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FIRST LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER

JULY 2016

GREETINGS

Get ready for a new look. No, my hair is not getting all cut off, but the new look is going to be with the website. I'm working with someone who is taking me away from building the site in Dreamweaver to a platform called Squarespace. It's going to be a big change as PayPal will be going away as it has its own shopping cart and a lot of other features. The main reason for the change is to make the site easier to vew and move around on tablets and phones, even though it seems fine when I show things on it on my phone. This will take several months as the person working on it is doing it in their spare time and everyone knows how much of that we have. It will be quite streamlined with better content manager features and the potential to add a blog. Look for more info as the building process moves forward.

FLOWER TECHNIQUES WORKSHOP

The heat was on for the recent flower techniques worrkshop held mainly at the Denver Botanic Gardens and another spot. This is one of the better botanic gardens in the county and our three morning sessions there showed of a different area each day with the opportunity of different flowers each time that brought out different techniques each time out. We were able to spend a good bit of time there but each day is was the participants making the call for when to stop due primarily to temperatures hitting the 100 degree mark, minus the final morning when we finished our loop and people needing to get to the airport after a nice lunch.

The people on the trip couldn't believe we were spending three sessions at the gardens but after the first day when we had made it only about 150 yards down one side they found out how easy it was going to be to take three sessions to cover the gardens. A nice walk through the area may only take an hour or two, photography is a whole different animal. Especially when coupled with learning a lot of new techniques and learning how to look at flower photography with a whole new eye.

They thoroughly enjoyed the process and between the field and room sessions learned a lot about macro and flower photography. We concentrated a lot on the artisitic side of flower photography and by using extension tubes to get in real tight on the subject, they found their artistic eye is there and learned to see things in a whole new perspective. Working with some new techniques, using both the camera and some different accessoreies such as mylar and water glass also added new dimensions to their arsenal.

artistic isolating stamen in flower photography
Selective Focus using 180mm macro lens and 25mm extension tubes at f/3.5

Part of the process of looking at things differently was getting them to think outside the box and not take photos of a full flowers was to dig deep and isolate parts of the whole to isolate pieces and accentuate color, shape and form. In different situations they worked with multiple f-stops in order to get maximum depth of field as well as opening up all the way to have a very limited depth with a soft background. The above shot of isolating a single stamen with nice colors in the background is a good example of what we spent part of one morning doing.

Another day started off at the water lily pond concentrating on a couple of different techniques, both relating to multiple exposure. The first dealt with doing two shots with one in sharp focus and one out of focus and the other with taking four shots or so with turning the camera a little bit each time to give the flower lots of petals for a different look. The session finished with spotting a water lily with a nice shadow on the leaf teamed with a good reflection in the water.

double exposure water lily
Two shot multiple exposure with one in focus and one soft focus

A bit of fun came in the area near the day lily garden where quite a few bees were buzzing around a group of flowers. With them spending a bit of time in one spot while pollinating it made it somewhat easy to get some shots of them, even with macro equipment.

Another technique we worked with dealt with using mylar and water glass. The mylar was used two different ways - wrinkled up and wrapped inside a Pringle's tube with using a wide angle lens at one end and a colorful flower at the other. The other use of mylar was with a smooth sheet and placing it behind a flower or two to create an abstract reflection behind the flower. Water glass is panes of glass that can be purchased at some art stores that is also referred to as stained glass panes. This is based on the textured glass used as shower doors. If placed close to the flower the flower is in focus but the background is wavy. If held further from the flower, the flower and the background is wavy.

Other things worked on was looking for intermingling light and shadows to give depth and flowers where layers could be accentuated. A visit to a rose garden worked out nicely for this last one. The one unfortunate thing with the rose garden was the Japanese beetles had already arrived for the season and were eating up the flowers. Several sections were roped off with signs stating beetle trials were in progress. At the botanic gardens, the one area with a bunch of roses they send someone out there twice a day with a large cup of water knocking the beetles off of the roses into the cups to then dispose of them. It's too bad they have gotten to the point they are destroying so many roses in and around Denver.

isolation flower photography
Isolation - Photo by trip participant Kathleen Callaghan

CAMERA GEAR FOR SALE

Not sure how many of you know who Bob Rozinski was but he was an acquaintance here in Denver with his partner Wendy Shattil. They have done some tremendous photo work over the years and he passed away recently. Wendy is trying to sell off a bit of his equipment as she doesn't need two of everything and I told her I would help get the word out by providing a list of what's available and what she's trying to get for it. If you see anything on the list below you can contact her at wendy@dancingpelican.com. All of the gear is in A+ condition as they take very good care of their gear. Take note of the great deal on the Canon 600mm lens. If you have ever thought about going big, you better act quick as this is sure to go in no time at all.

Canon 600 L f4 (non-IS) with original case, hood, lens cover – excellent working condition, though some cosmetic wear – $2500
Canon 5D Mark III body, charger, battery – $1950
Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens for extreme closeups (1 to 5x lifesize) with pouch & strap – mint with Canon Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX with pouch, cords, ring – mint – Lite and lens together – $1450
Canon TS-E 90mm (tilt & shift) with case $900  
Canon 180 L f3.5 macro - $900 
Canon 2x Extender - $145
Canon Speedlite 420EX - $55
Canon 25mm extension tubes - make offer
Hasselblad 500 ELM motorized film body, 150mm f/4 Zeiss lens, 45 degree viewfinder prism, film back & extras - $760
Kenneth Olsen high speed flash system (1/15-30,000 sec.) 2 control boxes, 8 bulbs, 7 cables – for hummingbird and other extreme stop action photography – make offer
DeLorme Earthmate PN-40 waterproof handheld GPS – with manuals and software - $135
LowePro Commercial AW shoulder bag - large - holds 2 pro SLRs, 6-8 lenses and accessories - $70

THINKING ABOUT FALL PHOTO WORKSHOPS

Now that summer is here, it's time to start thinking about fall and the many wondrous locales for planning a trip to capture the beauty of this season with colors blanketing the hillsides, lakes and streams in different parts of the country. First Light has a series of falll color workshops this year covering lots of territory - Wyoming, Colorado, Wisconsin and Maine. Visit the workshops page today to register and reserve your spot. Topics covered on all trips include multiple forms of abstract photography with trees; using various filters to their advantage - split and variable ND, polarizers; importance of waiting beyond the golden hour, fine tuning your eye to look for details and more.

Want to try something completely different with your night photography in the Tetons? A check of the lunar calendar shows we have a full moon just before the trip starts so that means the first night or two has a fairly large moon coming up after dark. This can allow up to 30 seconds or more of exposure at the right locations having the moon illuminate a cabin or the mountains. Talk about some different images from here to show off to your friends or camera club. This plus some other great techniques and hidden locations will offer you a whole new perspective on one of the jewels of our national park system.

FRANCE WORKSHOP 2017

Despite the recent issues in France, the trip for 2017 is still a go. We are not there when any major celebrations or events are taking place so we won't be where there are any real large crowds. Three people have already signed up so if you want to make sure you get a spot, sign up now.

Come capture the essence of France from two very different perspectives for a trip you will remember for years to come. The Paris and Nice trip is now set up and ready for people to sign up. I had been waiting for the Monet Gardens to open in April to connect with them about extended hours and this will be included one day while in Paris. This 10-day trip will feature four nights in Nice and five nights in Paris. The train ride between the two is included in the price. The trip is packed with lots of great spots in both areas. Visit www.firstlighttours.com/france-workshop.html to read all about this trip. Contact if you have any questions.

FALKLAND ISLANDS 2018

It might seem a bit early, but my January 2018 Penguins of the Falkland Island trip is fully set up and ready for sign ups. It took a bit more work getting all of the islands set up but it's pretty much a repeat of the 2016 trip that everyone enjoyed quite a bit. the only slight change is one extra day in Stanley at the end of the trip, something people brough up as thinking would be a good idea as there's a bit around town to shoot and previously there wasn't quite enough time. Would like to have five people for the trip but can take up to seven depending on the mix of males and females for bed space on one of the islands.

PHOTO QUOTE OF THE MONTH

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”  ~ Ansel Adams

HUGE HUNT'S PHOTO SPECIAL

Now through August 31, 2016 or until supplies run out they are offering the Canon Pixma PRO 10 printer at $379.99 before rebate (Canon sells it on their website for $699.99). If you purchase the printer plus a package of 13x19x50 sheets of Canon Semi-Gloss or Luster paper, $50, Canon will send a $250 mail-in rebate. Your final cost is $129.99 plus the paper! You can't buy a decent document printer for this price, let alone an exhibition quality photo printer. If you purchase a qualifying Canon camera at the same time, Canon will increase the rebate to $350, for a final cost of $29.99 plus the paper for the printer. Call me for details.

If you'd rather have a printer that will handle up to 17x22" you should consider the NEW Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 17" Professional Photographic Inkjet Printer. The PRO-1000 uses twelve  80ml ink cartridges which really lower your cost per ml of ink and gives you an even better color gamut. The PRO-1000 is $1,299.99. A $100 mail in rebate is available if you purchase a 17”x22” 25 Sheet package of Semi-Gloss, Luster or Premium Matte paper, $99, at the same time. Your final cost is $1,199.99. If you purchase a qualifying Canon DSLR and the paper, your rebate will increase to $200.

Contact Alan Samiljan, at 781-662-8822 or by email at alansamhunts@gmail.com. His hours are usually 8:30-5:45pm, Monday, Tuesday, Friday & Saturday. If you leave a message or send an email, he'll get right back to you.

DIGITAL CORNER - PHOTOGRAPHING FLOWERS WITH MYLAR

Mylar is a topic that some people love and some who want to avoid it. For those liking to bring an artistic touch to their flower photography this silvery material most commonly used for balloons can be quite an addition to the arsenal of tools used to get interesting images. This is a technique that can be used both at home and inn the field. With the controlled settings at home, techniques can be fine tuned before heading to the field while some are best to just explore while outside with a variety of flowers and conditions present.

One of the ways I like to use mylar is to line a Pringle's tube with it. This works best with a crinkled up piece of mylar that is just a little longer than the tube. Use tape to keep the mylar in place in the tube. The way to use this is to use a wide angle lens as you want to pull in the colors and designs that are shown reflecting on the material along the sides of the tube. Focus on the flower at the end of the tube and let the abstract of the colors fill the rest of the shot. This is a technique that is best done hand-held as the tube needs to be held on the end of the lens and then moved arounnd to find the right composition for the reflections up the sides.

A bright flower works best as the stronger the colors being reflected the more dynamic the resulting image. This is one shot where you tend to move away from avoiding placing the main subject in the center as an unbalanced shot looks a bit strange as you are trying to get a kaleidoscope effect. A wider aperture works fine for this in two ways - 1. It allows for a faster shutter speed so the flowers at the end can be in focus and 2. the sides leading up the tube don't need to be inn focus.

What's surprising about using a Pringle's tube is its dimensions fit perfectly around some wide angle lenses and inside the lip of others so the job of holding it in place is taken away. Another way to get this tunnel effect is to just have some tape with you in the field and roll a piece of mylar up and wrap it around the lens and tape it into place. This works just as well and the job of carrying the tube into the field is done away with but I have a bag filled with a variety of gadgets for doing different things with flowers in the field such as a Plamp to hold things in place, water glass, and different pieces of mylar.

mylar tube flower abstract
A mylar lined Pringle's tube can help create abstract images of flowers

  1. On workshops, I usually wait for a windy day or the last day of shooting to bring out these extra tools. They are a perfect change of pace and add a bit of fun to flower photography as they open up a whole new world of images that can be taken. Once getting started, it's easy to get wrapped up in the fun new shots now available.

  2. Besides shooting througha tube, using a single sheet of mylar is another option for creating abstract images of flowers. Again, brightly colored flowers work best when doing thiis or any mylar technique. There are probably other ways to implement mylar into shots and if anyone has a different way pass it on to me and I'll put a short note about it in a future newsletter.

    Holding a sheet of mylar behind a single or group of flowers allows for the flower to be in sharp focus and the background to be a wash of color somwhat in the shape of the flowers. A macro lens works better for this in order to get tighter shots so extraneous light, sky and other flowers don't get in the shot. If including the flower and the reflection in the shot, enough depth of field is needed for the flower but not the reflection. If shooting only the reflection in the mylar less DOF is needed as the emphasis of the shot is a wavy reflection that does show what flower is being used for the reflection.

  3. While this can be done with just one person, it's best to have someone else around to help with this technique. They can be used to move and bend the mylar around until it's in the right position for the best result. A smoother piece of mylar works best for this so the reflections take on the form of the flower better rather than a crinkled sheet. It's best to have them bend or angle the mylar sheet towards the ground a bit so the sky does not get in the reflection causing a lot of contrast.

    To try this alone, a piece of mylar can be taped onto a piece of cardboard so it's easier to hold in place and shoot at the same time. This takes away from being able to fold it but good results can still be created.

  4. Be aware a little bit of cropping might need to be done with this second technique to get ride of a few extra items in the reflection as it's pretty hard to get that part of it perfectly clean, especially in the field. When shooting in a controlled setting such as home these other elements can be controlled better.

  5. Some, but not all, art stores carry sheets of mylar so if there isn't one nearby do a search online to buy some. Typically it comes in very large sheets that can be cut into smaller squares that can be used for different techniques.


    Salto Chico on Pehoe Lake
    A single sheet can be maneuvered behind a flower to create some interesting effects.