Rocks and Feathers On a Cloudy Day

During a recent trip to Crescent Lake, I was hoping to get some good landscape shots but with the weather being gray overcast, the lighting wasn’t ideal to capture the lush, vivid colors of the foliage around the beautiful lake. I was using aperture priority mode and didn’t like the results. The landscape images were dark, bluish cast and very flat looking. I decided to go manual and started to experiment with the camera settings. Such as: changing the white balance to sunny might give the image more warmth and color; increase exposure time and ISO while lowering my standard f/11 landscape aperture to f/6.3 to get better light.

As I was making the adjustments, a mallard duck waddled up a few feet from me. Quickly, I took a shot of the duck and was pleasantly surprised by the result. I really like the contrast of the duck’s soft feathers against the shallow depth field of the rocks on the beach. It created an attractive looking background. For me the background is just as important as the subject — especially when shooting shallow depth of field. I know from experience, a distracting background can ruin otherwise a perfect shot.  It is something to keep in mind when shooting — a boulder might become a big black blob that takes up half of the image.

For the next several shots, I focused on the feathers and rocks but also lighting and composition. I didn’t want it to be just a photo of a duck. And lucky me, seem like the duck knew what I wanted and posed nicely for me. It’s interesting how a situation like this helps me learn more about photography than just shooting a pretty landscape.

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Shallow Depth

Well… just when I thought summer has finally arrived; it ended just as quick. We had only one week of hot temperature and now it’s back to the typical 60’s and cloudy. I guess it’s a good thing I have these photos to remind me of summer. 🙂 
Today’s daily shoot assignment: Make a photograph with a shallow depth of field today. Get in close if you need to force it with the lens you have.

I shot these photos manually with the 50mm, f/1.8 lens. The first two images on tripod and the third, hand-held. This is such an amazing lens, especially for achieving shallow DOF. I like how the background images become color patches that compliments the main subject. I discovered this lens is great for food photography.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone.  🙂

Flora in Volunteer Park

At last… hot summer weather has arrived in Seattle. For the last few days, the temperature has been in the mid 80’s to low 90’s. And instead of cooling off at the beach; I ended up spending about an hour sweating in the Volunteer Park Conservatory’s  green house photographing these amazing flowers. I used my 50mm prime lens for all the shots. The more I use this lens, the more I love it.

The lighting in the green house was perfect for experimenting with the exposure and depth of field. I kept the aperture at f/1.8. and ISO 200. In Photoshop, I used the luminosity mask technique to change the brightness and give the image a soft glow. I recently learned this technique from Tony Kuyper. Check out his website for the free basic luminosity mask tutorial. However, he does offer more advanced techniques for a donation. Trust me, it’s worth it!