Monday, March 28, 2011

Onward!

Onward! by right2roam
Onward!, a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

When I got back to my computer for a closer look at this shot, I immediately imagined this little guy charging off in a flutter of energy, followed by a squadron of Nuthatches wearing goggles and leather bomber jackets. I know... I have a crazy, cheesy imagination, right?

This image is the result of what was probably the most intensive post-processing I've ever applied to any of my shots. Even with my 400mm zoom, I just couldn't get in close enough to capture this bird in full detail. In the dim lighting conditions of this wooded area I had to use a ridiculously high ISO in order to use a shutter speed that could offer any chance of freezing anything as fast-moving as a bird. Then I cropped out about 50 percent of the original frame to get this composition. Finally in Photoshop I applied a noise reduction filter and a selective sharpening layer to help compensate for the graininess and reduced detail.

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 400mm
Aperature: f/9
Exposure: 1/40 second
ISO 1600

While this shot will never make an appealing large print, I'm very happy with how it looks on the web. For comparison, check out this photo of a Steller's Jay that I took two days later, same branch. The Jay is a much larger bird and filled the entire frame, so no cropping was required. The difference in detail is clear, especially when viewing large.

Who are you calling punk?

Special thanks to Oma Darling for her bird watching tips and knowledge of the wildlife of Eastern Washington State, and for letting me borrow her cozy "hide". Now that I'm back in the UK, I'm sure to be spending more time at any number of nature reserves and wildlife refuges, and hopefully I'll be sharing more photographs of birds soon.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening by right2roam
Spring Awakening a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

I don't often get to retrace my steps, but I'll go out of my way for a visit to Chain Lakes any time. This shot is probably only possible for a couple of months out of the year when the streams of Eastern Washington are swollen with snow melt. On previous visits to this area during the summer, this stream had slowed to little more than a trickle.

I've spent a lot of time out here in the summer when Scotia Canyon is green and full of life, but I've also heard about the quieter winter-locked side of this secluded paradise. Its the tail end of Winter here and migratory birds are passing through on their way north, many will stay until Fall. The ice is finally clearing from the lake and snow melt is filling the streams and rivers. On my Flickr Profile I've posted several shots from Chain Lakes, and at least a few more are sure to come in the near future as I get out on the water for some long overdue kayaking during my first real vacation in over a year.

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 16mm
Aperature: f/20
Exposure: 2.5 seconds
ISO 50

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dante's Shore

Dante's Shore by right2roam
Dante's Shore a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

The shot you see here is nothing like what I imagined before I set out for the beach on this day. I didn't really have a plan other than to explore different afternoon composition possibilities around the Monterey Peninsula, and frustratingly my tests with long exposures just weren't coming together because of brighter than ideal skies.

Gradually the brighter afternoon sky dimmed as the sun set, and the dull browns and greens of this overcast day faded into the soft blues and grays of the often overlooked blue hour. I was finally having some success with the long exposure... enough success that I decided to see what happens when I push the limits of my camera.

A 25 second exposure at ISO 200 was sure to produce an image with less than ideal noise and graininess, but I figured I'd try anyway. It was already so dark that I was having a hard time climbing around on the sharp rocks, but a few more moments of studying the scene and the composition idea came together. I did something I almost never consider doing with nature photography. I combined an obvious human element with the movement of a set of large waves rolling into the rocks. Overall I'm pleased with the combination of glowing city lights and hauntingly cool blues of the twilight tidal action.

Canon EOS 5D
Focal Length: 35mm
Aperature: f/22
Exposure: 25 seconds
ISO 200

Friday, March 4, 2011

Empires Rise and Empires Fall...

Empires Rise and Empires Fall...
Empires Rise and Empires Fall... a photo by right2roam on Flickr.

"In the last five or six thousand years, empires one after another have arisen, waxed powerful by wars of conquest, and fallen by internal revolution or attack from without."
- John Boyd Orr

For today's post I thought I would share something completely different...
...A simple tribute to the heroes of the spirit of reform and revolution that is sweeping the Middle East. May the winds of change bring you happiness, health and peace.

About the shot?...
This also marks my one-hundredth post to my photostream on Flickr. I took this shot nearly two years ago today with my Canon G10 while awkwardly riding on a camel. Cropping my images is almost always painful as I prefer that my work have as much detail as possible. But in this case I simply felt that cropping into a panorama was appropriate here. The composition of the original photo was terrible, with a crooked horizon and disproportionate amounts of foreground and sky that detracted from the Pyramids. The drastic crop was just the best way to balance the image and keep the dimensions of the scene in perspective. In hindsight I should have also tried to zoom in more and take several shots which could then be stitched together into a high-resolution panorama using photo editing software such as Photoshop Elements... a lesson for the next time I'm riding a camel around the Pyramids of Egypt.