Sunday, June 17, 2012

Adventures in Photography: A Songbird Among the Lupine

Here is my latest edition of "Adventures in Photography" as it will appear in the Freebird Times.

Adventures in Photography: A Songbird Among the Lupine

Every year I get excited about photographing lupine. They are one of my favorite flowers. When I first start to photograph them, I often photograph only the flowers. I will focus on them as large clusters of color and then work my way to the minute details of individual petals. Eventually, I will try a variety of “painting” techniques such as zooming and swiping, using slow shutter speeds to create impressionistic views of these colorful flowers.

After running through my initial excitement of seeing, smelling and photographing the lupine, I start to look for images that include the lupine, but use them as background or foreground elements. Many of my favorite lupine images have come from finding a subject other than the lupine. This image of a sparrow eating a green worm while perched on a lupine is a perfect example of this type of image.

I was in one of my favorite lupine fields in Sugar Hill, NH at sunset, enjoying the beautiful light of the golden hour when I noticed a number of small birds hunting among the lupine. Goldfinches, bluebirds, and sparrows were diving in and out of the flowers looking for an evening meal. The goldfinches and bluebirds stayed quite a distance from me, but the sparrows didn’t seem to mind my presence.

One sparrow in particular was flying from lupine to lupine in an established circuit. I was able to predict its movement and patiently waited for it to fly into my composition. After observing this sparrow for more than twenty minutes, it captured a small green worm. The sparrow then proceeded to fly from lupine to lupine on its circuit while calling out. I am not sure if it was calling to its fledgling chicks or if it was bragging about its catch. After five minutes of flying from flower to flower, it finally ate the worm.

Most people, myself included, don’t get too excited about sparrows. However, a sparrow perched on a lupine is an excellent capture. Add the worm and the image now has become quite interesting.

Finding ways to add interest to your images is essential for improving as a photographer. I can hardly wait to include this image in my next bird photography workshop!

This Month’s Tip: While most of the very best images are made by local photographers on their home turf, it is definitely worth your time and money to seek out areas that offer exceptional photographic opportunities.

There are numerous festivals and locations throughout New England that can be absolutely stunning at the right time of year. New England in the fall is a premier destination for landscape photographers. The harbor villages of Maine, dairy farms in Vermont, apple orchards in the spring and the fall, the Fields of Lupine Festival in Franconia, NH, moose alley in Pittsburg, NH, the South County Hot Air Balloon Festival in Kingstown, RI and the Op Sail 2012 event in Boston and New London, CT are just a few places that are within a day’s ride, where you can maximize your photographic opportunities.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Star Trails at the Sugar Hill Lupine Festival

On Saturday, I went to Sugar Hill, NH to teach a workshop on night photography. Members of the South Shore Camera Club spent the weekend in Sugar Hill, photographing the beautiful Lupine Festival.

The focus of the night photography workshop was flashlight painting and star trails. We spent some time in the afternoon discussing various techniques and tips. In the evening, we applied the techniques in the field.

I was able to make a few images during the workshop. The star trail image is a composite of more than one hundred 30 second images. I had shot 3 hours worth of images, but clouds moved in for the last hour and a half, covering up the star trails in the lower half of the sky. So in the end, I only used an hour of images to make this photo.

I also blended the foreground flowers from one image on top of the composite, because there was a very slight breeze that forced the lupine to sway, making them appear out of focus in the composite. All told, this image took about ten hours of work, but I had a lot of fun making it!

The other image is an example of flashlight painting. As a team, we lit up the scene before us, with multiple flashlights for a single 30 second exposure. Flashlight painting is one of my favorite techniques. It is a lot of fun and you can easily make unique and beautiful images by painting with your flashlight. I'd like to thank the SSCC and my friend Carol for arranging to have me teach this workshop. I truly enjoyed meeting and working with everyone!
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