Desert Spring Wildflower Season
The desert spring wildflower season was weak this year. To top it off, the wind blew at about 25 mph the whole weekend. Even tiny flowers just 1/4″ off the ground were bent at 90 degrees. I’ve learned over the years that a good flower season doesn’t always mean a good flower season for photography. If you were willing to hike 2-4 miles into the canyons, there were some nice blooms but, there, the venturi effect increased the wind speed even more.
Sometimes, PDL (pure dumb luck) intervenes like this field of desert marigolds along San Felipe Valley Road on the way home. I got down low with my Canon 7D and Sigma 10-20 ultra-wide angle lens at f/22 and 20mm on a Gitzo 1228 tripod. I knew if I focused about 20 feet away (the second fence post,) my depth of field would be from about 2.5 ft to infinity.
At home, using DP-HDR by Mediachance, I confirmed what I suspected. There was too much wind for the usual 3-frame HDR. The flowers were just a mass of yellow. Opening it in Photoshop Elements, I added “pop” to the sky and mountains with Topaz Adjust. Popping the background did funky things to the marigolds in the foreground so I added a layer mask and revealed the original foreground in the layer beneath. Voila, instant fake, single frame HDR. More
Persistence Pays Off
Butch has taken a bunch of classes with me over the past year. Like many people, he just wanted photos of his grandkids and dog, nothing too strenuous or complex, or so he thought. He bought a Nikon D90, an assortment of lenses and jumped into the deep end. In the beginning, his effors were so painful, I didn’t have the heart to tell him what I really thought.
One thing about Butch is that he’s persistent. He never took offense when, after realizing he had a skin like a rhino, I started critiquing his photos as I would any student. I could essentially tell him his latest attempt sucked as long as I also added why it sucked so badly. He took all my critiques in stride.
Last week, he sent me a photo that knocked my socks off. It’s not perfect but it was head-and-shoulders above anything he had previously sent me. The one thing that really made this photo “pop” was his use of fill flash. Notice how the sun was almost directly overhead. Without fill, the sax player’s eyes would have been lost in the shadow cast by his eye brow. With fill, he has that ever important catchlight to highlight the intensity in his eyes. Combined with the puffed cheeks and furrowed forehead, this is a “decisive moment” in this guy’s day. He’s in the groove and Butch captured that moment.
There are four little things I’d edit in this photo. See if you can spot the four issues and leave a comment below. Otherwise, this is a major milestone for Butch and I applaud his persistence. More
FREE Lens Webinar
Saturday, May 15 at 11AM CDT (noon EDT, 10A, MDT, 9AM PDT), Roger Cicala, the man who owns ~3000 lenses from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Tamron, Sigma, Tokina, Panasonic, etc will explain what makes some lenses better than others. If you’re wondering which to buy and how best to use it, Roger has the answer, backed up with years of experience. What other company have you ever seen with a Lifetime Rating of 9.98/10 on ResellerRatings.com? Click here to register for the webinar.
Macro, Wide Angle & Ultra Wide Lenses
Here are some more student photos from the Spring Desert Wildflower Workshop in March. The workshop concentrated on macro, wide angle and ultra wide angle lenses and these four photos demonstrate the concepts we learned and practiced.
The first two photo use a wide angle 28mm lens to incorporate flowers as foreground anchors in a lndscape. By getting low, the first photo makes the small patch of desert daisys appear to be much larger than it really was. In the second photo (also 28mm), careful composition hides the fact that this was taken at the visitors’ center amid a clutter of lights, sidewalks, cars and people.
Student Photos from Anza-Borrego
Here are the first 3 student photos from the Spring Desert Wildflower workshop in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The first day covered wildflowers as elements in landscape photography. Notice how we shot from a low angle to make the flowers appear more numerous and dense than they really were. Click to read more
Yes Virginia, There Really Are Burrowing Owls
After 3 fruitless years of searching, I finally found and photographed burrowing owls in the wild. In fact, within one hour, I saw 4 of the cute critters and managed to get a photo with two in one frame.
The originals of two are shown below. If you can’t efficiently and effectively create the above photos in a few minutes with Photoshop Elements, you’re not getting full value out of PSE. Notice how I removed twigs in front of the owls for a better photo. The third was just cropped and had curves adjusted.
Desert Spring Wildflowers
The temperatures started warming up in the desert on Friday, 3/12 so we should be in peak bloom this coming Saturday and Sunday. There’s still space in the workshop. Remember, past students receive a 10% discount on all classes.
Here are some photos from last week. We used wide angle lenses to make small flower patches appear huge as well as telephoto lenses to “stack” the scene so everything seems closer together. The students were most amazed at the world as seen through a macro lens and learning to control depth of field in macros.
For a great place to stay, I recommend a cute trailer at Leapin’ Lizard RV Ranch in Ocotillo Wells, just 15 miles from Borrego Springs. I discovered it this past week and am totally amazed at what Deborah and Siegfried Kunkler have built there. They even erected two 40′ WiFi antennas so the whole park has free WiFi. Best of all, the trailers are as little as $60/night.
Topaz Labs FREE Webinar, April 7
Eric Yang of Topaz Labs will present a FREE webinar on Wednesday, April 7 at noon Central Daylight Savings Time (CDT). That’s 1PM EDT, 11AM MDT and 10AM PDT. To register, click here. If there’s still room, you’ll receive an e-mail confirmation in a few days.
If you belong to a camera club or other group, you’re welcome to project the webinar on a screen for the whole group to view.