Articles from: May 2011

Think Three Dimensionally but Only Worry About One Thing

This week’s guest blogger is Ross Konigsburg. Ross is a member of the Loudoun Photography Club.

When we are in nature taking picture it is important to think about not only where the animal you are shooting is currently but also what it is doing and where it is going.  A case in point is the picture above.

I came across this coyote in Yellowstone.  It was one of two coyotes that were on one side of a river and me on the other.  They were a very scenic couple in the snow.  However I knew that they were hunting along the river’s edge and would be moving. 

I took a few images where they were and sure enough they began to move in the direction I wanted which was down river.  I picked up my tripod with camera attached and started to move.  I walked faster then the coyotes and was able over a course of a mile to get several interesting images of the coyotes. 

Then I saw a fallen tree along the water.  I picked up my gear and set up ahead of the coyotes.  They had a choice to go high or low.  If they went high, I would have no shot.  One did go high, but the other one went low and I got the shot.

What enabled me to get the shot in addition to anticipating the coyote’s behavior was setting my camera and not fiddling with it.  The light was constant and since I shoot in manual spot metering, I was able to use the settings for the depth of field I wanted at a shutter speed that would freeze the motion.  This enabled me to concentrate on the composition of the shot knowing I would have the settings for the image and feel that I was after.  In other words, the only concern I had was  the composition I wanted.

Great Falls – Natures Own Sculpture Garden

This week’s guest blogger is Arthur Ransome.  Arthur is a member of the Baltimore Camera Club and will be one of our presenters at this years Expo!

The sound of crashing water greets you in thunderous waves, drowning out all other sounds.  Before night begins its transition into day, the veil of darkness teases the imagination with the magnificence and sheer power of water tumbling over cold, hard stone on its journey to the ocean.

 A lone tree clinging to a rocky overlook watches the water continue on its passage before it plunges into the abyss below.

 Mist rises above the plunge pools, reaching for the clouds in the sky.  On a cold winter’s morning water droplets immediately freeze on whatever surface they rest, creating jewel like patterns.  The rising sunlight bounces around their inner surfaces, refracting light into its many wondrous colors. 

Huge stones, sculpted by water over millennia reveal natures own, slowly evolving artwork.  Gorges form as the rushing water punches its way through hard stone.  Its energy finally spent, slowing now to a trickle.  The sound of gurgling water is only interrupted by the singing of birds and an occasional splash as a fish lunges out of its habitat to capture a dragon fly, scurrying about the calm water surface.  This is a magnificent place.

Challenge Yourself

This week’s guest blogger is Denise Silva.  Denise is Co-President of the Loudoun Photography Club and Vice President of the Expo!


Most of us are weekend shooters. Some of us may not even leave our yards or neighborhoods. Others may venture into Washington DC or to one of the many parks throughout our region. As a result, we are often “shooting” the same or similar subject matter from one weekend to the next. And, frankly, there is nothing wrong with this, because each new day carries with it new light, new weather challenges and new results, but often our images simply don’t feel new to us.

For me, as badly as I may want to go out and spend the day with my camera, I often find that I have already dismissed the day’s results, knowing that I will be seeing the same view, the same monument, or the same type of flower or falls. To overcome the urge to stay in and nap in front of the TV (whichever golf tournament happens to be on), I have come up with ways to challenge myself; changing how I shoot or changing how I post-process my images. My newest loves… Lensbaby and HDR processing. Sometimes separately and sometimes together.

We hear a lot about HDR these days. From NIK Software, to Photomatix, to IPhone capabilities, so today, I want to discuss Lensbaby.

Lensbaby is a creative effects lens that adds varying levels of blur and distortion to an image. The amount of blur or distortion is in the hands of the artist and controlled through both the optics and aperture rings chosen. Lensbaby lends itself to every type of subject matter, from flowers to objects to buildings and structures, to people. The results are only as limited as your imagination.  Challenge yourself to see our world through a new lens!

Everyday subjects found throughout our region transformed by Lensbaby. These images were taken with the Lensbaby Composer with the Double Glass Optic. Aperture rings and shutter speed noted below.   For more information on Lensbaby, equipment, and examples of the types of images that can be created with their optics, see  For those interested in exploring Lensbaby, Corey Hilz has a great book, titled “Lensbaby: Bending Your Perspective” that introduces the optics, the aperture rings, as well as provides wonderful images to inspire you! You can find his book on his website at

Also, this year at the Nature Visions Expo, there will be a workshop on Lensbaby, so stayed tuned for more information!

An Amazing Wildlife Event in the Mid-Atlantic—The Horseshoe Crabs!

This week’s guest blogger is Cindy Tucey, a former member of the Manassas-Warrenton Camera Club

An amazing wildlife event occurs in the Mid-Atlantic for only a brief time each year!  Horseshoe crabs come ashore on the Delaware Bay beaches to spawn during the full and new moons at high tide in May and June.  During peak spawning, the horseshoe crabs will form clusters along the edge of the water.  The females will dig a hole in the sand, depositing a few thousand eggs, which are then fertilized by the males as they crawl over the nests.  

Horseshoe crabs are important for migratory birds and our ecosystem.  During the spawning, many different shorebirds, including the Red Knot—a threatened species whose numbers are declining—migrate from South America, stopping over in the Delaware Bay to feed upon the horseshoe crab eggs that get washed to the surface.  For wildlife photographers, this is an excellent opportunity to photograph a less common species of bird.  Other bird species that can be photographed feasting upon the horseshoe crab eggs are Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlins, Willets, and Sanderlings.  Interestingly, horseshoe crabs are also important for science and modern medicine.  A compound extracted from horseshoe crab blood is used to detect the presence of bacteria in pharmaceuticals and vaccines. 

Slaughter Beach, Pickering Beach, and Port Mahon in Delaware are all excellent locations for viewing the horseshoe crabs.  Port Mahon also tends to have large numbers of migratory birds.  The peak time to see the horseshoe crabs is during the 3-5 days around the full and new moons in May and early June.  For 2011, that means for the few days before and after May 17 and June 1.  In order to photograph the horseshoe crabs during the best light, time your visit so that high tide coincides with sunrise or sunset so there are the largest number of horseshoe crabs during the best light conditions. 

Please flip any stranded horseshoe crabs while photographing this remarkable species!  Each year thousands of horseshoe crabs get stuck upside down, at which point they stick their tail in the air hoping for a wave to flip them.  If no wave comes, they end up stranded on the beach and die from drying out.  The ERDG—Ecological Research & Development Group—has implemented a “Just flip ‘em!” program to raise awareness about the horseshoe crabs and to ask individuals to show compassion and flip the horseshoe crabs over so they can crawl back into the water.  Horseshoe crabs are completely harmless—they do not bite or sting—and their claws are gentle and will not hurt you.  Although harmless, their tails are sensitive, so please flip them by the side of their shell rather than by the tail. 

Technical Details:  Canon 40D, Canon 24-105 (@24mm), ISO 100, f 11, 1/4 second.

A Little Texture

Thanks to Tony Sweet for being our guest blogger this week! 

Here’s a texturized image from the Charleston waterfront:

One of the great ways to make an image your own is by adding a texture. There are many textures out there and many can be downloaded for no charge from Fllickr and from other social photography sites. Of course, you can photograph your own: skies, water movement, sand and rock patterns, and rusted iron are some possibilities. But, there are also sets that are designed and are quite subtle and appealing, easy to stack texture upon texture in photoshop at various opacities for a different look.

 Here’s a great plugin to get you going texturizing!!

 Totally Rad’s Dirty Pictures –  This plugin comes with 21 really good textures loaded in it’s easy to add your ow n. This is attractive because it enables you to try textures, one after the other, without closing out of photoshop and reopening. This is a very quick way to run through your textures to find the one that suits the image. Then you have the options, as in photoshop, to select various blend modes and to adjust the opacity. The price is $149, which is a bit steep, but if you think in terms of time saved and ease of use, it definitely pays for itself.

Tony Sweet is a Nikon Legend Behind the Lens, Lensbaby Guru, and Charter member of Team Nik. He also conducts workshops throughout the year in North America and in Iceland. Visit:

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