A few weeks ago, the weather was nice, and I got out to photograph some flowers. It was late in the woodland spring wildflower season, so swamp buttercups and violets were about all that was left. I decided to shoot with the macro lens. The flowers are small, and practice with manual focus is good for me.
I spotted this large, fuzzy bee. It’s so fluffy looking I almost wanted to touch it, but it’s a bee, so photographing it will have to do.
Later that day, I visited a city park and photographed this flowering viburnum. I liked the bright pink buds on this particular variety.
The city I live in has a small tropical conservatory. They run various shows in it, each lasting a month or so. The day before Easter, my father and I went to their annual butterfly show. Butterflies of several species were kept in a small enclosure within the conservatory. Only a limited number of people could go in at a time.
While there, we also looked around the plants in the conservatory. This one caught my eye. The Heliconia, or lobster-claw, is colorful and has an interesting form.
Of course there were Koi as well. It seems like there are Koi all over now. Some places you can even buy Koi food and feed them. When I was little, we used to feed the ducks bread in the same park the conservatory now sits in. There aren’t as many ducks around these days, and no one wants you feeding wild animals. The new conservatory is impressive, and I do enjoy it. However, I sometimes long for the simplicity of the old lagoon full of ducks. This koi is kind of cute though.
I hope I can get out and photograph some spring flowers. Weather has been up and down here. 70+ and sunny, rain, and a snowstorm last weekend.
This month, I just wanted to have some fanciful fun with Photoshop. So I took some old pictures and experimented with filters, special brushes, layering, and the like. It’s been awhile since I’ve just let myself have fun, so I went a little overboard.
I also wanted to try a more subdued painting look on another photo.
I’ve always liked the winter fantasy land idea.
Now I can go back to normal editing for a few years.
One sweltering Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago, I went out to a local garden to photograph roses. The garden has a great variety, and I don’t remember what all of them are called. At any rate, they are beautiful and worth the time and temperatures to see.
Last fall, someone in the photo club told my father about a “waterfall” not too far from where we live. Technically, it isn’t a waterfall. It’s a man-made spillway, but it looks like a waterfall. The spillway was not easy to find. At one point, we gave up looking and decided to go to a park in the area instead. However, when we stopped at the park office, we found a sign featuring a large photo of the waterfall and the words “are you looking for this?” It then provided directions. Thus we continued in our hunt, but it still wasn’t easy. Roads were under construction or had similar names, I couldn’t get the maps app on my phone to work because the cell service was spotty, and we had to be careful to stay off private property in the area. The spillway was located right off the road. You had to be looking in the right direction at the right time to see it though. After a considerable bit of driving around in circles, we finally found it.
While Dad was photographing it with his view camera, I found a Japanese beetle on a wildflower to photograph.
It was a long day, but we found what we were looking for. Sometimes, persistence does pay off.
In 2017, I made no commitment to blog. I rather abandoned it in the hopes that I would get farther with other things. It didn’t work out the way I had hoped. I spent less time in nature, hardly photographed, and failed to edit most of what I did shoot. So in 2018, I am going to blog at least once a month. It may be archive from last year, and it may only be one photo per post, but I need to get back to the blog. It made me get out, shoot, think about my work, and edit it. More than that, it made me find and appreciate the small but beautiful things in life.
Early last spring, I found this flower growing among the broken down limestone path at a local park. Photography and blogging are two of the things that have helped me stop and appreciate the flowers along the path of life, rather than passing them by or stepping on them as I hurry off to other things. What is life if we fail to take the time to enjoy it?
Here are a couple of archive photos from January’s photo club table top night. I brought my own light source and reflectors as well as some subject matter, but it is kind of a free for all, so I ended up photographing mostly items the other members brought. Mine ended up being mostly floral items and a vintage green glass dish.
Next Time: Sand Dunes
I went to Michigan and checked out a National Lakeshore area.
A bit of a late Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you. This is the time of year I really start wanting it to be Spring. It is also the time of year you can easily purchase a floral bouquet. Last week, I purchased a single rose and some “pompoms” at a local supermarket. I’m pretty sure “pompom” is just florist for big showy mum. Anyway, I set up the light and some backgrounds and pulled out the macro lens.
This was my pinkish rose. Lovely while she lasted.
Twirly in the center and a beautiful hue.
I stuck one of my old rings in it in honor of Valentine’s Day. There is nothing like a macro lens to show you how cheep your costume jewelry is. I spent some time retouching this one, and I’m about to swear I will never shoot it again. Nonetheless, it does look kind of romantic.
A little less seasonal, here is the “pompom”. This was more fun with the macro lens than the rose. I loved the long, spiky petals in the center.
Kind of off topic, but I wanted to say I know this can be a tough day for single people. Personally, I think our culture is a little overboard when it comes to celebrating romantic love. There are other kinds of love and relationships in most people’s lives that are worth remembering and celebrating on this day. So if you can this weekend, take a few minutes to call or message a friend or relative and let them know you love them. And remember, the chocolate goes on sale tomorrow.
All the decorations went up the first of December, so its high time for some Christmas photos. I selected a diverse group of Christmas decorations and decided to light all of them with the string of LED Christmas lights I purchased this year, just to see how it would work out. I was going for more of a warm, soft look in all the photos, but I still wanted some light/dark contrast.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Next Time: New Year’s / Year in Review
The one or two weeks a year that tulips bloom in my corner of the world have come! I always loved looking into their centers and seeing all the various parts of the flower, but I’ve come to accept that the side view illuminated by a low sun has a surreal kind of beauty.
Next Week: Abstract or Phone
It never occurred to me before, but a lot of the plants in our yard have pink flowers:
Next Time: Shiny
Time to photograph more reflective metal. It looks good in portfolios.
It finally snowed in my little corner of the world. Fortunately, there wasn’t much ice. My sister’s car, Howie, might disagree with that last sentence if he could talk.
Last weekend, I went out to enjoy the snow at a nearby forest preserve. Since it was a sunny day, I passed a few other people, including four cross-country skiers.
I’d wanted to photograph these odd pitcher-shaped features on this tree for several months, but I never could seem to get the lighting or angle quite right. Now that the leaves are gone, it works much better.
I love the way this stump sticks out of the snow, covered in fungus for added texture.
Even after the snow, the dried remains of a few flowers hang on.
The world is full of all sorts of interesting patterns and designs. This fallen tree branch is one example.
Ice on the small creek in the park was at various levels of thickness. Loose snow and rippling water gave it a sparkling look.
Next Time: Vintage Camera
It’s about time I do another camera post. Courtesy of my uncle, my father has an amazing new addition to his camera collection. I have arranged to borrow said addition for my next post. I think you’ll like it.
I hate to say it, but summer is getting towards the end. Back to school is plastered everywhere, days are getting shorter, and vegetation is starting to dry up. Looking about my yard, I became quite depressed with the state of things, so I headed off to the local nature preserve in hopes of something better. There are a few more plants at the preserve, not to mention butterflies and other wildlife. I even saw a rabbit who was good enough to sit still for me.
I spent a lot of time chasing butterflies around the park. I guess I just wanted a challenge.
Most of the flowers have faded. This dying Queen Anne’s lace has an intricate design and interesting shape. I thought of several things to compare it to, but I won’t force a suggestion or limit anyone’s imagination.
Summer’s not over yet. Get out and enjoy what’s left of it!
Next Week: Jenny, probably
She’s such a pretty cat, and when she’s in the right mood she’s a great subject.
Sorry for the late and archive post. I had a temporary job for several days that took a lot of my time and energy, so I haven’t been doing much else. These shots are from an assignment from my digital photography class back in the first semester of my sophomore year in college. Our final assignment was to get creative with Photoshop, and these are some of the pieces I still think have merit.
I remember liking the leaf and wanting to put it on a different color than the dull pavement. So I turned the background blue and added a texture glass filter to it. I still like the colors and textures, but it’s not what I’d create these days.
Admittedly, this next one was never a stellar photo, just a plain shot of a flower in the shade one afternoon. However, I still like the effect. I used one layer with a slight accented edges filter for the flower and another layer for glow and darkened the background. If I did it over, I’d tighten the vignette and make it darker.
This is a composite of many layers with some glow and color layers added for mood and effect. It was a personal favorite at the time, but now I think the cutouts are a tad lacking. Still, I am pleased with the overall effect.
Strange thing about this last one. It was the first shot I put together, and I didn’t really like it. If the lab hadn’t closed early the night I was finishing up this project, I would have made another and never turned this in. I was surprised to find it was my teachers favorite of my ten, and it tied for her favorite in the entire class. Personally, I favored one of my classmate’s image of a giant clothes iron about to crush a parking lot full of cars.
So there you have it: a brief history of my non retouching and non graphic arts uses of Photoshop.
Next Week: the kitty pictures I was going to do this week
I had no assigned topic this week. I more or less tried out a lens that I’ve had for around two years and never really used. Summer of 2009, I was in the South doing an academic internship on an independent film. A group of us were out at a local secondhand store when one of my friends found an old 50mm Nikon lens. It was cheap and appeared to be in good shape, so it came with me. I tried it out just enough to know that it works, but since then, it’s been confined to the depths of my camera bag (except for being featured in my post on imagination). Not this week. Little lens, your time has come.
The goal was to work with one focal length only, as I fear the zoom lens is robbing me of some sort of discipline. The real challenge was focusing a wider prime. Yes, technically the 50mm is longer than a normal lens on my DSLR, but I like the 70-100mm range, so it is wider than my comfort zone. For years, I’ve been zooming in and focusing with SLRs and using magnifiers on large format. Not to mention that it’s obvious when I’m off on the macro. Fortunately, I met with some success this week.
First of all, I paid a visit to my old faithful test subject: the snowball bush. Admittedly a bit green right now. Really, the 50mm is a bit wide for this subject. It only focuses so close, forcing me to move back.
I moved on to some trees with interesting features, such as this “eye” of sorts, for more focusing practice. Success. Autofocus and zoom lenses haven’t completely ruined me.
Lastly, I focused on my sister’s car. It has some styling details I find attractive. Unfortunately, the paint isn’t so good, forcing me to give the car a Photoshop makeover. My sister was glad that I was painting her car, even if it was only in Photoshop.
Since I could use to spend more time with this lens, I may do a part 2 to this post, but not right away.
Next Week: Time
There are so many directions I could go with this. My hope is to use timepieces and objects around them to say something else about time other than, oh, half past seven.
It’s spring in the midwest. Rains pour frequently, and when it’s sunny, winds still blow. The first flowers are finally out. In my yard, the daffodils unfold for spring, brining their bright yellow hue to the rain and clouds around us. A welcome contrast.
In the woods, there are also flowers. Untamed by man, nature’s wild charms adorn an otherwise plain scene. These small yellow flowers are about the size of your thumbnail.
Slightly larger white wildflowers grow in clumps around trees.
Nearby, the ground is covered with strange leafy vegetation. Yet there is something oddly familiar about those leaves. The flowers tell all. These plants appear to be the wild cousin of my beloved bleeding heart bush. However, their flowers look a bit more like butterflies than hearts sometimes.
These wildflowers are out in bloom before most of their tame counterparts, daring the snow and frost and showing the strength of their beauty. They are proof that wild beauty is natural and tough.
Next Week: Vases 2
Time to get back to indoor shots. As I mentioned last week, someone I know would like a couple of vases photographed.
I’ve been threatening to do these liquid experiments for weeks, so I thought it best to get it out of my system. If you follow me on Twitter, you know I did some test shoots and took a lot of pictures. This kind of work is like photographing fireworks without a script of the show. It takes a lot of trial and error and you never know exactly what’s going to happen. My first shots were of the food coloring shortly after it entered into the water. The drop would spread out like a chandelier as it sank towards the bottom. Then, I’d add another drop.
I tried letting it sit for a while to blend a bit and adding a drop or two of another color. The green looks like a flower.
As you can probably see, it’s not exactly sharp. Food coloring blends with the water and lacks distinct edges. I focused as much as I could, but eventually I had to think of a way to use this to my advantage. Patiently waiting to see what the food coloring did when allowed to sit in a still glass of water produced some interesting results. It fanned out into long, swirling trails. I even had some luck mixing two shades of purple. The indistinct edges could work well for backgrounds.
I continued my experiments varying color combination and water motion. At first, I filled the glass from the faucet and let it sit awhile before adding dye. Later, I discovered stirring the water gave an interesting effect.
Adding dye to a freshly filled glass of water was another variation. As you can see, I flipped the shot above and the shot below for artistic effect.
I know this is unorthodox photography, but it provided me with some images I can use for backgrounds and other elements in Photoshop work. Not to mention being a fun experiment and keeping myself and one of my cats very amused.
Next Week: Box and Folding Cameras
I’m going back to something more traditional next week: old cameras. This time, very old cameras, say 70 or more years old for some. Hopefully I can find the old Kodak folding camera.