|One Cow is Always Watching|
This week I finish my randomly selected quick photography tips. These are just a few of the “take-away” points that have come from a few of my, over 350, blog articles. I listed tips 1-5 last week, and I will probably add more as time goes by. Without further introduction, here are my tips for this week.
6) Eliminate the dull sky on overcast days.
|Pretty Scene - Dull Sky|
I love shooting landscapes on overcast days. Harsh contrasts are reduced, and without direct reflections, the color of the foliage shines through. One of the greatest challenges of shooting on an overcast day is managing the dull, apparently featureless sky. One approach is to use digital editing tools to enhance the subtle detail in what often appears to be featureless dome, but a simpler technique is to compose images to eliminate the sky from the picture.
The trick is to understand when the sky adds little to the interest of the scene. Point the camera down and concentrate on the foliage and leaves, leaving at most, just a sliver of sky.
|Software Solutions - Bringing out the Sky|
7) Go far from the foreground in front of a rising and setting full moon.
|Far from the Old Saybrook Light|
Every month, photographers watch the calendar for a chance to capture the dramatic rising of the full moon. Full moons rise during twilight making it easier to capture the bright orb while the detail in the foregrounds is still visible. The problem is that if you set up close to your foreground you will require a wide focal length that will render the spectacular moon as a very unspectacular dot of light in the distance.
|Couldn't Get Back Far Enough|
The trick is to get as far away as possible from your foreground, church, lighthouse or spouse. When you pull it in with a long focal length, the foreground can be the same size, but the moon will be impressively magnified.
The rule for moon photography is to get as far away as possible from the foreground and the challenge is to find subjects that provide angles with a clear view to the rising moon, but from a distance. It is worth the search.
|Miles Away from Mount Monadnock|
8) In portraits always focus on the eyes.
We all know that portraits are enhanced by a shallow depth of field. A wide aperture results in a soft background which removes distractions from your subject, but a small range of sharpness requires care in the deciding what will be in focus. The answer is simple. It is all about the eyes. The eyes are the most remarkable part of any face, and if the eyes are sharp, the rest of the face can be soft. In fact, soft focus on the nose checks and lips can draw attention to the depth and hues of those colorful orbs.
The “focus on the eyes” rule applies to more than faces. Especially in macro photography, it is important to look for the “eyes” in any subject. For flowers, it is the stamen. For leaves it maybe water droplets. The point is to find the “eyes” in any image and nail the focus to that point.
9) Avoid condensation by allowing your camera to warm in a plastic bag.
Living in New England, and especially this time of year, I am frequently shooting out in the freezing weather. I love the stark, clean beauty of the winter season, but photography in the cold provides some special challenges. Fingers freeze, batteries die and snow dusts the lens, but one of the most difficult problems is the condensation which forms on cameras and lenses when the cold equipment is brought into the warmth. It is annoying when I must repeatedly wipe the moisture from the lens, but, more dangerous, is the water which collects inside the camera causing corrosion and shorting out the electronics.
Once again, the solution is simple. I keep plastic bags in my camera bag and before I go inside I seal the camera and lenses into the bags. The bags allow the gear to warm without condensation.
|View from the Cold Top|
After shooting at the top of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington in March, with temperatures of 20 degrees below zero, I had to wait for more than an hour before I could take my camera out of its bag. It takes patience to wait for access to your stuff, but it is an essential part of shooting in the cold.
10) One cow always maintains eye contact.
I am fascinated by cows. They are all around in my corner of New England. These placid animals are great subjects to include in landscape photography, but there is almost always a problem. A herd of cows inescapably becomes interested in any approaching photographer. I want them to continue doing “cow stuff”; chewing grass and emitting ozone destroying methane gas, but they just keep staring. The only thing to do is to stay still and, and trust that, eventually, the herd will get back to work.
With patience, this always happens, but inevitably one cow is assigned the job of keeping an eye on the suspicious stranger. This guy NEVER looks away and my only solution is to frame the image to exclude the bovine sentry, or accept the situation and focus in on the guy’s vigilant eyes.
Well that makes ten. I have many more quick tips and I hope to get to them in the future. Keep checking in.
Jeff Newcomer, NEPG