Eye-Catchers

By Hal Tretbar

The other day I was having lunch at the Velvet Elvis in Patagonia when I had an Eye-catcher moment. There it was: a shaft of light hitting the table next to us. It grabbed my eye and before I could look away I had my cell phone out to record the interesting light and composition.

Random House Dictionary defines an eye-catcher as a thing or person that attracts attention. For me it has to be something unusual to get my attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a very difficult exposure because it was so high contrast. The brilliant back light was illuminating the silver colored utensils on a dark table. If I exposed for the bright light I would have no detail in the shadows, so I just under exposed one stop and played with the image in Photoshop.

Nokia  Lumina   ISO 100   f2.2   1/701 second

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I returned to my car in the parking lot, I saw the mid day sun bouncing off of this wheel’s shiny rim. The reflection hit the shadow between the cars and illuminated the parking stripes. Interesting lighting and composition, I thought, and out came the cell phone.

Nokia    ISO 100   f2.2   1/370 second

It was late in a winter afternoon in Flagstaff. I came out of the door and my eye caught the setting sun peeking through the trees to spotlight the melting ice pile. My Nikon was handy so I set a small aperture for depth of field and to make the sun’s rays radiate.

Nikon  600  ISO 160   f22   1/150 second

Most eye-catchers for me have to do with unusual lighting but not always. One day I was sitting in the patio with nothing on my mind.  Then I looked at the sky. The interesting clouds caught both my eye and my brain. Wow, I thought, that really is a mare’s tail. The cell phone was ready to get the best shot of the wispy patterns.

A mare’s tail is defined as a long narrow cirrus cloud whose flowing appearance somewhat resembles a horse’s tail.

Nokia    ISO 100   f.2.2   1/935 second

So be ready for that moment when your eye catches something really interesting and dramatic. Grab your camera or cell phone and have some fun.

Hal Tretbar is a trip leader with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.

Before and After Image

By Amy Horn

During a recent visit at the Wildlife World Zoo in Litchfield Park, AZ, I captured this monkey photo in mid-afternoon light. I loved the moment when the monkey walked across the log, but didn’t feel the mid-afternoon light added to the photo. I couldn’t go back later, so I thought about what would make a stronger image. First, isolating the monkey from the background would help the animal to stand out. So, I used the Adjustment Brush in Lightroom and increased exposure while decreasing clarity, this evened out the exposure and softened the background. Next, I converted the image to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro. The “fine art, high key, framed” preset gave me the look I wanted. And like that, I transformed a mid-afternoon light into something better! Follow the process through the images below.

 

 

 

 

Amy Horn is an Instructor with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

How to Get Better Wildlife Photos

By Amy Horn

I have dreams capturing wildlife photos on an African Safari. It’s not in my travel plans yet, but if I get the chance, I want to be ready! If this is an experience you are planing, you may want to prepare too. How do you prepare for such a phenomenal experience? Practice. This sounds obvious, but do musicians perform without practicing? No, they don’t. So, if you have a trip planned to photograph wildlife, practice locally to master the technique and your equipment. Here is an example of practicing: in a Nature Photography class I teach at NAU, I took my students to a local pond to photograph waterfowl. The waterfowl are accustomed to people and are not easily startled so this gave the beginning wildlife students a little more time to get each shot. I challenged them to capture images in flight and static scenarios. After spending 90 minutes at the pond they had a much better handle on reading behaviors of the waterfowl, settings on their camera to use and being prepared for the fast movement. Keep practicing and focus on the following techniques for stronger wildlife images.

  1. Know your camera – Our cameras are amazing. Whether you own a DSLR, mirrorless or even a mobile phone camera, know your gear! The drive mode on your camera captures a burst of photos giving you several images to choose from. Set the focus for your subject. If the birds are in flight, use continuous focus and select several focus points. The camera will assist you in finding the subject. Some cameras offer focus tracking. Research your camera by reading the manual or watching videos on your manufacturer’s website to select the best settings for wildlife.
  2. Be ready – If you are chimping on your LCD panel viewing your last shot, then you will miss the shot right now. Keep your finger on the shutter and the camera up to your eye. There is nothing worse than missing the shot!
  3. AvocetComposition – We connect more with wildlife images when we are at their eye level. So get low and focus on the eyes. If your wildlife is moving, always leave more room in the frame in front of the animal so that they can “move into the frame.”

Whether you have an African Safari planned or want to capture other wildlife, have a little fun at your local pond to master your equipment and camera techniques.

Amy Horn is an Instructor with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Front Yard Photography

By Megan P Galope

If you’re searching for a subject to photograph, sometimes you don’t have to look further than your back (or front) yard. There are the usual plants and flowers, but if you pay attention, you may find something more interesting. A few weeks ago, I went out to get the mail. When walking under the tree in our front yard, I noticed something on the ground. Upon further examination, it appeared to be owl pellets (along with bird poop):

I looked up with the hopes that I would see some evidence of an owl, and this beauty was looking down at me:

Dr. Hoo (a great horned owl) has been coming to visit a few days each week ever since. It pays to pay attention, because you never know what you might find in your front (or back) yard!

Megan P Galope is a Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.

Using Photography to Help Others

By Lisa Hanard

Whether you are new to photography or a seasoned veteran, you are probably looking for ways to improve your skill level. If you are new to photography and looking to build your portfolio or resume, volunteer work has additional benefits. Volunteering not only builds your resume but is great for networking and making new friends. Here are some ways that you can use your photographic talents to help enrich the lives of others.

Volunteermatch.org is a searchable internet database. https://www.volunteermatch.org/  Once you build your profile you can search for volunteer opportunities all over the world. You can narrow your search to specific causes that you have interest in helping, such as animals, human rights, or sports. You can also narrow your search to specific skillsets such as photography or graphic design. Photographers are generally needed for photographing fund-raising events for charities such as running races, or fund-raising dinners.

If you are a portrait photographer, Portraits of Love might be a great opportunity. The PhotoImaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMDA), and The USO have joined forces to send 10,000 free family portraits to active military families around the globe this holiday season. http://www.pmdaportraitsoflove.com/ .

Reach out to your local organizations and clubs. Churches, Schools, and even dog parks can benefit from what you have to offer. If you love to run, volunteer with your local running club to take free photos at a race. Offer to take photos of school events such as football games or musical performances. Most local animal shelters or pet rescues need talented people to photograph pets that are available for adoption. Your photography can save a furry life.

Photography is a way to bring people together by giving them a common experience. Sharing photos can help create a sense of

community, bring members closer by engaging them, and encourage people to interact with others. I volunteer my time taking photos of dogs playing at my local dog park. By posting them and sharing them on our dog park social media page, our dog park family has grown closer together and many friendships have come from it. Whatever you choose to do, good luck and happy shooting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Hanard is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Blinkies

By Pam Henrichsen

What are blinkies? Blinkies are one more tool in your camera to help with the exposure of your image. They help you establish how far to go in the image brightening direction. Most SLR cameras have a setting called “highlight warning.” It will make any overexposed areas “flash” or “blink” when you preview your images on your camera’s screen. Most photographers affectionately call this flashing the “blinkies.”

Check your camera’s manual if your preview is not currently set for the blinkies. You may need to activate the “highlight warning” in your settings menu first.

Once you have adjusted your settings, if you are a Nikon user, preview an image and press the up or down button (near the Ok button) until you see the highlights flashing or outlined. If you chose this setting, your camera will remember this setting for the next image you preview. Keep in mind you will only see the blinkies if you have overexposed areas in your image.

Canon users can accomplish the same thing by pressing the “display” or “info” button, depending on the model of your camera, until the blinkies show up on your camera screen while previewing images.

By using this tool and other simple tools that your camera provides you, you can easily adjust your exposure and see how to improve the overall quality of your images.

Pam Henrichsen is a trip leader with Arizona Highways PhotScapes.

Who says you need to travel far to capture great animal photographs.

By Jon Vemo

I’ve always thought that to be able to capture great photographs of animals, it had to be in the wild, which generally meant traveling to some place far away. Well, I’ve learned that that is not necessarily the case, and often your local zoo or wildlife preserve can provide just such an opportunity.

On a trip back to my home town of Seattle, I decided to spend one afternoon at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. Though I had lived in Seattle for 35 years before moving to Arizona, I do not remember visiting the zoo since I was a kid. I recall hearing many great accolades over the years about how Woodland Park had become a world class zoo, however I was not expecting to see surroundings that were as native to the inhabitants, as was possible in Seattle (Giraffe’s are not native to the Pacific Northwest, if you weren’t aware, however the habitat created was close as could be).

Wow was I surprised and impressed with what I saw, truly a world class zoo. However what I think impressed me the most, was the variety of animals and the habitat created for them. Yes there are barriers, fences, glass partitions, and other means to provide separation and protection for the animals (yes, zoo visitors can be quite raucous…), but I was truly surprised in the way in which this separation was camouflaged so as to reduce the sensation of “I’m at the zoo.”

Photographing at the zoo can be challenging; crowds, fences, glass partitions, etc. but that does not mean all your photographs have to look like they were captured at the zoo. To help you capture photographs that do not look like ‘zoo pictures’, I offer the following suggestions on how to capture photographs that do not look like they were taken at the local zoo.

Use a long lens and wide aperture.
Using a long lens allows you to better control depth of field, as well as reach into your subject (and exclude undisrable elements). Using a long lens, held close to a fence or glass barrier, with a wide aperture, will greatly blur, if not remove, the traces of a barrier…

Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, WA

Patience.
When photographing animals, I want either a completely natural image, or one that is truly unique and interesting. To capture either of these, patience and a steady hand are required. Having familiarity with your target subject and its natural actions…

Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, WA

Composition.
Frame your image with the subjects natural tendencies in mind (OK, so maybe this isn’t completely natural, but I couldn’t resist)…

Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, WA

Bold.
Create a natural image, one that compliments that animals surroundings, such that it truly appears to be in the wild. Doing so will draw on the above suggestions; composition, patience and a long lens to capture those desired elements…

Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, WA

While capturing images in the wild, whether being in Alaska or while on an African safari (which remain on my bucket list), I know that I can create great wildlife images, applying the above techniques, a little closer to home.

Jon Vemo is a Volunteer with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes