Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fall Soccer, Rain or Shine

I was asked to photograph a soccer game (young women, U12 division) that I thought would be postponed due to heavy rain. In spite of an already wet field, the game began as scheduled, in a medium drizzle. The rain never let up, but neither did the players. You can see the rain drops and wet hair in the early photos...

...then mud begins to show up  on the players' knees.

One down, and another about to follow.

Before contact with the grass, evidence of earlier scrambles is in evidence.

Still some smiles at timeouts and halftime.

Also some concern showing. I love the challenge of capturing moments of peak action, but my interest in faces and gestures never goes away.

Sometimes a young face full of sunshine makes the rain seem to go away even when it's all around us.

Someone has been waging a "grass roots" campaign today.


Back to the game, still raining, still playing hard.

She seems to be airborne about 80% of the time.



Here's a drive to the goal. Find a small opening between defenders, push through it.


Kick hard, and...

What proved to be the winning goal!

It's pretty easy to tell when victory has made its mark on their faces!



Thursday, September 27, 2012

Summer-Fall Overlap

The weather in Raleigh, NC often retains or returns to a very summery feel long after the autumn equinox. The colors slowly change and deciduous trees may even begin to lose a few leaves as we enjoy some cool nights, then afternoon temps may shoot up to 30º C. That Celsius temp is for my Canadian friends, among others. When I was young, there was a lot of talk and planning in the USA for a switch to the metric system. Even though I became a musician rather than a physicist, and my country abandoned the idea, I could never ignore the logic and ease of using decimal based units. I still like to think in terms of grams and meters. The Celsius scale is fine for weather; Kelvin is great in the lab and for stating color temperatures! Anyway, to be fair to my neighbors, the 30º C we saw recently was 86º F. A temp by either scale feels as hot.

With that out of the way, here are two bees caught doing late foraging around the cusp of the new season. The first was shot with a very small aperture, f/14, while for the second I used a fairly narrow (for macro work) f/5.6. The biggest difference in the rendering, though, is a result of the light. I like the stark detail brought out by the strong directional light in the first shot, and I like the soft texture emphasized by the diffuse light in the second.

Here I return yet again to the wildflowers that keep blooming rather late in the year. In this shot we have the contrast of one stalk that has just reached maturity of blooming while its neighbor has just begun to bud.

Four days later, I found the same plant. The late bloomer was now sort of "halfway there" - love those soft serve ice cream cones! A tree overhead had dropped a leaf which caught on the flowers. I admit that I nudged it with a finger to subtly reposition it, but it is basically where I found it. Serendipity indeed, and I think a good representation of the overlap of summer and fall.

Now I can start dreaming of if...


Monday, September 24, 2012

Wild Berries: contrast between subject and background

A brief time spent with some wild berries in the middle of the "mosquito patch", and how to "change the background"...without changing the background:

This wild fruit ripened in an area that was unfortunately overrun by flying hexapodal syringes (a.k.a. skeeters). There were a few pretty specimens hanging in various locations on the shrub, but the background was going to be a challenge. There were all sorts of ugly broken branches, dead leaves, etc., and the patches of direct sunlight coming through small openings in the tree canopy made a hodgepodge that was not going to photograph in an attractive fashion. My most successful shot from a "graphical" perspective took shape when I found one berry in a narrow shaft of sunlight. Getting close, and exposing for the subject, I was able to get the background to go black and disappear. This left me with the stark shapes of the fruit, leaves, and stems, with nothing else to distract. Well, there is a bit of spider silk caught by the edge of the light in the upper right. I like that, though, and consider it a minor balancing element, rather than a distraction.

I did want to try to portray more of the context, and moved about on the ground until I could no longer bear the assault of the biting bugs (in spite of deet, I might add). This next shot was a pretty good idea, I think, but not completely successful because of the overly bright highlights in the background. I just needed an assistant to hold up a scrim or a flag and block the intense sun from that area! I tried lower angles to show different shapes of the subject, but the sky was bright and colorless, so not much luck.

A closer view works a little better in some ways:

All shot with the very flexible Canon 100/2.8 L macro lens. It's great for portraits of people, animals, berries, and insects!


Autumn Debris

We're a few days into autumn in the northern hemisphere, but it will be several weeks before I would expect to see advanced fall colors in the trees of the North Carolina piedmont. Still, the little taste of cooler temperatures that we've gotten has me already very much in the mood for the sights of seasonal change. I'll use that as my excuse for focusing on a dying leaf. Actually, this one was hanging on to survival, but suffered as a victim of insect munching.

To emphasize the jagged lines and bring out the contrast of the holes, I added some light from a flash left of camera (a Canon 600EX-RT, triggered by ST-E3 radio), dialed back to about half the strength of the ambient daylight.

In Adobe Lightroom, I converted the image to black and white, then split-toned for warm brown shadows and coolish yellow-green highlights.