PHOTOGRAPHING PUPPIES!

By Vickie Uthe

Photographing puppies is like photographing kids, don’t waste time and plan on doing it later because they grow up TOO FAST and there IS no later.

In 2016 my granddaughter got a Dorky. A mix of a Yorkshire Terrier and a Dachshund. A Dorky, cute, right? The puppy lives at Akacia’s dad’s house which means we rarely see her so I KNEW, on this visit, I’d spend a lot of the time shooting and capturing that adorable puppiness before it was all gone.

Plan on this shoot being handheld as I doubt a puppy will stay in shot of a tripod mount. Set you ISO at 400 in good light with the shutter speed at 500 or above. Get as close down to the animal’s level as possible, in other words, don’t stand and shoot from above. Make a sound in hopes they will cock their head, lift their ears and look at you and not run straight at you. It’s a delicate situation.

In this series, she was preoccupied with her leash. You want to try to focus on the eyes, which isn’t always easy as they keep moving. Be sure your camera is set on burst mode and fire away.

What you’re trying to capture is expression and personality.

Another concept I think is important in photography is to add a human to show scale. These images show how really little this puppy is.

They also tucker out pretty quickly so take advantage of their stillness to grab some more cuteness.

And there she is, surveying the situation on her first big hike in Kachina Village.

Take your camera to a friends house who has a new puppy and practice. The other nice thing is these images make great gifts over the years as the puppy moves through life and ages.

Happy shooting!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

 

Plane Bored (Or Just Plain Bored)

By Sara Goodnick

There is an answer to keeping yourself amused when flying, even on long flights, if you keep a camera close by. It’s easier with a mirrorless camera, but a newer cell phone can also work well.

1. Get a window seat in front of the wing, as close as possible to the front, if flying regular class. If you are behind the wing, the exhaust will have a negative effect on the air quality and your images will not be sharp.

2. Bring something to clean the window with, such as a soft cloth. Don’t use your good lens cloth-it might get contaminated with something awful. We were flying out of San Francisco to Hawaii during a gorgeous sunset. I was so happy to have been seated next to a relatively clean window.

3. Watch for interesting land patterns, cloud formations, shadows, storms, story-telling objects. Remember you are moving fast, and they will disappear very quickly! Be ready and don’t hesitate to shoot. Flying low into Phoenix from the NE during monsoon season has great potential for seeing afternoon storms.

Flying into places with a body of water nearby has many possibilities for interesting captures.

4. The images will improve when you take them into an image-processing program. I brought out some contrast and detail in these clouds in Lightroom CC.

5. When you can’t shoot from the window, look around where you are sitting. Ask yourself, “What would this look like through my lens?” This was looking into my glass of ice before I dropped it onto my lap.

Have fun! Then stretch out your back and neck muscles by turning the other way for awhile!

Sara Goodnick is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.

Know your Equipment and Location

By David Halgrimson

Since moving back to Minnesota I have been researching places to go for photo opportunities and found a couple near where I live. One is Swan Park in Monticello Minnesota 15 miles west and Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge 25 miles north of my home. Both easily accessed.

We moved back to MN in November just when the Trumpeter Swans were starting to return to a section of the Mississippi River in Monticello. They stay from November thru February when they mate and leave for their nesting locations. The Swans along with geese and ducks like this area as the river is open due to a power plant on the river to the north and because for the past 30 plus years they get free breakfast and lunch. The Swans are the main draw at Swan Park, a very small park, maybe 40 feet wide, overlooking the river where the birds spend their days, eating, mating and fighting.

For more information on the park and the swans visit this site, http://www.monticellocci.com/pages/Swans.

About knowing the location, not just the Swan Park location, but any location. When visiting in August I went to check out Swan park only to find out there are no swans there in august, but now I knew right where to go when they returned… scouting day one. Once settled after our move, I went back and was pleasantly surprised by not only the swans, ducks and geese but the sheer numbers of them. As the story goes, over 30 years ago there were only a handful of swans and now there can be as many as 2,700 on any given day. I needed to know how to get the best view, what equipment and clothing would be best, it’s dang cold here November thru February. Because people are not allowed down at the river’s edge the area is somewhat secluded, so a good winter coat and stocking hat, warm boots and most of all special gloves. I went through three different sets of gloves to find those that would somewhat keep my hands from freezing. I found mittens with internal gloves that fold open to reveal gloved fingers and thumb to operate the camera. The glove portion of the index and middle finger have a special coating that allows for touch screen operation. Still, my fingers get very cold and I need to warm them occasionally. Next, what kind of lighting might be best for the subject. This day was bright sunlight and I found that the white swans had a good chance of blowing out the histogram, maybe a cloudy or partly cloudy day would work better or perhaps lens filters might help… scouting day 2. Oh, yes I did take pictures.

So now about knowing your equipment. On scouting day 2 I took my Lumix GX8 with a 40-150mm f/2.8 and a 300mm f/4 prime lenses and no tripod. The birds are very active, swimming, diving, taking off, landing, fighting and feeding. A slow shutter would not work but how fast should it be? I tried 400-500 with some good results for the swimming and feeding but needed much faster for the flying, landings and takeoffs.

The Lumix and lenses being new to me and not having used it for birds before, I was not quite sure what settings to use so experimented with a number with mixed results and not to my personal standards. I also found the 300mm a bit too close for many of the shots but great for the birds coming in or taking off…scouting day two.

40-150mm, f/4, ISO 100 1/640th hand held

40-150mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/2000th hand held

40-150mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/2000th hand held

Not quite as sharp as I wanted as can be seen here. Part of that is the aperture of f/4 giving less DOF.

I went home to review my images and decided to do some research on best settings for the camera and lens combinations. After some testing and experimenting and finding the settings I thought would work best for me, I decided to setup a custom setting for wildlife on both camera bodies. This included the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, high speed burst and more, this way when I am shooting birds and fast moving subjects I don’t have to remember settings I can just set the camera(s) to custom 1 and start shooting and making small adjustments as needed from there.

Now with all the scouting complete and camera settings configured it was time to return for a real shoot. I took both camera bodies, one with the 40-150mm and one with the 300mm and, yes, a tripod. I used the 300mm on the tripod for the birds in the air and the 40-150mm hand held for the action on the water.

All the scouting, researching, testing and camera setup paid off big time. I went on a bright but cloudy day, cameras all ready, my warmest gloves, set up the tripod with the 300mm, hung the other around my neck and started shooting. The results were to me more than I expected.

300mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 tripod mounted

300mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 tripod mounted

40-150mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 hand held

40-150mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 handheld

40-150mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 handheld

As can be seen in these the DOF and sharpness are much better. This is due to the faster shutter and and smaller aperture settings.

Know you equipment and do your scouting, it pays off in the long run.

Check out Arizona Highways PhotoScapes at https://photography-workshops.directory/photographer/arizona-highways-photo-workshops/

David Halgrimson is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Action Photography with Cowboy Mounted Shooting

By Sara Goodnick

To improve your action photography skills a day or two spent photographing the fast-growing sport of Cowboy Mounted Shooting is just the ticket.

Cowboys and cowgirls compete on galloping horses, shooting single-action 19th century style revolvers, with theatrical black powder ammunition blanks at balloons. They compete one at a time, racing through one of 82 pre-determined patterns of 10 balloons on sticks, with the goal of having the cleanest round and the fastest time.

It’s dramatic, but fun and completely family-friendly. The noise is loud, but one can get used to it, or just wear ear protection. The participants and their horses definitely wear ear protection.

They often dress in traditional western gear, both modern and historical, so when you get tired of the action, go for the interesting details.

Because they run the same pattern, you can stay in the same spot and get some consistency in your photographs as you improve your skills.

I have had horses for most of my life, so I know how to behave when around them. For those of you new to the horse world, if you go, just remember, be polite and friendly, stay out of the way of the riders, do not go into the arena, do not feed or pet the horses without permission, do not move quickly when you are behind a horse, smile and chat with the other photographers, and stay out of the way of the official paid photographer.

The photography skills I was working on during the two days I photographed the Phoenix Winter Championships recently:

  1. Using my Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens at 400mm and getting the fast moving subjects in focus. The depth of field for this lens on my Nikon D810 at 50 feet is a short 1 foot 6 inches, according to my app, DOF Scale, so it was a real challenge. I had to guess how far they were, but it varied by as much as 50 feet at least.
  2. Capturing and freezing the action as they fired the pistols. Getting the smoke was good, but the real test was in getting the flames before the smoke.
  3. Finding good light both inside the covered arena and outside.
  4. Finding a spot without a distracting background.
  5. Testing the limits of the camera’s ISO range.
  6. Learning to use focus tracking.

Here is what I learned:

  1. It takes a lot of practice and concentration to follow a moving subject and keep it in focus.
  2. You must trigger the shutter before you see the flash of the flames from the pistol. If you see the flames through the viewfinder, it is too late. You have to anticipate. Watching some of the runs without trying to photograph them will help.
  3. Shutter speed must be 1/1000 sec. or faster. Shoot on manual and adjust aperture and ISO accordingly. Or you could use shutter priority.
  4. Try another lens, such as the 70-200 f/2.8. I had very nice images from this lens when I could get close enough.
  5. Shooting a high speed burst doesn’t always catch what you want if your timing is already off.
  6. Shooting a high speed burst over and over again can cause buffering problems as the camera just stops shooting and tries to catch up. I had a 120Mbs CF card but between the card and the camera, I just don’t have a top of the line sports dedicated camera. But what I have is good enough for my purposes.

Here are some of my favorites, and several with some things to watch out for.

First, the bad:

The horse’s feet are in an awkward part of the stride. This happens a lot in this type of event and there is little to be done. With practice, you can catch some better foot placement, but trying to also catch the shooting at the right time is just luck.

I really try to avoid photographing a horse with its mouth gaping open. This is a very busy background and the balloon is in front of the horse. Legs are awkward.

Some of my favorites:

Sara Goodnick is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.

A Good Time to Switch to Manual–An Example

By Amy Novotny

Knowing when to switch to manual mode can be difficult these days with digital SLR cameras making it easy to capture images in Aperture or Shutter priority modes. It is often taught to use Aperture priority for controlling depth of field in landscape photography and Shutter priority for fast moving scenes including animals or sports. However, at times, it is desirable to control both depth of field through the aperture and the shutter speed to produce an image.

As a photo guide for Arizona Highways PhotoScapes, I was assisting instructor Beth Ruggiero-York with the Photograph the Charm of Cape Cod workshop this past September. We were photographing a beautiful boat scene in the early morning fog that started out so dense that the boats were hardly visible. Participants started out in Aperture mode since the scene was still and they could control the depth of field to capture both the foreground and background in focus. ISO was set at its lowest setting to reduce noise. Because the light was so low in this setting, the camera adjusted the shutter speed to longer durations to be able to capture the scene at the correct exposure. This worked extremely well since there was minimal to no breeze and the water was calm.

Nikon D750, ISO 100, 70mm, f/8.0, ⅕ sec.

Soon, however, a duck glided into the scene and changed everything. Now, there was movement that needed to be captured, but if the same settings were used, the duck would be blurry as shown below. The shutter, in this case, was open too long to freeze the motion of the duck.

Nikon D750, ISO 100, 70mm, f/8.0, ⅕ sec.

The shutter speed had to be increased in order to capture a sharp, in-focus duck. This was a great time to switch to Manual mode. I could keep the same depth of field that I had previously used because I wanted all the boats in focus but I wanted a faster shutter speed of 1/160 to freeze the slight gliding movement of the duck. Manual mode allowed me to set both of these to what I desired and I could then adjust the ISO to allow for the correct light metering and exposure. It worked and I was able to get all the elements of the image sharp, in-focus and with the exposure I was looking for.

Nikon D750, ISO 1600, 70mm, f/8.0, 1/160 sec.

This is just one example of many that would encourage me to switch to Manual mode quickly during a photography shoot.

Amy Novotny is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.
Twitter: @amynovotnyaz
Instagram: @anovotn
http://www.amysimpressions.com

Images taken while assisting as a Volunteer Photo Guide for Arizona Highways PhotoScape’s Photography the Charm of Cape Cod workshop taught by instructor photographer Beth Ruggiero-York in September 2017.

PLATEAU POINT, GRAND CANYON

By Vicki Uthe

We (my wife and I) live in Flagstaff, AZ which means Grand Canyon’s South Rim is a little over an hour away and makes for a glorious day of hiking. We like to go to the canyon for training hikes to get in shape for longer hikes.

One such day found us at the South Rim heading down Bright Angel Trail toward Indian Garden, which you can see in this image as the splash of green on the right side in the smaller canyon, then out to Plateau Point. We did it with full 25# packs. It is six miles down which means six miles back up…12 total.

Here’s another image of Indian Gardens but showing the switchback of trail heading down. My constant dilemma when doing activities such as this is…WHICH CAMERA DO I BRING?!?  Weight is almost always the first concern. I believe strongly in the “Less is More” philosophy so I only own three camera bodies, two of which are identical. I have a mirrorless Lumix Gx8 times two with four lenses and a Canon S120 point and shoot that shoots RAW images.

These images, however, were taken before I switched my setup to something lighter and easier to travel with. These images were taken with a Canon 40D and 35-70mm lens. Far heavier than I am willing to travel with these days. This is the view from Plateau Point, a 1.5 mile jaunt from Indian Gardens, to the river below. If you look closely you can see a river raft parked at the large beach on the left.

Here’s the thing about this blog: I focus on  taking images when most travelers would be shooting, during the day. In a perfect world I would be here at sunrise and/or sunset, but in a traveler’s life, that is not realistic. Time is short and many things and places are crammed into a short period of time so it is my intent to show that, even though conditions are not ideal, it is still beneficial to bring your camera and snap some pictures.

The canyon had some wildflowers  in May when we hiked. Wildflowers are always worth a stop and a shot. Here I played with a wide open F/stop to blur the canyon in the background.

The Prickly Pear cactus were in bloom as well as the cactus below. The splashes of color on the hike were wonderful to see.

So take a camera, even on long hikes. Be aware of weight so you bring the correct one and don’t regret hauling it around. And then don’t forget to take it out and shoot with it!!!

Happy shooting!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

EASTER EGGS

By Vicki Uthe

Easter is coming up in a couple of weeks and it is a fantastic holiday for shooting, especially if you like color as much as I do.

Apparently my household doesn’t color eggs as often as I think we do because I only have two years of examples. But that doesn’t matter. This is a blog about inspiration so YOU get out there and find those eggs and baskets and colors and YOU get some images.

This bowl of eggs was sitting on our kitchen counter. I set up a tripod so I could shoot in low light without camera shake. You could spend an hour just shooting this bowl and changing around the eggs to find the best lines, forms and color combinations.  Of course changing the  angle is also also an option as I did below.

Seriously, this makes me want to color eggs this year just to have a photo session.

One year we got a hold of a box of egg color that had faces and hair in them. That was a fun shoot!

So, this Easter, get with the kids and/or grandkids and color some eggs! Then get out your camera and have some fun. I did!

Happy Shooting!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes