Winter walks

This year in the southeast of England we have had a particularly warm winter. Around two weeks ago however, the clouds cleared leaving crystal clear skies. The resulting drop in temperature meant we got the first proper frost of the winter. Walking across a field in the first rays of light, my breath coming out in pink clouds, the grass crunched under my feet. Every tiny blade was fringed with frost.  I was making my way to a local disused quarry. The land around it has been left wild and although it is a regular haunt of dog walkers the quarry is also a great place to photograph wild plants. Stone parsleys, with their black seeds, are perhaps my favourites in winter. I also love the rose hips. They brighten up the otherwise bleak hedgerows with dashes of brilliant red. Sloe berries, a fruit of the blackthorn bush and a rich chalky blue also add a splash of colour here and there along with the blood red berries of the hawthorn bush. Birds fluttered among the monochrome branches; mostly blue tits and great tits along with the odd blackbird. The  only audible birdsong was that of a lone robin ringing out across the fields, as crisp as the frost itself.

You Never Know…

… What will show up in a photograph. Connecticut received its first measurable snowfall since the storm back in October. They were calling for 4-6 inches, which got me excited. I knew I would be up the next morning sitting in my blind photographing the birds. There is a certain character of birds in the snow, especially when those subjects are Dark-eyed Junco’s as shown in the photo above. I was shooting at f/5.6, ISO 500, with a shutter speed of 1/40. You’re probably asking why I had my shutter speed so low. Well, I wanted the snow to leave streaks in the image as it fell to the ground. That called for a slow shutter speed. I took 195 images that morning, and 37 of them were sharp. That just goes to show that the more images, the better chance you have of obtaining a sharp image. Now here comes the surprising part of this image:

This is a 125% crop of the first image in this blog post. Check out the snowflakes on the birds head. Up until now, I always thought those intricate snowflakes were just a decoration, but they are really real! As the title says, you never know what will show up in one of your images. Let’s just hope it’s a good thing!

To see more of my work, please visit my personal blog at www.jlounsburyphoto.com/blog

Insects In Flight

 

Insects are incredible creatures, and have been the fascination of many naturalists who dared to delve into the most numerous of all orders of life. I too am fascinated by their delicacy and variation. There are too many to count, and therefore make perfect photographic subjects. If you spend enough time in the right place you are sure to see them. However getting the right shot takes a lot of persistence and patience, which I admit challenges me and is one of the reasons I pursue them. Here are a few shots of insects taking flight, action in the frame can make for a more spectacular image.

Max

(Follow me at www.500px.com/max_wildlife)

Shooting Moving Water

Shooting moving water is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do, simply because it is so fun, yet simple. You can do it any time of the season, any time of the day. However, the best seasons for it are Fall and Winter, and the ideal light is overcast, because it allows for slow shutter speeds. You want to set your f-stop to somewhere around f/16-f/22, and use the lowest ISO your camera will go, which in my case is ISO 100. Slow shutter speeds allow the water to flow while the mirror is up, therefore showing the motion of the water rather than freezing it. The key is getting into the water. I use my Dad’s old fire boots, which allow me to go into thigh high water. Getting into the water allows the water to flow through the scene and dump out into your viewers lap.

You don’t have to go for the wide cascade shot, but can focus on those small scenes. In the Winter, I love to focus on ice along the sides of the streams. It provides a strong anchor point for the eye, since the rest of the scene will be blurred from the water movement. The most important thing is to have fun with it! The images can be very rewarding!

To view more of my work, please visit my personal blog at www.jlounsburyphoto.com/blog

Yellowstone and Surrounding Area

I recently returned from a trip photographing Yellowstone and the surrounding area. Joining me on this trip were fellow young nature photographers: Timothy Brooks, Kathryn Boyd-Batstone, and Jess Findlay. We stayed in Gardiner Montana and shot the area for a total of 6 days. Unfavourable weather conditions made finding wildlife somewhat tricky to say the least, but we managed to find some good stuff.

The subjects we photographed the most were: Bison, Elk, Antelope, Bighorn Sheep, Coyotes, and believe it or not, Mountain Chickadees. The most memorable moment would have to be when Jess and I went on a hike outside the park and managed to crawl up to a Coyote tearing apart an Elk carcass. Definitely the coolest experience of my life. Unfortunately I was using my new 5D2 for the first time and messed up my settings, leaving me with mostly blurry images. For a full story on the trip, please read Jess’ blog here: http://jessfindlay.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/yellowstone-national-park-and-more/

If I go back in time, I  have to thank Gabby Salazar for this trip! Here is an example how becoming a part of this blog helped me go on this Yellowstone trip. Last year, Gabby was very nice and wrote myself (and Timothy Brooks for that case) a reference letter for the NANPA College Scholarship. I was fortunate enough to get accepted to the program in McAllen, Texas. At the Summit, I made a point to make friends with not only the College Program, but also the HighSchool Program students. I was happy to meet some familiar names such as: Ben Knoot, Johan Dornenball, Alexandra Sandlin, Kari Post, and of course Timothy and Kathryn. Joe Sulik, one of the highschool members, invited  us all to Yellowstone during the summit. This is where the whole trip was sort of planned. Overall, most people could not end up making it out, including Joe, but we still had a very fun trip! So all in all, I have to give thanks to Gabby for sending me to NANPA, which sent me to Yellowstone! This is a great example of how joining this website help with your future photography.

Here is an album of images I took from the trip  http://www.connorstefanison.com/p467080564

Thanks for reading,

Connor Stefanison

http://www.connorstefanison.com/

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