Into the woods: November 2018

One of the aspects of photography I have always wanted to be more confident at trying – and really make an effort to master – is landscape photography. Maybe every photographer goes down a similar route – it is the genre of photography that we all know, and see, and it is one in which you can still make a living producing prints for sale. However, I have consistently failed at it at any decent level. Now, undertaking my masters degree, I have finally got the confidence to just go out into the woods or fields, take the tripod, stand and play with settings and try to get it right.

I did a bit of reading and watched some youtube videos to get a good idea of ideal landscape settings. I wanted to achieve sunbursts so that was a specific set of camera settings I had to nail down. Then it was a case of taking my fairly new (second-hand) wide angle lens (16-35mm Canon L) and using it on the tripod, with remote shutter, and trying longer exposures. It seems to be working, and I have of course been motivated to want to catch some colourful images due to the amazing autumnal trees out in the countryside at this time of year.

The leaves are rapidly falling, however, so it will soon be time to try to catch misty or snowy winter tree scenes instead. I’m looking forward to it.

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Focus

I can’t decide if I prefer the previously posted image of the lilies where I’ve focused on the petals, or the image here where the focus was on a tiny point on a stamen, and the rest of the image has a blurred quality. I love the colours and shapes. Suspect I prefer the blurred version here, with shallow depth of field, as it feels more artistic and subjective.

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Flower Dreaming

Just lately I’ve been frustrated at my attempts at photography. My complaints have revolved around not having access to amazing landscapes, not having access to much more knowledgeable photographers and their skills, not having the best camera and lenses… and then I realise that with macro and plant photography I can just step outside into my garden and shoot some flowers with a cheap 50mm lens and produce personally satisfying and fulfilling images.

The purple lilies were my birthday flowers. The others are Echinacea and Anemone. The camera was hand-held (I pondered using a tripod and may try again using it), and there was a slight breeze. Despite it being annoying as it moves the subject about thus making sharp images much more difficult, a breeze also creates some nice blurry bokeh and movement in the background. In fact, I’m falling in love with blurred, arty backgrounds achieved with extremely shallow depth of field. Would it be too much to make a collection of images of just smooth and silky backgrounds produced by using the crazy depth of field possible with a 50mm lens? I may find out.

 

Spring is sprung

I found a new hide yesterday. Great little find nearby, with so many species frequenting the feeders – including two Great Spotted Woodpeckers at one point! I was excited, it’s true, and spent an hour or so with the camera trying to get some decent captures. However, I was limited in light levels as, by the time I found the hide, it was beginning to darken. To up my shutter speed meant losing depth of field, and I do like my DoF… so I left the camera in AV mode and did my best with low light.

Many blurred images later, I have concluded I need to visit this hide in lighter hours, and use TV mode more for wildlife shots to obtain the really sharp results I want! I managed to get a few sharp(ish) shots, however, and have used LR to adjust the sharpness and shadows in the relevant areas. Here is a small selection – a Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), a Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major pinetorum).

RHS Garden Harlow Carr

I have been very remiss lately with updating my photography blog. It has been a very active time for me with a new camera and updated lenses, and I am learning a lot. I still need to go back to basics again and re-run through all my lessons, but I am improving leaps and bounds so I’m happy. The macro work seems to have inspired a few others to pic up a camera and start climbing into plants to take close up shots – people who would not have appeared interested previously – which is always flattering and encouraging.

Here are a few captures from Harlow Carr in Harrogate, Yorkshire, UK from the weekend. There were many more captures but these are primarily the macros.