June Beetle on Cacti Flower, Selby Botanical Garden, Sarasota
I have done very little macro photography but when we planned our visit to Selby Gardens, I thought it might be the perfect place to experiment. I didn’t take my tripod and I quickly discovered that it’s almost impossible to capture a sharp image without one when doing macro shots. But it was fun … learning and experimenting with the light and my camera settings but I’ve got a long way to go to capture good macro shots!
This was captured with my Nikon D810, 60mm, edited in Lightroom.
Lioness, Ngala Wildlife Preserve, South Africa
This lioness from the Birmingham pride had just risen from her suckling cubs when I noticed the wound on her nose, probably caused from a scrap with another lion. It’s a wild wild world they live in with no guarantees that they will see tomorrow.
The King of Masai Mara, Kenya.
We came upon this big guy in an open field around dusk on our game drive, just laying there, sniffing the air casually. We had no idea where his pride was or even if he was part of a pride. Young males are forced out of the pride around 2 years old. They form bachelor groups and follow migrating herds until they are strong enough to challenge male lions of other prides. A group of males stay in power in the pride for around three years before another bachelor group takes it over.
He was just one of a number of lions and lionesses we viewed while staying several days at Richard’s River Camp, a private conservancy bordering the Masai Mara in Kenya. Being set in a conservancy means contributing revenue to a conservation area, which has fewer other travelers, and the option to do bush walks and night game drives which are not possible inside the main Mara.
We stopped and watched him for a while. He seemed quite content all alone. It still unnerves me when these wild animals lock eyes with you when they are only 10 or 20 feet away. But at that moment, it was a perfect time to capture a portrait of this majestic wild animal. Captured with a Nikon D810, Tamron 150-600 lens at 350mm zoom, f/8, ISO 1600, 1/250 sec.
Trio of Sandhill Cranes.
They say ‘the best camera is the one you have with you’. This was the case with this photo one evening as I was walking my dogs. There never fails to be something I’d like to photograph during my dog walks in Lakewood Ranch. Birds, gators, sunsets … it’s all here every day. I love the Sandhill Cranes and these three were strolling on the golf hillside as we walked past. Thank goodness for the iPhone! I snapped the photo and later edited in the app DistressedFX and Lightroom.
I thought it came out pretty good and thought I’d try my luck at entering it into the annual Maine Photography Show, since we are summer residents of Maine. I was stoked that it got selected to be included in their exhibit. I actually thought that another image that I entered was better, but it just goes to show …. photography is art and art is subjective! And beauty (or in this case, photos) is in the eye of the beholder.
Wasatch Mountains in Utah.
We were in Utah this past week visiting family and skiing in the Wasatch mountains at Snowbird and Alta. I shot this image with my iPhone from the car coming down the mountain in the late afternoon. I always love the way the mountains frame Salt Lake City as we wind our way down off the mountain. There was nothing special with the original photo so I went to work on the sky. I edited it on my iPhone first with Snapseed to darken the sky and then added the moon with LensLight and some sky dust from the Repix app. Below is the original photo.
Cormorant in Flight.
Next month we are headed to Africa in hopes of spotting the big five – lions, leopards, African elephants, rhinos and Cape buffalos. We’ve been to South Africa before, but this trip we will safari in Kenya, Botswana, Tanzania and South Africa with a couple of other friends. On the previous trip, photography wasn’t my passion and as a result, the photos, were just so so. In anticipation of this trip, I have extensively Googled to death the camera gear I should take. We each have weight restrictions of 33lbs for carry ons on the small puddle jumpers we will be taking to each of the camps, so camera gear has to be minimal. I’d like to take two camera bodies and 3 lens so I’m not having to change lens in the dusty environment, but I’m still undecided. Right now I’m taking a 24-70mm and a 70-200mm but undecided between the 10-24mm or the 28-300mm.
I recently rented and tested the Nikon 80-400mm which would give me more reach but didn’t really see a remarkable difference from the 70-200mm when cropped in. Additionally, I found the 80-400mm a bit slow as you can see in the above photo when I tried to capture the cormorant in flight. It’s ‘SOOC (straight out of the camera)’ and you can see that it’s just not sharp enough. Of course, it could be the user!!! I’ve considered a teleconverter for the 70-200, so that’s my next test. I’d really like to take something in the 400mm to 500mm zoom range, but their weight really make them impractical for this trip, as well as their cost!
So fellow photographers, if you have any additional thoughts on gear, please share!
Brown Pelican diving at Anna Maria Island.
One of my favorite places to capture my favorite bird, the Pelican, is on Anna Maria Island. Oftentimes there are many parents and juveniles, hunting and diving for food off one of the piers, as they were in the above image. The juveniles are similar to the adults, but have a brown neck and head with a grayish bill. I love watching their take offs and awkward landings. Sadly, I noticed one juvenile had some fishing line flowing off his foot when in the air. Not good.
I thought for the ‘Starburst’ challenge, I would cheat! To shoot successful sun flares and starbursts, one needs to use a narrow aperture such as f/22 and for best effects, something physically blocking part of the sun, like the horizon or buildings or trees. I have practiced a bit in the past but with the holidays upon me, I’ve had little time to get out and capture a starburst. So …. as I said, I cheated. I used a great iPhone app called LensLight which has a wide selection of interactive lights such as bokeh, lens flares, light leaks and sunbursts. I don’t use it often, but on the few occasions, it can really pop an image. I hope you think so too.
Happy Holidays, friends.