Not HDR and technically not good but…

….I like it!

This is a shot of our resident moggie and was taken with my new 50mm f1.4. After attempting a few handheld shots at 1.4 I soon realised how shallow the DOF is. If you look closly at the picture you will see that the only parts that are in focus are a few whiskers and in between the cats eyes.

More practice required I think !

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Sometimes we see more when we look through the lens…

I was up bright and early yesterday morning and headed for Emo Court in Co. Laois. It was a stunning day and was already warm as I stepped from the car just before 8 o`clock. I had the whole place to myself and as I set off with my tripod over my shoulder I dreamed that some day I might ditch the day job and do this full time.

I continued my stroll through the winding paths looking for photo opportunities and taking in the fresh air when I came across a reddish coloured tree (maple I think) amongst all the green. I noticed how some of the leaves became translucent as the still low sun lit them from behind.

I raised the camera to my eye to look for a good composition and noticed, as I panned around with the lens, that one of the leaves had a tiny hole in it and I was getting a starlight effect when I moved the camera into a certain position as the sun shone through from behind.

I took several shots and was happy with the result. More photos from the trip can be seen here.

Nikon D90, Nikkor 24-120 VR. f5.6 1/2500 @ ISO 100

On your doorstep…

Sometimes we don`t have to travel too far to find something to photograph. This photo is of a plant outside my back door. I had a flash mounted on the camera and had to lie on the ground to get the unusual view. The background was a pale blue sky. I desaturated the blues and cyans in Photoshop which made the sky white and increased saturation on the subject to boost the colours. I then cloned out a couple of unwanted leaves.

Nikon D90, Nikkor 24-120 VR. f5.6 1/200 @ ISO 100

Garden Birds

After aquiring a new Nikkor 70-300 f4.5/5.6 VR2 lens I needed something to use it on (seem to remember at the time of purchase that I needed it very badly). I bought a few bird feeders and hung them from a small tree/shrub outside the kitchen window and I was amazed to see the variety of small birds that began to use the feeders shortly after setting them up.

All the shots below were taken through the glass of the kitchen window with the lens set at the maximum zoom (300) and maximum aperture (f5.6) in aperture priority mode. I had the ISO set high most of the time in the hope that I could freeze some movement but I only seemed to be able to get static shots or just empty frames as the birds were gone before I the shutter released. I`m determined to get some of the birds in flight.

f5.6  1/640  ISO 800

RAW image processed in Photoshop. B&W adjustment layer added and a sepia tone was selected in the B&W layer settings. I then set the layer blend mode to “overlay” which mixed the colour and the toned layers. This usually darkens the image and increases contrast, so I reduced the opacity of the B&W layer to lessen the effect. I then used a layer mask to get some of the detail back (particularly around the face) and used the “dodge” tool to bring out the highlights in the eyes. Finally, after flattening the image, I reduced noise with a Photoshop plugin called Imagenomic Noiseware and sharpened the whole image using “smart sharpen”

f5.6  1/160   ISO 1600

Processing similar to previous image.

f5.6   1/250   ISO 1600

Same process as above without the toning.

f5.6   1/200   ISO 400

RAW image tweaked in Photoshop.

f5.6   1/125   ISO 400

RAW image tweaked in Photoshop. Used “dodge” tool on face to bring out detail.

Dissapointment…

Went down to Waterford on “Paddys Day” and ended up on a beach near Dunmore East. After doing the usual, tripod mounted, 3 exposure bracked shots, I released the camera from its legs and fitted my 70-300 zoom. I love setting up my tripod and taking the time to compose a shot but I equally enjoy handholding the camera and not having to worry about bracketing or HDR. Anyway, as I walked along the beach, some nearby birds took flight. I quickly raised the camera to my eye and tracked the birds while clicking away. I was dissapointed when I reviewed the images on the camera. None were worth keeping but one in particular could have been very good (I think) except for part of one of the birds wings being out of the shot. Thats photography for you – part skill part luck.

Here`s the shot…Nikon D90, Nikkor 70-300 VR.   f7.1    1/640    ISO 200. I did very little editing apart from converting to B&W and the usual levels and curves…

And here`s one I took before I put the tripod away….

It`s a 3 exposure HDR. 2 stops bracketed. f18  1/25  1/100 and 1/8  @ ISO 200. Tonemapped in Photomatix and tweaked in Photoshop.