The number one element in obtaining a merit photo (80 or above in most cases) is impact. There are exceptions, BUT, don’t lose sight of impact. Usually a good impactful photo tells a story. Judges / people should not have to wonder what the photographer is trying to say through the photo.
Sometimes I get “brain freeze” and just can’t seem to have an idea what I want to photograph. Here is an example of what I found on my patio. A honeybee busy at work. Opportunities are all around if you are patient. Sometimes I just sit and wait for a gift to come along.
There are good photos, very good photos and then exceptional photos. What they all have in common besides good composition is the Wow Factors- Impact and the ability to convey a compelling story. If a photo does not need a title to tell the story then your really on the right track. The title is just the icing on the cake. Here are some examples:
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:
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.
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.
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
Good Action and certainly tells the story. Surfers are magnificent athletes. A good site to use concerning surfing conditions is: www. surfline.com
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.
Story and Impact- Sea Otters are really fun to watch. They have really strong teeth. They seem to always be playing.
Munch Munch Munch
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
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.
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.
Nice shot of the Spotted Towhee but compared to the other “action” shots it is out of the competition.
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.
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.
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
I was shooting waves, birds, rocks and this is what was facing my back.
We are Champions
Once again, this was to my back
An intense day at the bar
this was a luck shot. Never noticed the mirror in the ceiling of the bar.
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!