Tag Archives: artistic photography

4 Simple Facts About Bird Photography Explained

A white ibis runs for the shoreline in a crashing wave.  He appears to have received the business end of a large wave and in his panic forgot he can fly. No doubt from a birds point of view the act of trying to find lunch in the crashing surf is a frustrating experience. I’m positive it’s almost as frustrating as actually getting that perfect bird picture.

If your one of those people who wish to hone their skill of photographing live birds, then this list may just help you.

1.  Equipment Matters-

 Equipment is at least 50% of your chance in getting a great action shot with birds. The Iphone will fail you as bad as most of the point and clicks on the market. Why?   The lens. A wide-angle lens is great for portraits, landscapes, and the weekend BBQ. But birds are small, and small means that you need some form of telescoping lens to get the bird nice and close. Unless your subject is a large Canadian goose looking for a handout, you’re going to scare your quarry before you get the shot. Your best bet is a DSLR and a nice telescoping lens that will close the distance between your subject and you.

Ibis in the Surf - Bird
Ibis in the Surf

2.  Fast Shutter Speed-  

One of the advantages of a DSLR is the ability to adjust the shutter speed of your camera. This changes the length of time your camera has its shutter open, thus allowing light into the camera. The quicker the speed, the better chance of capturing non-blurry action shots. Birds tend to be very quick. As a person who’s experienced being chased by a full size turkey, I can personally attest to how quick they are.   Notice in the ibis picture that the water from the surf seems to freeze mid-air. That’s what a quick shutter speed will give you.  How fast? The real answer is “as fast as your light conditions allow you to without underexposing the picture.”

3.  Aim for the Eye-

Remember that telescoping lens?   You don’t just pick up your camera, aim it at the poor creature and start shooting. Well you CAN, but your just wasting your time. No, a good picture takes a good deal of forethought. Once I have my camera set at an acceptable shutter speed. The very next thing I do is aim for the eye.   A focused eye is almost always a good start to an excellent picture. But, an out of focused eye is always a bad picture. Humans are rather finicky about faces. We have to see the eyes. Even animal faces are susceptible to this psychological need of ours. If you don’t get the eyes, you don’t get the picture.

 

4.  Prepare for Failure-

Yeah, patience is definitely needed. Remember that for every great photograph of a beautiful bird, especially an action shot, there are at least 200 pictures of out of focused blurs, wing flaps, moved heads, blurry feet, and tail feathers. You’re taking the picture of a living-breathing animal. This animal does not care that you are taking a picture. They do not listen to your directions to stay still. They are quick, they are small and they are almost always in movement. If you get one good picture out of an afternoon of bird watching then you’ve had a great day!

Remember that the most important thing about photographing any animals in the wild is to respect nature. Respect your subject and while you may not get that epic shot on the first try, there will be always a chance for a second, third, or even 100th try.

 

 

Luck Loves a Lady Cardinal

Once again the winter months arrive and bring with them the opportunity to see a greater selection of animals. In Florida, in the dry season the weather is nicer and the mosquitos are no longer swarming making life miserable. It’s a great chance to capture birds and other fauna. This beautiful  bird is a female cardinal.

The female uses a brown plumage with red highlights and not the bright red plumage the male does and therefore is not as easily identified. At first glance this might seem rather unfair to the female of the species. I mean everyone knows and loves the little bright red males. Myth and lore surround them as bringer of good luck and there is even sports teams named after them. But in reality, it’s actually the female that may have the luckiest plumage.

Lady Cardinal
Lady Cardinal

Cardinals tend to live in the underbrush and low trees due to the fact that they eat off the ground and the occasional backyard feeder. They also use those bushes for nesting and incubating their eggs.   So, which plumage would you rather have if you’re sitting in a low-lying nest reachable by snakes, and Fluffy the killer house cat? I think I’d prefer to blend in with the drab browns.

As for our particular model, it’s true that cardinals do not migrate which means that our lovely little lady Cardinal probably lives near this spot with a male nearby. This bird was obviously curious to see if I had any saffron or sunflower seeds with me. She paused on the wooden rail and eyed me for any chance of a free meal.   Unfortunately, for her, I don’t bait wildlife to get a shot, so no easy pickings for her.

 

Do You Have A Dragonfly Yet?

Living in the tropics the amount of insects and other assorted creatures you find is just staggering.   Most of them are not very photogenic.   However, every once in a while you run into the sort of small insect that screams for a photograph.  A dragonfly remains one of the best examples I know.

Thus, I proudly introduce you to the latest in our dragonfly collection. Blue Dragonfly is a portrait capture of a male Pondhawk in all his beauty. That is unless your another insect, for these voracious hunters prey on smaller insects they capture with the their ability to fly at speeds of 30 mph or more.

Adding a little filter action to the scene produces the remarkable orange background. Funny enough, the background for this shot was actually orange. All the filter did was enhance a little more of this amazing color all the while bringing out the dramatic blue.

Blue Dragonfly
Blue Dragonfly

The hardest part of the filter process was the maintaining of those fragile wings.   A dragonfly’s wings have a very thin, almost completely translucent quality to them. Changing the filter to enhance certain colors would invariably end up transforming the unique properties of those special wings. Indeed it was a challenge that ended with some surprisingly pleasant results.

In the end, when this radiant blue dragonfly with it’s gossamer wings resting peacefully on a flower appeared before my camera I took the opportunity to snap it up.   An act I’m confident you’ll want to do too.

 

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The 55 Buick Roadmaster And Why I Did It

One of the more enjoyable aspects of creating fine art out of historical antiques like this ’55 Buick Roadmaster is learning about the history behind them.  Usually, with machines like cars and airplanes, aficionados like Jay Leno, bring out their slide-rulers and talk about all the old technical terms.

You get to learn the Roadmaster had  a Variable Pitch Dynaflow Transmission, and how with a 322 Nailhead V8 you get 236 horsepower. Or, you could even learn why one of these beautiful cars would be worth more if it had wire spoke wheels than the standard issue. It’s like communicating in another language.

But let’s talk art.  When I originally went to take the picture, I thought of just a candid shot of the grill and hood to show off the natural beauty of a Roadmaster. But, I had another idea.

First, I must confess that after living in the Southern States for a couple of years the concept of watching NASCAR on the weekend is not lost on me.   I’ve always loved the angles from the live cameras on the cars. The shot from the bumper showing the other car following you from 12 inches at 150 mph always raises the level of excitement.

The distinguishing characteristic of this one angle is that the lines are never straight on the car behind you. Because the car is so close, and moving at speed, the dynamics of the shot will always show a slight curve or bend in the fenders and hood.   Your eye views this  as speed. Or, in other words, it makes it look like it’s going fast.

55 Buick Roadmaster
55 Buick Roadmaster

Normally, a photographer would reach for a fisheye shaped lens to accomplish this task. I had two problems with this idea. First, I wanted a slight curve, barely distinguishable to the eye. I wanted the subtle effect of speed without the obvious reason behind it. So I’d be understandably nervous about overdoing it with a fisheye.   Second, and most importantly, I didn’t have a fisheye lens with me, so I had to make do positioning myself, and twisting the camera just a fraction to get the effect I was looking for.

In the end, I believe the goal of what I accomplished the look I wanted. So, help me welcome the 55 Buick Roadmaster to our Gallery. Don’t wait; this work looks incredible on a metal print. Contact us and get yours today!

Understanding The Creative Experience in Photographic Art

Part of the creative experience when you are creating art of any kind is to understand when to break the rules. Studying the successful works of the masters before you earns you some of this knowledge; however, this alone does not guarantee success.

People that practice both photography and art like to have rules. But, rules are guidelines. More like suggestions to be contemplated. What makes a rule a steadfast guarantee of success in one photograph will make it an utter failure in another.

No, instead it’s really applying learned academic knowledge combined with the intangible gut feeling of pure instinct over the period of many viewings.   When you are looking at a subject, say a flower, if you purely concentrate on the academic aspects of taking the picture all you will accomplish is taking a clear focused picture.

 

That’s it, and that is harder than what most people realize in the days of iPhone photographers. That’s because the proper academic technique of taking a picture consists of the mathematical measurements of aperture, focus, rule of thirds, white balance and lens selections, the list goes on and on. You either get these right or it’s wrong.

 

The result is a properly formatted picture of a flower. It looks good. But is it art? That’s where so many people get hung up on definitions.

Now let’s look at that flower from a more creative view. When you are viewing the flower what are you trying to express? What vision are you giving your work? Do you want to break any rules to make that image speak the emotion or action you want it too.

Purple Daisy
Purple Daisy

How you come to this is by experimentation and learning what works for what goal you want to accomplish.   For instance, does the flower have to be precisely centered in the picture, or by putting it to one side can you force the viewer to move their attention?

After a while and about 10,000 pictures you begin to develop an eye for what is going to work and what might not. It is not really a conscious thing though.  I mean you don’t wake up one morning and the world suddenly looks different.  Rather, it is a slow process that usually takes years to appear.

However, I daresay you will become as proficient in the creative view of photographic art as the academic photographer does with all of their math and formula.

Mind you, neither side is necessarily better than the other and any photographer worth their lenses will tell you that it takes both the academic and creative approaches to truly the master the art and science of photography.

Why not start your own artistic journey ?  Sign up to be a friend of A&A Photographic Arts today!