Monday, February 28, 2011

 Posting Fifteen 
 "The Patience Filter"

Several years ago when I was sitting at a competition at my former camera club, Greater Brockton, one of the judges referred to using a patience filter. He then took the time to explain why this simple tool is often left behind when we are trying to compose our shot. Now, with the onslaught of digital cameras we seem to be in more of a hurry to get the shot and move on – more of a need for the patience filter.

In essence, we should be taking in the surrounding scene and all of its nuances. What was it with this setting that made you stop to capture it? Your patience filter will help you with that answer.

All too often we are in a rush to get the shot and miss out on the better captures. Case in point as witnessed a few years back – just before the sun set at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon the tour buses pulled up and emptied their passengers with cameras strung around their necks. They ascended like locusts to the area behind the gift shop ready to get the setting sun. Moments after the sun appeared to set, they were gone as quickly as they arrived. What they left behind were the truly better images of the evening sky over the Grand Canyon. Now, if they had their “patience filters” handy, they would have captured some remarkable skies.

The tripod is one tool to help you practice with that patience filter. When using that three-legged support, there is a tendency for the photographer to slow down his/her image taking. Opportunities to look through the viewfinder for distractions, the proper angle, and other  details make for a well thought out shot.

The patience filter takes up no space in your bag and won’t add any weight to your case. It won’t distort the image captured by your very expensive lens and it impossible to break. However, it is very easy to forget.

Back to that Greater Brockton evening, one member asked, “Where can I purchase one of them?” There was one of those pregnant pauses that seems to last forever. The rest of us exercised complete control and didn’t even crack a smile!

By now I trust you have a patience filter in your camera bag but, if you are still in the market for one, I can ship it to you for $29.95 plus tax!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Posting Fourteen

"Photographing Butterflies"

Living in Massachusetts, we are most fortunate to have accessibility to two (2) indoor butterfly facilities - one in Westford and the other in South Deerfield. For a nominal fee and an early arrival, one can tote in a tripod and have a fairly crowd-free environment. Speaking to Hockomock Digital Photographers’ resident nature expert, Frank Gorga, I was able to gather some helpful tips on how to capture these very flighty insects. Check out Frank’s blog for great images and suggestions:

Lens Choices:
  Best: 300 mm lens with extension tubes is probably the best
      combination of working distance and magnification.
  Better: a long lens (200 or 300 mm) with a short minimum
      focus distance.
  Good: a macro lens is of limited use as one simply can't
      get close enough to a living insect to make good use of it.

Critter Chasing Options:
  Hand-holding Camera with image stabilization
   Monopod or tripod (if allowed) set up where the butterflies are
      likely to feed – just wait. . .

   Fill flash needed as some critters may be back lit.
      Set your flash to one or two stops under.

From the Enchanting Kerala site (link below), there were these additions:
1.  Keep tripod head loose for butterfly movements.

2.  Watch your background – distracting? Change your angle.

3.  Keep your movements fluid and not jerky!

4.  Avoid casting YOUR shadow on the colorful critters!

5.  Keep the camera sensor parallel to butterfly’s body.

6.  Wear muted colors when shooting.

7.  Personally, avoid heavily scented perfumes, deodorants, or 

     after-shaves lotions.

Pack your patience filter – you’ll need it!

A couple of helpful links on capturing butterflies:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Posting Thirteen
"How to Impress Those Judges – Part Four"

This four part article was authored by Jack Alexander and appeared in The Lens Tissue, The newsletter for the Greater Brockton Camera Club.
Jack finishes his helpful hints.

Just what catches the eyes and the hearts of the judges as much as people – animals! Easily available critters would be your pets and those belonging to your friends and neighbors. Kittens and puppies score well with most judges – IF properly set-up. Filling up a basket of kittens or having a puppy frolic with a ball are sure winners.

Looking for something a bit wilder – try the zoo! Remember to keep the hand-of-man (fences, cage bars, bales of hay, dirt roads, sawed-off limbs, and phony looking rocks) out of your image. On a more positive note, zoo directors take considerable time and money to give their animal residents a more natural setting!

Now, how does one make a zoo shot not look like a zoo shot? Your zoom could be all that it takes. Zoom in tight for a head shot on larger animals. Avian houses offer interesting bird photos in a very natural setting. Again, the use of your zoom and a flash might get you that winner.

One of my favorite local spots for shooting animals has been Roger Williams Zoo – especially the polar bear enclosure. We are very fortunate to have a couple of butterfly conservatories in Massachusetts – Westford and South Deerfield. With some advanced planning and a little luck, you can catch these winged beauties resting on colorful flowers. (ED Note – next week’s blog will address shooting butterflies).

For a more controlled environment, check out the opportunities at NECCC Amherst. Here you will not only get some rare and exotic animals but the organizers at NECCC provide the proper lighting as well. If it’s adventure you are seeking, our national parks provide great photo ops for wildlife. Yellowstone is probably the premier park for variety - bison, elk, wolves, moose, deer and coyotes. One of my favorite bird locations is the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades – you should be able to catch a few gators there as well.

Well, that wraps up Jack’s tips on “How to Win More Acceptances.”

Monday, February 7, 2011

Posting Twelve

"How to Wow Those Judges – Part Three"

This four part article, which appeared in The Lens Tissue, the newsletter for the Greater Brockton Camera Club, was authored by Jack Alexander, former member of HDP.

Because of their many moods, people are often the most rewarding subjects to capture with your camera. Look for interesting facial features. Since your camera is a severe critic, let me add some dos and don’ts when shooting people:

1.   Tidy up the subject’s hair without overdoing it.

2.   Have you subject stand tall or sit – slumping is a negative.

3.   Turn the torso at a slight angle to the camera so your   subject becomes a slimmer, more flattering photo.

4.   A slight tilt of the head can be pleasing as it softens the skin tones.

5.   Be especially careful of hand placement. When in doubt leave them out of the frame! Take particular care NOT to cut off a limb at the joints!!

6.   Avoid one of the most unflattering areas – the armpit!

7.   Generally, the eyes should be in the upper thirds of your frame.

8.   If your subject is a child, get down to their level. Never shoot down on them!

9.   If a catch light is involved, try to have it fall at either 11:00 or 1:00, if possible.

10.If your subject is wearing glasses, a slight tilt may reduce their

11. If your subject has prominent ears, have him or her turn until the far ear disappears.

12. Leave more room in the frame toward the front of your subject
rather than the back.

13. Working with children, bring along a few toys – great props!

14. Try to shoot your subject at eye level.

Since the eyes are the focal points of any picture, focus on them.