Sunday, July 15, 2007


Every photographer has a different gameplan. Some spend their whole life photographing a narrow range of subject matter or possibly in a narrow style of processing. Some photographers work through projects - they choose a theme to photograph (a subject or style) over a period of time and devote themselves to that theme.

Some photographers are like myself. Often we go out without a clue what we are going to photograph. Of course during certain times of the year (e.g. the fall) or for certain trips the work is going to fall into a narrow range by default. But often we just grab our camera (usually in the morning or evening when the light will be agreeable) and go out to our favorite spots and start looking. True, there may be a lot of luck involved, but this method also requires a keen eye. Without a pre-determined subject or theme in mind we have to be open to any and all possibilities.

In the past I have not photographed many animals - I spent a lot of time working on scenics. But lately, for whatever reason, I have made quite a number of images of animals big and small (deer, frogs, moths, etc.) There is not a lot of color (besides green) in the summer, so I have been exploring other avenues to keep my technique sharp.

The image below is a recent product of that exploration. It took a little while for me to get the shot I was looking for, and I thank the frog for his patience.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Lately in my photographic work I have been paying attention to keeping the image as simple as it needs to be. In general this usually yields a much more interesting, and often powerful, photograph. When an image is cluttered with too much "stuff", even though at first you might think it adds to the overall scene that was originally there, the main focus of the image becomes diluted and the photo loses its appeal.

This goal can be accomplished in various ways. Framing the original shot is one way (and the most preferred). This can involve many things such as controlling zoom, focus, and camera position. Also when shooting the photographer can manually move clutter out of the way of the image, such as removing trash or temporarily pushing aside live branches or plants.

Also some of this can be accomplished during processing, when either the photographer did not notice the original distracting clutter, or he was not able to remove at shoot time. This can involve further cropping and possibly outright removal using a computer. This last technique is often frowned upon by photographic purists, but when one looks at photography as a form of art the main goal is to create something wonderful, not necessarily represent exactly what appeared at the scene. And when you think about it all of the other tools that photographers use regularly, such as depth-of-field (DOF), filters, computer sharpening and contrast control, all alter the original "scene" to his or her liking.

So remember the old adage KISS: keep it simple stupid.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


It only happens once a year, so I like to setup the camera and try to make some unique images of 4th of July fireworks. This involves a couple of key elements:

1) Appropriate camera settings
2) Framing of the image
3) Timing
4) Luck

The camera settings I used are something like: 10-20 second exposure, low ISO, and high aperture. The long exposure captures very nice long lines, and multiple explosions. High ISO is usually not needed, since the light from the explosions is well bright enough. And the high aperture allows for the long exposures without making the lines overexposed and almost pure white.

Framing involves making a nice image of not just the explosions themsleves but possibly the surroundings as well.Timing is obvious: When to open the shutter to capture a nice set of explosions.

Luck is hoping that the set of explosions you capture will ultimately make a nice image. I usually make a lot of exposures during a fireworks show, and hope that something intersting results.

I think the following image is one of my successes. It was taken last night at the fireworks at Peddler's Village, Lahaska, Pa.