Friday, April 29, 2011

From the Fence Row

_DSC0283_DxO web, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
Another unusual wildflower from the fence row. I have seen many similar looking flowers that do not have the pronounced outer ring of petals. So far I've only seen but one plant with these flowers. Actual flower diameter about a quarter size. Had to capture this one inside as it has been so stormy and windy lately. Exposure about 3 sec, f/32, 105 macro lens with north window light and a diffuser. Subtle but significant lighting changes depend on how the diffuser is positioned near the subject.  Those more common flowers I see bloom in the summer look like this:

The green bee or wasp rather unusual. This was a very memorable photo because I contracted the worst case of chiggers while taking it ever. Two weeks of terrible itching.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sunset Delivery

_DSC0099_DxO, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
I find I can only capture so many landings before they start to look the same. I went over the other night at sunset and the clouds rolled in and I thought that might be it for the evening due to lack of light. When the clouds rolled in and got some nice color after sunset, I tried some silhouettes. Liked these. Choose to leave just a bit of shadow detail in the main post shot.

The nest is now basically completed. The only materials being brought in now are straw (seen here) and other fine materials to line the nest with. With the female staying on the nest almost all the time now, I surmise egg laying has started. Perhaps by middle to late June some fuzzy heads will appear.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dinner is Served

_DSC7646 topaz 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

Another fish special delivery for the female. Arrived just as the sun was setting the other evening. The female starts chirping loudly a minute before the fish is brought. This chirping begins long before I can see the male. How does she know he is coming so long in advance? Sight? Hearing? Usually the fish he brings are half eaten- always the head end. She gets the back half. Doesn't take them but a few minutes to eat a fish- tail fins and all. The way they easily rip those fish apart, I think I'll lay off the fish oil supplements for a while. I do not wish to be mistaken for a fish.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Best Camera is...

the one you have with you, the saying goes. Had to run back to the office last night to pick up something and sure enough I saw the best sunset all year. My Nikon was back at the house. I did have my iPhone though. It would have to do. My son suggested last week I could get a telephoto shot with the iPhone through binoculars. Gave it a try and presto! Snapped this after sunset. Took a couple shots before the mosquitoes could get me. Used Filterstorm to sharpen and denoise.

Sharp Eyes

IMG_1669, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
A quick treatment with the picfx app in the iPhone. I was trying to get all four eyes in the same shot. Not so easily done as they don't often look the same way at the same time. This was taken just a couple of days after they arrived and I thought I could sneak up a little closer- a silly thought. If you try to be sneaky they pick up on that right away. Osprey do tolerate people better than other raptors which makes them easier to photograph. The Bald Eagles around here have a comfort zone easily 10 times larger than Osprey. The wings on the male (on the left) are starting to unfold and she has her head up, both sure signs that is about as close as you are allowed before they take to the sky. Here is the original photo-

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Unwelcome Visitor

Had some ruffled feathers yesterday at the nest. The female had just landed with the male close behind with a fish when another pair tried to stop in. The female of our pair (on the left) was having none of it and drove the other away. Our pair was so agitated they did not even look at the fish he brought for several minutes. Seems they feared another unwanted visit. They were tense and continued to scan the sky for some time before settling down to eat.

I like the drama captured here. The sky was overcast so shutter speed was down lower than I'd like and the ISO much higher than usual for a daytime exposure. Using some Topaz filters followed by some NIK filters for the pop I was after. I'm finding spot metering and 3D tracking are working pretty well for these bird shots. To keep enough DOF for two birds f/6.7 or f/8 is working.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"The Snitch is mine."

_DSC7573 topaz 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

The nest building continues full speed ahead since last weekend. Here the male is bringing a small stick to the nest. Probably the smallest stick I've seen him bring. Usually he brings the big branches- some upto 5+ feet long and over an inch in diameter. The largest branches required both birds to work together to move and place it into the nest. The female brings small sticks and straw to line the nest. When the guy is not doing the heavy lifting, he is out fishing. Since they started building the nest, I've seen him bring at least 3 fish back to her a day. She gets the back half of the fish.

Silly Birds

_DSC7464 pe 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

Who knows what goes on in a bird brain? The male sometimes lands on top of his mate. Then he hops down. Captured at sundown.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Interior Decorating

_DSC6723 topaz nx 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

We have a new pair of Osprey nesting on the farm this Spring. They built the nest shown here in one day- that is a lot of trips, one stick at a time. The male seemed to be bringing most of the larger sticks. This image was one of a sequence of the female bringing straw to line the nest. They are remarkable flying machines.

The trick to getting the shot is to get the prevailing wind and the angle of sun lined up together because they land and takeoff into the wind. Shot at 400mm on a DX sensor, the image shown was slightly cropped. A 600mm lens would be preferred.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Red Sunset

The unusual light continued during the Palouse trip last June. The mountains on the horizon are in NW Idaho.

Zoom Swirl

_DSC5738_DxO nx B 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

One of the challenges of still photography is to show motion. On my "bucket list" for the Palouse trip were flowers. Flowers were hard to come by. We finally found stumbled across some in a fence row one afternoon. It was breezy so I opted to try something new- a zoom swirl. Using a Vari-ND (an adjustable neutral density filter by Singh Ray that allows for upto 8 stops of darkening for longer exposures), I dialed up a long exposure of a few seconds and zoomed and twisted the camera during the exposure.

Abstract Flower Interpretation

IMG_1508, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
From a flowering weed shot a couple of springs ago. I had loaded it onto my phone on a whim. Then I ran it through ArtistaOil and liked the painterly effect.

A number of my flower macro shots looked nice this way and I think I'll do a series of note cards to sell featuring them.The four segments were a result of iDroste and Tiny Planets. Then Diptic, Crop'n'Frame and Impression. Should make a fun print. If it turns out well I'll have to put it on my Zenfolio site for sale.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Waiting for Side Light

The wind was blowing, rain was sideways and the light seemed so close but was so far away. For about 30 minutes it looked like the side light was going to show. The sun set before the clouds moved on. The gold band in the clouds was as close as it came. Initially, I thought this evening was a bust and I passed over this one. It did not meet my pre-visualized picture. Nearly a year later and some more post work, this one is growing on me. It is surely not the classic Palouse scene due to the "terrible" weather. As the rain set in almost all of the other photographers congregated there packed up and fled missing an unusual image.

The Color Version

_DSC5476_DxO nx 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

The color version of the previous post subject.

Delicate Spring Bulb Black/White

_DSC5483_DxO nx bw 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
Soon after getting back into photography a few years ago, I took a flower workshop with Tony Sweet. This flower was a subject shortly after the workshop. It is hard to get a decent shot outside as the flower grows next to the well casing. Not a great background. I've been wanting to revisit this flower for a few years now. Being on the recent studio kick, inside this one came. Next month's photo club critique subject is Black/White. Hence the conversion.

Another in the Group Project

_DSC5331_DxO nx72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

This one goes along with the previous post. These little guys are very small- the flower may be 3/8" across. This subject is not perfect as it had suffered from rain damage on the upper right petal. That is part of the appeal.

Blue Wild Flower

_DSC5365_DxO nx 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

My wife, Donna, likes prints hung in groups. I had a larger flower print laying around that she hung recently. But she wanted 3 others to go along with it. So off I went searching for blue flowers in the fence rows. This is one she chose. I have wanted for some time to play with some diffused window light. So this project was a "two-fer". I used a north facing window, diffusers and reflectors as desired.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chaco Canyon, NM

Chaco Canyon, NM, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

I had the pleasure to visit this fascinating place last summer. It is in the middle of nowhere in NW New Mexico. A huge place with miles of ruins to explore. We saw about half of it during our afternoon visit there. People lived there for several hundred years and then abandoned the complex quite abruptly. Why? The multi story building remains offer many photo ops. The masonry work is impressive. This is a 7 shot HDR done in Photomatix, raw files converted in DxO, Topaz Define used on the tonemapped image.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring Tree Color?

_DSC5443_DxOnx 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

I always think of fall color in trees, but for a short time spring has it's own delights. I took this yesterday at the edge of the field. Every spring for a a few short days some of our trees show an amazing variety of colors- orange, red, yellow - just before they leaf out and all becomes green until fall. Had to wait half an hour for a break in the clouds and then a front blew in and the show was over. Maybe until next spring.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sports Composition

Sports Composition, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

Capturing the decisive moment in a fast moving sporting event like college soccer is a challenge unto itself. Combining that with a compelling background really ups the ante. I learned to take note of potential good backgrounds prior to the game and try to work them in during the game. In this shot, the Messiah men's keeper (Jared Clug) punches the ball away during the 2009 NCAA tournament. As I recall, the opponent was Bockport. This game was played on Messiah's home field and the bright orange tree was just the background element I was waiting to use during the coarse of the game. Even with press credentials the photographer is restricted to certain areas of sidelines. At a soccer game the areas behind the goals and near the team benches are almost always off limits. I found that at Final Four games the NCAA always marked with paint the allowed photographer areas. Other obstacles to contend with are TV crews, side judges, ball boys, physical features of the stadium/field and other photogs. So you take your pick of spots and hope the action comes to you. Here the late afternoon sun further restricted my shooting angles. I darkened the rest of the background, which was lacking much color anyway, to focus the eye on the action. The quality of the background is the difference between and good and great shot, everything else being equal.
Messiah went on to win National Championship #7 that December. The Finals in 2009 and 2010 were played in San Antonio where the background is especially challenging as one end of the field is in front of a large warehouse building. Even shooting wide open, a cinder block building is still a blob no matter how you cut it. Last year, one of the pro shooters beside me complained about that ugly building in the background. The stadium was back-lit during the day so that didn't work either. Well, you can't have it all, all the time. At least my team won and the free food in the press tent was great.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Through the Grain Elevator Window

Wooden grain elevators were once everywhere in vast western wheat growing regions of North America. Time has taken its toll and now very few are left standing. These relics have been replaced by modern round steel grain bins. This particular one was in dire disrepair. A local conservation group was trying to restore it for tourism. Tony, our tour leader, pointed this composition out. Using a frame in composition is often a desirable technique. I used a 9 stop HDR to balance the dark inside with the bright outside light. Thankfully, the building did not fall down while I was inside taking the picture.

Wheel Fence Multiple

_DSC6738_DxO topaz 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

When in the Palouse region one has to stop at the famous wheel fence. Built by a farmer years ago out of thousands of steel implement wheels, it is now a tourist attraction. The photo ops are endless at this place. One of the fun capabilities of many Nikon DSLRs is the ability to take up to a 10 shot multiple exposure in camera. Of coarse one can do the same thing in Photoshop as well.

Palouse Sunset

_DSC5979_DxO nx 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

Taken from Steptoe Butte near Colfax, WA. From my June 2010 trip. One of the rare and brief moments of sunshine on that trip. This view is looking east into Idaho at the horizon.

This region was once a vast grassland until the late 1800's until it was discovered that the region was suitable for wheat production. Wheat and lentils are the main crops with much lesser amounts of rape.

The distinctive hills are surprisingly steep- up to 50degrees. In the early 1900's the hillside combine was invented for use in this unique geography. Today, it is not unusual for farms to span thousands of acres and the largest tractors and farm equipment are used for crop production.

Lentils are the lime green fields. In June, lentils have just emerged. The lentils shown here are just 2" to 6" tall. The dark green fields are wheat- probably winter wheat. At the time of my visit farmers were topdressing the wheat with fertilizer with sprayers over 100 feet wide. The brown fields are wheat stubble from the prior year's harvest.

Phlox Revisited

This is a revised version of Donna's phlox from a post a week ago. I thought the original was a bit dim so I brightened it up with Dynamic Light app and added the frame and mat. I'm much happier with the punched up version. Often the subtle changes yield dramatic improvements. FYI, the recently updated Dynamic Light app now has the Dutch light filter back.

Blooming Soon

_DSC5324_DxOnx72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

Just about to bloom.

Studio Henbit Wild Flower 3

_DSC5311_DxO nx72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
Another little flower. The blooms are no more than a 1/16" tall.

Studio Henbit Wild Flower 2

_DSC5309_DxO nx72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
These little guys are also common around here this time of year. Diffused window light, some reflector, and a touch of fill light with a pen led flashlight.

Spring Wild Flower

_DSC5320_DxOnx72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

The bumblebees were out working these small flowers yesterday afternoon. The actual size is about the size of your pinky tip.

Studio Rose

_DSC5270_DxO nx72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

With the first wild flowers blooming it was time to dust off the macro lens and try some studio flower shots.