Elephants At The Gate

Each visitor to the Oregon Zoo is greeted by a menagerie of wild animals. You see them in the ornate iron gates that give you a glimpse into the wondrous world awaiting you. Countless little kids learn a little about the animals that are about to amaze them. Visitors waiting for the gates to open often take this opportunity to teach the little ones what the animals sound like as well as a lending a helping hand in identifying their favorites. I wonder how many wide eyed children have pointed at this gate squealing “elephant”?

Elephants At The Gate

Photography As A Serious Hobby

Most people don’t have the time or drive to take any hobby to the next level. In today’s rush around world the term “It’s good enough” is standard fare. For the few of us willing to make a commitment to learning the art of capturing light and creating something well beyond a snapshot there is a price to be paid. We have to give up something to gain something. We have to learn the language of photography. Not all people have the artistic gene. I think some folks are born with it, others not.

I fell in love with art at an early age. I loved to doodle when I was young, taking crayons to another level. Then came fine colored pencils and markers. Water colors found their way into my life and finally acrylic paints. I was a big fan of paint by number kits. I had them framed and hanging everywhere in my room. I had started coloring and painting outside the line early on in my development. By that time Christmas gifts and birthdays always included art supplies. In high school I belonged to the Art Club, meeting together to do modeling and figure studies. Now doodling became drawing my own hands at my school desk and producing flattering caricatures of my classmates. I took it to the college level as a fine arts major. I was offered a free scholarship to the Chicago Arts Institute but was not permitted to attend due to my German born parent’s prejudices regarding art as a career choice.

So, being spurned away from my heart’s desire, I turned to photography so that I could continue to be creative while feeding my passion for displaying the world around me. It all came together when computers and computer graphics software came of age. Then digital cameras were developed and I was in high heaven. I didn’t need to spend hours in a darkroom with smelly chemicals anymore. Alleluia!

It’s been a very enjoyable road that I’ve traveled getting to where I now am, and education made all things creative possible. I think I would want my life to end if I lost my sight except that then there would be a whole new world of touch, texture and sculpture. :)

Entering The Amphibian World Of Turtles

Each venue at the Oregon Zoo is a condensed habitat for one or more species. I love the way the zoo designer and animal experts create environments that make their charges comfortable, safe and happy. Turtles at the Portland Zoo are no different.

There’s an interesting lab right down the hallway of the Northwest outdoor exhibit showing the breeding of tiny baby turtles as our zoo “grows” their own animals. I have to remove the colored paint marking splotches they put on each animal as they progress through their system. Nothing like a large aquarium tank with dozens of specimens swimming around for you to see. I love it.

Two Turtles

“Life Is For The Birds”

There’s something inherently peaceful about standing 5-15 feet away from a fenced in pod full of ducks and egrets. The different species interact well considering their close proximity. I find birds some of the most beautiful animals in God’s kingdom, a true gift to mankind.

Ducky 07

Before & After

A friend recently paid a visit to the Oregon coast and photographed the famous Haceta Head Lighthouse, the most photographed lighthouse in the world. It’s idyllic location within view of coastal highway 101 makes it a must stop for tourists from around the globe.

My first editing chore was to level the horizon line. Next I adjusted exposure, contrast, noise and structure. I made sure the lighthouse and its close building were truly white. I added extra detail in the cliffs, water & trees  along with adding extra structure to the whitecaps of the incoming waves. I made sure the color balance was right on target.

Finally, after reducing the noise I sharpened the whole composition just a tad so as not to overdo it. This was a very noisy photo to start with so I wanted to retain as much detail as I could. I believe the edited version is a drastic improvement of the original.

Before:

lighthouse_—_FastMail

After:

Lighthouse

Shoutout: A Walk With My Camera

I continue to faithfully follow Orlando Uy at: http://afternoonwalks.wordpress.com. He lives in Tacloban, Philippines where that terrible storm flattened the town. His follow up stories and photographs bring tears to my eyes and make me realize how well off we have it here in the United States. The Philippine government  has done little to nothing to help the people affected by this disaster.

I highly recommend this blog site and the reports that keep being posted by Orlando.

How To Photograph Things in Bright Sunlight

The title of this post is meant to be deceiving. In reality when you’re in direct, bright sunlight you need to do something to diffuse that light. Direct sunlight is too harsh and contrasty to retain detail in such things as flowers or human faces. The name of the game is to get your subjects in the shade. Setting up to shoot in shade requires knowledge of light and how a photographer can manipulate it in photography. In shade you retain the detail that makes a subject interesting, dynamic and a keeper. Washed out photographs never get saved to my computer or anywhere else.

With a little practice you’ll learn to love backlit subjects. You can really make your main subject, located in a shady portion of the composition, come alive.

Flowers In The Shade

Photographic Lessons: Using DOF To Your Advantage

DOF – Depth of Field

In optics, particularly as it relates to film and photographydepth of field (DOF) is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image.

That’s technical jargon for controlling the area in your picture that’s sharp. It helps draw attention in your composition to what you want the viewer to notice. The higher the F-stop, ie. F/22, the more the contents of the photograph remains sharp. At small F-stops, like F/2.8, the shallower the focus area. In this case you need to be more precise on what you want sharp when focusing.

Below are examples of photographs with a shallow DOF (Depth of Field). They were all shot with my Fujinon 55-200mm F/3.5-4.8 zoom set at F/4.8. That’s the maximum opening for this lens, allowing for a very low DOF. The focusing had to be precise as I was at the minimum focusing distance for this big lens.

In the olden days of film photography the lenses all had depth of field gauges on them. you could get a pretty good idea the affect changing F-stops would have on the area that would remain sharp. Now, in the digital era, the lenses not only have these gauges but most don’t even have F-stops showing. It’s all auto-exposure now. :

Depth Of Field Gauge

Shallow Focus Leaves

Spirils

Violet On Green