Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Slalom Waterskier Art

This image of a slalom waterskier is one of our sports photographs with added digital special effects.  We've always liked this shot.  The skier is carving a nice turn with abundant spray, the ski is up on its edge and the tow rope is coming out of the lower corner.  With the addition of the special effects the photo is given a totally different look.  The lower half has some added texture that resembles paint brush strokes while the upper portion has a more radical treatment.  The two effects are gently blended together.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Nautical Art

This photograph of an antique, wooden Hackercraft boat was taken a couple of years ago.  See the blog post of 9/14/10.  We recently added some digital special effects to create a different look to the image.  The bottom portion retains the original colors but there is some texture now that resembles a painter's brush strokes.  This is blended into the top portion which has a radically different filter effect.
The background of the original photo was mostly sky and totally uncluttered.  However, the upper part of the boat really pops out of this pseudo night scene much more than on the original.  We have added this treatment to several of our sports images, too, with very favorable results.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Equestrian Jumping Sports Art

This equestrian sports art was created from a photograph taken during a grand prix jumping event at a horse show.  The original photograph included the entire horse and rider, the fence, plus some of the background.  It was very nice on its own with the horse captured at the peak of the jump and showing good form.  For this artwork we tightly cropped the image to focus attention on the front of the horse as it pulls up its legs to clear the jump.  The rider had to be generic so we intentionally excluded the face.  A digital effect was selectively applied that gave the appearance somewhat of a painting, with simulated brush strokes and the elimination of crisp detail.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Buck During the Rut

This buck whitetail deer was following the scent of a doe during the rut.  The buck is not a large one but we were happy to catch this pose.  During the short breeding season the bucks are relentlessly on the move looking for does.  We were positioned at the edge of a meadow with many buck rubs and active scrapes hoping to see some action.  This classic, sneaking buck came by shortly after sunrise.  The woods beyond the deer are still very dark and this helps the buck stand out so well.  The low morning sun lights up the antlers against the background.
200mm lens, 1/1250 second at f/2.8, ISO 250.  We could have used a lower ISO but a few minutes earlier we had been getting some photos of does before the sun popped out.  The buck appeared suddenly and there was no time to change.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Buck Deer in Sunlight

This is a young, 8 point buck whitetail deer.  The antlers were nice but didn't have much mass.  We found him in this meadow shortly after sunrise but the trees around the perimeter kept the meadow in shade for quite a while.  The deer had been much closer to us at one point and we got several nice images.  When the sun finally popped over the trees, however, we got this image of him that stood out from the earlier ones.  His head and antlers show well against the dark woods behind him and his ears are alert as he looks toward the sun.  A peaceful and serene setting.
70-200 lens at 200mm, 1/400 second at f/2.8, ISO 250.  We reduced the exposure slightly when processing the raw file.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Old Buck and Small Buck

These two whitetail deer were found in a meadow shortly after sunrise last week.  The buck on the right is obviously mature with a large set of antlers.  The young deer on the left is actually a "button" buck with two small knobs on the top of his head.  This time of year the older bucks are getting a little testy as they are ready for the does to come into heat.  This young buck seems to be keeping his distance and warily eyeing the larger deer.  This made for a nice composition as both deer are looking inward.
The first rays of sun are visible on the trees in the background but this meadow was still in shade.  Not much light to work with so we had to use a wide aperture.  Not enough depth of field to keep both animals in focus so we kept the focus on the big buck.  Also, we adjusted the color temperature later to warm up the image.
70-200 lens at 135mm, 1/320 second at f/3.2, ISO 800.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Impala Herd Approaching

This herd of impala was approaching a waterhole where we were hidden in a hide (blind).  Our hide was a couple of feet below grade level and this allowed for the low camera angle.  The photo turned out to be one of our favorites from the trip to South Africa.  We were able to get some nice close-up images of many different species but this photo shows the animals on the move.  The impala were wary while approaching and proceeded at a slow walk, giving us time for several shots.  This particular one has a male with nice horns near the front and the horns show well against the darker trees in the background.
400mm lens, 1/800 second at f/5.6, ISO 250.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kudu Bull

This kudu bull was photographed on a recent trip to South Africa.  The kudu is a large animal with unique, spiraling horns.  We were not in a park, and this wasn't a photo safari, so we were fortunate to get within camera range.  On most days there were not many opportunities to photograph animals except at a distance.  The weather was reliable with clear and bright skies every day.  From a photographic standpoint, however, there is precious little time at dawn and dusk when the light is soft.
This photo was taken in the middle of the day with the harsh sun high overhead.  But the bull had just stepped clear of the brush and much of the surrounding area is nicely out of focus.  The head and horns stand out quite well.
400mm lens, 1/1600 second at f/5.6, ISO 250.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grand Prix Jumping Horse

This photograph of a horse and rider jumping a fence was taken during the Grand Prix event at a recent horse show.  This feature event had the best riders jumping the highest fences.  Great subjects for action sports photography!  This shot is tightly framed yet the horse's hind legs can still be seen well off the ground.  The height of the jump is enhanced by placing the horse and rider close to the top of the frame.
The background is busy, unfortunately, but almost the entire ring was surrounded by tents and people so there really wasn't a better location to shoot from.  The background is out of focus and that helps a little.
250mm lens, 1/1000 sec at f/5.6, ISO 320.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Horse and Rider with Trainer

This photograph of an equestrian sitting on a horse while her trainer is pointing toward the course was taken at a recent hunter/jumper horse show.  Although we took lots of nice action photos of horses jumping over fences, this candid image is likely our favorite of the day.  Our position was next to the show ring and this rider was waiting in an adjacent ring while getting instructions from the trainer about the course.  We took several shots while the two alternately gestured and talked.  There were often other horses or people in the background and sometimes the trainer was standing very close to the horse, all of which detracted from the overall image.  We kept watching and waiting though, recognizing the potential for a nice image.  This shot was our last and best; clean background, the trainer is standing apart enough that she is distinct, a nice pointing gesture, pleasing composition.
The harsh overhead sunlight is unfortunate.  We chose our position at the show ring so that the sun would be coming from a rear quarter.  For this shot, though, we had to turn more toward the sun and adjust the exposure to compensate for the shadows on the faces.
100-400 lens at 260mm, 1/250 second at f/5.6, ISO 160.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hidden Whitetail Deer Fawn

This whitetail deer fawn was hidden near the edge of heavily shaded woods.  We noticed it standing when it was about 70 yards away and this made it easier to plan an approach when it finally laid down. The approach took an hour and we couldn't see enough of the fawn for a nice photograph until we were quite close.  We strive for more of an eye-level image but this wasn't possible with the thick grass obscuring the deer.  We watched for signs of stress on the fawn, and would have backed off, but our approach was so slow that it was not particularly nervous.  The ears are not even directed at the camera.  The fawn showed alarm at noises coming from other directions but not from us.
Once in position we took a few frames but the fawn was in deep shade and the light was not interesting.  We noticed a small sunbeam tracking toward it, though, and waited until the head was lit to take this image.
100-400 lens at 190mm, 1/125 second at f/5.6, ISO 3200.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Young Buck in Velvet

This young buck whitetail deer was recently photographed with his new antlers covered in velvet.  We don't normally pay much attention to the smaller bucks but the light on this one was attractive.  The lighting was difficult, though, and required much patience as the buck moved through the woods.  The overhead canopy was very thick and allowed for small shafts of early morning light to penetrate.  This image was taken when the buck paused in one of the shafts of sunlight.  The deer looks well lit but in reality the light was not very strong.  Much of the side of his face is in shadow but the light falls nicely on his forehead and gives us a nice catchlight in his eye.  We like how he is looking somewhere in the distance with his ears alert.  The whiskers on his chin are visible against the darker background.  We would prefer that the spots of blue sky were not present behind the buck's head but maybe fixing that could be a Photoshop project.
1/100 second at f/5.6, 100-400 lens at 380mm, ISO 2000.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Great Blue Heron

This great blue heron was fishing on a small local pond.  We spent quite a bit of time getting close and also using the background to our advantage.  This was taken late morning and the light was getting harsh.  There was deep shade in the woods behind the bird, though, and by getting ourselves low we got this nice profile image of the heron perched on the fallen tree.  Notice that even the little feather on the back of the neck is plainly visible against the dark background.  It also helped that the fallen tree was away from the shoreline which allowed for slight blurring of the background.  We had taken several photographs as the heron slowly walked around the branches when he suddenly opened his wings.  The wings were spread for only a couple seconds but it was enough time for this shot.
100-400 lens at 400mm, 1/500 second at f/5.6, ISO 500.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Buck Deer in Velvet

The antlers on this buck whitetail deer are covered in velvet.  This photograph was taken yesterday, June 5, and the antlers are already quite large.  They should be much larger by fall.
Getting close to a buck is pretty exciting by itself but the photo is special for a couple other reasons.  One, the deer is laying down.  Not as many photos taken of that.  Second, the buck is engaging in self-grooming.  He is not merely standing and looking at the camera but instead is actually doing something.  Wildlife images showing "behavior" are much more interesting.
The light was tricky and hard to work with.  Direct sunlight coming through holes in the overhead canopy   made for extremely bright spots amid the deep shade.  The bright spots in the background of this image are objectionable but we couldn't alter our position because this was the only clear view of the deer through the trees.  Also, the shade was so deep that we needed a high ISO to get adequate shutter speed and this resulted in some loss of detail and contrast.
400mm IS lens, 1/250 second at f/5.6, ISO 3200.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Golden Retriever in Tall Grass

This golden retriever was photographed during a recent upland bird hunt.  The photograph was not planned in advance but we were ready when the dog paused momentarily during the hunt.
Most of our images taken that day suffered from the high, mid-afternoon sun which gave us harsh light.  This image is an exception as the dog was standing in an area partially shaded by trees.  The dog is slightly backlit and there is a rim of light along her back that separates her from the out-of-focus, green background.  No harsh shadows anywhere.  Also, the dog was standing on a slight rise above us and this allowed for the low camera angle.  We got three quick shots before the dog took off hunting again.  This one had the most pleasant head angle of the three photographs.  The right place at the right time!
35-350 lens at 200mm, 1/500 second at f/5.0, ISO 400.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hunting Dog Carrying Bird

We were fortunate to accompany some bird hunters recently on a private club and got some photographs of the working dogs.  This golden retriever is carrying a chukar that was shot by the hunters.  The terrain was challenging because most of it was covered in grass that was tall enough to conceal much of the dogs.  We like to get as low as possible with the camera to get the dramatic angle but had difficulty in the grass.  This dog took advantage of one of the few trails to bring the bird to his owner and we were ready as he rounded a bend.  The dog is mid-stride and shows well against the darker background.
35-350 lens at 300mm, 1/800 second at f/5.6, ISO 250.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Camaro SS at Dusk

Here is another view of the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS.  This photo was taken shortly before sunset and the background is quite dark.  We added two off-camera speedlights that were triggered with wireless controls.  Both lights were set on the ground and aimed slightly upward so they wouldn't put too much light on the pavement.  Certainly, more light could have been put on the top of the car if the lights were mounted higher but that was not our intent.  We wanted this dramatic effect that is only achieved with low lights.  Notice how the rear wheel catches some of the flash but there is minimal effect on the rest of the body along the driver's side.  The timing was important, though, to get this effect.  We needed some ambient light because otherwise the car would disappear into blackness.  This shot seemed to have the right balance since we can still see the entire outline of the car.
70-200 lens at 105mm, exposure set manually, 1/250 sec at f/6.3, ISO 100.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chevrolet Camaro SS

We were fortunate to recently photograph this Chevrolet Camaro SS and this was one of our "must-have" shots.  The location was previously scouted because we needed a road with little traffic, a background with little clutter and a slight hill.  This last requirement allowed us to get the camera low enough to see the road drop away behind and underneath the car.
The sun was to the camera's right and very low, partially hidden by light clouds.  This gave us soft lighting with no harsh reflections.  We tried turning on the headlights but at this low angle the the lights were too intense.  The parking lights were left on and they add a subtle accent.
We chose the 400mm lens to give us some compression of the car and to blur the background.  1/400 second at f/5.6, ISO 320.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Flying Pintail Duck Over Decoy

A drake Northern Pintail duck flying over a bluebill decoy. We put out a couple dozen bluebill decoys in hopes of getting some action photos of bluebill ducks (scaup), as well as other diving ducks such as canvasbacks and redheads during the spring migration through the St. Clair Flats. The northerly wind was about 20 knots steady, gusting to 30 knots. This single pintail flew downwind from behind us, banked and pitched in to the decoys. It happened too quickly to get the focus locked on him before he landed. This shot was taken right after he took off into the wind and drops of water can be seen under his feet.
This is quite a nice image and the decoy adds some interest. It would have been nice to have some morning sunlight highlighting the plumage, though. The forecast called for a sunny morning but it turned out mostly cloudy. Shocking; the forecasting is always so reliable.
100-400 lens at 400mm, 1/1250 sec at f/5.6, ISO 640.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Canada goose and Duck Decoys

A Canada goose swimming among some duck decoys. I was recently on the St. Clair Flats hoping to get photos of ducks during the spring migration. The mallard decoys were put out to attract flights within camera range. This goose swam over to investigate and never realized I was hidden nearby.
It's a peaceful scene with the calm water and low, morning light. Most important, though, is the clean background. The camera was about two feet above water level but the goose was so close that I was actually aiming slightly downward. Hence, not even the horizon is visible. 400mm lens, 1/1600 second at f/5.6, ISO 320.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Alpine Giant Slalom Skier

An alpine skier rounding a gate on the giant slalom race course. My position was chosen so that the skier would be facing me while racing to the next gate. This allows us to see the extreme body angle and that body angle contributes a strong diagonal line to the composition. Also, the background is relatively clean and the skier stands out nicely. Unfortunately, the sky was heavily overcast so the light was flat, and there was no detail in the snow.
This was shot at 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 800, 100-400 lens at 400mm.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Downhill slalom skier in race

This downhill snow skier is racing on the slalom course. My location was carefully chosen so that the skier would be heading for me after rounding the red gate and coming toward the blue gate. I like how this position can show the athlete's extreme body angle and I also like to see the face. The shot immediately before this one showed the skier contacting the red gate but the body angle wasn't so extreme.
The position was also chosen because the background was less cluttered than other places on the hill. The chairlift apparatus is present, as well as a gatekeeper, but those couldn't be avoided. Fortunately, they are slightly out of focus and the attention is squarely on the skier.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Off-camera Flash on Alpine Skier

Here is another sports image lit with an off-camera flash. The alpine skier is rounding a gate during an evening giant slalom race. I placed a light opposite the gate to the skier's right. This allows me to get a frontal shot without putting the light into the athlete's face.
This photo was taken about 6 pm and there wasn't much ambient light. Even so, there was a chance to get some ghosting so I opted for a fast shutter speed. This was shot at 1/1250 at f/3.5, ISO 2000, 70-200 lens at 180mm. Speedlight on auto.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Alpine Ski Race, off-camera flash

This is a photograph of an alpine skier racing on the giant slalom course. The race started in the late afternoon and lasted after sundown. I decided to get some action shots using an off-camera flash at one of the gates. Most of the high school races are on weekday afternoons/evenings and there usually isn't enough available light for the whole race. An on-camera flash will work but it isn't acceptable to blast the athletes head-on.
I positioned a speedlight so that it was facing a gate and would light a skier from his side. This allowed me to position myself downhill from the gate and photograph the skiers from the front. The speedlight was mounted on a monopod that was stuck into the snow and it was fired with a wireless trigger. 70-200 lens at 145mm. 1/800 at f/4 set manually, ISO 500. The speedlight was on ETTL (auto).