Tag Archives: artistic photography

The Story Of A Shell

Sometimes the best and most artistic things come in really small packages. This is true for macro photography. Macro photography is the scientific art of taking the very small and making it larger. It effectively uses your camera as a type of microscope.

Often in the world of Macro photography we see impossibly small scenes of insect faces, bulbous eyes of flies or the death stare of the praying mantis. But, the artist doesn’t necessarily require such magnification to make an artistic statement. Often the subject itself presents the artist with a hidden mystery or story.

Often the beauty and structure of a story in nature exists in the smallest items. This month’s feature Shell in Sand shows the majesty of such a shell and the story it presents to us.

Shell in Sand
Shell in Sand

Indeed,  a magnificence found in this shell is the pink undertones and greenish brown highlights contrasted against the cold gray of the sand. Shell colors are determined by the diet of the animal or it’s genes. Often the color of the shell will provide camouflage against hungry predators looking to cut our story short with a rather dramatic ending.

Not just Color

Color in fact only tells part of the story of our shell. The ridges on each raised line reflect the age of the animal that once called this shell home.  It also presents the  mathematical precision used during its creation. The size of the ridges can make the shell look larger and provide structural support for the shell against attack. Was it to scare off potential rivals?

Then the story of our shell continues with the growth of the small barnacles at the edge of the shell. The mystery only deepens as we ponder whether these temporary slackers used the shell as their base before our aquatic friend met his end or after when the shell represented a lifeless husk of a once beautiful corporeal house.

Our story finally comes to the ageless time spent on the bottom of the sea. Drifting with the currents in a haphazardly fashion at the whim of the waves. How long did it sit before a storm at high tide disrupted its slumber and sent it tumbling with the surf only to arrive partially buried in the sand at a place predestined to change its story forever. There it waited patiently for my arrival and a chance to tell its story to my camera and then the world.

 

 

The Untold Story of Sumo Squirrel

One of the greatest joys placing animals in your art, especially photography, is the fact that you never quite know what to expect. Such is the case of my latest creation titled Sumo Squirrel.

Anyone who continuously works with animals knows that they are living creatures with their own personalities and personable quirks.   Sumo Squirrel proves this to be true. Most squirrels are to skittish to spend anytime near the ground while you casually approach them.   Unless of course, they learn that humans are an excellent way to obtain a free meal.

To acquire an easy tasty treat, most animals will overcome their cautious natures and approach humans eagerly. This behavior leads to problems with wild animals associating a human with food.

The danger of harm to both the human involved and the animal in question only gets more so.   People tend to think that animals eat the same food we do, a dangerous notion that can not only make an animal sick but could lead to death. On the hand, the animal can also become quite frightened by a sudden movement of a person and result in literally biting the hand trying to feed it.

Now, when a squirrel, a little rodent equally full of curiosity and the understanding that everything will naturally try to eat it, learns of free food then having a treat versus being the treat is momentarily tipped to one side.

Such is the case with this little guy. Obviously, this squirrel has seen and enjoyed many easy free meals.  This guy watched me approach his tree and quickly jumped down on the ground in front of me.   I was not expecting to face a squirrel. In fact I wasn’t even looking for a squirrel. So, I stopped in my tracks to gauge what the commotion in front of me was all about.

Sumo Squirrel
“None Shall Pass”

That’s when this little guy suddenly struck a pose. I’m not sure if he was trying to intimidate me or putting on a little show for his meal, but there he stood squatting on his hind legs with his little arms out in front like a sumo wrestler at the beginning of a match.

Unfortunately for him, I don’t feed the animals so I didn’t have any food. So we stared at each other, again like a sumo wrestler waiting for the opponent to make the first move.


 

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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