Category Archives: Spring
I went out tonight looking for a nice, easy sunset photo on the river. Turned out a lot of other folks, of course, had in mind on such a beautiful evening to fish. I started down a narrow trail hoping to find some overlook that would give me a view of the sunset and the water, without the fishermen, but it was not to be. Turns out the more I walked down the trail the further I got from the water.
Eventually I came to a small glade with hundreds of tiny flowers, all sorts of different colors and shapes. There was little breeze, but the trees were thick and the light dim, not the sort of environment that lends itself easily to capturing tiny, lovely flowers. But I set up my tripod hoping a long exposer would do the trick. I tried lots of different things, but nothing quite came out the way I envisioned. I was just starting to think of how I might tweak the images into my vision in Lightroom, when I realized I had my flash with me. Shooting flowers doesn’t generally call to mind strobe lighting, but I decided to give it a shot.
I flipped down the wide angle panel as it was the only diffuser I had available and handheld it behind and above right of the camera (I had my wireless flash trigger with me as well). I still wasn’t getting exactly what I wanted, but I was a lot closer. I took several shots and different exposures and holding the light at slightly different angles.
At home and loaded everything up into Lightroom and decided to give its new HDR merge a try. I’ve only had one other attempt at HDR that I was happy with, so my hopes weren’t high, but I was really pleased with how it came out. It’s not easy for me to get definition out of a completely white flower, but HDR and flash photography seems to have done the trick.
This is another shot I got in my back yard the other day when I was too lazy to get out until the day was almost done. I think I nudged the contrast on it a bit high but it’s striking.
One more shot of this young man’s senior portrait session. It’s another example of how I tried to take a brown season and turn it to my advantage. Rather than go for strait-up black and white or sepia, I adjusted contrast and exposure. The result is a very striking background and foreground. The colors around the subject are very muted without needing to resort to the trick of using layer masks to bring out the color on the subject while keeping the rest black and white. That particular technique is overused, I think (thought I have done it myself) and I think this offers a far more dramatic result because it doesn’t look black and white while still giving much the same effect. The deeper shadows give it more emotion and even more impact, I think.
I’m sure some sharp-eyed follower will be quick to point out that this antique farm implement isn’t really a thresher. Although I’ve lived all my life in rural Iowa I have no idea what this thing really is, but it isn’t really important either. What matters is the young man with the bright smile I made sit uncomfortably atop it while I encouraged him to “look natural,” whatever that might mean in this context. Well, what it means in this case is exactly what you see here.
It’s terribly, abnormally cold for this late in the year in Iowa. We’ve only had a couple of days above 60 degrees, and the ground is still brown and trees are still without a bud. Parents and their seniors are getting desperate for attractive outdoor scenes for the most important portraits most of them have had so far.
This day was one of the nicer ones we’ve had so far, but there was still not a patch of green to be seen. I assured the anxious mother that this would be fine. If people are paying attention to the scene, then I haven’t done my job as a photographer.
Conversion to black and white, a bit of sepia, and tonal contrast via Silver Effects really brought out the trees in the background but nothing can distract from this young man’s brilliant smile and easy demeanor. I complimented the natural light from the left with a diffused flash to the right to bring out some definition in his face, hair and coat.
Thresher by Anthony Bopp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Well that’s a bit of a provocative title, especially coming from the guy who quotes Ansel Adams in the signature of all his emails: “There are no rules for good photographs. There are only good photographs.” If there are no rules, then that kind of makes cheating pretty unlikely, doesn’t it?
However, I think there are some things a photographer can do that are likely to increase the visibility of an image among casual viewers. Macro photography is a good example. Who doesn’t give a double-take to a 1900 pixel wide image of a ladybug, regardless of how poorly focused or lit it is?
High-speed strobe photography is another. How many of us have tried our hand at the drop of water photograph? (Parenthetically, this technique was invented by Harold Edgerton, whom my mother used to tell me is a distant relative, though I have never been able to confirm this and remain highly skeptical.) (Also parenthetically, I myself have never attempted do do a photograph like this, though I’m not ruling it out.)
Yet another way, of course, is to take an image from an angle not generally seen by the general public. This used to be easier than it is today. An image of the city taken from a hot air balloon would have been impressive back in the day. Now you can get something very much like it from Google Earth.
Well, here’s my attempt to get undeserved hits on my blog with a mediocre image. There’s not much of a subject here, nor anything much in the way of color. But the only way you’re going to see something like it is to lay down with the side of your head squelched in the mud. I took it at a very tight aperture and relatively long shutter (though not as much as I’d have liked) to give some fluidity to the water – if that makes sense. This is another shot with the camera mounted upside down on the tripod, just an inch or so from the ground.
Just to see if I can get even more hits yet, I’ve stuck this mediocre photo into a blog with a controversial title – a fourth way that one might commonly use to to get undeserved views.
But, you know, if I got you to click on the link to Harold Edgerton’s site, then this post hasn’t been completely wasted. It’s certainly worth the visit. And he might be a relation.
How To Cheat At Photography by Anthony Bopp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
While this may appear to be a skull prop from the next Alien movie, it’s actually a bit of driftwood I found on the shore of my favorite wildlife area. I imagine it’s the root of a tree blown out of the ground from the terrible wind storm we had here nearly two years ago.Water and weather have been working at it ever since and left it in a visually striking condition, though I fear this photograph doesn’t do it justice.
I would like to have taken this at a much tighter f-stop to get a bit more depth of field out of it, but I was in a very awkward place by the side of the river. I wasn’t able to use the tripod there, nor was I able to kneel or find any other posture that would give me a reasonable stable base to shoot from. I was sort of squatting and hunched at the same time, and I simply wasn’t able to hold the camera steady enough to risk anything slower than 1/250 shutter speed.
Driftwood 3 by Anthony Bopp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
The other day I had a really bad day. By the end of it I was feeling useless, obsolete, and forgotten. I was growing increasingly aware that my advancing years are coming quickly, and a new day is dawning faster than I can keep up with, much like the sun to an unprepared landscape photographer.
I needed a good dose of photo-therapy. I needed to remind myself that there is something I can do well. It was cold – near freezing – and a biting north wind was blowing. There were good reasons not to go. That kind of weather tends to make me clumsy and sloppy, rushing thing. Not only could it mean bad photographs, but given where I planned to shoot – quite near a river – it could mean ruined equipment.
But I went anyway and I’m glad I did. I didn’t stay long, less than an hour. I froze my butt off. But for some reason extreme low angle shots spoke to me and I gave it my best. This is one of them. The camera was mounted upside down under the tripod, between its legs and nearly brushing the ground. It was so low it was impossible to see through the viewfinder. Even the LCD screen was an iffy proposition.
This is the kind of B&W I’ve always dreamed of taking, but never quite pulled off before. High contrast and visually striking, fairly sharp, but nothing blown out.
I felt a lot better at the end of the day, and reminded myself not to go places that are too dark, and too unforgiving.
Don’t Go There by Anthony Bopp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Anyone remember the first time I posted this photo? I mentioned at the time it was a photo I could imagine myself returning to. I always thought some better post-processing could bring out the clouds more. The original image was a pale comparison to what I actually experienced that day.
Nearly a year later I decided finally to return, and I think this is one of my first reworks on this blog. Someone with an eagle eye can probably prove me wrong. Anyway, I was able this time to bring a lot more drama to the image and really get the texture of the clouds to pop, much closer to what was actually in the sky that evening. I’m much happier with the general composition too. Last year I was unreasonably obsessed with standard image sizes, and I was determined to make this one fit in an 8×10. I also tried 16×9, but neither size does this composition justice, so I sized it in the best way for the image itself this time.
This time around, I think I’ve come up with something I won’t feel the need to return to. But who know how my post-processing skills will develop in another year?
Mushroom Revisited by Anthony Bopp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
This is something from my backlog taken as winter was making it’s last stab at the world, fighting desperately for one more day of life. I never really thought much of the image until I toned down the exposure of the sky and saw the fantastic textures of the clouds, as well as the ghostly trees whispering against the horizon. I remember walking along the exposed banks from a river significantly low after a dry winter, bundled in a coat against the clammy weather of a dwindling day, and feeling there must surely be a photograph here somewhere.
There was, but it took me 6 months to discover it.
To get this effect, I dropped the Light tones all the way to -100 and increased the Darks to +87. Adjusting highlights up to 37 helped to bring out the texture in the sky. I increased saturation of orange and yellow, and also added yellow and orange split toning to the highlights and shadows.
In a blatant attempt to increase my Facebook followers, I’ve posted a high resolution version of this image over there and it will be available nowhere else. Check it out here.
Here’s something left over from over a year ago that I revisited. I wasn’t able to find a satisfactory angle on the this unusual-looking tree. The scene was incredibly busy and it was hard to distinguish the interesting feature in the frame.
As a challenge to myself I decided to go back to some of my early work to see if I could make something out of an image I’d originally rejected, Continue reading