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The weather outside is frightful for photography it is quite delightful.
Let it Snow!!! Let it Snow!!! Let it Snow!!!
Winter photography can be challenging but it is worth the effort. Here are some tips to improve your winter photography.
Don’t Exposure Camera equipment to Extreme Temperature Changes. Condensation is a major problem for camera equipment. Electronics and moisture don’t mix well. The good news is that the moisture will eventually evaporate if the equipment is allowed to warm up to room temperature, but it can take a long time.
I keep my camera in its bag before going indoors or outside. The bag insulates the gear a little from extreme temperature changes. When I return home I just leave my gear in the camera bag and make sure I don’t open the bag for at least one hour.
I also keep my car cold. It minimizes condensation. It also seems like less of a shock from going out of the warm vehicle to the cold. If you take off you gloves and coat, crank the heat, you will find it tempting not to even get out of the car and take a picture.
Keep batteries warm. Your camera will work fine in very cold temperatures as long as it has functioning batteries. Batteries drain quicker with cold weather. When I do a winter shoot I often bring several sets of batteries which are charged daily. Certain types of batteries perform better than others in the cold. I keep extra batteries in a pocket inside my jacket where I can keep them warm. Sometimes I put a chemical hand warmer in that pocket also. I often rotate the batteries between my camera and my warm pocket.
Tripods: Avoid touching a cold tripod with you bare hands. Some people use tripod leg warmers to help with this problem. Several manufactures make tripod leg warmers. You can also use plumber’s pipe insulation for the tripod legs. For less than five bucks you can make your own tripod leg covers from foam pipe insulation and hockey tape (the best tape to use ’cause it can handle the cold). Be careful not to force your tripod into the snow. You can damage you tripod.
A Lens hood can help to prevent problems with snow on the front element of a lens from falling or blowing snow.
Hand Warmers are easy to use, they start warming the instant you open the package. You can keep some in your boots, gloves, and coast pockets. I keep one stuffed in each glove or mitten, and this way my gloves are always warm when I put them back on.
Exposure: don’t blow out the whites. The camera will want to make the snow a neutral gray color which is a problem. Learn to read the histogram and you will find exposing the snow properly is very easy.
Get out early. Winter landscape photography looks best with fresh snow on the branches. It is best to be out there before it melts or gets blown off the branches.
Take extra precautions. Let other know of you travel plans in event of an emergency. Bring emergency supplies with you on your adventures.
You can add interest and color to snow shots simply by including a colorful object or two in your composition.
Fly to Florida. If you need a break from the cold you can’t beat Florida. It is warm and incredibly beautiful. The wildlife photography is incredible. Winter is the dry season in Florida. Since there is less water the wildlife concentrates into smaller areas which make it a wildlife photographer’s paradise.
Some of my favorite photo opportunities are during winter. Don’t let the cold keep you inside. Get out and enjoy.
Hello Everyone. I hope you are all doing well. Things have been very busy at Slonina Photography. I have been traveling across the United States leading photo workshops and tours. I also have been doing several presentations to various groups and conferences on photography. It is a lot of fun I love to teach new techniques and tips. You meet some very interesting people.
Here is a photo from last weekend.
Too much time on your paws. Zzzzz Zzzzzzzzzzzz Zzzzzzzzz
Join us as we photograph several great locations throughout New England.
Currently we have 5 trips planned.
They will come back with some great pictures and have fun.
Southern Maine Coast Photo Tour: December 1, 2013
Photograph winter landscapes along the beautiful Maine Coast. The day will begin with sunrise shoot. We will photograph the dramatic rocky coastline, pounding surf, lighthouses, fishing harbors, lobster boats etc.
Mid Day we will take a well deserved break at a warm restaurant then back out to continue our photo adventure. We will conclude with sunset at Nubble Light which will be lit up with Holiday lights.
Plum Island MA-NH Coastline Photo Tour: January 12, 2013
Join us on a photo tour as we photograph the Massachusetts and NH Coastline. We will visit several areas looking for local wildlife and beautiful landscapes. We will be out from sunrise to sunset with a mid day break for lunch.
The day will begin with sunrise shoot at Plum Island NWR. We will work our way to Salisbury Beach and head north along the 18 mile NH Coastline. I will also be looking for beautiful landscapes and winter wildlife like Bald Eagles, Seals, Snowy Owls, and anything else we come across.
Quabbin Reservoir (Massachusetts) Photo Tour: March 23, 2013
Located in central Massachusetts, It was built in the 1930′s to provide clean drinking water for the Boston region. Over 2500 people in the towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescottsections of seven other towns were forced to give up their homes in the Swift River Valleyto make this project possible.
Today, Quabbin is recognized as one of the largest drinking-water reservoirs in the world, a remarkable feat of engineering, an “accidental wilderness” that is home to an impressive variety of wildlife, and a wonderful place to explore winter landscapes. Join us as we hike into Quabbin Reservoir to experience the beauty of the wilderness and diversity of life and habitats.
Note: In the event of a snow storm this tour will be cancelled and participants will be issued a full refund.
NH and Southern Maine Coastline Photo Tour: March 30, 2013
Join us on a photo tour as we photograph theMaineand New Hampshire Coastline. We will visit several areas looking for local wildlife and coastal landscapes. We will photograph from sunrise to sunset with a mid day break for lunch.
We will head north along the 18 mile NH Coastline and intoSouthern Maine. The dramatic rocky coastline, pounding surf, lighthouses, fishing harbors, lobster boats etc provides us with unlimited subjects to photograph. I will also be looking for winter wildlife like Bald Eagles, Seals, Snowy Owls, and any other wildlife we come across
Newport (Rhode Island) Photo Tour: May 4, 2013
This photo tour we will cover the beautiful hotspots of Newport, RI. We will photograph some of the many marinas, Fort Adams State Park, Newport Bridge, Goat Island, Ocean Drive, the Lighthouse, and many other Gems. This is a great time to visit Newportbefore the busy tourist season.
For more information please visit
The green color cast of the water was created by the trees on the far side of the river. The leaves were backlight by the late afternoon sun. When I find sections of the river like this I mark down the time and location for future visits.
Join us on a photo workshop or tour. See the Light
My June 2012 Acadia Trip Started out with a light drizzle then when we got away from the car it became pouring rain. This is not the way I wanted to start a photo tour. Fortunately we did a some nice photos.
Here is a photo taken of Cadillac Mountain from my Acadia National Park Instructional Photo Tour.
Whenever you are photographing constantly look around 360 Degrees.
Sometimes you may be anticipanting a photo but the best shot is behind you.
Shutter speed is the amount of time a shutter is open. It is measure in seconds usually fractions of seconds.
Common shutter speeds include
1/2000, 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8. ¼, ½, 1 second, 2 seconds etc
Each one is approximately double the other.
When considering shutter speed consider whether your subject is moving. Do you want the subject to be blurred or sharply focused?
In most cases I hope to stop the motion. There are a few exceptions
a.) Water: If taking a photo of a waterfall and want to show how fast the water is flowing.
b.) If you want to see a feeling of speed like a running Elk or photos of stars where you are trying to show how the stars move over a longer period of time..
Here as some common shutter speeds and their applications.
- 1/2000 s and 1/1000 s: Used to take sharp photographs of moderately fast subjects under normal lighting conditions. A good example would be photographing birds in flight and moving subjects.
- 1/500 s and 1/250 s: Used to take sharp photographs of people in motion in everyday situations. 1/250 s is the fastest speed useful for panning. I use this shutter speeds for mammals and other wildlife that is not moving fast.
- 1/125 s and 1/60: This speed, and slower ones, are no longer useful for freezing motion. I use this speed for subjects that are not moving.
- 1/30 s: Used for panning subjects moving slower than 30 miles per hour and for available-light photography. Images taken at this and slower speeds normally require a tripod or other camera support to be sharp.
- 1/15 s and 1/8 s: This and slower speeds are useful for photographs other than panning shots where motion blur is employed for deliberate effect, or for taking sharp photographs of immobile subjects under bad lighting conditions with a tripod-supported camera. I like this shutter speed for waterfalls and moving water. This speed will blur the water and give it a cotton candy like effect. This speed requires a tripod.
- 1/4 s, 1/2 s and 1 sec: Also mainly used for motion blur effects and/or low-light photography, but only practical with a tripod-supported camera.
- B (bulb mode) (1 minute to several hours): Used with a mechanically fixed camera in night and astrophotography and for certain special effects.
If you are using a shutter speed slower than 1/60 of a second you will need additional camera or lens support like a tripod. Actually I recommend a tripod for almost every picture anyway.
Relationship with Aperture:
Remember as discussed in a earlier Blog post on Aperture.
Shutter speed and Aperture have an inverse relationship.
Faster shutter speed = less the depth of field.
Slower shutter speed = more depth of field
As you change shutter speed you may need to change the Aperture or ISO or both to compensate for it.
For example if you speed up your shutter speed one stop (for example from 1/125th to 1/250th) you’re effectively letting half as much light into your camera. To compensate for this you’ll probably need to increase your aperture one stop (for example from f16 to f11). The other alternative would be to choose a faster ISO rating (you might want to move from ISO 100 to ISO 400 for example).
Please consider joining us on a photo tour or workshop.
Following up on last weeks tips.
For the above Bald Eagle Photo I opened up the lens using F4.
This allowed me to put the background out of focus. The simple blue sky allows you to concentrate on the eagle minus distractions.
So when you take a photo ask yourself how important is the background? Sometimes simple is the best for strong compositions.
Other times you may want a dramatic foreground to background all in focus.
For this photo of Katahdin in Maine I used F16.
This allowed me to keep the branches in the foreground all the way to the Mountain in the Background in sharp focus.
Please consider joining us on a photo tour or workshop.
Learning Depth of Field is critical to great photography. Depth of field is the area in front of and behind your point of focus. Roughly 2/3 of depth of field extends behind the focus point and one third extends in front of it.
Most photographers use the program mode where the camera will select the depth of field for you. My goal on my instructional photo tours and workshops is to get people off program mode. How does the camera know how much of an area you want in focus? Don’t allow you camera to make this decision for you.
Magnification and aperture determine depth of field.
Magnification: Regardless of the aperture you select moving closer to your subject increases magnification and reduces the depth of field. Moving away from you subject increases depth of field since it reduces the magnification. Macro and close up photography for example requires more depth of field vs a wide angle landscape shot where you are standing farther away.
Aperture: is the size of the opening in the lens. When you press the shutter button a hole opens up which allows light to come in and hit your camera’s sensor. What aperture you set impacts the amount of light. The bigger the hole the more light comes in.
Shutter speed and aperture have an inverse relationship they work against each other.
Smaller hole = less light = more depth of field = less shutter speed.
Larger hole = More light = less depth of field = higher shutter speed.
Aperture is measured in F Stops. A photographer sets the F Stop to control the shutter speed and the depth of field.
The Common F Stops include
F 2.8, F4, F5.6, F8, F11, F16, F22 etc
I you change from one F stop to another it double of cuts in half the size of the opening in your lens. Keep in mind that a change in shutter speed from one stop to the next doubles or halves the amount of light that gets in also – this means if you increase one and decrease the other you let the same amount of light in.
Now you know where you hear the term opening up and closing down. It is referring to a change in the F stops which increases or decreases light.
SETTING YOUR F STOP
One thing that causes a lot of new photographers’ confusion is that large apertures (where lots of light gets through) are given f/stop smaller numbers and smaller apertures (where less light gets through) have larger f-stop numbers. So f/2.8 is in fact a much larger aperture than f/22. It seems the wrong way around when you first hear it..
The higher the number the more area is in focus. So F16 would have a lot more in focus than F4. This is the opposite of what you would think. The reason why is it is really fractions F4 is Really F ¼ and F16 is really F 1/16
Selecting an aperture is often based on two variables.
a.) what area you want in focus?
b.) Conditions in the field: low light and wind etc.
Sometimes you may want more area in focus but the more depth of field the less shutter speed you can get. So you may have to compromise. Lets say you are photographing a flower and want to use F16 which would keep a large area in focus. If the light is low or it is windy you can’t afford to lose to much shutter speed or you will lose sharpness and the photo will be blurred.
I plan on writing about shutter speed soon.
Please consider joining us on a photo tour or workshop.
Every week will be adding some new photography tips to our blog. I am going to target Wednesdays.
Please bookmark this page and check back often.
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Here is some tips that will help you keep you photos sharper.
A tripod is critical for sharpness. The tripod stabilizes your camera and minimizes handshake. The sturdier the tripod the better your results will be. Usually the heaviest tripods are steadier. Some of the best brands are Gitzo, Really Right Stuff, and Bogen.
Another major advantage of a tripod is it helps you pay more attention to your compositions. Did you notice the beer can on the ground in the corner of your landscape photo?
I use two different tripods depending on which lens I will use. If I am using a heavier lens like my 500mm F4 lens I prefer a more rugged tripod. If I am not using my long lenses and I am hiking I use a lighter tripod.
2.) Use proper technique with your tripod.
a.) Do not raise the center column. A properly sized tripod should be able to be eye level without the use of a center column. A center column makes your tripod a monopod which is less steady.
b.) The tripod lens is strongest at the top so if you need to lower your tripod shorten the bottom part of the legs first.
c.) Make sure all connections are tight like Screws, panning locks etc. You can also add weight to a tripod. You can hang your camera bag to a tripod.
d.) When I use shooting with a long lens I use my right hand for shooting and I rest my left arm on the lens to hold it steady and dampen vibrations.
I try to use a tripod for every photo. The only exception I can think of when photographing from boats and I handhold most of my birds in flight photos.
3) Remote Camera Release:
Once you push the shutter you shake the camera. A cable release will minimize this problem. I use a cable release often.
Use you camera’s timer if you don’t have a cable release. Set it for the shortest durations possible because your subject may move or the light will change.
5.) Mirror Lockup:
Many cameras have this feature. When you push the shutter the camera mirror flips up out of the light-path just before the shutter opens, and then returning it when the shutter closes. This causes vibration of the camera, particularly when the mirror slaps into the top of the mirror box. This motion can make your photos less sharp mostly between 1/8 and 1/30 of a second. Mirror lockup is best for subjects that are not moving like landscape photography. In the future most cameras will be mirror less.
6.) Relax and Shoot between Breaths:
7.) Image Stabilization (Canon) & Vibration Reduction (Nikon):
They help me get much sharper images with long lenses and in dim light. This feature has increased my number of Keepers. For most cases you want to leave this feature on. It is so important I won’t buy a lens or camera without it, given the choice.
However when shooting with a tripod some of the older versions of this technology gets mixed up because of the lack of motion and will actually work against you. I noticed with Canon sometime the viewfinder seems to bounce when it is a problem. Most new technology lenses recognize that the camera is on a tripod and automatically shuts off.
When in doubt take a same photo twice one with this turned on and off.
Remember IS and VR is still no excuse for not using a tripod.
Some filters can reduce the overall sharpness of your lens. Try the same photo with and without the filter. Filter can also increase lens flare.
UV filter can be a problem for this also. I personally just use a polarizer and split neutral density filters (2 and 3 stops).
9.) Shutter Speed:
Make sure you are using a high enough shutter speed to stop the action. If it is too low you can increase your ISO. Like everything else in photography it’s a catch 22. If you increase the ISO you increase noise.
Wait for the break in the wind. Even the slightest breeze can blur you subject. Unfortunately this can require a lot of patience.
Autofocus is incredible technology but it is not perfect.
a.) Sometimes the autofocus will lock on the wrong subject. If you photographing an owl in a tree and there is a branch between your camera and the owl. The autofocus may lock on the branch instead of the owl.
b.) Sometimes it may find the subject but lock on the wrong area. For example if you were photographing a moose sometime autofocus will lock on the tip of the nose leaving the eyes unsharp. It this case you can depress the shutter and try again but you probably need to shut of the autofocus temporarily.
Make sure you focus on the eyes. If they are out of focus the whole image will seem out of focus.
This will make your photos sharper if you are not getting enough shutter speed. I use it most for indoor low-light situations and macro photography.
I do not want to come back from a shoot and find out I did not get the shot I wanted. While you are in the field try several options to see what works best. You can always erase the image later. Experimenting increases your creativity and helps raise the bar for your next photo shoot.
14.) Know your lenses weakness:
a.) Lenses are typically sharpest 2-3 stops down from wide open. At their largest apertures, lenses most clearly show their optical imperfections including corner sharpness.
b.) Certain lenses have known optical flaws which you need to be aware about. Zoom lenses rarely have the same sharpness throughout the entire focal range.
c.) Some lenses are a lot sharper than others. Canon and Nikon have high end lens. For example with Canon they have their L lens series which is much sharper than their consumer versions.
d.) Not all lenses have equal quality. Even in the same production run some lenses are softer than others. If you buy at a local store see if they will allow you to test multiple lenses.
You can send your lens back to the manufacturer and have them test calibration.
14.) Camera Settings:
Make sure you don’t have some custom setting turned on that may have a negative affect on sharpness.
15.) Use the correct format:
TIF and PSD are lossless so you won’t lose any image quality by saving and resaving images. Formats like JPEG when you save the image it compresses the data and you lose data permanently.
Who would have thought that a cell phone can improve your nature photography. When you buy a smart phone there are several options. One major choice is the operating system. Widows Phone and Blackberry have a large presence but two operating systems dominate the market. iPhone and Goodle’s Android System.
Both options have thousands of applications. I found that the iPhone has more than Android. You can look online and check the apps you may be interested in before you choice a phone.
I ended up going with the Motorola Droid Razor. It is a 4.3 high resolution display which is bigger than the iphone screen. It is one of the thinnest 4G phones and it is one of the most durable. Nature Photographers are exposed to the elements so I needed a phone that could take a beating. It is shielded with a KEVLAR® strong backplate. Suppress an onslaught of scratches and scrapes, reinforced by Corning® Gorilla® Glass. It is also splashproof.
There are thousand of apps available (hundreds just for photography).
Some of the apps I installed include:
Weather Channel: Allows you to save multiple locations for a quick glace at the weather.
Email: Nice to check emails from the road and keep up with office work.
Facebook: Nice to be able to add to my facebook page from the road.
Amazon Kindle: ability to download ebook with just a few clicks to your phone.
Nlist: Allows you to create lists. Some of the lists I made
a.) To Do list
b.) Photography Gear
c.) Shopping Lists
d.) Presentation list (what I bring when I do a presentation)
e.) Packing Lists.
Never forgot important photo gear at home.
Quick Office: To view and update Office Spreadsheet like Excel and Word.
Backpacker GPS: Record hiking trails, backpacking trips, and camping adventures. View maps, navigate with digital compass, take photos, and backtrack to the trailhead. GPS Trails Lite works in remote places
Aurora: Several apps are available to get the northern lights forecast
Google Earth: view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. Helps you plan out the best locations for wildlife and landscape photography.
Google Sky Map: Point your phone at the sky, and it will show the stars, planets, constellations, and more to help you identify the celestial objects in view.
Sun Surveyor: Predicts Sun & Moon positions (azimuth, altitude, time) with its modules: 3D Compass, Map View, Camera View (Augmented Reality) and Details (Ephemeris). Useful for photo location scouting plan for every sunrise and sunset!
The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE): a map-centric sun and moon calculator: see how the light will fall on the land, be it day or night, for almost anywhere on earth. It is nice for landscape, nature, travel and outdoor photographers, TPE’s map-based approach means you can search for any place name on the planet or position the map pin exactly where you want it.
Trip Advisor: Great App helps with you travel planning. I use it mostly for hotel reviews
AAA TripTik: Get maps, directions, AAA Approved lodging and dining info, gas prices and more.
Gas Buddy: Search for Gas Prices by city, state, zip code, with listings for all cities in the USA and Canada.
Kayak: flight, hotel, car rental, and other trip searches. Like the website it goes through the data from hundreds of different travel sites, allowing you to compare options, prices etc.
Photo Manipulation: There are also several apps for taking pictures with you cell phone then making almost instant changes to the photo like built in HDR etc. I have never used any of these apps.
Wildlife: there are several apps on bird, tree, wildflowers identification, tracking, bird and animal calls. I hope to address this in a future article.
There are many applications which can help improve your photography. It is amazing how technology can impact nature photography.
I was photographing at the beautiful Cape Hanlopen State Park in Delaware. I decided to go on what I thought would be a 5 minute walk to the ocean. I ended up coming back 3 hours later. I was really thankful I brought my extension tubes since I didn’t have any macro lenses on me. I ended up photographing ghost crabs, fence lizards, and a pray mantis.
One thing about camera gear is it is heavy. In my photo backpack I can’t fit everything. I love my 180mm Macro lens. It is my best option for macro photography. But when space is limited or I am traveling to a remote location I am sometimes unable to bring this lens with me.
One thing I always pack in my camera bag is my extension tubes. They are lightweight and take very little camera bag space. They are much cheaper and lighter than a macro lens.
An extension tube is an important accessory for closeup photography. The hollow tube contains no optical elements; its sole purpose is to move the lens farther from the image sensor. This additional distance allows your lens to focus more closely, which in turn provides more magnification capability.
Extension tube can be added to almost any lens even zoom lenses. This will decrease the minimum focusing distance. They are available in multiple sizes. How much closer depends on the amount of extension and the magnification of your lens. You can also use it with a macro lens to get even closer. They can also be combined with tele converters etc.
Extension tubes do have some disadvantages. You will lose your ability to focus to affinity. Some tubes you will lose your autofocus so focus manually.
They are one the least expensive most versatile accessories you can buy for close up photography. I recommend you buy some in multiple sizes.
Also remember extension tubes are not the same as a teleconverters.
I am currently at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the coast of Virginia. I love this place it is beautiful and it is a great place to see wildlife. Today i started off with a beautiful sunrise and later photographed the wild horses. I have been here several times and you really can’t go wrong. We will be leading a photo workshop there November 16-18, 2012. Hope you can join us.
I love photographing Florida I have been going there for several years.
The Roseate Spoonbills is one of my favorite birds. This species feeds in shallow fresh or coastal waters by swinging its bill from side to side as it steadily walks through the water, often in groups. The spoon-shaped bill allows it to sift easily through mud. It feeds on crustaceans, aquatic insects, frogs, newts and very small fish ignored by larger waders.
No matter how early or late the peak fall foliage is there is still many great pictures to take. Just walk or drive that extra mile. This year was one of my most challenging because of the record high temperatures which delayed the peak. We also had a lot of rainfall. I really got to thank my participants no one person complained and everyone made the best of the difficult conditions.
Foliage report for Oct 4. I just got done leading a photo tour.
Peak foliage is about a week lake this year due to unusually warm weather. So this weekend should be perfect.
The White Mountains also experienced a lot of rain so rivers are flooded.
Even with the recent downpours leaf drop is not a problem.
Some waterfalls are unapproachable without getting your gear extremely wet. The high waterlevels also creat some interesting photo opportunities.
Route 302 is under light construction.
White Mountains: Presidential Range : Peak some parts past peak
Crawford Notch State Park Area: Peaking
Kancamagus Highway: North Conway Side is Just turning Western Side Peak
North Conway are is still green.
There are always good photo opportunities regardless of peak. Some trees/leaves turn late or early.
Also don’t forget to look down on the ground. Good Luck
Join us for a photo tour in New Hampshire for peak foliage