Unlikely Pairing: Infrared and Wildlife

When I set out to shoot Infrared Photography with a modified camera, I usually employ a wide angle lens and look for sunny skies and green foliage that create a strong composition. The direct sun and the strong composition are key.

When I set out to shoot wildlife, I use a regular camera (not modified for infrared light) and a close up lens, so I can capture true color and detail and avoid approaching and disturbing the wildlife. My strategy and my equipment are completely different.

So, today when I was roaming the golf course along the lake with my Infrared camera and wide angle lens, I was surprised to see an Anhinga (large bird) that just happened to contribute interest to my composition. “Hello, and hold that pose!”

The female Anhinga perched in the lakeside tree added interest to this Infrared photograph. Green foliage appears white in this south Florida scene.

Spinning Flowers

I nudged myself to get out in the backyard and experiment with some flower photography today. Summer 2020 should be the summer of experimentation, right? I played with long exposures and spinning the camera while pressing the shutter. My favorite image was this one of my hydrangea plant that preserved the outlines of the leaves.

#hydrangea, #experiment, #creative,  #july #flowers, #flowerphotography, #nature, #outdoorphotography, #abstract, #spin
Hydrangea blossoms in pink and blue appear slightly abstract in this spinning image, nicely framed by a wreath of vibrant leaves. © Catherine Kelly

If you want to try this method, you need to set the camera to manual and dial in a long exposure like a third of a second. To achieve a correct exposure, you will need to stop down the lens (to perhaps f/11 or f/16), and set a low ISO (such as 100). The settings will vary for you based on the available light. Focusing is still important. Once you have achieved a good exposure with shutter speed, aperture and ISO, it’s time to play.

How to Improve Your Photography

Looking through my archives for color photographs that would make a satisfying black and white image made me realize that “seeing in black and white” will make me a better photographer. Any consistently successful photographer will pre-visualize the image before image capture. For starters, one evaluates dynamic range, depth of field, light quality, composition, timing of the action and whether the subject is meaningful.

To choose a good subject for black and white photography there are more factors to evaluate: tonal range and contrast, simplicity, shape, texture, interest. I like my black and white images to be strong. The image has to be eye catching and hold the viewer’s interest without the help of color. I admit, I’m a photographer who loves color, so this challenge is fun for me!

This photograph of a mother Bison and her calf grazing on top of the hillside made the cut for a color to black and white candidate. In my judgement, it has simplicity, large repeating shapes, texture in the fur, wide tonal range and plenty of interest — from the unusual wildlife sighting to the eye contact and tongue in mid-air.

#bison, #motherandcalf, #buffalo, #gtnp, #grandteton, #wyoming, #jacksonhole, #givethemdistance, #safedistance, #wildlifephotography, #wildlife, #photography, #nature, #blackandwhite, #sonyalpha, #nik, #silverefexpro
Mother and calf bison grazing in Grand Teton National Park (shot from a safe distance inside a car with a 600mm lens).

Creative Processing

When travel restrictions keep a photographer at home for months at a stretch, it’s a perfect time to exercise one’s creativity with new ways to process images in the archives. On this sunny day in June, I pulled up one of my favorite images of 2020: my daughter and son-in-law on a dog sled in Wyoming with a stunning background.

I was so happy that my dogsled, traveling just behind Courtney’s sled stopped in an opportune spot for me to frame her sled before tall pines, snow-capped mountains and a happy sky, blue with puffy clouds. And for just one second, Courtney and her husband Scott looked up at me and smiled. The triangular composition gives the scene balance and also offsets the white dogs.

#jackson, #jacksonhole, #thingstodo, #winter, #winterfun, #dogsled, #topaz, #adobe, #sonyalpha, #stayathome, #processing, #photography, #family, #creativity
Processed in Photoshop and Topaz Simplify, this photograph gained a painterly effect. I believe that the viewer can more easily place themselves in the scene when the faces are modified. I hope you agree that this image is more than just a family photo now.

Our winter adventures in Jackson Hole will give us some interesting options for holiday cards this year, and maybe a 2021 calendar. I’m sure your photographs from your family trips bring you joy at this time.

Shooting the Supermoon

The rising of the Pink Supermoon last week was an ideal occasion to test the sharpness of my new Sony a2rIV camera and the 200-600 mm Sony lens. The reach and exceptional clarity of this high tech team made me a believer!

The most effective way to photograph the night sky is with a DSLR camera in manual mode, mounted on a tripod and exposed for the moon. The purpose of using a 600 mm lens (as opposed to a 200 mm or a 50 mm lens) is that the far distant object, in this case the moon, will appear far larger in your frame. The purpose of expensive, high quality glass (lens) is clarity of its focus. In addition to choosing the appropriate camera and lens, you will also benefit from the know-how to shoot in RAW mode and process in Photoshop, Lightroom and Luminar. I share with you the results of bringing all these methods to bear on our opportunity.

#supermoon, #moonrise, #sony, #luminar, #sonyalpha, #reallyrightstuff, #naturephotography, #sky, #outdoorphotography, #florida, #naplesflorida
Pink Supermoon rising, just clearing the palm trees in Naples Florida. April 2020
#supermoon, #moonrise, #moon, #sonyalpha, #reallyrightstuff, #luminar, #howto, #nightsky, #sky, #nature, #naturephotography, #naplesflorida, #florida, #palms, #detail
Pink Supermoon rises higher in the darkening sky. Zoom in to see the detail in the moon’s surface.

Cleared for Take-Off

Watching and waiting for this Great White Egret to take off, I was rewarded by this sighting of outstretched white wings. With my Nikon camera shutter set at 1/1000 second, I was prepared to capture this image to share with you.

#egret, #whiteegret, #greatwhite, #greatamericanegret, #wings, #takeoff, #flight, #birdphotography, #naturephotography, #wildlife, #howto, #nikon, #tamron, #outdoorphotography, #morningsun, #sunlit, #llittoralplants, #golfcourse, #contest, #photography,
Early morning sun shines through the white egrets wing feathers, as the egret lifts off from the littoral plants.

Since I also set my Nikon D800 on “continuous-high,” I have two more great frames to share. You can help me decide which one is best. I will submit one or two of these photos to the Royal Poinciana Members’ Photography Contest. The submitted photos have to be shot on the property.

The Sunstar at Naples Pier

We arrived at Naples Pier about 10 minutes before sunset. My friend Marjorie warned me, “It’s going to go fast,” and she was right. We needed to pick a spot for a sunset photo quickly among scores of others who were on the beach for the very same reason, to witness the sunset and preserve the memories with photography.

I realized that the sun was going to slip behind the pavilions at the end of the pier, creating an opportunity to photograph the sun as a sunstar with rays. When the sun or other bright light source is clipped by a foreground object, you can create this type of image by stopping your lens down to f/16. (This assumes you know how to manually set your camera!) If not, no worries. Just enjoy this image of a beautiful end of an equally beautiful day.

#pier, #naplespier, #naplesfl, #sunset, #sunstar, #gulfcoast, #blessing, #peace, #sun,
What a blessing to share this moment of peace and wonder with dozens of other respectful visitors at Naples Pier on the Gulf coast of Florida.

Click on the image to enlarge. Need a print? Please visit my website anytime.

Feeding the Eaglet

Happy news: the Bald Eagle pair close to my home in Naples has an eaglet in the nest. One lucky observer saw the eaglet peering over the side of the nest. When I visited the nest, located high in a pine tree yesterday, I did not see the eaglet, but I did observe one of the parents standing guard, looking all around. After a few minutes I observed the parents feeding the eaglet. It was tearing little bits of pink flesh from some prey to feed to its young.

#baldeagle, #eagle, #adulteagle, #florida,#wildlife, #naples, #birdphotography, #outdoorphotography, #asmppittsburgh
Can you spot the pink flesh in the eagle’s beak? I made this image with my Nikon D800, with Tamron 150-600mm lens extended to 600mm, held steady on a tripod.

Male and female eagles look alike, so you can only tell the sex of the parent by seeing them together. Often the female is larger. Both parents participate in parenting by taking turns guarding the nest and hunting for food. The eagles know enough to guard the eaglet from an incoming predator like an osprey or iguana.

I will be stopping by frequently in the coming weeks to watch for the eaglet.

Finding Reflections in Sedona

If you can find a reflection of your main subject in a landscape photograph, you will create a unique image that will hold the viewer’s attention even longer. Sometimes, you need to be a bit creative to find those reflections as big lakes don’t appear on command. When I noticed a few puddles in the red rock flats of Red Rock Crossing, I lined myself up to see if I could see a reflection. What I found was quite an interesting foreground.

While this puddle only captured a portion of Cathedral Rock, I liked the pattern formed by the red rocks in the foreground as well as the leading line (left to center) that links the red rock plateau with the trees.

A good foreground and middle ground leading to the focal point of the image leads the eye through the image and allows the whole image to work together for a pleasing visual experience. The soft side lighting of sunset also enhances the tranquility of the image.

I hope this scene inspires you to visit Sedona and explore the many trails and viewpoints. Sedona is just 90 minutes’ drive north of the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. Keep an eye on this online gallery for more of my unique Sedona landscapes. Prints of many different sizes can be ordered online.

The Prize Winning Photo

One of these action shots of an osprey pair won first prize in the Royal Poinciana Golf Club’s 2019 Nature Photography contest. In this image, the female osprey is landing in the nest.
In this second image, the female osprey eyes the incoming osprey with a wary eye. You can identify the female with the brown speckles on the white breast feathers.

While I didn’t like the post in the center of the top image, the osprey in flight looked amazing. I like to photograph wildlife in action and let the image tell a story of wildlife behavior when possible. To achieve this, you need a fast shutter speed that will freeze action and produce a sharp image. It helps when the subject is well lit and the photographer is facing away from the sun. There is some luck involved, but practice, practice, practice allows you to be “lucky” and successful more often.