As an eyewitness to a bird in flight, I know the beauty we see is fleeting. In the blink of an eye, the sighting is a memory — as long as I didn’t blink! On the other hand, two photographs taken in quick succession can be studied, savored and enjoyed forever.
As a wildlife photographer, capturing a continuous series of a bird in flight is one of my goals, since I love seeing those beautiful wings outstretched. That’s not to mention the rewarding feeling of meeting the challenge of focus and freezing action of a fast moving subject!
Contrast these views with the serene beauty of the Great Blue Heron at rest, as it watches the water for a fish to catch.
You know the age-old question: what came first, the chicken or the egg? You can’t have one without the other, right? In the same vein, I ask you, “What is this photograph about, the swimmer or the water? Without the water, we wouldn’t have a swimmer, and yet the swimmer adds action and purpose to the image. I could argue that the water has the strongest visual interest. But the water without the swimmer might not be eye-catching or meaningful.
So do you think this image is more about the swimmer or the water?
Ten days ago, I was biking in the Everglades National Park, working hard to get some photographs of the Great Egrets and Great Blue Heron in flight. I write to you today from my desk in Pennsylvania, because my efforts paid off and I have more images to share!
For you photographers out there, I had to use ISO 2500 in order to freeze motion with a shutter speed of 1/1000 and keep the aperture wide enough to achieve enough depth of field that the heron would not fly out of my focus zone too quickly. My camera is the Nikon D800, with the Nikon 70-200 mm lens, handheld. When birds take flight, it is a challenge to keep them sharp in the final image.
The success of this image reminds me of why I prefer still photography to video: with a print, one can freeze this moment to enjoy forever. All of these camera settings worked to create an image you can enjoy as a 10″ x 10″ print, available on my website.
Violent demonstrations have eclipsed the peace you can usually count on in Paris, the “City of Light,” but we are hoping that this unrest will soon come to an end, so Parisians and their visitors can enjoy their city again. The lights of the Paris monuments at night are magical.
Since much of the recent demonstrations disrupted the Champs d’Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe, I felt especially lucky that I had the opportunity to climb the 230 steps of the Arc in order to capture this night photo of the Eiffel Tower just last month. The Eiffel Tower puts on a dazzling show on the hour when it sparkles for about 5 minutes.
I’m sorry for the two weeks without new blog posts, but the holiday rush and some traveling has kept me super busy. I will try to resume my good habits of posting three times a week, and I hope you will follow me.
Prints of this image or others in my blog are available through my website if you click on the PRINTS link above. If you need help finding what you are looking for, don’t stress — just send me an email, and I am here to help!
Happy Holidays and good luck with your busy December!
In literature, water often sustains life. It feeds the thirsty. Thirsty humans, animals and plants. In rivers, it flows past us in a strong steady current, often signifying our journey through life. Other times, arriving in storms it taketh away. Floods overpower human settlements and people. It kills.
What does this ocean image say to you? Is it dangerous and menacing, or does it bring you peace?
As the fiery orange sun was moments away from dipping into the Pacific, just below the distant rain clouds, sunbeams also appeared high in the sky. It almost seemed as if the afternoon sun was peaking through that opening in the clouds! Sure enough, blue sky, golden light and a brightening of the ocean’s surface right below created a unique illusion.
A painter would tell you that the orange plumeria tree is the perfect color complement to the light blue ocean in this image. And that the orange hues of sunset and the clear blue region of the sky echo the contrasting orange and blue hues.
Another person might be attracted to the nearly empty crescent beach and just want to be there. What attracts you to this image?
Who enjoys the hydrangeas the most? Is it the deer? The bees? Me? The good news is that the bees and I can share the love and leave the plant for each other.
The blue hydrangea is a favorite snack for the deer. The bad news: the deer have stripped my garden and only left one bush with beautiful blossoms for me to enjoy.
These two photographs are also good examples of different ways to process an image. In the white one, I was going for a clean and crisp look; for the blue one, I choose a creamy, more painterly look. I choose an approach based on the strong elements of the photo.
Last evening I went down to the beach to watch the sunset, and nearly an hour after the sunset the sky gave me a gift. Two bright blue light beams cut through the rosy western sky and they lingered for about 15 minutes, giving me plenty of time to pause my dinner, steady my camera on the railing and take a half second exposure of this special scene.
I guessed that the blue rays were caused by clouds beyond the horizon blocking the rosy twilight, and my photography mentor Gary Hart said he thought that was the case. Today, I had another thought about this unusual sight.
These are tough days for our family, as my father’s health is in rapid decline and our hearts are heavy, knowing he will leave us any day now. I just witnessed stunning light beams from beyond the horizon. There could be a message of comfort and hope from a place beyond my sight. I believe so.