Saturday, November 9, 2013

# 45

Lonesome trees are always cool. Here's one with a few light rays.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

# 42

    Beautiful bright fall colors from this week, and if everything goes well it will get even better, until the leaves are gone.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

# 40

  It looks like the fall is here. It's raining outside and it's getting colder. Just to cheer you up a little, here's something colorful...
... a group of green stink bug larvae. For me it looks like there is still one "seat" free. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

# 39

  Praying mantis counts as one of my favorite insects. One reason is that they often look like they pose for the photographer. It's pretty easy to make them stare at you just by moving your hand in the direction were you want them to look. As big insects you don't need to be too close to them to get a frame filling shot and it's pretty easy to move them around too. This gall (?) was hiding under our terrace stairs when my wife found her. The place wasn't too neat for a picture so I gently grabbed her in the mid body and moved her in to the light.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

# 38

  Added a new species in my life list this weekend. For a long time I've been searching for a Large Whip-snake. This beautiful snake is fast, agile and aggressive. In the past I've had only two encounters with this snake. Once something slithered in the hay in an extremely fast speed, climbed up a tree and was gone. 90 % sure it was a Large Whip-snake. The second time was two weeks ago. 20 to 30 meters from the Nose-horned Viper ( see pic of the wee # 37) something slithered just in front of my friend. When he noticed me about the snake, it was already climbing up in the tree next to us and next it was gone. We tried to look for it, but nothing. 98 % sure it was a Large Whip-snake. This weekend I went to Vraca, a town about one and a half an hour drive from Sofia. We headed a bit out of the town to a place called Божия мост, the gods bridge. Interesting natural monument just outside of the town. Already on our way there I noticed that the surroundings look just like perfect habitat for this robust snake. So when returning I decided we'll stop for a few minutes and I'll take a look under a few stones. After twenty minutes of searching I struck gold. Under a pile of rubble, there it was, a tiny juvenile whip snake. It is amazing how fast these critters are. This tiny snake was moving among the rocks with a speed that made it almost impossible to keep your focus on it. Finally it slithered under a rock and I managed to grab its tail, just to feel its tiny sharp teeth in my skin. After a while it calmed down a bit and I managed to make a few images.
  A tiny small juvenile Large Whip-snake (Dolichopis caspius). Cute and aggressive.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Picture of the week #37

  Ten weeks have past by and I haven't updated my website, all this due to lack of inspiration and because of great hurry. Anyway, I thought that from now on I'll try to fix this and start to post a picture in the end or in the beginning of each new week. For this week, which almost has already come to its end, I show you this picture:
   I didn't hope to find any snakes when we took a walk with a friend of mine last week. It was a hot day so I assumed that it would be impossible to see one, thinking they are all hiding under rocks and stones. Even if I've been "flipping" around in the place we went, I've never found a single reptile, so this is why I didn't have any high hopes for snakes. The truth is that it was pretty dead every were, just a few grasshoppers here and there and a few occasional hornets flying by. Then we decided to return and change the spot. On the road back, I suddenly saw something slithering on the ground. Oh boy, the reward, a nice middle sized Nose-horned Viper. I'm so happy that I had my snake hook with me. I grabbed the snake at its tail and lifted it under my cap, which was waiting on the ground. We waited for a few minutes, removed the hat and made a few shots. Even if this snake species is one of the most venomous in the Europe, I have to say that at least this guy were very calm and I enjoyed working with him.        

Monday, July 1, 2013

About the the subject in photography

  When I started photography for a few years ago, in the beginning it was all about the subject. I photographed almost everything, people, flowers, insects, animals, buildings and whatever else there was to be photographed. The truth is that you need a subject for a photo, it's essential, and you can  find good subjects almost everywhere. Now this doesn't mean that a great subject makes a good picture, it may but... too often not, especially if you don't make the best of your subject.
  One good way to ruin your photo is to make your subject blend in to its surroundings. If the picture is a mess, just too much going on, the subject will vanish somewhere in there and the viewer will, in most cases, loose hes interest fast for the picture and move on to the next more pleasing image.
  So make it simple. Don't leave the viewer to wonder too much over what hes looking at.

In this image the subject is quite clear, right? A bird, a common goldeneye swimming in the center of the frame. Nice, at least it's quite clear what's in the picture, what is the main subject and even all kinds of extra distractions are minimized. There's even a reflection in the water, adding something extra in to the picture. The bad thing is that this image look like my version of the flag of Japan. The main thing in the center and that's it, nothing else... the possible viewer moves ahead, he saw the duck and that was it. So if there really isn't a good reason to place the subject in the center of the image (sometimes there is) don't do it. Use the rule of thirds or some other composition. Most likely your image will be more dynamic and intriguing than a center framed one. Here I made a crop o  same duck. Nothing special, just the  duck moved a more pleasing place in the upper left corner so that its head and eye is in the crossing
of  imagined tic tack toe lines, the rule of thirds. As said before, not a big change but enough so that the image will look more pleasing. This is something that you can do in post, but it's better if you make the composition already when shooting, that way you save time and the image quality won't degrade because of unnecessary cropping of the image.

One thing I've learned with the time is to get close. This you can do either by using a long tele-lens, good for shy subjects or you can always use your feet if you are photographing static or less shy subjects. So, how close is enough? Depends, but I really like those frame filling shots where the subject fills the whole frame or at least almost. You can always make images of animals from a distance, but when you get close enough the image will be more intimate.

 Remember not only to get close but focus on the eyes too, if your subject have eyes. With frame filling shots there won't be any distracting factors and the viewer can concentrate fully on the main thing, the subject.
 So the subject is important, but you have to remember that the composition can make the subject stand out. Try to leave all the distracting details out of the frame either (the best option) when you shoot or in post, when cropping the image on your computer. And  one more way to emphasize your subject is to fill the frame.
  This was about the subject, but then came the light and that's something I'm going to write about in some other post.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Right angle viewfinder

  I really love to shoot from low angles, but the problem so far has been that it's quite a challenge to do it. Placing my camera on the ground and trying to see something from the viewfinder is hard. One solution is a camera with an articulating screen. The problem at least with my D5100 is that the AF don't work as well as I would like when trying to auto focus in the liveview-mode. A good solution is a right angle viewfinder. Nikon has their own, but that price..! So if you are not interested in investing 300 € in a small piece of plastic and glass you might find the Opteca Professional 1X-2.5X right angle viewfinder interesting, I got one and it works pretty well. The package comes with six different mounting attachments so you can use the same angle finder in Nikon, Canon, Samsung, Pentax etc. cameras. The down side with the attachments is that they are plastic and in my opinion not very good quality plastic. I broke mine after a couple of times out in the field, so this a thing you might want to be careful with, don't be rough with the small plastic thingies. Other vice I'm pretty satisfied with it. It's solid, and works as it should. There is a switch to change the magnification from 1X to 2.5X, but I haven't found it useful yet and besides in the 2.5X position it's pretty much impossible to see the shutter values in the viewfinder so that's one more reason why I'm not using it.

Here's a few images which can tell for what purpose I got mine...

 Groups of flowers or...

 ...just one isolated but from a very low angle.

Reptiles and amphibians are a very good low angle subject.

  Still waiting for  the first snakes to emerge from the hibernation.

The right angle finder works in pet photography too.

   Down low without any pain in the neck or awkward strange positions. I'm sure that this small piece of equipment will be in hard use.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Here comes the spring!

  It's still January and I guess it should be freezing cold outside, and indeed it is once in a while, but then there are those days when the sun shines and the temperatures rise up to somewhere between +10 and +15 degrees Celsius, and that's when it happens... the tiny small invertebrates comes out from their hides and it's time to attach the macro lens and get out. Here's a few images as an early starter for the spring...

Monday, January 14, 2013

"Who would believe such pleasure from a wee ball o' fur?" - Irish Saying

  I've made quite a few images of cats during these past years and I still find them a nice subject to photograph. Right now there is four cats in our household and honestly, I sometimes feel there is just four too many of them. But as the Iris saying quoted above says, there are moments when when these selfish little fellows even give you some good moments. On a cold day they warm you, those funny kittens making you laugh and when having a bit of stress petting a cat can work as a reliever and of course those images. When not having any money to go and shoot big cats you can always stay at home and shoot small cats with big egos.

 So, here follows a few images of cats...

                       Cats eat a lot, no matter big or small...

                 ...Food makes them sleepy...
                       ... And it's time to close the eyes.

                      Once open again it might seem a bit boring, but just for a while...

                     ...You can always climb a tree...

                  ...Check out if the new neighbors have moved in...

...Climb up a bird feeder and see if the flying meatballs would fly to the mouth...

                       ...Or just smell flowers and  wonder...

                       ...Until it has once again come time to take a nap. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

  Just for the fun, a picture from the archive...
                             ...A tree devouring a stop sign. I guess you can't stop the nature.