Rio Grande Nature Center

Yesterday I made my first visit to Rio Grande Nature Center and made my first ever attempt to photograph hummingbirds.  I used my Nikon D7100 crop sensor camera fitted with a Nikon f/2.8 70-200mm zoom lens, manual mode, shutter speed 1/1250 second, aperture f/8, spot metering, and auto ISO (around 1800).  I’m satisfied with the results, but the bird photos were heavily cropped (in excess of 100%) to create these photos.  The next time I will use my Nikon 18-300mm zoom  lens in order to avoid the visible grain that often comes with significant cropping.

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These are other photos captured at the visitor center’s viewing area and during my walk around the scenic and serene trailways.

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Bird photography, like many other photography venues, requires an understanding of your camera’s manual controls – specifically the control of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.  Reading your camera manual and trying to understand the “how” and “why” of these settings can be a time consuming and frustrating experience.  If you live in central New Mexico I can provide one-on-one tutoring tailored to your camera and your needs – see my page, Albuquerque’s Personal Photography Tutor.  I’d enjoy meeting or speaking with you – no charge for initial meeting and consultation.  

Capture the Wonders Found In Travel and Life                                    Email: d300dave@gmail.com

 

 

 

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Yearbook Photo

I was pleased to say “yes” today to Bandelier Elementary School (where grandson Billy is in the 4th grade) when they asked for permission to use this photo in their school yearbook.  This capture was made last October at the kickoff to Albuquerque’s annual International Balloon Fiesta.  Two balloon teams came to the school early in the morning and showed the kids how the balloons were prepared for flight – their demonstration was a big hit!  My photo will be featured on a page surrounded by other candid photos of the day’s events.

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                                  Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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Change A Distracting Background

Today grandson Billy’s soccer team Mexico played team Brazil in the Zia Youth Soccer League “Under 11” age bracket.  Team Mexico won the match 4-2 and thus earned bragging rights at Billy’s elementary school where the 2 teams are rivals.  Whenever my schedule permits, I take action photos of the games and post the edited photos to my website for the parents and coaches to see.  Today was such a day, and I chose my equipment accordingly – my trusty Nikon D7100 outfitted with the superb lens for sports action – the Nikon f/2.8 70-200mm VR2 telephoto lens.  To my surprise after the game, I was asked to take a team photo because all 15 of the kids and both coaches were present – a rarity. Normally I would bring at least one off camera flash to properly light a group shot, so I was unprepared for the task.  The team was lined up and waiting, so I hurried over and took the shot (photo 1).  During editing I did the best I could to minimize the “raccoon eyes” that typically result from lack of flash fill, but I was unhappy with the distracting background.  So using some Photoshop magic, I very carefully selected the team from the background and moved it to a more suitable background – a photo that I took at last week’s game.  If the parents and coaches like the photo, I’d like to think that it’s an example of how to make lemonade out of lemons. 🙂

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                                  Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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Spring Soccer First Game

I like taking action sports photos, especially when our boys are involved.  But I don’t enjoy being out in cold, windy and rainy conditions such as existed here in Albuquerque last Saturday morning. Nonetheless our grandson Billy had fun as he and his Mexico team mates played England to a 1-1 tie in the under 11 age division.  Despite the conditions, as the teams shook hands at game end, I couldn’t help but notice the beauty of the low hanging clouds against the Sandia Mountains.  I invite you to the game action photos under the Sports tab.

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                                 Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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You Never Know…

If you’re a photographer, you never know when you might need a “tool” from your bag that you didn’t bring.  Today I found myself taking a pro bono basketball team photo that I hadn’t planned for. Because I didn’t have any off camera flash equipment with me, I had to make do with the pop-up flash on my camera.  While editing I also  used a little Photoshop magic to substitute a better background than that presented by the multi-colored wall in the gym.  

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                        Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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Valentines Day

I had the pleasure of photographing Sonja and Ben at one of many marriage ceremonies today at our city metropolitan courthouse.  This is actually a composite of a photo that I took in the hallway before the ceremony combined with a Google license free background.  Happy Valentines Day!

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My Sea Turtle Photo in Top 10% of Viewbug Images of 2016

I’m honored that my photo “Sea Turtle” won the Viewbug Member Selection Award and placed in the top 10% of votes cast for the Viewbug 2016 Image of the Year Photo Contest.  The photo was taken nearly 9 years ago with a Nikon D300 camera fitted with a Nikon 18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens.  Focal length was 65 mm, exposure settings were 1/400 second shutter speed. f/10 aperture, and ISO 800.

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                                  Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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Family Holiday Road Trip to Texas

The week before Christmas our family took a road trip to Texas to visit family members in Beeville, Rockport and San Antonio.  

While in Rockport, our host/hostess took me to visit the Aransas Wildlife Refuge to see the migrating whooping cranes, a nearly extinct bird that winters in this protected area every winter.  We didn’t spot any whoopers, but we enjoyed seeing other wildlife and will likely try again when in South Texas during the Winter and late Spring.  

While in San Antonio we stayed in a hotel on the Riverwalk.  It’s a truly magical place to visit during the holidays.

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Learn to Edit Like a Pro With Lightroom and Photoshop

If you want to take your photography to the next level, I suggest 3 things.  One, shoot in camera raw format in order to capture a digital file with the greatest dynamic range that your camera is capable of capturing.  Two, learn how to use Lightroom and Photoshop to edit your raw files to produce a photo that captures the lighting and colors of the scene you saw, or perhaps the scene you had in mind, when the photo was shot.  Three – practice, practice, practice!  Dare to take your camera off “auto” or “program” mode and learn to use manual mode for greatest flexibility and creativity.  In a short time you will understand and be comfortable with the “exposure triangle” (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) and how to choose the settings that will produce the results that you are looking for.

Lightroom and Photoshop are powerful programs that can produce amazing results,  The good news is that the latest versions of these programs are available on a subscription basis from Adobe (Photoshop for Photographers) for only about $10 per month.  These programs can present a steep learning curve for first time users, but I found a source for on-line, self paced tutorials that provide logical steps or workflow that can be applied to every raw file that will give you the tools needed to produce an amazing jpeg image that you would be proud to frame and hang on your wall.

Check out Serge Ramelli’s Youtube channel!  He has over 400 tutorials on photography and he is the number one channel on Lightroom worldwide.  If you want to learn great photography tips and tricks check him out!

Serge is  a photographer living in Paris and Los Angeles.  His photo below is a sample of his work.  

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                                    Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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When Does Photography Become Art?

In my view, photography is an art form.  In capturing images, Ansel Adams had an artist’s eye in approaching the composition. the leading lines and the effect of light.  He polished his vision of the photograph in the darkroom with techniques like dodging and burning while transferring the image captured on film to photographic paper.  Current day photographers using digital cameras use the same principles when they edit their digital images using post processing software programs such as Photoshop.  But there are some photography critics who opine that a true photographer will use his/her photographic skills to produce an art-like photo straight out of camera without reliance (or over reliance) on post editing software.  Such critics categorize any image resulting from significant software post processing as “photoshopped”, and thus not worthy to be considered an art form.

In the end, I think a photographer should produce images that are pleasing to him/her.  Some viewers of the image may admire it and consider the image to be art.  Other viewers may dislike the image not consider it to be art.

Personally, I don’t care for “over the top” post processed images that bear no resemblance to what the human eye can ever realistically  witness.  At the same time, however, I sometimes envision a photo that the human eye could witness if in the proper place at the proper time; but I cannot possibly capture that particular scene because even today’s best camera sensors cannot match the dynamic range (shades of light, shadow, and color) that the human eye can see.  

I offer this photograph as an example.  In order to capture the dynamic range of both the very bright super moon and the deep shadows and dim ambient lights that accompany a moon rise, it was necessary to take two photographs – one properly exposed for the dark foreground and another exposed for the bright moon.  Then I combined the two photos into one composite photo using Photoshop.  I found this approach was necessary in order to produce an image that reflects what my eye saw the evening this image was captured.  It was a beautiful sight and I hope you enjoy!

Capture the Wonders Found in Travel and Life                                  Email: d300dave@gmail.com

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