Back in August, my dad and I visited Sleeping Bear Dunes again. It was my second time there. Weather was not optimal (wind) and we were squeezing the outing in between much needed time visiting family. I did get a few quick shots, but no waiting around for people to be out of the picture. I photoshopped them out. Not the best way to do things, but it worked in a pinch.
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.
Way back on the 4th of July, I went out to appreciate the wildflowers:
Photographing fireworks isn’t considered serious photography. The main ingredient is luck. The rest is pretty simple: low ISO, bulb setting on the shutter, and tripod. In college, they told us it was one of those things we did in high school because we thought it was cool. Well, dumb or no, I still think it’s cool enough to attempt it once a year. After all, I’m going to the show anyway. Might as well try my hand at photographing it. Here’s the luck I had this year:
Next Time: Car Show
I just barely squished a trip to the fireworks into my 4th of July weekend. Since it was quite possible that my schedule for the next month or more would be tighter than usual, I decided to wait and post them as a regular post rather than a special 4th of July edition that weekend.
When it comes to photographing fireworks, just like many things in life, there is more than one school of thought. The way I originally learned involves very long shutter speeds where the light is entirely in trails. This allows me to have all the colors produced and include several bursts in one shot at the small town show I attend. The other method is to use a much shorter shutter speed and capture a lot of the sparkle we know fireworks for. This makes timing trickier. It also makes it more difficult to get multiple blasts in frame at smaller shows that are more likely to send one up at a time. Personally, I also tend to capture more smoke when I have shorter shots with a higher ISO. But sparkle is part of the fireworks, so this year, I experimented with getting a few of the blasts cut short a bit so I’d have some more.
Next Time: Change and Archive
Well, it’s happening. I’m going to be rather occupied with other matters for the next month. A necessary pain to accomplish a much desired end. I will probably post some archive material that I’ve shot in the past few years and never posted. Who knows, I may even go back to college stuff. Anyway, squirrels will most likely figure in the mix somewhere. Maybe I’ll post my college photo contest finalist shot too.
Happy Labor Day, otherwise known as the cultural end of Summer in the northern United States. Here are a few photos of Summer wildflowers I shot a few weeks ago. Before you know it, I’ll be posting fall scenery.
Next Time: Either portrait, otherworldly, or abstract. I haven’t made up my mind yet.
I’m working on a video project right now, so I’m sharing a few photos from my scouting trip to a nearby state park. This park is known for a major river and some large rock formation. Unfortunately, the trees and the way the steps on the trail were arranged made getting a good shot of the rock formations difficult. Light wasn’t the best either. We were warned to watch for snakes, but the only biting animals we found were mosquitos. Lot and lots of mosquitos. I had bug spray on, and I could still feel them crawling all over me when I ran my fingers through my hair. I could hardly stop moving long enough to take a photo before they became unbearable. Walking fast didn’t completely shake them by any means, but it helped a little. There were some nice sections of the park, but Dad and I decided we would wait until after a killing frost to return. Less vegetation, fall color, and fewer mosquitos would be better.
I went for a walk in the woods last week and found the bees swarming over the late summer blossoms. Although I’m just as afraid of bees as the next person, the prospect of getting a good shot becomes more important to me when I have a camera in my hands. Enjoy the last week or so of summer!
Next Time: Plants on White or Tools
I might uproot/cutoff some remaining plants and bring them indoors to shoot them on white under more controlled conditions. Either that or I’ll take a close look at hand tools.
Last week, I loaded up my gear and headed to one of the most acclaimed state parks within reasonable driving distance. Since it was such a nice day, my father and his gear also came along for the ride. We quickly decided this park was way too busy for us. Both of us are used to going out in parks where we only pass a few hikers here and there. Not so at this park. There was a constant stream of people from every ethnic group and age group you could imagine. The sights were amazing, but the morning sun wasn’t flattering anything. I took a few shots of the rock formations and we moved on.
In one canyon, there was a hanging vine illuminated by a ray of sunlight. I saw a photo I wanted, but it was dark and the vine was moving in a gentle breeze. The ISO on this shot was much higher than I’d normally use, but this is the closest I was able to get to the shot I wanted.
Unfortunately, our lack of familiarity with the park and a crowded parking lot resulted in us spending a lot of time trying to find the correct parking lot and our car so we could do something about water and food. We were pretty exhausted when we finally found the car, being that we’d hiked quite a distance on steep trails, dad had spent the last night working on the lawnmower, and I was carrying about 15 lbs. of gear. (Since he is a view camera guy, dad had left his equipment in the car until he found a shot with good lighting.)
After lunch, it was overcast. I decided that would make better lighting conditions for one of the waterfalls than what we’d seen in the morning. Dad still wasn’t sure it would work for him, but we agreed to head for the nearest waterfall and check it out. I took a few shots in the overcast lighting. Dad considered how the coming summer solstice would impact lighting and at what time of day he’d be likely to get the best shot. Yes, I think we’ll be coming to this park again, maybe after school is back in session and not so many families are out on vacation.
Next Time: Fruit in Bubbly
I’ve been thinking about trying the fruit in club soda thing lately, so I may as well actually do it.
A small town I live near had a car show a while back. Since I had so much fun photographing car details at a cruise night last fall, I decided to go check it out. There weren’t many cars, and some of the trucks were quite new. Despite the small numbers, I still found some interesting shots. I was particularly excited to see an old Monte Carlo. My mom had one when I was little, but hers was much newer. Overall, it was well worth going out in the heat for.
Next Time: Old 8mm Camera
Summer’s been here for a while now, and we don’t have much in the line of flowers. It’s been quite dry this year. Fortunately, a few plants are resilient enough to bloom.
Next Time: Abstract or Old Camera
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.
Last week, most Americans spent the evening watching fireworks in one way or another. Most marvel at the colorful bursts that appear and vanish before our eyes. Some of us have a different perspective. Why? We photograph fireworks and therefore become concerned with how the camera records what is constantly blooming and fading before us. When we press the shutter release, we never quite know what we’re going to get.
When I go to a fireworks show, set up my camera on a tripod and wait for the first blasts. After that, I typically pick my final location. Sure I guess when I first arrive, but there’s no way to tell for certain where I need to be untill I see some action. After the adjustments I begin to think about what I’m shooting. Do I want the trails from the launch in this? Maybe I should try to press the button a bit later and get less trail? How much should I let the fireworks drift away? Would a sharper approach give more sparkle? How many blast should I hold the button down for?
It’s hard to guess what to do. Experience helps, but chance is still a major factor in getting a good shot instead of this tropical paradise of chaos, or something worse.
For this one, I’m thinking Mexican fiesta for some odd reason.
Pressing the shutter release just as the fireworks are launched can record a long trail and may result in a flower-like effect.
This combination looks like some weird amoeboid life form or jellyfish.
Ones that come up from the ground in continual streams offer some more predictable possibilities.
Sometimes, I can get a nice patriotic grouping.
Others just come out pretty.
I’m saying goodbye to real fireworks untill next year, but for now I have my unique impressions to enjoy. What do you see when you look at fireworks?
Next Week: Old Playground Equipment OR Adventures in Stock Photography Part I
I had a brief abstract look at some old playground equipment today, so that might inspire my next post. Otherwise, I may do an informative post on my experience with stock photography so far. I don’t have much information yet, and I’ve not made any money to date, but I can at least share my story and some things I wish I had known from the start (about 3-4 weeks ago?).
Last week, I returned to the town of Polo, which I did a post on two weeks ago. This week, the quaint downtown was invaded by a carnival. The reason? Like so many small towns in the area, Polo has an annual festival. Such festivals include rides, food, and often a parade. Polo’s even features fireworks, which is one reason my sister and found ourselves in the town last week, other than visiting family. Photographing fireworks can be difficult, especially considering that the Polo show was no more than half an hour this year due to the financial strain everyone is facing. Getting a clean shot can also be tough because of houses, trees, telephone wires, and crowds. Polo may not be big, but the town generally puts on a good show, so people from surrounding communities often show up for the event.
Photographing fireworks is tricky business. A tripod is mandatory for serious work. My first attempt at firework photography was in highschool, and I used film. Not very many shots and no ability to see what the previous shots looked like. However, I did have one or two OK shots. Since then, I’ve shot digital. The first step is to make sure you have a fresh memory card in your camera and another one easily available. Shoot a lot. You never know what it’s going to end up looking like. Why? To capture any spread of fireworks, you need to press the shutter release before the shells blow. I set my shutter on bulb, my ISO on 200 or so, and adjust the f/stop for exposure (using at least f/16). Timing comes with experience and some guesswork, but a rule of thumb is to expose from launch till the blasts disappear. This is not always practical, especially during the finally when there is non-stop launching and photographic visual chaos. Generally, I focus and frame on the first blast, but I may decide I need to move the entire tripod. Also, you may need to change framing frequently during the show. Since the Polo fireworks presented a range of heights and there were some vehicles and trees I had to shoot over, I had to change framing frequently. Since it was a short show, I only took around 70 shots. Here are some of my favorites:
The fireworks are the kickoff for the weekend festival. Next morning, I headed downtown to get some shots of the carnival warming up for its first afternoon of operation. The same downtown block I’d photographed just weeks before was now in party mode and ready for the fun to begin. It just needed a few more people. And they’d be there.
Next Week: 50mm Project I’m giving myself a challenge: shoot all the photos for next week’s post using an old, manual focus prime lens. It can only be good for me. The lens is a bit wider than I’m used shooting at, but it wouldn’t hurt me to limit myself to just a tad longer than a normal lens.