Thursday, October 25, 2012

Woolly Bear "shell"

Some varieties of woolly bear (moth larvae) can survive several years of freezing winters before they complete their metamorphosis to adulthood. I'm not sure if this one molted as part of the final transformation or as a stage in a repeated cycle. At any rate, I did a quick focus-stacked image, not as a biology study but simply for visual interest. That's why the contrast is so high, and the details in some inky shadow areas have been eliminated in post-production.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

High School Senior portraits today

Today I enjoyed the privilege of photographing Alyssa in the studio and outdoors. We were not looking for a clone of the typical yearbook shot, but to show a little of her abundant personality, an individual at a particular stage of life. There is much editing yet to be done, but I couldn't wait to work up one shot so that it could be shared right away. This is anything but an "edgy" modern shot. Couldn't we even say that there is something of a Renaissance portrait feeling going on here? Anyway, I enjoyed the session a lot. Will post more soon.

Okay, I've had a few days to catch up with the backlog. Time to add some more! We moved between inside and out. We tried a few different approaches to lighting, sometimes going for softness and sometimes for strength, occasionally allowing a little of the harshness of sunlight to come through, but always tempering it and sometimes staying out of it altogether. First three more studio shots:

Then outside under the trees. I didn't have to suggest the prop - this young writer always seems to have a book with her. Alyssa is a talented illustrator too, by the way.

Notice how the ivy shows through the black fabric, because of the strong sunlight. Yes, I was pretty much overpowering it with flash. That's it for now. Oh, except that the upload somehow missed one of my favorites! This one:

Blue on blue, we're "supposed to" use contrasting background colors...but I like this. Of course what I especially like is the expression and the riveting eye contact. Made my day!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A quick photo-walk through "downtown" New Bern, NC

Yesterday afternoon, after settling into a hotel near the waterfront in New Bern, North Carolina (mouth of the Neuse River), I went out for a little walk to see how many interesting things I could find to photograph in a short while. The sky was dull and colorless, but in other respects the conditions were lovely. I felt that the light would be good for many subjects other than broad landscapes or riverscapes. Sometimes I like to settle into a subject, immerse myself in it and explore all the possibilities I can think of. This was not such an occasion!

The first attraction I encountered was a grouping of flowers planted on the "river walk".

Here is the context:

Just a few steps away, I noticed this tiny butterfly, wingspan about 25 mm (no more than an inch). I wished I had a macro lens with me, as it wasn't in a great hurry to fly away and would probably have allowed to approach closer than I could focus with the rig I had. This shot was made with a 24-105 zoom at maximum magnification.

As I examined this flower, a beautiful fly landed, with just the right color contrast!

There was no significant color in the water, so I tried this black and white graphical approach:

I found this family of friendly bear cubs, and set off in search of other sculpted bears, which abound in New Bern.

The nearness of the coastline keeps the climate moderate in fall, and apparently flowers of many kinds do well later than they do in Raleigh.

What a great self-satisfied expression on this fellow!

City Hall is a charming and interesting building, with two bears above the entrance.

Before I could approach for a good look, though, I had to pause for this guy in the style of a cigar store totem.

A patriotic bruin now sits at the foot of the steps, while the guards above bare their teeth and stick out their tongues.

 Baron Christopher De Graffenried, who founded New Bern, NC in 1710. He was born, as you might perhaps have guessed, in Bern Switzerland. Quite a peruke on his noggin!

Spanish moss in the churchyard! We are in what state, North Carolina? I wish there had been a blue sky to contrast with the golden weather vane.

I didn't have a long lens for "real" bird photography, but this scene was fun for me.

Dedicated to the men and women of the U.S. Navy, Sailor Bear is natty.

A portion of a street mural, used for a kind of "found object" abstract image.

And another attempt to find interesting shapes and textures in plain view.

As I headed back to the hotel, I was greeted by one more example of public art!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Dew isn't just for grass and flowers

Morning dew and mist can transform natural pastoral sights like grass and flowers into wonderland scenes. I try to keep my sense of wonder when I look at the ordinary things of city life. Can a rather beaten-up doorknob become a worthwhile subject for a photo when condensation turns the reflected tree into a dappled landscape?

Handheld, 200 mm (EF70-200mm f/4L IS), 1/30 sec at f/5.6, ISO 800.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Twigs and Snails and Squirrel Seed Tales

Sometimes letting squirrels get some of the bird seed is not such a bad thing. They show their gratitude by posing endearingly for photos. This was a mid-morning nosh early this week. Unfortunately, this fellow has suffered a scrape somewhere along the way, but seems to be healing okay. I don't know if a predator tried to turn him into a meal, but we're happy to provide him with a little supplemental nutrition.

You're welcome!

My wife says that Carolina Wrens sometimes look indignant. I agree! I doubt that the body posture you see here signifies the same things that it might with a person, but it still makes me laugh to think of this tiny creature looking at me as if it expects and demands to be fed. It did in fact benefit, getting a snack if not a meal, immediately after the squirrel above moved away.

The same day, as sunset approached, the low sun lit up these leaves brilliantly for a few moments. Most of the deciduous trees in this area are barely beginning to give up their chlorophyll and show their underlying colors, but this pair was ready to show off.

Today, a snail decided to feed its way up the glass patio door. There was a little daylight left, so I got out a tripod and macro lens. The exposures were long, but the diffuse quality of the light helped to bring out the subtleties and colors of the skin and shell, and snails tend to move very slowly (though the eye stalks often wave enough to blur an image). By the way, notice the hitchhiker!

Probably the insect was feeding on detritus picked up by the snail's travels through the dirt (before it discovered the wonderful world of human technology, i.e., glass), or maybe it was even preparing to lay eggs. But if we can look for human expressions in a wren, why not imagine a non-flying insect taking a slow boat to the top of the door?