Rainy Day Photography

copyright Karen UlvestadWith outdoor photography, it is inevitable that we get caught in the rain.  I always enjoy those moments, because it adds a different “feeling” to my photographs.

The weather greatly influences the final photograph.  This one of the Great Blue Heron rookery was taken in March, during a rain shower.  The sun behind me created the rainbow behind the rookery.  Without the rain or the sun, this would have been a very different image.  It would have had a flat sky, with little color.

Rain can be damaging to camera equipment.  It is good to shelter the camera from the rain, though remember that most cameras are water-resistant.  All equipment should be dried off, if it gets rained on.  A chamois cloth works well, dries quickly and fits into a camera bag pocket.  Drying of the camera and lens keeps the it working well.

Also, it’s important to protect the camera and lens being used in the inclement weather.  There are several ways to do this.  If the camera is mounted on a tripod, an umbrella can be held over the equipment to protect it from the rain.  When carrying the camera, a shower cap can work as protection.  Currently, a clear plastic sleeve can be purchased at a camera store.  It fits over the camera and lens, and allows the photographer to slid their hands in the sides to operate the camera.

One of the most important pieces of equipment, in wet weather, is the camera bag.  It is important to have a bag that is water proof, or at least water-resistant.  Many bags, such as backpacks by Tamerc, have waterproof zippers, and fabric that covers the them.  They are built to be in wet weather, without compromising the camera equipment inside.  Also, these bags are well padded to protect equipment from damage.  Many other manufacture’s have good, protective camera bags too.

Happy shooting until next time. . .Karen

What’s in a Digital Darkroom?

Often times, I get asked if I “Photoshop” my photographs.  If it was a film image, it would be like asking me if I took my film to a photo lab, which I worked at one for a couple of years.  Our job as employees was to give the customer the best photograph possible from their film.  We would color correct the prints, before they left the lab.

In the digital age, there is a lot of concern about “manipulating” photographs.  In truth, all photographs are a manipulation of a scene through composition, and use of exposure.

So, what is a Digital Darkroom?

A Digital Darkroom is a software, such as Photoshop, Elements, or Aperture, where a photographer can color correct his/her photographs.  There are tools to remove dust spots, filters to enhance color and cropping tools.  What comes out at the end is the photograph the photographer wanted to take.

To answer the question. . .yes. . .I use Photoshop.  I gather the best possible data with my camera, then polish it into the photograph I saw through my lens.

Here is an example of what computer software can do. . .

copyright Karen UlvestadIn this photo, I used Photoshop to remove dust and correct color.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

In this photo, I started with Photoshop to remove dust and correct color.  Then, I used Topaz filters to reduce haze, and further enhance the color.

Happy shooting, and More Later. . .Karen

Quality of Light – Part 2

copyright Karen Ulvestad
These orchids were photographed inside, under incandescent light. The blue background is the window. The camera was set on Incandescent, therefore the daylight turned blue (turning the window blue).

Indoor and outdoor light have different temperatures.  Our eyes automatically adjust to the difference in color, but our camera needs to be adjusted.  The different types of light include Daylight, Incandescent or Tungsten and Florescent.  With film, the type of film had to be changed between indoor and outdoor shooting.  The emulsion dictated how the camera saw the whites in the scene.

With digital cameras, we control how our cameras view light through the White Balance (WB) setting.  Most cameras have a quick button to set the WB, though it is located in different places (per the camera manufacturer).  White balance is how your camera “sees” the tone white.

copyright Karen Ulvestad
The WB setting for this photograph was shade. This setting cuts out the cyan overcast that happens, when the WB is at daylight in this situation.

The WB can be used to correct the lighting situation, or as a creative tool.  The color of outdoor light changes through-out the day, and whether it is shady or over-cast.  Indoor light is more consistent, but there are at least three types of Florescent lights in use.  Some cameras reflect this with three different Florescent WB settings.

When using a flash indoors, the camera’s WB should be set on Daylight.  The flash is the “temperature” of a sunny day.

More Later. . .Karen

copyright Karen Ulvestad
This is an outdoor photograph. It was a sunny day. This was shot with the WB set on Cloudy. The cloudy setting warms up the photo, and the yellows are more vivid.

Shooting Nature in a Crowd

copyright Karen Ulvestad
This photograph was taken in the tulip fields during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. There were hundreds of people in the fields on this day.

Event provide a great opportunity to photograph nature, though they can be very crowded with people.  There are a few techniques that can be used to create the photograph that shows the elements the photographer wants his/her view to enjoy.

First, it is important to control the aperture or depth of field (DOF).  Many times, a person in the background can disappear with a shallower depth of field.  They become another shape or color without definition.  In the photo above, the DOF is shallow enough to blur the tulips in the background.

copyright Karen Ulvestad
This is one of my favorite photographs of the tulips that I took on this shoot. Unfortunately, there are people in the background. To use this for retail, I would need to get a model release from the people, or remove them from the image.

Second, take the time to look at all the elements in the photograph.  In the picture above, I missed the two women at the bottom of the picture.  During the event, people were suppose to stay out of the field, but everyone wanted their picture taken with the tulips.  In this instance, I should have waited until they left the field.

Third, selectively crop the photograph before taking the picture.  At a crowded venue, it is important to take time to visualize the photographic image before taking the picture.  This is where the elements of composition can help the photographer select what goes into the photo.  This concept is shown in the image below.

copyright Karen Ulvestad
Selective cropping of the photograph in the camera can eliminate people from the photograph.

Fourth, it is important to consider your perspective of the scene or point of view.  Often times, the chosen perspective can naturally crop-out unwanted elements from a photograph.  In the top image, the perspective eliminates the people and buildings from the photograph.  In the third image, the perspective includes all of the different colors of tulips in the garden, while eliminating people, structures and the road from the photograph.

Also, it is important to experiment when composing a photograph in a crowded area.

Have a great photographic outing soon. . .Karen

Catching a Defining Moment. . .

copyright Karen Ulvestad
I watched this Osprey hunting for food, and this was his second dive. Exposure: 100 ISO, F5.6, 1/250.

Photography is the art medium that “catches” a moment in time, through the use of a camera and the photographer’s creativity/knowledge.  Correct exposure means going beyond the Auto functions of the camera, and controlling the exposure through manual, aperture priority or shutter priority.  It also includes use white balance, ISO, bracketing (depending on subject), flash and other functions.

Pre-setting exposure is a great way to prepare for shooting subjects like birds.  This blog is focused on Osprey, and they are a fast-moving bird.  I always pre-set my exposure before shooting birds.  This pre-setting phase includes selecting an auto-focus point, as a starting point.

copyright Karen Ulvestad
This is one of a series of images from the Osprey in the water to flying past me with his fish. Exposure: ISO 100, F5.6, 1/250.

Planning or visualizing the image is essential for bird/wildlife photographs.  This simply means know your subject, study it and anticipate the next series of events.  It’s good to go out on a shoot knowing what subject you are planning to photograph.  For locations I know, I usually have a broad subject such as birds.  For unknown locations, I do some research before going on the shoot.  This allows me to know what type of landscape I will be shooting in, and what kinds of subjects are usually at the location.

The second part of planning is deciding what equipment will be necessary for the subject.  For birds, I always use my 100-400mm IS lens.  I take my tri-pod for shooting video.  In addition, I carry extra memory cards, an extra battery and lens cleaning cloth.  Usually, my flash is included in my bag too.

For the complete Osprey hunting sequence, visit my video at http://youtu.be/S9LFynPyNew.

Have a great day shooting. . .Karen

copyright Karen Ulvestad
Often, I see Osprey flying and hunting at a beach I frequent. This day, the Osprey was flying over-head. Exposure: ISO 100, F5.6, 1/500.


Sitka Center: Of the Land, Sea & Air: A Coastal Photographic Adventure

Black Oyster CatcherHere is the information on my upcoming workshop on the Oregon Coast.  It is on June 30th and July 1st.  It would be great to see you there, and feel free to pass this on to other interested people.

Thank, and have a great day. . .

Sitka Center: Of the Land, Sea & Air: A Coastal Photographic Adventure.

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