Posted on | August 10, 2012 | No Comments
One Saturday night as Linda & I were driving to dinner, I spotted a large group of Prickly Pear blossoms in full bloom. My verbal outburst on seeing them startled Linda! She thought something was wrong. I turned the car around to get a better view. “OK’ I said “tomorrow morning”. As some of you may know the prickly pear blossom only lasts one day. The next morning the plant was only a shadow of what we saw the evening before. I could not find a single good blossom to capture. I decided to return the next day. It offered a better opportunity. There were a couple of shots that might work. Because the street was narrow with quite a bit of traffic, I parked the car on a side street, set up the 90mm T&S lens and camera on the tripod and crossed over. The blossoms were right on the side of the road so my ability to move around was limited by cars passing within a foot or two. I took the vertical shot and then, before I got too nervous about the cars, found a tighter horizontal shot. I don’t advise putting yourself in a somewhat dangerous position simply to get a photo but for those of you familiar with stock photography, timing is everything. We had a want, needed an image – and there it was!
After I got these shots I put on the 180mm to see if I could get a longer shot. A hazard of the occupation, two police cars arrived as I was thinking about setting up in the middle of the road. Evidently someone reported a crazy person with a camera and tripod in a residential area. After a casual inquiry during which I explained I was taking a picture of the tiny yellow blossoms on the side of the road (and not the house and yard in the background), the officers asked me to be careful and wished me a good day!
For those of you who like the technical side, here was my thinking for these shots. I would have preferred to use the 180mm macro lens with the tripod collar but that required setting up out in the street. Some of the blossoms were literally resting on the road. The 90mm allowed me to get closer to the blossoms and still work with a narrow field of view. I raised the ISO to 160. Both images were f22 @ 1/2 second plus 2/3 stops exposure.
There are still a couple of places left to join this crazy photographer and Linda at the Maine Media Workshops for an educational but fun-filled week of macro photography September 9 – 15th . Go to http://www.mainemedia.edu/workshops/photography/macro-photography for more details.
Posted on | June 21, 2012 | No Comments
Are you serious about macro photography? A great way to improve while spending time with others who love macro is to attend a workshop. If you can manage a week-long workshop, so much the better! We have had many requests to describe what’s involved in a workshop like this. I thought it might be a good idea to show the schedule for our macro week at a Maine Media Workshop in Rockport, Maine.
The week starts Sunday evening with a social get together and a schedule of the plans and travel locations for the week.
Monday morning begins with a class review session of each student’s work. Everyone is asked to come prepared with a few images they would like to share. The entire class is involved - sharing opinions, asking questions and learning some of the maker’s reasoning. On Tuesday through Thursday morning, the images in the review sessions are chosen from the photo shoots the day before. Because the class is all together on the afternoon photo shoots each day, the review sessions are full of comments like “I didn’t see that!” or “I tried to take that but your angle is much better”. The review time spent helps to expand photographic horizons, look at different ways to create an image and create a more critical eye. While this may sound very serious, the mornings are generally filled with laughter and mutual respect for fellow classmates.
The morning concludes with a lecture and presentation. Monday is a general lecture on macro. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are more specific talks covering equipment, exposure, depth of field, lighting, composition and digital workflow. By this time everyone is ready for a delicious lunch provided by Maine Media. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included and provide an opportunity to interact with students involved in all the different course offerings.
After lunch we travel to different shooting locations. We are planning shooting sessions at a nature preserve, an antique market, a lighthouse and tidal pool at low tide, and the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden. During the afternoon, I work one-on -one with each student as well as giving demonstrations of equipment and technique if the class is interested. Suggested assignments are given for each day. There is also an evening session during the week where the workshop instructors get to present their work.
Friday is the last class review session. Digital processing (Adobe Lightroom) is covered and this is the time for any questions regarding the business of photography. The afternoon is open shooting. You can either accompany the instructor or go to a location of your choice. On Friday evening, the whole school gets together (film makers, photographers etc.) and each class is welcome to create a show with the images produced during the week. There is lots of laughter and cheering as everyone supports their favorites.
Saturday morning is a casual get together. Frankly, by now, after a week of creative juices flowing at full speed, everyone is very tired.
I’ve said it to many of you, but I say it again. If you want to make leaps in your photography, a week-long workshop is a valuable learning experience. The Maine Media Workshops provide an outstanding supportive atmosphere for a great learning experience. You will make new friends, laugh every day and leave with great memories.
Linda & I hope you will join us in Maine from September 9 – 15th this year.
Posted on | May 30, 2012 | No Comments
Quite a few years ago, I took a photography workshop in Santa Fe (www.santafeworkshops.com) with Arthur Meyerson. Arthur (www.arthurmeyerson.com) is one of the top corporate shooters as well as being a great teacher. He stressed looking for that element in an image that elevated it out of the ordinary. It could be ‘in your face’ or it could be subtle. He called it Gesture. Since that workshop, I have always tried to incorporate gesture in my images. I’ve also passed on Arthurs sage advice to my students.
This past March I had the opportunity of combining gesture with dramatic lighting. I was shooting at NYBG (www.nybg.org ) and found a group of Euphorbias with the new spring growth nodding toward the sun. “Hello Gesture” The side lighting highlighted the growth nicely but also brushed across a very busy background. I came back after two hours and saw that the sun had moved slightly behind the plants and threw the problematic backgound into shadow. I set up with a 90mm T&S lens at f16. I tilted the lens slightly on the horizontal axis to get the nodding ‘Gestures’ in the same focus plane. One eighth of a second exposure and we were done. Gesture plus Lighting. Thanks Arthur.
Maine Media Workshops – Rockport, Maine. September 9-15 Macro Workshop
Posted on | May 1, 2012 | No Comments
In early March, Linda & I visited Longwood Gardens (http://www.longwoodgardens.org) to shoot the Meconopsis in the conservatory. Meconopsis is one of the few true blue flowers. It also happens to be very photographic. As we turned the corner to the display, we were greeted by a dozen or so other photographers with the same idea. Not a camera club, we were told, but groups of shooters that had been waiting for the blossoms to peak. A quick look and we decided to wait for the numbers to thin out. An hour and a half later only one or two shooters were still at it.
I walked along looking for my shot. I wanted good lighting on the main blossom with a few blossoms in a darker background. The delay caused by the number of photographers actually worked for our benefit. The sun had moved around and now cast a shadow along the back of one section. I found an angle where one blossom was still backlit and one or two other blossoms were in shade. A little juggling with the tripod to get the position I wanted and we were set. I increased the ISO to 250 to get a faster shutter speed to help compensate for the movement causedd by the fans. I locked up the mirror, waited for a pause in blossom movement and pressed the shutter. This image was captured with the 180mm macro lens shot at f11 for 1/6th of a second with +2/3 exposure compensation.
One of the keys to getting good images is to be flexible. Shooting the Mecononsis was such an exercise – changing light, accesibility to the subject and looking for other possibilities all came into play. I ended with three images that met my expectations. Next time you run into unexpected conditions, regroup and look for alternatives.
September 9-15. Maine Media Workshop, Rockport, Maine Macro Photography. www.mainemedia.edu/workshops/photography/macro-photography
Posted on | April 24, 2012 | No Comments
Linda & I had a chance to visit family in Naples, Florida this past February. Close by is one of my favorite places – the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. www.corkscrewsanctuary.org. It has a 2.25 mile raised boardwalk through different eco systems, including a virgin Bald Cypress stand. Even if I don’t get any special images, a walk along the boardwalk is always worth it.
I set up with a 300mm lens on my tripod and slowly walked along. Pretty soon I spotted a snowy egret working its way through the undergrowth. I placed my camera and tripod and waited for the egret to come into a clearing. The noise of flapping wings caused me to turn to my left. This great egret standing on the rail greeted me. It was a signature shot of Corkscrew. It showed the habitat, the boardwalk and one of the prime residents. It was so close I had to back up to get the story shot. The egret stood still as if it knew what I wanted. A setting of f8 at a 1/6 of a second with one stop overexposure did the trick.
Oh, the snowy egret decided it didn’t like the clearing and moved further into the swamp.
Don’t forget about the weeklong macro workshop at Maine Media College in Rockport, Me Sept 9-15. Anticipated shooting locations include Coastal Maine Botanical garden, a lighthouse and tidal pool, and an antique store. http://www.mainemedia.edu/workshops/photography/macro-photography
Posted on | January 26, 2012 | No Comments
Garden clubs, camera clubs and botanical gardens ….what a great way to get rid of the winter blahs! Alan and I had the distinct privilege of giving a talk and workshop for the North Country Garden Club ( http://ncgc.org), a Garden Club of America earlier this month. Held at Coe Hall in the Planting Fields Arboretum (http://www.plantingfields.org), it was special from the very moment that Henry Joyce, Executive Director of the foundation, graciously greeted members and guests at the door of the beautiful mansion.
The lecture, Garden Light, was cheery on a very rainy day. The workshop drifted from classroom to greenhouse and back with a very enthusiastic group. The members of the NCGC, like most GCA clubs, are a wonderful audience: knowledgeable, interested and serious about their gardening and photography. While the poinsettias in this photo are probably gone by now, the camellia house will be peak pretty soon. BTW, Don Meyer, a RiverDell High School classmate of Alans took the photo. Thanks Don.
The Ridgewood Camera Club (http://www.ridgewoodcameraclub.org), New Jersey’s largest camera club, provided a trip down memory lane for Alan (he was president in 1985!) when they invited him to speak this month. Established in 1937, the one hundred and sixty (!) members of this club are avid photographers of all types.
A busy time for indoor programs, Alan provided photography tips and advice last weekend at the Caribbean Flower Show in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at The New York Botanical Garden. He had an opportunity to take a different group of people through the show area each half hour. He will do this again Feb. 19, 20 and 26. Go to http://www.nybg.org for more info.
For those of you already planning your fall schedule, don’t forget the weeklong macro photography class at Maine Media Workshops (http://www.mainemedia.edu) September 9 – 15th. This is an amazing opportunity to photograph gardens, tidal pools, an antique store as well as the gorgeous scenery of coastal Maine.
Posted on | August 2, 2011 | No Comments
During one of our spring trips, Linda and I had an opportunity to visit Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond Va. The rose garden was in full glory but too crowded for photography. On our way to the perennial garden, we walked through the Martha and Reed West Island Garden – an area dedicated to plants of the wetlands. The sarracenia were at peak. Linda and I were truly enthralled by this beautiful collection and decided to return later for a closer look. After taking photos of a few perennials that were not in the strong sun, we headed back to the pitcher plants and found a bench to sit on while we rested and enjoyed the view. It was very hot and the sun was still high but we couldn’t leave without trying to get at least one shot.
I was able to get some nice diffused close-up images but I really wanted to show more of the extraordinary plant collection. It was way too bright to capture the true beauty of the entire area with a wide angle lens so I put on a 70-200mm zoom lens and found a tighter view with a dark background (shade). This allowed the plants to stand out. Sarracenia have a translucent quality so I decided try and shoot the light coming through the plants. We both loved the result.
If you are in the Richmond area be sure to visit this special garden. www.lewisginter.org
A quick reminder
The Chanticleer Master workshop is September 30 – October 2. www.chanticleer garden.org
The Maine Media Macro workshop is October 9- 15 http://www.mainemedia.edu
Posted on | June 24, 2011 | No Comments
As promised, here a few of the images from this spring’s outings. A Big Thank You to Sandys Plants and Stonecrop Gardens for allowing us the photograph in their gardens. I hope you enjoy them.keep looking »