One of the exercises I give to all of my photo class students is to find a subject and photograph it from different viewpoints. The idea is to expand creativity and explore new ways of seeing a subject. You can apply this concept to almost anything you’re photographing.
Last month Natalie and I spent a week vacationing on the wet side of the Big Island of Hawaii. The weather was mostly overcast, with periods of heavy rain, not the brilliant sun most people think of for Hawaii. We spent a lot of our time exploring for plants and birds, including a couple of days at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Almost all the plants we saw were new to us. A lot of them blended together — mid-sized broadleaf evergreen shrubs and small trees that didn’t have showy flowers. But a few stood out and I made several photos of them with my pocket camera. Continue reading →
A few days ago, during our recent cold snap, I stuck my Canon G12 compact camera in my pocket and headed out the door for a walk around our block. Where we live, that means walking at the side of the road for about a mile and a half. It was crisply cold and the late afternoon sun was low in the sky as I left the house.
I found several nice photo subjects along my route, but spent the most time lingering over a single frozen puddle, exploring the patterns and textures in the ice. It’s an intriguing and ephemeral subject, one temporarily frozen in time as well as temperature. I was reminded of the patterns in the sand from waves washing ashore, or the waves themselves when caught by an instantaneous exposure. There were figures, akin to the what you might see in the clouds while laying on your back on a warm summer day. And there was this luminous quality to the late afternoon light as it caught the ridges and textures in the ice. In short, I was entranced by this simple frozen tableau and lingered until the knees of my Carharts were soaking wet, my fingers frozen, and the sun had dipped too far below the horizon for a reasonable shutter speed. Continue reading →
One of my readers asked me recently, “How do I control depth of field and get a fuzzy background in my photos?” It’s a technique I use a lot to help create contrast between subject and background. This month I’m sharing the secrets to this professional tool.
First, a definition of the term. Depth of field describes the area in front of (closer to the camera) and behind the subject that appears acceptably sharp when the lens is focused on the subject. We often describe it as “shallow” when only the plane of focus is sharp, and “deep” when more elements in the photo in front of and behind the subject are sharp.
The Northwest Flower and Garden Show, held in Seattle each February, is one of the world’s greatest garden shows. Here in the northwest it’s an event we look forward to each winter as the days begin to lengthen, buds swell, and the earliest flowers in our gardens begin to bloom.
The warm and dry environment of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, all decked out with fabulous display gardens, welcomes gardeners from across the country to this annual extravaganza of garden theater. This year’s theme is “The Silver Screen Takes Root…Gardens Go Hollywood” and the garden designers did a good job interpreting this very broad and fun concept.
The first garden you encounter on the way into the show takes you on a journey to Oz, with Dorothy, the Tin Man, and a daffodil-filled golden brick road.
Photographers, and artists of all kinds, learn to see light. We look at where it’s coming from, how it plays on our subjects, and how much contrast it yields.
I made this series of images last week during the field demonstration part of my pocket camera wildflower photography class at the North Cascades Institute while my students watched me work. They looked at the images immediately on my iPad so they could compare what they saw from where they stood with what I was getting as I moved around my subject and then used a couple of diffusers on a close-up.
We were at the Bridge Creek trailhead, where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses Washington Highway 20. These Giant Red Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) were just a few feet from the edge of the parking lot. It was about 9:15 in the morning under a cloudless blue sky, so the sun was about 30° above the horizon and more than halfway to its peak. In short, the sunlight was strong, high, and bright. In the first photo you can see my shadow as I stood with my back to the sun. Continue reading →
I’m a sucker for waterfalls. There’s just something about the patterns of flowing water that draw me in. They’re not a subject that’s been lucrative but I can’t resist photographing them anyway.
This is Chuckanut Falls, on a tributary to Chuckanut Creek in Arroyo Park just south of Bellingham. There’s a new trail, just built in the last year, leading to the falls. The falls trail takes off from the trail heading up from the Interurban Trail toward Lost Lake. The signed junction is just downhill from the top end of California Street. Continue reading →
I continue to be drawn to Chuckanut Mountain trails for my winter hikes. Last weekend I headed up the Fragrance Lake Trail from Larrabee State Park. There’s a lookout over the bay just over a mile from the trailhead and Fragrance Lake itself is only about 2.2 miles with less than 1000 feet of elevation gain. I carried my Canon G12 pocket camera and a small tripod. Continue reading →
As sure as February rolls around so does the Northwest Flower & Garden Show at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. It’s a time to oogle the display gardens, shop for cool new plants, and visit with friends. This year’s show ends ended on Sunday, February 12.
The cavernous fourth floor exhibit hall comes to life with more than twenty exquitely designed and constructed display gardens. The one above was called “Twistin’ the Night Away” and featured a corkscrew willow graphic as a backdrop to an arbor-framed patio. Each of the garden designers worked within the Floral Symphony show theme, coming up with some musical connection. Continue reading →
Last Sunday we Bellinghamsters enjoyed one of several fantastic sunny and relatively warm February days. It was time for another calf-burning loop hike in the Chuckanuts. It had only been a month since I’d been to Lost Lake but I decided to make a return visit. I started hiking from the North Chuckanut trailhead around 9 am, giving myself plenty of time to explore at the lake. This time I hiked the loop clockwise, visiting Lost Lake first and returning via the Chinscraper and Chuckanut Ridge trails. See the Chuckanut trails map, and carry it with you if you go. Continue reading →
I spent four nights in Las Vegas last week attending John Hartman’s photography marketing bootcamp. The program was fantastic and now I have a ton of work to do implementing what I learned.
But one can’t go to Las Vegas and not spend some time wandering around photographing the over-the-top hotels and casinos. ( You just need to develop the skill where you dodge all the pushy casino people. They will come up to you as you take pictures because you look like fresh meat! So dodge the “Details of the vegas promo offer for new members” shouts and and pleas to view this here or check this offer there, focus on your photography! I traveled light and just carried my Canon G12 pocket camera. I took a tripod with me, but didn’t carry it out on the strip so everything I shot was hand-held. Continue reading →