Welcome Surprises…

Being an amateur photographer I’m accustomed to surprises. Unfortunately they tend to be of the un-welcomed variety.

Like the time I first took out my brand new 70-200mm lens. Photographing cardinals in an ice-covered tree I’d press the shutter release and nothing would happen. Then some seconds later “click”. I spent two or three minutes thinking there was something wrong with the lens, when in truth there was something wrong with me: I hadn’t changed the camera settings back from self-timer after my last use.

(sigh)

But sometimes we hobbyist photographers get lucky. Something cool happens. We’re playing in post-processing and chance upon a setting which really makes our otherwise average photo really sing. Or once home and in front of the computer we realize the pictures we took and thought were ho-hum on the camera’s LCD screen are actually pretty good. These are great moments.

But today I’m talking about coming across something within the actual image, which we hadn’t originally seen. For instance, we start with this basic flower picture…

A pretty picture of a pretty flower. But nothing surprising about it. Right? Well when working with this in Lightroom with a large, 24-inch monitor I came across this…

Isn’t it cute?

Sure… this isn’t a big surprise. A bug. On a flower. Outdoors. It could happen. But it was unexpected and unseen when I snapped the picture. Hell.. it was only because I was playing with cropping that I even saw this little fellow in the soft shaft of sunlight falling upon the petal.

And just the other day I was out at a local garden, Wegerzyn Garden (part of the Dayton, Ohio, area Five Rivers MetroParks system), snapping pics of late Spring flowers when I came across a bee. A bee doing its busy bee thing and so I started snapping a series of pics of it on this one particular flower.

When I got home and was going through the images I had, once again, zoomed in to better see the bee when I … well… well see for yourself.

The poor little bee has what I am certain is an unwelcome guest: a mite!

While I’m certain the bee could live without this Faustian nightmare, I can’t help but think how lucky I was to be in the right place at the right moment such that I could capture this bit of nature.

I’ll take these sorts of surprises any day of the week over not clearing previous session settings.

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Firsts for 2011…

It seems a bit funny to be typing “Firsts for 2011” when one considers we are…. what…. half-way into 2011. But I think it will all make more sense when you see….

While certainly not the first butterfly to be found in the Dayton, Ohio, area in 2011 it is my first shot of one. I imagine folks who venture to my flickr photostream get tired of shots of my butterflies. But that’s their problem. I love photographing them. They are such beautiful little creatures and seeing them on my computer monitor makes me smile. Their bright colours. Sometimes iridescent.

Like I mentioned in one of my more recent posts, if I enjoy it why shouldn’t I photograph it? It is, after all, my hobby. My passion. I should shoot what makes me happy. Granted, I hope others enjoy those images as well, but ultimately the only person I need to satisfy is myself.

I also have a penchant for photographing…

Although I’m not certain what I’m really photographing in this image. I was shooting for the bee (I do love bees.. at least in terms of photography), but wound up focused upon the flower instead. But I do enjoy photographing flowers as well, just not as much as bees and other bugs.

At first I was going to delete the image from my hard drive as it wasn’t what I was looking for. You know… I nice & sharp picture of the bee. But before I could flag it as a reject in Lightroom I think I realized how this photo worked just fine after all. The flower is lovely and the bee, while out of focus, is still in-focus enough that I, and any other viewer, immediately recognize it’s a bee.

And upon further consideration I decided that this ‘mistake’ was actually a very nice photograph. Or at least I think so.

Why Bee Normal?

I know!  Two posts in one day!  Heck.  Two posts within hours of each other!  I confess that the reading I had done that led to my post of earlier this evening left me with the urge to try something with photo editing software.  Up to now I have only used editing software to tweak (as a certain party is so fond of saying) pictures to my satisfaction based upon what I recall of the live scene.  This time I wanted do so something real, if you will, which led to this.

Colour Bee

Sure.  Loads of folks do this.  Loads of folks do this and then post them to their WP blogs and/or Flickr sites.  I know.  It isn’t particularly original, but what the hell do I care?  I wanted to do this.  Almost every time I’ve seen someone do this sort of treatment I have liked it, so why shouldn’t I try this as my first experiment with photo editing software?

Pretty cool, eh?

Apparently failure IS an option (and other assorted tales)

It’s been a bit since I last posted and in that time I’ve uploaded three separate batches of photos to my Flickr account. I still haven’t really devised a scheme with which I’m particularly happy regarding my work flow, but oddly enough it isn’t the work flow of actually working with the photos of which I’m displeased. Instead it is simply the transference of images from the three different media cards to the computer. Thus far I have been keeping each cards image files in their own separate folders on my hard drive. Why? I don’t know. Maybe just so that I can quickly check any given card to make certain I have actually transferred images to the computer BEFORE I do something goofy like format the card. Anyway. Let’s dive into the various interesting things that have been occurring photography wise, shall we?

Apparently failure is an option. About 10 or so days ago we were enjoying some incredibly nice weather. Cooler than average temperatures and low humidity were ruling both our days and nights. And this particular night I was lounging in the television room of the west wing of the mansion, while a mostly naked Kate Isitt fed me peeled grapes and pressed the buttons on the t.v. remote for me, when I noticed the stark white light of the waxing moon upon the lawn. “Hum,” thought I. “Perhaps a chance to snap a few pics of the moon this evening?” but the pull of the television, the peeled grapes and the mostly naked Ms. Isitt kept me from making my way out of doors.

Another hour or so passed and I again noted the lovely light upon the lawn and could now see the moon hanging in the night sky, high enough that it was above the tall trees to the south of my view. Extending my apologies to Ms. Isitt I made for my camera kit and tripod and headed out into the wilds that are the 1,276 acres upon which my mansion sits. I stumbled about in the dark for a bit before turning my eyes heavenwards to find not only the moon, in all Her glory, but clouds.

Clouds. Fast moving clouds. And plenty of them. “Damn.” thought I. “It was perfectly clear earlier,” but I had elected to stay put and now I was about to pay the price for my laziness. I set up my kit and played with my manual settings until I had found one that I thought would provide a decent result and offer a starting place for making adjustments. Regardless the clouds would have none of it and left me with this sort of mess.

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Or this instead.

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“Clouds be damned!” I mused. “I”m going to stay out here and keep snapping pics until I get something that is remotely useful.” And maybe I did?

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However, before this particular evening (and around the July 4th holiday) we experienced some rather rainy weather. But this rain was prefaced with something we don’t get too often: lightning and thunder. I have enjoyed pictures taken by others of lightning, but have yet to find myself in a position to return the favour. Until now, so to speak. As I could see the flashes of lightning and hear the occasional distant grumble of thunder I thought I should get out and try to capture some of nature’s light show, especially since there wasn’t yet any rain. Unfortunately the 2,413 acres of land upon which my mansion sits is very wooded and not conducive to photographing lightning on the horizon. Clearly I needed to get into the helicopter and have Pilot fly me to a field whereupon I might have a chance to capture some lightning.

I eventually settled upon a field not too far from my mansion and got myself set up. This wasn’t going to be easy though. The lightning wasn’t the sort whereby there is a sudden flash of light zipping across the sky, branching out in all sorts of directions, but what is often referred to as heat lightning. It would come and go so quickly I couldn’t get off a shot that actually captured anything so I turned to pointing the camera into the sky, setting a longish exposure and hoping I caught something. Anything. What I caught was crap as evidenced below.

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And this image is the best of them all. Pitiful. I might have gotten some better shots as time went by, but the arrival of rain sent me and Pilot scurrying to the protection of the helicopter and thus ended my chance to bring to others the same joy they have brought to me.

However, not everything photography-related has been a dismal failure of late. I have managed to pull a few rabbits out of my hat, if you will, and these instances have made my failures feel less-so in retrospect. I have had some great luck with the pets of late. Both the cats and dogs have been more cooperative than usual, but with the dogs it could be simply that they were either asleep or too tired to give me any shit. The one really great situation has been my ability to get a few really super shots of one of the cats, Pumpkin. Pumpkin is, for all intents and purposes, feral. While having lived with us for almost three years he, and his sister Little One, have never properly socialized with we mere mortals. However, Pumpkin was very, very cooperative a few days back and I was able to get a couple of really nice pics of him like this one.

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Over the July 4th holiday we had guests from Florida visiting us in the way of our best friends, George and Caroline, and their daughter, Rowan. We haven’t seen them in about two years (for a variety of reasons, but money being the biggest impediment. well it’s not that money is the impediment, but that the lack thereof is the impediment) and it was truly super to have them about for a week. We enjoyed spending time chatting and otherwise farting around and it gave me a chance to take some pics like this one.

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You, my most cherished readers, may recall how poorly went a recent visit to the Butterfly House at the Cox Arboretum of Dayton, Ohio. Well, while there that first time I noticed how nice the arboretum was and thought to myself that I should return on another day and try to take some pictures of whatever I could find. There were lakes and ponds, so ducks, frogs and dragonflies may have been in order. There were flowers, so bees may have been in order. And who knows what else may have been there that I simply missed on our other adventure to the butterfly house. As such I elected to head back earlier this week (Monday I think) with camera kit in tow (but no tripod).

I arrived in what might be best described as very late afternoon/very early evening such that the shadows were obvious, but not yet pronounced. I had my entire kit (camera body and all four lenses including the very heavy 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM monster) with me as I didn’t know which lens or lenses I might make best use of, but I elected to start with the 100-400mm just in case I came across dragonflies. Funny how it takes a huge and heavy lens to snap a decent pic (at distance) of a very tiny and very light insect. I must say I was not disappointed.

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I will concede the dragonflies were less-than-cooperative as they typically wouldn’t sit still for more than a few seconds, which resulted in a lot of nicely composed, but poorly focused images. Alas, I’m not complaining as this was nirvana! Onwards and upwards though as there were bees to be found all over the park!

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I had more luck with the bees, but they too kept moving quite a bit as bees are wont to do….or so I assume. While taking pics of the bees (and flowers) I was struck by the beauty that can be found in the death-throws of a flower. I have noticed this before (and noted such as well), but was again struck by this bit of information.

Beyond the bees and dragonflies I was lucky enough to grab a very nice shot of a bird and some landscape type shots of the grounds and its lakes/ponds.

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Finally, there has been much in the way of photographs of clouds taken and posted by certain Flickr cohorts of mine. Puffy white clouds. Stormy clouds. Sunrise and sunset clouds. As for me though, not so much. Mostly it has been a matter of not seeing any clouds or cloud formations that seemed photo-worthy. Until recently that is. On my drive back home from the Cox Arboretum Mother Nature saw fit to add a little frosting to the delicious cake that was the arboretum.

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As disappointing were my attempts at lightning pics and the moon stuff, I will confess that this recent trip to the arboretum, our friends visit, and the cooperative tame fauna more than made up for those minor setbacks. For a switch everything felt right and good.

I guess I should start looking over my shoulder now, eh?

Bugs!

I have commented upon other folks pictures of my lack of luck photographing particular bugs of late.  It would seem that certain folks in particular have had exceptional luck snapping away at my most favourite of insects, the dragonfly (see her work here).  Well no more!

I managed a few great shots this morning of a dragonfly and bee that were both INCREDIBLY cooperative about having their pictures taken.  Mother Nature must have had a change of heart about me and I certainly do appreciate it!

Please to enjoy……