Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rocky at Lost Valley

"Rocky" at Clark Creek, Lost Valley
Once in a while a kid acting like a kid grabs my attention. "Rocky" is one such kid, vibrantly alive and passionate about rocks and water. His dad could not really contain him. Turn his back and the kid was in the rocks and water.

Gandhi said "Learn as though you would live forever". Rocky gets it.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hepatica in Filtered Light

Hepatica in Filtered Light
This is one of the things I look for in taking wildflower pictures. To me light dynamics are everything. This is a cinematic light photo.

In this composition there are interesting lines and negative implied shapes that create a wholly different concept of a natural frame.

The ribs on the leaves surrounding the bloom point to it. Leaves at the bottom point right, intersect the leaves about it, and form an interesting zig zag pattern leading the eye to the bloom.

This photo is something given, not something taken. One only needs to first observe and work slowly.

Friday, March 21, 2014

15 Minute Workshop Series -- Wildflower Pictures are Flower Arrangements

Sharp Lobed Hepatica -- Lost Valley Trail
I really like to take pictures of wildflowers. Sharped Lobed Hepatica is one of my favorite species. I like the nodding buds, blooms that tilt and tip at many angles, and the long fuzzy stems. There is a lot going on, and there are many choices offered to a photographer who seeks an exceptional wildflower composition. Here are some thoughts on choosing the shot, and how to work in post processing on flowers.

First, flower pictures are flower arrangements. Look at a book on flower arranging and you will get great ideas about how to organize flowers in effective compositions.

Second, don't forget the context around the wildflower. The picture to the right incorporates not only leaves, but a sweeping blade of dead grass. Note that it criss-crosses with a stem in the back. This gives the composition a Japanese feel. 

Third, shadows matter. Shadows tell a story in the picture. You can see the direction of the sunlight -- it is mid morning. There are pleasing traces on the leaves of shadows coming from the petals. Shadow nuances add complexity and interest without distracting from the subject. 

Fourth, backgrounds are a special case of context and darkening them slightly can add a 3D character to a photo. This makes the subject pop out forward in your pictures and make your photos deep. 

A while back I wrote a short piece on what we could learn from master painter Leonardo da Vinci about composition and post processing photos. It certainly applies here. I think he provides an outstanding road map to think more carefully about post. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wildflower Photo Tip

Unopened Sharp Lobed Hepatica Blooms
If you get to your wildflower destination early, chances are good that the wildflowers will not have opened up. Noobs might imagine that the buds they see are either flowers that are past their prime, or that they are the final flower.

The picture below is a clump of sharp lobed hepaticas that have not opened.  Only a half hour later they were wide open and upright. I like this particular species both open and closed. To me they look like tiny roses when closed.

So, if all the blooms are closed, wait around. It is just a matter of time before they pop open as the morning cool lifts. Why not shoot them both ways?

Roadrunner, Lost Valley

Roadrunner, Lost Valley Entrance Road
This is an unconventional picture of a road runner.  He is not running, just checking me out.

The entrance road to Lost Valley Trail is an excellent place to get pictures of road runners. Often there are mating pairs there. Sometimes if you pay attention you can catch them feeding on cicadas in the roadside cedar trees.

If you visit, be on the lookout for them. I see them in the first block of the Lost Valley entrance road. I get the impression sometimes that they run across the road to decoy me from a nest, but I have never confirmed that.  I give animals their space as a rule.

Roadrunners are interesting, eccentric birds. I have had them play hide and seek with me out west. Last year I saw a 3 juveniles running in a line across our road that borders the Ponca Wilderness. They were about the size of sparrows, but with characteristic crest and long tails. Didn't get that picture, but I have the memory and that is pretty good.

Wildflower Season is Hitting Stride

Sharp Lobed Hepatica, Lost Valley Trail
It is early in the wildflower season,  but it feels like the cold has compressed the bloom dates of early wildflowers and they are blooming closer together than in recent years. This morning I located sharp lobed hepaticas and cut leaf tooth worts to join the white trout lilies in the early bloom.

The photo is from Lost Valley.  It is loaded with hikers today.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

White Trout Lilies 2 -- Lost Valley Trail

More white trout lilies, Lost Valley Trail.

White Trout Lilies, Lost Valley Trail

My First Wildflower for 2014

White Trout Lily Lost Valley 2014
Erythronium albidum
White trout lily Lost Valley hiking trail. I would say looking at the flower bed that the trout lilies have been up a few days now. That would put the delay in the wild flower season at about a month or so compared to 2013.

This compo is unusual for me with the subject centered, but I like the alignment of the bud with the bloom. Also, to me the texture and ribs of the leaves focus the eye on the subject.

If it interests you, I took this with my 100-400 telephoto and it is hand held.

Lost Valley was pretty full when I finally got to visit today. A photographer I met confirmed that Eden Falls is running pretty hard.

People are also floating the Buffalo. The river is running pretty hard.

Ozark Wildflower Season Starts Any Day

Last year at this time I had been shooting wildflowers for 5 weeks. We had much better weather and none of the snow storms like Sunday. Daffodils are blooming now, the single most reliable sign that the wildflower season is beginning.

If wildflowers interest you, the spring season is a few month long and there are many different places along the river where you can get pictures. Virtually any Ozark feeder creek to the Buffalo National River will have a decent wildflower bloom.

Filtered Top Light, Shallow Depth of Field
and Bokeh Make This Composition Work 
Photographers can learn a lot about existing light photography from shooting wildflowers. I personally don't like flash photography because it washes out detail that I want. It also tends to compress the dynamic range from light to dark that animates a good photo. Yes it can be done, but why not hone your observation skills and learn how to manage existing light. It will strengthen your photography.

So wildflower coverage begins today. I expect to see the first wildflowers now.

Ozark Rooster in Deep Snow

This is one of my roosters, Checkerbird, attempting to navigate in 5 inches of snow yesterday morning. He did a quick 180 and headed back into the coop as fast as possible. Those of us who have chickens will vouch that chickens are indeed "chicken". When in doubt they are afraid of everything.

This snow has all but disappeared in 24 hours. Water is flowing pretty hard everywhere. It is a good time to get waterfall pictures if you like austere winter photos.

Ozark Rooster in the Snow

Monday, March 17, 2014

After the Snow

This morning there was 4 inches of snow on the ground, this evening virtually all of it was gone. Looking out our back window just before sundown I saw a skunk feeding. Nice little animal. I figure out how to work around them. They are not aggressive. If you pay attention and don't raise too much of a fuss, they just go about their business and ignore you.

Striped Skunk

Monday, March 10, 2014

Shag Elk Crossing Creek

After being snowed in so much this year, it was nice to get a crossing and reflection. This shag bull and a couple of spikes are hanging out with a cow herd. It is not unusual for these young bulls to be with the all cow herds.
Shag Bull Crossing Boxley Creek