After an unseasonably cold spring, we were finally blessed with a sunny afternoon – it was Easter Sunday. We were ready to get outside and took a long walk through a wooded area.
Along the way we stumbled upon a few fresh flowers. These are the very first blooms of the season.
Just a few days ago, the area where we found these spring beauties was under a blanket of snow (nine inches) from a late winter storm.
(Click on either photo for a larger view.)
I’ve been working to get a good shot of the moon. My previous attempts have been OK, but not as sharp as I thought they should be. (See That’s Amore!) I figured out the problem and am fairly pleased with this one.
First I mount my Sony SLT-A55 on a tripod. To get a closer view I use a 300mm zoom lens. Even with the lens magnification, it requires quite a bit of cropping to enlarge the image. I switch the camera to manual focus. My camera also has a setting that allows me to enlarge the image in the viewfinder or LCD screen to really hone in on the focus. I also use the 2-second timer on the camera so that I’m not shaking the camera by pressing the shutter button.
I thought the problem was the inexpensive tripod I was using – that it wasn’t stable enough. I also thought it could be a limitation with the lens, since the one I own would fall under the “budget” category. One other possibility was the UV filter – a clear filter used mainly to protect the lens.
It turned out to be the UV filter. I took a couple of shots with a new, solid tripod and things looked the same as with the flimsy tripod. Then I removed the UV filter and saw an immediate difference. The photo above is the result. Looks like I’ll have to invest a little more in a better UV filter.
The smaller image gives you a perspective of the size of the moon in the actual image the camera captures. Then I enlarge the view by cropping it to fill more of the frame.
(Click on either photo to see a larger version.)
More great digital photos are spoiled by “blur” than anything else. It’s disheartening to have a wonderful composition ruined by blur. For clear, sharp images it takes a concerted effort to hold your camera steady and avoid “camera shake.” It requires practice and concentration to free-hand it, especially in low light conditions. Still, as difficult as it may be, nearly everyone can improve.
One common mistake is attempting to compose a shot using the LCD screen, holding the camera at arm’s length. It’s almost impossible to hold a camera steady at arm’s length. Instead, use your camera’s viewfinder, holding the camera firmly anchored to your cheek and forehead, using both hands.
For greater stability when free-handing it, keep your elbows firmly against your body. (Your best bet if your camera doesn’t have a viewfinder.) Often, I’ll steady a shot by holding my camera against a wall, a pole or setting it on a solid surface. If you’ve got them, use a tripod or monopod in true low light conditions.
Your trigger technique is also critical. When snapping the shot, relax – don’t tense up. Slowly and gently press the shutter, being careful not to jerk the camera when you depress the button.
Blur is the curse of digital photographers. Employ these techniques to steady your shots. I still fight blurred images, but I’m getting better at it.
This prim and proper lady enters the grand dining hall with a curtsey. The camera caught this female mourning dove landing on the the edge of the feeder in such a way that it reminded me of a curtsy. The proud posturing of the male made it seem more so…at least, to me.
It’s springtime so, as you would expect, they’re trying to impress one another.
The smaller image is the same pair just hanging out together.
We get quite a collection of mourning doves at our house.
(Click either image to view a larger version.)
This is a Sandhill Crane. They’ve recently migrated back to our area of Wisconsin. You know their back in the area long before you see one by their amazingly loud and irritating call. Sandhill Cranes are large birds, standing nearly 4 ft tall with a wingspan of 6 to 8 feet. (Learn more about Sandhill Cranes HERE)
These exotic birds have become common during the warmer months but are very difficult to photograph (at least, for me) because they are extremely shy. When you attempt to get close enough to capture a good image they flee.
This opportunity came by chance. I was driving home and noticed a pair of cranes grazing near the road a couple of hundred yards before my house. I drove by and turned around when I thought I was far enough away that I wouldn’t spook them. I got my camera out of the case and then headed back down the road. (I try to always keep my camera with me.)
I took this photo while driving with one hand holding the camera and one hand on the wheel. I was the only vehicle on the road and moved as slow as I thought I could without sending the birds to flight. Even at 30-mph, the cranes became agitated and started to move. They were out of range before I could circle back for another shot.
I will keep a lookout for more opportunities to capture Sandhill Cranes. If I succeed, you’ll see them on this blog.
(Click the photo to view a larger image.)
Of the seventy or so images you’ll find in my Flickr Photostream, this is the image that has been viewed and commented on the most.
This is a view of Lake Michigan at the the Algoma, WI beach on March 4, 2007. I was heading to the church early in the morning and stopped, as I often do, to snap a few pictures. It was at the tail-end of a snow storm and, though you can’t see it, snow was still blowing quite a bit. I remember it being miserable outside.
If you go to my Flickr Photostream, you can see this same image in B&W. (Click Here)
The panoramic view below – created by “stitching” several photos together – was captured the same morning.
I’ve been itching to play with my camera but time hasn’t given me much opportunity lately. Still, when there’s an itch, my subconscious brain is always looking for a way to scratch it. This image brought some relief.
While eating my lunch today I noticed the very tiny bubbles in my clear bottle of sparkling water. With the help of a macro lens and the blue glow of my computer screen providing the background, I think it created an unusual and interesting image.
(Click the image to see a larger version.)
I overheard a sad conversation the other day. A man was telling the clerk at a convenience store how he was suffering from “Football Withdrawal.” It’s an affliction affecting many people this time of year…especially those who live in the frozen tundra. Although, for Packer’s fans, the onset was a little later this year, since the Packers got to play all the way to the Super Bowl.
In these parts, when you find yourself in the grip of Football Withdrawal you can make a trip to Lambeau Field – home of the World Champion Green Bay Packers. It’s not a complete cure, but it eases the discomfort a bit. There are a variety of historic images, activities, tours, Packers Hall of Fame, the Pro Shop and Curly’s Pub.
This is a view of the stairway leading to the second level of the Lambeau Atrium where Curly’s Pub is located. The guy in the picture is, of course, Curly Lambeau – the founder and first coach of the Packers and namesake of the stadium where they play.
There’s something about this photo that really appeals to me. It’s one of my favorites. (Probably a beauty-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder kind of thing.)
(Click the image for a larger view.)
This was the moon over our house on Saturday night, March 19, 2011. This is the night the moon was closest to the earth (Parigee) an event that happens every 18 to 20 years. This year’s Parigee coincided with a full moon, so I had to take a shot at capturing it.
It was a lot more difficult than I thought and, in actuality, I’m a little disappointed it didn’t turn out better. I learned a few things in the process. I spent a lot of trial-and-error time on aperture and shutter settings.
The most important piece of knowledge gained was that my 300mm lens focuses to infinity and beyond. (Not a good thing.) Because the moon is way out there, you should be able to set the focal length at “infinity” – the very end of it’s range – to focus on distant objects. However when you go to the end of the zoom range on my lens, things get blurry. It’s a subtle blur, not noticeable in the viewfinder. Even at 300mm zoom, the moon is still a small spot in the view finder. I really couldn’t see the blur until I viewed it on my computer screen.
Even after I figured it out and pulled the focus in a smidge, it’s not as sharp as I would like, but I think it’s the best I could get with my equipment and the atmospheric conditions at the time.
Sadly, a bunch of nice shots of this moon rising near the Kewaunee Lighthouse were ruined because I didn’t see the beyond-infinity-blur until I got home.
(Click the image for a larger version.)