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.

2014 Challenge, Week 9: LANDSCAPE – PANORAMA

I’ll be filling in for Trevor this week, but I’ll stay faithful to Trevor’s Landscape theme. Before I start I have to say that I’m very happy with the effort everyone put through with my birds in flight theme. The interpretation, the amount and the quality of the images were outstanding.

This week I want to to take your Landscape images to the next level. I love landscapes but sometimes there’s just no wide angle lens wide enough to capture the beauty presented to us. I love to shoot my landscapes with a 35mm or a 50mm lens and take several images to be stitched together into a final panoramic image.

Don’t worry, an easy to use tool is available for free from Microsoft that will allow you to stitch your images together. That’s if you don’t already have a software solution at hand. It’s called ICE (Image Composite Editor). You can download it directly from microsoft at http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/groups/ivm/ice/

Premières neiges 2013 sur les Préalpes fribourgeoises ce matin / First snow, Fall 2013 on the Fribourg Alps this morning

In the example above I used a Nikkor 85mm mounted on a Nikon Full frame DSLR to create an image made of 28 seperate images. It allowed me to capture the first snowfall on the Fribourg Pre-Alps and the Church of Sorens in high resolution from my balcony in Sorens, Switzerland.

Les Préalpes fribourgeoises

Above I decided to go larger and get the full impact of the Fribourg Pre-Alps tucked behind the Gruyère lake from the Belle-Vue in the country-side of Sorens, Switzerland. I used a Nikkor 35mm lens mounted to a Nikon DX format DSLR.

lac Neuchatel, Estavayer-le-lac

Panoramic images aren’t limited to stitched images from DSLR cameras. Many hybrid and compact cameras have a panorama function built-in. In the above image I used my Android phone and the Panorama-360 app to create this 360 degree view of the terasse at the Estavayer-le-lac beach on Neuchâtel lake in Switzerland.

Morning at lake Neuchatel / Matin au lac Neuchatel

There’s no reason to let your lens limit the width and height of your landscape images. Again I used my Android phone to capture this field in an orchard located high above Lake Neuchâtel in Châbles, Switzerland. All done with the built in ability of Android 4.4.

Get creative, shoot your landscape and stitch your images into one amazing landscape!

The rules are pretty simple:

  • Post one 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 taken for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2014 Challenge, Week 8: Nature & Wildlife Photography – Birds in Flight

A couple of weeks ago Jeremy got us all up to speed with panning. Well panning is an interesting skill to master when it comes to wildlife photography, in this case, BIRDS IN FLIGHT.

Basic panning skills allow you to follow your subject. Although you can use Panning’s slower shutter speeds to create interesting and artistic effects, many wildlife photographers prefer to freeze their subjects with higher shutter speeds.

Flock of Common Starlings in flight

Flock of Common Starlings in flight – Slow Shutter Speed

In the example above I choose to shoot a flock of Starlings flying from fruit tree to fruit tree with a slower shutter speed. This gave my image many of the photographic attributes we commonly see with panning. The subject itself is in motion, the movement of the wings is well illustrated.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

In the case of this Black-crowned Night Heron, a higher shutter speed was used to completely freeze the flying motion of the bird’s wings. It’s important to follow the bird as you would any panning subject and to shoot at a minimum speed of 1/1000 of a second to completely freeze your subject.

Common Tern in flight

Common Tern in flight

Herons can be fairly slow flying birds, but this Common Tern is like a jet fighter and the Challenge gets a little harder. Fast flying birds demand a greater deal of practice panning and a fast response from the camera in addition to higher shutter speeds.

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant in flight

It’s important to make sure your focus is on the bird’s head. On large birds like this Cormorant it’s easy to accidentally focus on the tip of the wing. This can leave the head (Eyes & Beak) out of focus. The bright sky can also trick your exposure meter to under-expose your subject. You may want to over expose by one stop when shooting birds against a bright sky.

Swans - Lake Neuchatel, Switzerland

Mute Swans – Lake Neuchatel, Switzerland

The closer you find yourself to a bird in flight, the harder it will be to capture the moment. You may want to integrate birds in flight to a landscape type scenery. Having a greater distance between you and the moving subject will give you more time to compose and shoot your image.

Common Tern Chasing Black-crowned Night Heron

Common Tern Chasing Black-crowned Night Heron

Birds can get pretty territorial and don’t tolerate predators that can present a menace. In this case a small Common Tern is chasing away a much larger Black-crowned Night Heron

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 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 taken for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

2014 Challenge, Week 4: Nature & Wildlife Photography – Backlit Leaves

Week 4 of the 2014 Photo Challenge. Up to now we have Trevor focusing on landscape photography, Jeremy technical aspects and Gary on Still Life photography. I’ll be focusing on my expertise, NATURE & WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY.

Nature photography is a little different from other types of photography as it focuses less on the artistic merits of the image. Nature photography tends to be more documentary and editorial as we try to bring forward the nature value of every subject we photograph.

Considering that half of the USA and Canada is stuck in a Winter Vortex I decided to start with a subject that can be photographed indoors. Leaves, more precisely backlit leaves. We don’t usually consider house plants, NATURE, but to accommodate the weather we’ll accept any leaves from any plant or tree.

Backlit Leaf

In photography we’re usually inclined to photograph our subjects lit from the front. The translucency of leave’s opens up a whole new dimension of details when they are lit from behind. (TIP: When photographing a scene like the one above make sure the Sun doesn’t hit your lens directly. This will help you avoid flares.)

Backlit leaf

In a close-up the details of backlit leaves are even more magical. Due to the leaves intricate structure, we’re mixing a little bit of texture work in with our backlit photography. No special lighting equipment necessary. You can use the Sun’s natural light, a lamp or even a flash. You can place a white translucent fabric between your light source and your subject to diffuse and soften harsher light.

If you’re looking for subjects out in nature, many Oak trees keep their golden dried leaves on the branch through winter.  Dead dried leaves have a special appearance of their own. Take time to find just the right subject for this challenge. Nature Photography is a great way to spend time outdoors, alone or with the family.

Backlit Oak Leaf

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

Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2014 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.

2013 Challenge, Week 52 : DOORMATS

Here we are Week 52, the final 2013 Photo Challenge. As you all should know by now the 2014 Photo Challenge will be bigger, better, more challenging and especially more fun! I invite you all to read Trevor’s post for the upcoming 2014 Photo Challenge. (http://photochallenge.org/2013/12/13/2014-will-be/)

For this final but short Challenge that will carry us through the remaining few days of the year, I chose Doormats as a theme. I was inspired by the variety of fun and amusing doormats I was greeted by as I visited friends and family throughout the Holiday Season.

"Slide to unlock" doormat

It would appear that our modern lifestyle and mobile technology has had a creative influence on doormat designs…

the homecoming ... 133365

You never know who, or what will be standing on your doormat when you open the door. This may be a good time to introduce your recurring object for the 2014 Challenge.

Doormat for lunch

Even a standard boring doormat can come to life as it becomes a play toy for a little newcomer to the family this Holiday season.

1994-wbsheet06-frame11-mushrooms

Sometimes it’s just not the doormat that’s interesting. Upon closer inspection you may be tempted to photograph what gathers or maybe what’s growing on your doormat.

Don’t leave home without your camera. Doormats are everywhere just waiting for your special touch to capture them for the final 2013 Photo Challenge.

Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.

2013 Challenge, Week 48 : RUST

I was walking along an old decrepit mill when I realized that there was a certain appeal to all the old rusted metal. From texture to color it gave a totally new take on everyday common metal objects. The older the item, the longer it corroded, the greater it looked.

Rusted Fence

Rusted Fence

It inspired me to start a new photography project based entirely on rust. Above is one of the first images captured on this historical site. A basic link in a rusted old fence.

Rust

Just about any piece of metal hardware you find on an old abandoned structure is bound to show signs of rust. Of course if you’re searching in the middle of the Mojave Desert, rust might make itself a little scarce.

Rust & Crabs

Old Crab Shacks are no match for mother Nature and offer tremendous opportunities to photograph a piece of history. From the tiniest nail to the entire shack the possibilities for photographing rust are endless.

Paint and Rust

You often don’t have to look too far to find rust. It can be as simple as an old screw in a wooden fence.

So start your search, let your imagination go wild and get creative bringing us all those rusted old pictures.

Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.

2013 Challenge, Week 28: LITTER

A pet peeve of mine is litter, especially in our natural habitats. It seems that no matter where we go litter is more and more apparent. From fast food wrappers to paper cups and empty containers of alcohol, littered areas seem easier to find than a nice pristine area.

Steve Troletti Photography: Litter in Montreal Nature Parks / déchets dans les parcs nature de Montréal &emdash; Welcome to l’Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park - Bienvenue au parc-nature de l’Île-de-la-VisitationThis bottle of Jack Daniel’s found early morning in a nature park was photographed with some amount of back lighting to enhance the glass container…

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Eastern Gray Squirrel Drinking a Fresh Cup of Tim Hortons Coffee!
At times wildlife can interact with our litter as a source of food. This may provide some amusing images as in this squirrel appearing to be drinking from a cup of coffee.

Steve Troletti Photography: Litter in Montreal Nature Parks / déchets dans les parcs nature de Montréal &emdash; Déchets - Parc Nature Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park - Litter
Litter can turn into a dangerous hazard. A broken glass container can present a serious risk of injury to people pets and wildlife.

Steve Troletti Photography: Litter in Montreal Nature Parks / déchets dans les parcs nature de Montréal &emdash; Déchets - Parc Nature Île-de-la-Visitation Nature Park - LitterThis 6 pack holder may seem harmless. Did you know it’s one of the biggest threats for young mammals such as Fox kits and marine birds. The young ones get trapped in a ring and slowly suffocate as they grow…

Steve Troletti Photography: PICTURE OF THE DAY / PHOTO DU JOUR &emdash; Plastic Bottle Dumped by River Bank / Bouteilles en plastique jetés près de la rivièreWe hear more and more about the accumulation of masses of plastic objects polluting our oceans. Plastic water bottles are an easy and convenient way to carry our water. Unfortunately they also seem to be the most apparent form of plastic littler along our forests, lakes, rivers and oceans.

I’m sure you won’t be short of subjects to photograph. As always post your best shot and share with the Photo Challenge Community. Participating in the 2013 Photo Challenge is fun and easy. Post and share your images with the Photo Challenge Community on  Google+, Facebook,or Flickr.