spider. You don’t have to include the actual subject. However it’s always nice to find a way to compose your image with the subject and the SHADOW.

Hoenderloo ForrestWant BIG SHADOWS, trees will cast BIG SHADOWS. It can be the full SHADOW of a single tree or an entire forest. Naturally the lower the position of the Sun in the sky, the longer those SHADOWS will stretch.

In the strong sunshineFlowers and plants will cast shadows as well. This lily Pad is a great example with the flower casting a shadow on it’s own leaf.  An other composition that works better around mid-day.

Shadow on Flower BedDon’t forget, photographers cast SHADOWS to. You may or may not want your own SHADOW as part of your image composition.

TO CONTROL SHADOWS: In nature the Sun is your source of light. As it travels through the sky, its angle relative to subjects on the ground will change. This in effect will cast a different shadow at a different time of day. The earlier in the day, the more stretched out to the West your SHADOW will be. The later in the day, the more stretched your SHADOW will be to the East. The Sun rises in the East and sets in the West. A mid-day summer Sun however will cast a shadow directly under your subject. Hope this helps you plan your Challenge a little better.

Remember to respect nature and not to disturb any animals or destroy their habitat in any way during your quest for the perfect image. Also take time to familiarize yourself with local wildlife and plants. Some animals can present a danger, especially if protecting their young. Spiders and Snakes, especially hard to see baby snakes can present a great danger due to their venom. It’s always better to keep a safe distance from any wild animal no matter how sweet and innocent it may seem. Animals should not be fed. Feeding animals often encourages them to approach humans, increasing the risk of injury from individuals who may appreciate them less than you might. Most animals in rescue centers get there due to an encounter with humans.

Get acquainted with plants like Poisson Oak and Poisson Ivy or any other dangerous plants in your area. Some plants not only represent a risk of skin irritation but can also kill you if touched or ingested. Learn to identify the dangerous plants in your area.

The sky’s the limit for this week’s challenge. Get out there and show us what Mother Nature has to offer you! Nature and Wildlife photography can be a great family activity

As this is Nature and wildlife, try to keep human objects such as houses, bridges and fences out of your images as much as possible. There’s often a way to compose an image to give the illusion of complete nature without using Photoshop.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2014 Challenge, Week 28: LANDSCAPE – B&W

I’m filling in for Trevor this week. Keeping inline with his LANDSCAPE theme’s, I chose to propel us back to the time of Ansel Adams.  No one can argue that he is one of the great pioneers of B&W Landscape Photography. Unless you’re still shooting film, digital photography brings to us B&W in a totally different light.

Himalaya, Nepal (front page Explore)

For purists, film remains the best media for B&W Landscape Photography. Film grain adds to the character of an image, while noise is a digital photographer’s nightmare. Film photography also requires mastering colored filters. To boost contrasts and darken skies yellow, orange and red filters are used. If you don’t shoot B&W images in-camera, you may want to consider using these filters in your workflow during digital post processing.

Olympus

When you set out to shoot in B&W you should get into the B&W mind-set. While color images rely on colors to create impact, B&W images are more about tones and texture. Look for scenes with higher contrasts and good separation of your subject and basic image elements.

timberline

Ansel Adams relied on the principles of the Zone System to get his exposure just right. The Spectrum of BLACK to WHITE was broken down into graduated blocks from 0 to 10 with 18% gray in the center. This is similar to today’s gray scale and can be applied to digital photography just like it was in the film days. It’s important to get your mid tones exposure just right not to burn details in your blacks and your whites. You can read a little more on the ZONE SYSTEM on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zone_System

The peakSome scenes may be difficult to control. Bright skies and snowy mountain tops can easily overexpose under some conditions. In the old days we used to dodge a scene with our hand or with an object in front of the lens. This permitted us to restrict the amount of light in a specific area of a scene. Today we have the graduated neutral density filters. I find them to be one of the most valuable landscape photography tools in my bag. Graduated Neutral Density Filters on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graduated_neutral_density_filter

Riviere-des-prairies / Montreal Back River - INFRARED

One of my personal favorites for B&W Landscape photography, Infrared filters. The most common filter is the 720NM filter such as the Hoya R72. Different digital cameras will block infrared light at different levels. You can experiment with different filters from 560NM and up. This is great for long exposures and gives a unique look to your images. Your in-camera result will be a reddish image. A basic conversion to B&W is all you’ll need. I took the above image with a 560nm filter on a non converted Nikon DSLR.

GB.USA.07.0025

Composition, separation of elements and good exposure control become all the more important in B&W landscape photography. Many techniques we’ve already covered in previous challenges will come in handy. In addition you’ll need to decide if you’re going to take B&W images in-camera or post process your color images to B&W. For those who post process there are additional tools such as Nik’s Silver Effects and Topaz Lab’s B&W Effects. These tools can help you get the best out of your B&W conversions.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

 

2014 Challenge, Week 27 Nature & Wildlife – RED, WHITE and BLUE

Already the 4th of July weekend for a good part of you participating in the 2014 PhotoChallenge. Having participants from all over the world, with varying climates and apposing seasons, makes these Nature and Wildlife PhotoChallenges a real Challenge for me. I don’t want to exclude anyone, but while summer is in full swing in Los Angeles, people are coping with winter in Cape Town. I figured a good way to integrate 4th of July Weekend in this week’s theme would be to apply the colors that most closely signify this National Holiday, RED, WHITE and BLUE.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Mating Rainbow Lorikeet / Acouplement de Loriquet à tête bleueI don’t expect everyone to find all three colors at once in nature. Even these mating Rainbow Lorikeets from Down Under are lacking the basic white. This week’s challenge is to focus on one, two or all three of these colors in one nature or wildlife image. No man made object or purely domestic animal such as a cat or dog.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Male Northern Cardinal / Cardinal rouge mâleTry and isolate your subject so that the color/colors you choose for this week’s challenge are predominant in your image. The Northern Cardinal above is a good example of using the RED for the subject while complementing the image with the WHITE snow.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Snow Goose Landing / Oie des neigesBlue skies make for blue water. Add a white bird such as a Gull or this Snow Goose and again you’re easily using two of the three colors for this week’s PhotoChallenge.

Steve Troletti Photography: Butterflies / Papillons &emdash; Blue Morpho Wings Open on red flowers / Morpho Bleu les ailes ouvertes sur fleurs rougeA Blue Morpho Butterfly on REDdish flowers. The Blue Morpho also has a touch of white along the top of its wings. Be attentive with butterflies as they may appear to have dull colors when their wings are closed. However, once they open their wings, their’s a good chance you’ll find a totally different colored butterfly.

Steve Troletti Photography: Insects / Insectes / Insecta &emdash; Ruddy Darter / Sympétrum rouge sangYou can find Dragonflies in RED, WHITE or BLUE, maybe all three together. This Ruddy Darter is just what we’re looking for. Insects come in a multitude of colors. They can also be there one day and gone the next. It’s not because you don’t find them on a specific day that they won’t be there the next.

Steve Troletti Photography: Flowers, Plants and Trees /Fleurs, plantes et arbres &emdash; Phallic Flower / Fleur phallique - AnthuriumFlowers come in all imaginable colors as well. This Anthurium has bright REDs and a WHITE Spathe. Against a bright blue sky this would have been the perfect image for this week’s challenge.

Circular Polarizer Filter

Circular Polarizer Filter

A good tool to use for this PhotoChallenge may be a Polarizer Filter. It will enhance contrast between colors and may reduce unwanted reflections over water or on your subject. If you’re going for BLUE Skies it will give you Rich BLUE Sky when used properly. Here’s a quick link on Wikipedia regarding the use of Polarizer Filters http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polarizing_filter_%28photography%29

Remember to respect nature and not to disturb any animals or destroy their habitat in any way during your quest for the perfect image. Please be extremely considerate of nesting birds and their nests. Keep a good distance away, not to overly stress the birds. The birds choose their nesting area carefully. Breaking and removing branches to take a better picture will only render the nest more vulnerable to predators.

Also take time to familiarize yourself with local wildlife and plants. Some animals can present a danger, especially if protecting their young. Spiders and Snakes, especially hard to see baby snakes can present a great danger due to their venom. It’s always better to keep a safe distance from any wild animal no matter how sweet and innocent it may seem. Animals should not be fed. Feeding animals often encourages them to approach humans, increasing the risk of injury from individuals who may appreciate them less than you might. Most animals in rescue centers get there due to an encounter with humans.

Get acquainted with plants like Poisson Oak and Poisson Ivy or any other dangerous plants in your area. Some plants not only represent a risk of skin irritation but can also kill you if touched or ingested. Learn to identify the dangerous plants in your area.

The sky’s the limit for this week’s challenge. Get out there and show us what Mother Nature has to offer you! Nature and Wildlife photography can be a great family activity

As this is Nature and wildlife, try to keep human objects such as houses, bridges and fences out of your images as much as possible. There’s often a way to compose an image to give the illusion of complete nature without using Photoshop.

To fully take advantage of the sunlight, early mornings and late afternoons will provide a lower angle and softer light to work with.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

 

2014 Challenge, Week 23 Nature & Wildlife – GROUND

We tend to ignore the ground we walk on when in nature. During a camping trip in Idyllwild, I was fascinated as my eldest son cried out, “Look Daddy a Scorpion!” I looked and looked but could not see anything but sand. Taking in the fact that he was a third of my height and his young eyes worked better than his aging father’s eyes, I got down on my knees. It was a small scorpion barely a few grains of sand long. From that point on I always keep my eyes open and a little closer to the ground

Yellow Microdot by Derrell Licht - https://flic.kr/p/9HgJdf

I don’t have an image of that specific scorpion but it looked something like this image above by Derrell Licht. For this challenge I’m not asking you to go find the most minute critter in the dirt and photograph it. I want you to capture the natural ground covering of a natural habitat such as a forest, desert, rain-forest, etc… Let’s make it 100% natural. This would exclude man made, such as your typical lawn or botanical flowers. It can be a close-up of vegetation, bugs, reptiles and other small ground dwelling animals in their Habitat.  It can also be a wider landscape type capture displaying texture and composition of a large and uniform terrain. As long as we get a good feel for what the ground is made of in your image. Don’t be afraid to apply all of the technical skills practiced in past challenges by Jeremy.

Fall Foliage on the Ground - by Billy Wilson

This autumn foliage covering the ground is a good example of what our friends in the Southern Hemisphere may be experiencing, if not snow. Here Billy used a very narrow depth of field to isolate the leaves on the ground.

Ripples in the Sand by Pedro Szekely

The desert sand offers little color. However the usually large areas covered by deserts and dunes give us the opportunity to photograph ongoing textures created by a natural phenomena such as wind.

the dry season

The ground can differ largely during a drought or a dry season as in the example above. The cracks and grooves with the sparse vegetation offers a unique perspective of what our world can look like when water makes itself scarce.

magic forest - Zauberwald

In contrast to deserts and arid landscapes, this plush green forest is entirely covered by a green moss. So much so that it’s even climbing up the base of the trees. Although this looks great as a large plan, you can get in closer as in the image below.

Steve Troletti Photography: Mushrooms and Fungus / Champignons &emdash; Mushroom / Champignon

Moss in itself comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are in effect small forests that are home to a multitude of living creatures. You can find small insects, amphibians and other vegetation such as this tiny little mushroom.

A new Pine forest grows

 Pine forests are often bare of other vegetation. The ground is usually covered in pine needles and pine cones preventing other vegetation from penetrating the ground. Somehow little pine trees find a way to grow through all of those needles and reach the sunshine.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Northern Cardinal / Cardinal Rouge

If you’re patient enough you can even catch a bird or two on the ground scavenging for food. Many species of birds scan the forest floor for seeds and nutritious bugs and worms.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Spider Carrying Egg Sac

Keep an eye on the ground as you never know what you may step on as you trek through nature. This little spider carrying a sac full of eggs crossed my path right in front of my feet.

  • Remember to respect nature and not to disturb any animals or destroy their habitat in any way during your quest for the perfect image. 
  • Also take time to familiarize yourself with local wildlife and plants. Some animals can present a danger, especially if protecting their young. Spiders and Snakes, especially hard to see baby snakes can present a great danger due to their venom. It’s always better to keep a safe distance from any animal no matter how sweet and innocent they may seem. 
  • Get acquainted with plants like Poisson Oak and Poisson Ivy or any other dangerous plants in your area. Some plants not only represent a risk of skin irritation but can also kill you if touched or ingested. Learn to identify the dangerous plants in your area.
  • If you’re in mosquito and tick country don’t forget your bug spray. 

You can choose to photograph low to the ground or higher up to capture details over a large area. A tripod may be a good thing to bring along in wooded areas as light can often be at a minimum in a forest.

The sky’s the limit for this week’s challenge. Get out there and show us what Mother Nature has to offer.

As this is Nature and wildlife, try to keep human objects such as houses, bridges and fences out of your images as much as possible. There’s often a way to compose an image to give the illusion of complete nature without using Photoshop.

To fully take advantage of the sunlight, early mornings and late afternoons will provide a lower angle and softer light to work with.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

 

2014 Challenge, Week 19 Nature & Wildlife – MOTHER NATURE

Being Mother’s day here in North America and many other regions around the World, I see no better theme than MOTHER NATURE for our Week 19 Challenge. I figured we’d make it an open theme. This means letting every 2014 PhotoChallenge participant express their photographic interpretation of what Mother Nature means to them and the impact it carries in their lives.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Rosaceae, Potentilla visianii

The first thing that may come to mind are flowers for Mother’s Day! Although many of the May flowers offered for mother’s day aren’t wild flowers, try and focus on something from Mother Nature. Like this alpine flower,  Rosaceae (Potentilla visianii), a gift from nature found in the eastern Alps.

Steve Troletti Photography: Mushrooms and Fungus / Champignons &emdash; Mushroom / Champignon

It’s not just the pretty flowers that are growing. In more humid wooded areas mushrooms are sporing. Fungus of all kinds can make for interesting photo subjects. Sometimes they go unseen like this tiny mushroom above. Barely measuring a quarter inch in height, it was growing almost unseen among the moss on a fallen tree.

Steve Troletti Photography: Insects / Insectes / Insecta &emdash; Gerridae / gerrid�s

This water strider (Gerridae) is a good example of some of the firsts insects we can find in ponds, lakes and wetlands. They don’t stay still for very long, making them a true challenge to photograph!

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Cooper's Hawk Mating / Accouplement d'Éperviers de Cooper

This time of year is also the mating season for many species. Keep your eyes open as insects, amphibians, mammals and birds, like these Cooper’s Hawks, are likely to be mating.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; The Fox and Squirrel... / Le renard et l'écureuil ...

Be aware at all times and have your camera ready. Mother Nature can without any warning present you with the best photo opportunities. As beautiful as nature may be, it sometimes can present itself in cruel and unusual ways.

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; The Hunt! / La Chasse!

Predator and prey scenarios come in all shapes and sizes. They are as likely to occur in or on water, land or the sky above you. The good news is this squirrel made it through without a scratch, just a few rattled nerves…

La femelle cardinale rouge déjà au nid - Parc-nature de l'Ile-de-la-Visitation

Remember to respect nature and not to disturb any animals or destroy their habitat in any way during your quest for the perfect image. Please be extremely considerate of nesting birds and their nests keeping a good distance away, not to overly stress the bird. The birds choose their nesting area carefully. Breaking and removing branches to take a better picture will only render the nest more vulnerable to predators.

Also take time to familiarize yourself with local wildlife and plants. Some animals can present a danger, especially if protecting their young. Spiders and Snakes, especially hard to see baby snakes can present a great danger due to their venom. It’s always better to keep a safe distance from any animal no matter how sweet and innocent it may seem. Animals should not be fed. Feeding animals often encourages them to approach humans, increasing the risk of injury from individuals who may appreciate them less than you might. Most animals in rescue centers get there due to an encounter with humans.

Get acquainted with plants like Poisson Oak and Poisson Ivy or any other dangerous plants in your area. Some plants not only represent a risk of skin irritation but can also kill you if touched or ingested. Learn to identify the dangerous plants in your area.

The skies the limit for this week’s challenge. Get out there and show us what Mother Nature has to offer you!

As this is Nature and wildlife, try to keep human objects such as houses, bridges and fences out of your images as much as possible. There’s often a way to compose an image to give the illusion of complete nature without using Photoshop.

To fully take advantage of the sunlight, early mornings and late afternoons will provide a lower angle and softer light to work with.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

 

2014 Challenge, Week 16 Nature & Wildlife – Water (Long Exposure)

Whether you’re photographing a cascading stream, river or ocean waves breaking on a beach, you can always make your images more interesting by using a slower shutter speed. Doing so may seem intimidating or even expensive. This week we’ll explore low cost tricks and techniques to add a little spice to your images using slow shutter speeds and long exposures..

Montreal Back River at Sunset (Start of Fall)

In the above image I simply took advantage of the lower light situation at the end of the day to acquire a slower shutter speed. The fast moving water combined with a slow shutter speed of 1/30th of a second captured the illusion of movement. It was captured hand held leaning against a tree for stability. I also used a 50mm lens on a full frame (35mm on crop factor DSLRs) It’s easier to hold stable a wider angle lens than a longer focal one.

Steve Troletti Photography: NATURE & LANDSCAPES &emdash; Lanaudieres River - Downstream from Dorwin falls in Rawdon

In the river above, a 30 second exposure was used. I didn’t have ND (Neutral Density) filters on me to slow down the scene. I decided to use a polarized filter to get some help in lowering my light by a stop or so. I also reduced my ISO to 100 and closed my lens down to f/22 at 18mm. Again the lower light of an overcast and rainy day gave me an edge. In some cases, when I use a compact camera or my smartphone, I can achieve similar results by placing my sunglasses, polarized or not, in front of my lens.

macgyver-style iphone tripod

Although a tripod and a remote shutter (wired / Wireless) simplify the task of taking long exposures images, there are plenty of options. I’ve never let the lack of gear and gadget sstop me. Almost all cameras including smartphones have a timer release mode. This will allow you to trigger your camera without shaking or moving it. You can always use your environment to help you stabilize your equipment. Rocks, branches, leaves and even trash can all help you point your camera in the right direction when used wisely. Just give it a little MacGyver. I personally always carry a small roll of duck tape and electrical tape to help out with these situations.

Liffey Falls

Using your environment to stabilize your equipment will often keep you low to the ground. That can open up a whole new world of composition ideas as in the above image. In many cases, taking your photos lower than eye level will add a perspective of grandiose to your images.

Misty river

Long exposure on apparently still bodies of water will also bring out interesting effect of smoothness and textures. Water almost always moves. The wind can create movement and texture that will add a surreal look to your images.

As this is Nature and wildlife, try to keep human objects such as houses, bridges and fences out of your images as much as possible. There’s often a way to compose an image to give the illusion of complete nature without using Photoshop.

Don’t forget Jeremy’s week 14 “Rule of Thirds”, this challenge is still a good way to keep on practicing good composition techniques.

To fully take advantage of the sunlight, early mornings and late afternoons will provide a lower angle and softer light to work with.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2014 Challenge, Week 12: Nature and Wildlife Photography – BUDS

Spring, it finally arrived. Although it may not look like it outside for some folk, nature is showing some signs of Spring. One that we’re sure to find all over the Northern Hemisphere is a bud. Whether it be from a tree, flower or plant, nature is showing some sort of new life even in Arctic Canada.

Steve Troletti Photography: NATURE & LANDSCAPES &emdash; Blooming Magnolia

The blooming bud of a Magnolia tree may attract the most attention. They’re not only large but are also very pretty. Their large size makes them easier to photograph as a close-up.

Tulipbud

Tulips don’t bud as early as Magnolias but in the warmer climate areas they should be ready for some interesting and colorful photography.

Budding

A little closer to mother nature, forest trees are full of buds. Some will turn into leaves and  fruit trees will follow with flower buds later in the season. The buds on some trees can be very small. A macro lens may be necessary to capture the full details of these smaller buds.

Budding Cactus

Desert folks, no need to worry, Cactus and other types of vegetation growing in arid areas  also wait for spring to bud and come out in full bloom. Again the larger size of these plants may not necessitate a macro to fully capture every detail!

2000px-Plant_Buds_clasification.svg

I got this chart from Wikipedia as a reference to identifying the different stages and types of buds. It should also facilitate the task of locating buds on different types of plants. You can reference the full Wikipedia article on buds @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bud

BUD BEER

F.Y.I. the above image is not exactly what we’re looking for :-)

To fully take advantage of the sunlight, early mornings and late afternoons will provide a lower angle and softer light to work with.

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one original (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to Google+Facebook, or Flickr (or all three). Tag the photo #photochallenge.org. or #photochallenge2014.
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.