A nice little tool_Wimberley Plamp II

Often when shooting macro or really close-up, I could use something to hold a leaf, branch, flashlight, light diffuser or just something to gently push something else to the side. I like to use what is called a Plamp II.  The official name is a Wimberley Plamp II.  Here are a few photos of the Plamp II in action and CLICK HERE for a You Tube video link that will give you more information and ideas:

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In this series of photos, I used the Plamp II by attaching it to a chair and the stem of milky weed.   It helps too when the wind is blowing and you attach the Plamp to the stem of a flower to give  it more sturdiness. Also, as I said before, you can use the Plamp just to move other vegetation to the side and out of the way of the shot without damaging any plants or living things. The video gave me the idea of using a small flash light which can come in handy too.

Finding the Unusual

The world is full of unusual situations.  This includes the world of nature.  People ask me how do you do it.  My answer is patience, anticipation and luck.  I also say that being in the right place at the right time is a factor, but, that could be considered luck too.  To make your photos interesting wait for interesting things to happen. Try to place yourself in the right circumstance or place to increase your chance of a good opportunity.  A bird on a branch is ok, but a bird on a branch with an insect is better, a bird on a branch with an insect feeding a baby is even better.  I think you get the idea.

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Impact, story telling and color help make a better photo

Right from the start of my photographer adventure, it was pounded into my head that IMPACT, FOCUS, AND STORY TELLING are key ingredients to a good photo.   I would add COLOR OR NO COLOR (black and white) HELPS TOO. Here are some photos that get the point across.

Riding the Crest

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Good Action and certainly tells the story. Surfers are magnificent athletes. A good site to use concerning surfing conditions is: www. surfline.com

Nesting Material

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Tells the Story and has impact. This Osprey flew with this long piece of moss like material and landed not too far away from me. I was ready with my 500mm.

Morning Snack

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Story and Impact- Sea Otters are really fun to watch.  They have really strong teeth. They seem to always be playing.

Munch Munch Munch

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Story, Impact, Focus and Color- This is a Monarch larvae. I read that the Monarch butterfly will be extinct in 20 years.

Follow the Sun

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In past blogs, I mentioned look behind you. I was walking with my back to this sunset because the tide was rising fast and I did not want to get caught without an exit. Every 100 feet or so I would turn  around and shoot, turn around and shoot. This was one of the many shots I got. I used a tripod and slowed the shutter down along with a Variable Neutral Density Filter. Simple but tells the story, has impact and is colorful.

When shooting birds it is better to shoot with the mouth open or something in the mouth

A bird with something in it’s mouth, or singing the blues is more interesting than a tight billed bird.  I understand that sometimes there is an outstanding shot of a bird with nothing in its mouth and it is not singing. But, in general try to get that type of action.  Fighting or using its  claws is fair game too. Note too that all four photos tell a story. The Belted Kingfisher with the minnow in its mouth was a lucky high percentage shot. Kingfishers are one of the toughest birds to photograph. They are fast, elusive and don’t like a lot of people around. The settings using a 5oomm canon lens with a 1.4x extender was: f/9.5, iso 800, 1/2000.

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Blog_Belted Kingfisher better with mouth openBlog_spotted tohee_jim akers Nice shot of the Spotted Towhee but compared to the other “action” shots it is out of the competition.

Nik software is now free

This is a short and simple blog today. One of the premier software programs that millions of photographers throughout the world have used. The company use to be called Nik software and was then bought by Google.  Some think that Google bought Nik for the Snapseed technology. I was a big user of Nik at one time. It made my life a lot easier. As soon as they got purchased by Google, I heard less and less from them as far as specials , upgrades and news.  I think this may be the end of Nik now that it is free.

Click Here for the news from Google/Nik.

When good shots get lost in the clutter

There are times when a really good shot is just lost in the clutter of what is around the focus of the photo.  I remember seeing a flower that was in competition and it was a great shot, but I had a problem seeing what was the subject due to the clutter around the flower.  Sometimes, it is better to move on and wait for another opportunity.

Belted Kingfisher on the left and far right and a Green Heron in the center.  Take my word the shots are in focus, especially the heron and the Kingfisher in flight give me a break. The problem is the clutter around them.  Sometimes it takes more effort to creatively get rid of the clutter. It can be done but then it really does not look natural.  Time to move on and wait for another day.  Also, take it from me- Don’t fall in love with your photo. Get over it and move on. The trick is to… you’ll just have to wait to find out how to solve the problem in another blog. Keep shooting for quality.

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Opportunities are all around

One never knows what lurks around the corner when one has a camera.  I have a saying to look behind you because the better shot maybe in the opposite direction.

Balance and Strength

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I was shooting waves, birds, rocks and this is what was facing my back.

We are Champions

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Once again, this was to my back

An intense day at the bar

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this was a luck shot.  Never noticed the mirror in the ceiling of the bar.

Street Art

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Going for a walk with your camera is a great way to see opportunities that you may not have seen without the camera. Sometimes the camera makes your mind and eyes more attentive.

All the above shots were taken just by walking around.  I did not go out to shoot these photos, they just presented the opportunity and I took it.  The big question is how do you make a picture into a photograph of art. To be continued. Happy Shooting!

Photographer Block like Writers Block

There are times when you just don’t know what to shoot.  Your mind is a blank as they say.  It happens to writers too.  They just can’t seem to get their thoughts and ideas together.  Here is one thing you can photograph everyday.  All you need is imagination.  It’s called FOOD.  There all kinds of angles, distances, shapes, colors of food.  Food is also presented in many different ways. Plates, pots, pans, tables, no tables etc etc.  The possibilities are endless. Here are two photos I took a few years ago, just for fun, no pressure. Deserts are also fun to photograph too. Did you know that food photography is big. It is hard to not to find food photos in a magazine these days.  We think about it everyday, so why not photograph it while we think about it.

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Yummy food and presentation.

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Yummy veggies for St Patrick Day


Not too much and not too little, just a nice snack

Another way to get out and clear your mind is go to a Farmers Market.  They usually have colorful opportunities sitting right in front of you.

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Focus Stacking_Not that hard and a lot of fun

When I started my blog, I said that would keep it simple and use photos to show what I was talking.  I will leave it up to you to research the finer details, as in using the software.  My purpose is to show you that it can be done.  If I can do it, you can do it.

So here is the question?  How do you get two objects with different depth of fields.  Simple, using a tripod, take two shots of each object and then combine them in a “focus stacking” program such as Helicon Focus.  Here is an example.  I use Lightroom and Photoshop to do my focus stacking. There are other programs that do the same thing. One that comes to mind is Helicon Focus. Click Here for a free trial. Do your research.


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To get this shot really good, you need to take more than two shots. You need to take a shot of the space between both bolts and the closest bolt is a little soft on the lower left side.  But you get the idea.

Focus Stacking comes in real handy when photographing insects and flowers on a macro level.  When your really up close, it is almost impossible to get a well focused dragonfly front to back. Sideways yes but front to back very hard.  Ditto for a flower.  One part is in focus the other is out. Very frustrating.  The best way is multiple shots of the flower front to back, left to right.  I usually shoot in quadrants, starting from the rear and work forward or starting in the foreground and work my way to the back. Lastly, you need a tripod period to do a good focus stacking shot.  Click Here for a more detailed explanation of focus stacking.