Macro Photograph with a Diffuser

Clematis with Diffuser

Macro photography can be very tough, but also very rewarding when you get a pleasing image. I have been doing a lot of experimenting with using diffusers to improve my macro photography. Here I have the same image, except one was shot with a diffuser and the other wasn’t. As you could probably tell, the above image was the one shot with the diffuser. The light is much softer and the shadows are much less pronounced.

You can see that the image shot without a diffuser has very harsh shadows and is glaring to the eye. So what’s the best thing about using a diffuser? The fact that you can shoot in any kind of light and still get a pleasing image!

To view more of my work, please visit my galleries by clicking here.

Revealing the Hidden Ones

I’m often in a hurry to get to the images I know are good once they have been uploaded to the computer. More often than not, I miss those hidden good ones. So what I do is go back and take a look at the whole folder. I have always found one or two images that call for processing, and many of them make it to my gallery. The images in this blog post were just edited today from a trip to Florida back in 2010. My editing skills have gotten much better, and allowed me to take advantage of all the file had to offer.

I encourage you to go back and look at your old files. You will be surprised at what is hiding in the files!

Using a Circular Polarizer

Taken With A Circular Polarizer

Taken With a Circular Polarizer

As a landscape photographer, one of the most important tools in my bag is the Circular Polarizer. This tool can make a world of difference in pretty much every situation. Its main use is to take reduce the amount of glare on water, leaves, or just about any other surface that reflects the glare. (Note: it will not have any effect on metal.) Although not the intended use, it can be used to make blue skies even bluer.

Taken Without a Circular Polarizer

Taken Without a Circular Polarizer

In the two images provided in this blog post, you can see the difference the polarizer makes. I highly recommend the Nikon 77mm Circular Polarizer II Thin Ring Multi-Coated Filter. It has a thin ring which allows you to track the filter without applying any vignetting. Overall, a great tool to have in your bag.

To view more of my work, please visit my renovated galleries by clicking here!

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

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

Choosing A Good Tripod and Ballhead

Gitzo 3541LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod & Induro BHD2

Gitzo 3541LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod & Induro BHD2

I just purchased a Gitzo 3541LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod and Induro BHD2 to add to my gear arsenal. Both of these pieces of equipment are extremely precise tools. I though I would share a couple of tips on what to look for in a tripod and ballhead.

What to look for in a tripod?

  • Go carbon fiber – It is much lighter than aluminum tripods and transmits less vibrations. Carbon fiber is also easier to maintain, and isn’t as susceptible to corrosion.
  • Lose the center column – The center column drives up the price in a tripod, but isn’t the best thing for sharp images. When you raise the center column, you effectively have a three legged monopod.
  • Buy for the future – All of us who post here are fairly young. You want to buy a tripod that will last you a lifetime. Buy from the reputable brands such as Really Right Stuff and Gitzo, as they often carry lifetime warranties.
  • Go for height - A tripod should be at least tall enough to come up to your chin. This will insure comfortable usage.
  • It should be durable - Ask about the tripod you are interested in on various photography forums and watch YouTube videos. This can give you a sense of how the tripod will perform out in the field.

What to look for in a ballhead?

  • Fluidity is the key - A ballhead needs to be fluid. If it isn’t, you won’t be able to pan very well.
  • Look for independent panning lock - The independent panning lock allows you to pan while the rest of the head is locked down. This is great for panoramic photography.
  • No creeping - Make sure that the ballhead doesn’t move when you tighten it down. If you frame a scene to the precise inch, you want it to stay like that when it gets locked down.
  • Support the weight - A ballhead should be able to support the weight of your camera plus some.
  • Look for warranties - Warranties give you an extra peace of mind. Look for the ballheads that come with them.

Well, here you have it. These are my tips on choosing a good tripod and ballhead. If you have any questions, please feel free to shoot me an e-mail at joey@jlounsburyphoto.com

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are having a day filled with fun and family.

Should It Get Dumped?

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

This was one of those times where I wish that magnificent bird was perched on a branch. A lot of people ask me why I don’t delete images that include the hand of man. Well the simple answer is that the hand of man is everywhere! The birds have learned to adapt and use these things to their advantage. Hawks will perch themselves on power lines to search for food. That was the exact case with this image. I am showing the biology of this critter, which makes it okay in my eyes. Now on to the technical part. The background was pretty bright, while the subject was in deep shade. I broke out the Nikon SB-800 and the Better Beamer. My biggest challenge was keeping the red eye away. This was the one frame of about 30 that the red eye was not present. Now the big question. Is it obvious that I used flash on this one? Any feedback would be appreciated.

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

Fill Flash

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Fill flash can be a tricky subject when it comes to using it on birds. You want to keep the effect subtle, as to not suggest that flash was used. When I am using flash, I reach for the Nikon SB-800 which I have fitted with the extra battery pack. I also own a Nikon SB-900, but I fell that it is too bulky for my use. On top of the SB-800, I apply the Better Beamer FX-4. The Better Beamer increases the reach of the flash, making it possible to use with large focal lengths. The longest focal length I own is 300mm, which is at the low range of the Better Beamer’s reach. You want to set your flash zoom to 50mm when using the Better Beamer. For some reason, the flash will output the correct beam of light to be diffracted through the fresnel magnifying glass at the end of the unit. When it comes to flash output settings, it gets dicey. Every situation will warrant a different setting. I generally set the flash output to -1 1/3. That is my starting point and then I will work from there. Now, when do you use fill flash? Well, I generally use it when my subject is bathed in harsh light. It decreases the harsh shadows and brings out more of the colors in the bird. It’s all a process of trial and error. My best suggestion is to try it for yourself!

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

Embracing the Cute Factor

Nothing sells an image better than having a cute critter in it. Everyone loves Chipmunks simply because the are small and cute. Chipmunks are one of my favorite subjects to have in front of the lens. They always do something interesting. In the shot above, this Chipmunk was feasting on a fresh berry. The berries, and Chipmunks for that matter, are gone/hibernating. I can’t wait for the next time I have one of these critters in front of my lens.

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

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