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Tomorrow is the last day to enter to win this free 8x12 print:



Find this photo on Facebook and "Like," "Comment," and "Share" for chances to win! The photo and official rules can be found here:

www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbi…

Good luck, everyone!
I'd appreciate your support! You'll get some sneak peeks of my work and see images I don't upload on dA.

Leave a link if you have a photography page so I can follow you, too!

www.facebook.com/trevgstudios
Dear Watchers and Friends,

Recent circumstances IRL have given me reason to step down as the APN Community Volunteer. The dA APN community deserves a more active volunteer and I have not had enough time to devote to the position. I want to thank the other CV's for their friendly help as well as Danie for being extremely understanding and accommodating. I hope to be more active in the near future when possible.

Please send your APN DD suggestions to IsacGoulart for now. He'll be watching over the gallery for the time being.
Hey everyone,

I apologize for my recent not-here-ness. A few of you know that I was laid off from my job a little while back, tossing me into the unemployed boat with my wife...and you'd be surprised how busy you can be when you don't even have a job! (Though having kids can keep ANYONE busy - Jameson will turn one next month!)

My wife and I are both hunting for jobs and there are a couple prospects out on the horizon but if something doesn't turn up by next month, I'm going to start selling camera gear to help pay the bills.

Anyway, I hope to be a more active in the near future. Big thanks to IsacGoulart for helping keep an eye out for APN photography.

So, what level are you? www.petapixel.com/2012/07/25/t…
Thanks to all of you who have been sending APN Daily Deviation suggestions.  Here is a collection of Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature DDs for the month of May.



Brown Bear II by Schoelli Dolomites in Flames by niccolobonfadini Explorations Aprile 27 2012 by LuGiais Salt Lake no2 by DJA56 The King by Kendra-Paige magic light by rilibko Rays by Dunadan-from-Bag-End Rannoch Moor by Photo-Joker The song of the stars by saturnfox Black Throated Desert Sparrow by FirenzeLotus22 Tommy and Tina by SammieGavin Dreams by BojanMarinkoski Autumn GoldenEagle by PiTurianer Sweet Nectar. by ZEUS1001 Dall sheep ram by softflower La Rana by buleria First Contact by Syndyne Island in the Mist by Gilgond On the side of autumn by WouterPera The Victor by TreborEevob Tiny Pal by MeAli-ADK Lupin Delight by chrisgin:thumb294581139:



Please note that this doesn't include all APN DD's.  Other volunteers and/or staff members can also give DD's to Animals, Plants & Nature photographs. This article is a showcase of the DD's that I featured.



Please note Daily Deviation suggestions for Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature to me with:

:bulletblue: "DD Suggestion" in the subject line
:bulletblue: A link or thumb to the deviation (Thumbs can be created by copy/pasting the :thumb#####: code located to the right of the deviation you are suggesting.)
:bulletblue: A brief description (if you choose)

:bulletgreen: Please do not send me suggestions that you have sent to other volunteers or staff members (to avoid mix ups).
:bulletgreen: Make sure you don't suggest work of deviants who have received a DD in the past 6 months.
:bulletgreen: Please understand that I can not reply to all DD suggestions (but I will read them all!).
:bulletgreen: If I send you a note telling you that your suggestion has been accepted, keep it a secret! Otherwise it will will ruin the surprise!

Things to consider: DDs for a strong and healthy community (the following will have no bearing on my DD selection but it's something to think about).

:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions from galleries of active deviants!  (Deviant uploads work, posts journals, makes and responds to comments, etc.)
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces where the artist comments list helpful or interesting information about the piece.
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces that display accurate EXIF data (so we can all learn!).
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces from lesser known deviants.

Some useful links;
FAQ #18: Who selects the Daily Deviation and how is it chosen?
FAQ #85: Can I be a volunteer on deviantART?
FAQ #313: How can I find out if someone already has a Daily Deviation?
FAQ #873: What do I do when I disapprove of a Daily Deviation feature?
HTDI:TSBTS aims to guide emerging photographers by showcasing tips, techniques, and stories generously shared by some of dA's most accomplished Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature artists.  At the same time, we hope to shed light on the often overlooked amount of effort that is required to create striking images like these.  Making a great photograph takes time, planning, a creative eye, and solid photography skills.  What happens behind the lens is just as important as the final product!

I am sure many of you have been told "Great photo!  You must have an awesome camera!" or "Wow, you sure were lucky to get that shot!"  While a "good camera" and "luck" are small ingredients when creating a visual feast, we photographers would like to remind everyone that technical competency, determination, patience, and creative vision are the real meat and potatoes of any tasty photo.

"Was it luck that I happened to wake up at 3am five days in a row, hike two miles through a snow covered forest with a flashlight and freeze my butt off waiting for the moose to arrive at the lake just as dawn broke over the mountains?  I don't think so!"

If you would like to submit your own amazing APN photo and story for a future installment of How They Did It: The Story Behind the Shot, note trevg with your image, story, and the subject "HTDI:TSBTS."  Also, please go show some love to the amazing photographers who contributed to this article and thank them for sharing their insight!  :squee:




Morning Rush by chrisgin



Camera: Canon 40D
Shutter: 1/3 second
Aperture: f/18.0
Focal Length: 10mm
ISO: 100

I arrived at this location before sunrise and walked up and down the beach looking for an interesting composition. Eventually I was running out of time – sunrise was only minutes away – but I finally found this large flat rock which was getting covered by the incoming waves. I set my tripod up and composed the shot as best I could, trying different angles until I found one I liked, then waited for the sun to come up.

At first, the sunrise was disappointing, with few clouds in the sky and subdued colours, but within minutes things changed considerably. A large ominous cloud came in from nowhere and sat itself above Rangitoto Island in the background, and the colours intensified as the sun rose. Things were looking good so it was just a matter of timing my shutter clicking with the incoming waves.

I used a 4-stop Hitech GND filter to hold back the bright sky and balance the exposure. As a result I didn't need to blend multiple exposures to handle the dynamic range, thereby keeping my post processing to a minimum. I did blend in some flowing water from another exposure though, for artistic reasons rather than technical.

-chrisgin




First light by gnohz



Camera: Nikon D300s
Shutter: 1/60 second
Aperture: f/11.0
Focal Length: 12mm
ISO: 200

Based on what I have learnt through experimentation and practical experience since picking up photography 3 years ago, the most important factors contributing to a successful image are light, composition, and equipment.

First of all, try taking a photograph of the same scene at midday and at dawn or dusk. You should be able to see a noticeable difference in the quality of light. This is the reason that more often than not, landscape photographs are captured at sunrise and sunset instead of in bright daylight.

Although composition comes next, it can be just as important as having good quality light. One tip is to follow the Rule of Thirds. This means that it is better for important compositional elements to be placed at certain strategic points in the frame. For example, the horizon should be positioned one-third from the bottom or from the top instead of in the center. However, bear in mind that this is just a guideline and priorities may change depending on the subject and end result you intend to present to the viewer.

Many may be surprised that equipment comes last, but I have always believed that when the other factors come together, the type of equipment you use does not matter as much as what others make it seem to be. Having said that, I am not implying that equipment is irrelevant. Having the correct tools for the job is still as important and do make a difference to the final image.

A question I always had about images created by other landscape photographers when I was just starting out was, how is it possible to produce photographs with such ideal exposures? The search for the answer led me to graduated neutral density (GND) filters. A GND filter is a filter where half of it is clear while the other half (neutral density) appears darker. The darker portion comes in different densities and which to use will depend on the lighting conditions. Cameras have narrower dynamic ranges compared to what the human eye can perceive, so such filters are commonly used to reduce the contrast between two sections (e.g. sky and land) so that they can be properly exposed.

One main aim I strive to accomplish in my work every time is to achieve a perfect exposure in-camera and minimizing the effort required for post processing work. Doing so gives me a greater sense of achievement and satisfaction compared to relying on software and other HDR techniques. Of course, whether to use filters or software comes down to personal style so feel free to experiment around before making up your mind.

I recalled seeing a photo of Moraine Lake in a magazine and was instantly captivated by its surreal colors and glassy reflections. Since the images I came across were mostly taken at midday, I thought of capturing it in a different light. On that day, I got up before dawn and managed to reach my destination in time for the golden hour. Although the sun was blocked by some clouds, I proceeded to set up my equipment with a wide angle lens, the Nikkor 12-24 f/4, together with a GND filter attached.

I then waited and hoped for the best. Patience is another virtue that should be practiced in photography. Luck was in my favor and my patience paid off when the clouds shifted and the sun rays managed to pierce through momentarily. As can be seen here, I placed the horizon in the center on purpose instead of abiding by the Rule of Thirds, for the reason that I wanted to create a symmetry effect by drawing on the reflections in the lake. The GND filter was also essential in holding back the details in the clouds and balancing the difference in contrast between the foreground and background elements. This allowed me to fine-tune the final image effortlessly. Without it, the area around the mountains would have appeared over-exposed and washed out with the foreground being overly dark.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask and I'll be more than happy to answer!

-gnohz




icy morning mood by StefanHefele




Sometimes you get a wakeup call and cannot wait to get up. Yesterday, I planned to get up very early to go to this beautiful location. The Auensee is a small lake in an old swamp. In the summer, it is often used for bathing and presents itself as a Sunday excursion. As a landscape photographer, I'm interested, of course, in a completely different aura that radiates from the lake.

Tuesday Morning, 1/17/12. My alarm clock rings. Getting out of bed, I quickly eat a banana and grab the photo equipment. It is deep winter and at 6:30 in the morning, it's still dark. My goal is to arrive before sunrise at the lake, to check the location. Once there, it´s a short walk through the dark bush. It is freezing cold. -10 degrees. That means for me, always keep moving and adjust the camera angle as quickly as possible so I do not have to handle my tripod for long. After a freezing one-hour wait, the whole scene becomes more and more clear and I see even more contours in the trees.

I probably got up too early, but better too early than too late. I am now trying to bring harmony in the design of my image. The fog on the lake is perfect and the trees can also be arranged wonderfully. The rising sun also gives me a warm splash of color in the left half of my image.

I've specialized my photography in panoramic format and will cut the image in Photoshop afterwards.

Very happy, but with nearly frostbitten fingers I leave the theater and run into a beautiful winter day.

Technical Information:
To get a sharp photo at a focal length of 44mm, I used aperture f/11. Because of the darkness, I didn't use filters and exposed 8 seconds to get the correct brightness. Another exposure with a shorter time (3 sec.) was useful to capture the bright sky.
I work with a Nikon D700 and the Nikkor 24-70/2.8. Together with my Manfrotto tripod, it´s the perfect equipment for landscape photos.

My post-processing was done in Lightroom II and CS5.

It is a privilege for me to be able to capture these beautiful moments. The strains are often rewarded. This helps me to do that, what I am fallen into deep love. Landscape Photography.

Stefan Hefele

-StefanHefele

:thumb297547952: :thumb290749609: :thumb261482150: :thumb300315103: :thumb300528959:





This location had been on my photography to do list for a couple years and in the fall of 2010 I was finally able to make it. It's about a 7 mile backpack to reach Ediza Lake through the Ansel Adams Wilderness. This was one of the creeks that fed Ediza and flows right below the Minaret Mountains, part of the Eastern Sierra. It had been raining and snowing on and off all day and the mountains were completely covered by the storm. I had spent the afternoon scouting and walked all around the lake and walked up and down the creeks looking for possible compositions. I found this cascading section of the creek and knew I wanted to shoot it for sunset because I wanted to shoot the lake for sunrise.

Around sunset I started shooting the creek with the storm clouds above not thinking there was going to be any chance of color. It began to get extremely dark so I packed up all of my gear and began walking back to camp. All of a sudden I noticed there was a faint glow on the ground in front of me, so I turned around and saw this scene unfold. I had, what I like to call, one of my photographic, "Oh SH*T" moments. I ran as fast as I could back to the creek and set up my gear as fast I could. I was able to get off one exposure before the light dissipated and the clouds completely engulfed the mountains again. I would like to say that I learned my lesson, but in all honesty this was not the first "oh SH*T" moment I've had and probably won't be the last.

-narmansk8




Bright Storm by CainPascoe



Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Shutter: 1/4 second
Aperture: f/13.0
Focal Length: 17mm
ISO: 100
Filters: CPL, GND 0.9 (soft)
Post: PS CS5

Some days go really slow and I find myself watching the weather from inside my home via online weather channels hoping for some kind of action worth photographing. On one particular occasion something came of it!

A small storm cell was forming over a nearby mountain range and was making its way towards the coast. Given my 15 minute headstart I staked out at the closest headland and waited for it to roll in. It passed in about 5 minutes and there were now 10 other people photographing the clouds and rainbow directly off the headland. Instead of taking the vantage point of the casual photographer I went down onto the rocks and used a composition I've had in mind for a while but never had the correct conditions (tide/light/atmosphere).  Today, it all came together.

I spent about an hour climbing over the rocks taking different exposures and compositions waiting for the right wave to crash and cascade down the rockshelf. By the time I was finished, I was completely saturated and the cloud had vanished out to sea.

The shot itself is a single exposure, exported from a .RAW as separate .TIF files of different exposures, then blended to increase the dynamic range.

-CainPascoe


Thanks to all of you who have been sending APN Daily Deviation suggestions.  Here is a collection of Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature DDs for the month of April.



Acherontia lachesis - I by alokethebloke Maligne Lake Rainbow by mattTIDBALL Panoriver by Hestefotograf:thumb292495387: Dream Theater by Hussain-Studio Snow White by minahzframez Golden Hills by jonathanjessup From One to the Next by mjohanson Shoshone Falls by ShamelessRain Dreamworld by comsic:thumb268873164: Yellow Edge cloud inversion by JamesRushforth Mountain Lake by e2micha Cautley Spout View by samuelelliswilson Misty Mountain by jasonwilde:thumb258777366: Stob Dearg by DamianKane:thumb275356512: Con la comida no se juega by javierherrera86



Please note that this doesn't include all APN DD's.  Other volunteers and/or staff members can also give DD's to Animals, Plants & Nature photographs. This article is a showcase of the DD's that I featured.



Please note Daily Deviation suggestions for Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature to me with:

:bulletblue: "DD Suggestion" in the subject line
:bulletblue: A link or thumb to the deviation (Thumbs can be created by copy/pasting the :thumb#####: code located to the right of the deviation you are suggesting.)
:bulletblue: A brief description (if you choose)

:bulletgreen: Please do not send me suggestions that you have sent to other volunteers or staff members (to avoid mix ups).
:bulletgreen: Make sure you don't suggest work of deviants who have received a DD in the past 6 months.
:bulletgreen: Please understand that I can not reply to all DD suggestions (but I will read them all!).
:bulletgreen: If I send you a note telling you that your suggestion has been accepted, keep it a secret! Otherwise it will will ruin the surprise!

Things to consider: DDs for a strong and healthy community (the following will have no bearing on my DD selection but it's something to think about).

:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions from galleries of active deviants!  (Deviant uploads work, posts journals, makes and responds to comments, etc.)
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces where the artist comments list helpful or interesting information about the piece.
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces that display accurate EXIF data (so we can all learn!).
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces from lesser known deviants.

Some useful links;
FAQ #18: Who selects the Daily Deviation and how is it chosen?
FAQ #85: Can I be a volunteer on deviantART?
FAQ #313: How can I find out if someone already has a Daily Deviation?
FAQ #873: What do I do when I disapprove of a Daily Deviation feature?
I apologize for my chronic absences as of late.  During the past 30 days, I've been traveling for work.  I spent a week in Anaheim, a few days in Seattle, and about two weeks in Chicago.  I am now back home in Denver for at least the rest of April.  I may have to travel out to Las Vegas and/or Canada in May, on top of some other stuff that is happening in Texas.

I will do my best to get through all notes and comments this week and knock out the long-overdue third installment of "How They Did It."  I may even find a moment to post some new photos!

How are you?

Suspend the feeling by SebastianKraus Sharing by BogdanBoev flow by garrit Waiting For Sunrise by CainPascoe Injunup Point WA by Furiousxr Washing machine by photogrifos Sanctuary by PeterJCoskun
Thanks to all of you who have been sending APN Daily Deviation suggestions.  Here is a collection of Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature DDs for the month of March.



intense eagle by Yair-Leibovich Dickeys Beach Ship Wreck by jaydoncabe Jellyfish Munch by Kimbell:thumb287483743: beautiful light by nmdelgado:thumb271584367: USA - Antelope Canyon by Modi1985 Breath by SnowPoring All About Colors by AngelaLeonetti Proud red deer IV by moem-photography:thumb287159438: Once upon a time there was a fairytale horse... by Lykketrollet84 Cedar Waxwing 2 by rctfan2:thumb275405221: autumn morning 17 by alexandrdeviant White Branch Falls by greglief Adam's Peak by The-Freak-Nora Touchdown by Grouper



Please note that this doesn't include all APN DD's.  Other volunteers and/or staff members can also give DD's to Animals, Plants & Nature photographs. This article is a showcase of the DD's that I featured.



Please note Daily Deviation suggestions for Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature to me with:

:bulletblue: "DD Suggestion" in the subject line
:bulletblue: A link or thumb to the deviation (Thumbs can be created by copy/pasting the :thumb#####: code located to the right of the deviation you are suggesting.)
:bulletblue: A brief description (if you choose)

:bulletgreen: Please do not send me suggestions that you have sent to other volunteers or staff members (to avoid mix ups).
:bulletgreen: Make sure you don't suggest work of deviants who have received a DD in the past 6 months.
:bulletgreen: Please understand that I can not reply to all DD suggestions (but I will read them all!).
:bulletgreen: If I send you a note telling you that your suggestion has been accepted, keep it a secret! Otherwise it will will ruin the surprise!

Things to consider: DDs for a strong and healthy community (the following will have no bearing on my DD selection but it's something to think about).

:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions from galleries of active deviants!  (Deviant uploads work, posts journals, makes and responds to comments, etc.)
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces where the artist comments list helpful or interesting information about the piece.
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces that display accurate EXIF data (so we can all learn!).
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces from lesser known deviants.

Some useful links;
FAQ #18: Who selects the Daily Deviation and how is it chosen?
FAQ #85: Can I be a volunteer on deviantART?
FAQ #313: How can I find out if someone already has a Daily Deviation?
FAQ #873: What do I do when I disapprove of a Daily Deviation feature?
Thanks to all of you who have been sending APN Daily Deviation suggestions.  Here is a collection of Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature DDs for the month of February.



Langevin by Rems84 Kingfisher by jjbeggar Wishing by NecromancyPrince Iguazu Falls by frienkink:thumb216352477: Fantastic Romania.3 by sagefille20 Apparition by JanPusdrowski 3 angels for charlie... by Alyat Heart of Joshua Tree by benkhill Mount Shuksan BW by CezarMart Drink up, me hearties. by the-moof I See You by PictureByPali:thumb212109675: Tucan Bird by MrBlueSky1987 Never stop searching... by emmanueldautriche nightlines. by AndrisBarbans Shooting star and sea of clouds by PierreRodriguez . . : Calm : . . by AdARDurden Dreamtime by Capturing-the-Light Thor's Well by djniks97 short eared owl by Jamie-MacArthur Universal Comfort by UweLangmann The Rocks and the Milky Way by tihomirmladenov ..proxygen.. by db-imagery LIBERTY by scumpi Forest HeatheR vol.2 by Justine1985 Where giants once stood by Kounelli1



Please note that this doesn't include all APN DD's.  Other volunteers and/or staff members can also give DD's to Animals, Plants & Nature photographs. This article is a showcase of the DD's that I featured.



Please note Daily Deviation suggestions for Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature to me with:

:bulletblue: "DD Suggestion" in the subject line
:bulletblue: A link or thumb to the deviation (Thumbs can be created by copy/pasting the :thumb#####: code located to the right of the deviation you are suggesting.)
:bulletblue: A brief description (if you choose)

:bulletgreen: Please do not send me suggestions that you have sent to other volunteers or staff members (to avoid mix ups).
:bulletgreen: Make sure you don't suggest work of deviants who have received a DD in the past 6 months.
:bulletgreen: Please understand that I can not reply to all DD suggestions (but I will read them all!).
:bulletgreen: If I send you a note telling you that your suggestion has been accepted, keep it a secret! Otherwise it will will ruin the surprise!

Things to consider: DDs for a strong and healthy community (the following will have no bearing on my DD selection but it's something to think about).

:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions from galleries of active deviants!  (Deviant uploads work, posts journals, makes and responds to comments, etc.)
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces where the artist comments list helpful or interesting information about the piece.
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces that display accurate EXIF data (so we can all learn!).
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces from lesser known deviants.

Some useful links;
FAQ #18: Who selects the Daily Deviation and how is it chosen?
FAQ #85: Can I be a volunteer on deviantART?
FAQ #313: How can I find out if someone already has a Daily Deviation?
FAQ #873: What do I do when I disapprove of a Daily Deviation feature?
HTDI:TSBTS aims to guide emerging photographers by showcasing tips, techniques, and stories generously shared by some of dA's most accomplished Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature artists.  At the same time, we hope to shed light on the often overlooked amount of effort that is required to create striking images like these.  Making a great photograph takes time, planning, a creative eye, and solid photography skills.  What happens behind the lens is just as important as the final product!

I am sure many of you have been told "Great photo!  You must have an awesome camera!" or "Wow, you sure were lucky to get that shot!"  While a "good camera" and "luck" are small ingredients when creating a visual feast, we photographers would like to remind everyone that technical competency, determination, patience, and creative vision are the real meat and potatoes of any tasty photo.

"Was it luck that I happened to wake up at 3am five days in a row, hike two miles through a snow covered forest with a flashlight and freeze my butt off waiting for the moose to arrive at the lake just as dawn broke over the mountains?  I don't think so!"

If you would like to submit your own amazing APN photo and story for a future installment of How They Did It: The Story Behind the Shot, note trevg with your image, story, and the subject "HTDI:TSBTS."  Also, please go show some love to the amazing photographers who contributed to this article and thank them for sharing their insight!  :squee:




Fire and Ice by Dani-Lefrancois



Camera: Canon 5D
Shutter: 15/1 second
Aperture: f/16.0
Focal Length: 17mm
ISO: 50

There are some mornings when you can just feel Mother Nature giving you a warm hug and saying, "Here, this is for you!"  This morning was one of those.

My mom was visiting for the Christmas holidays, so I brought her out with me on a morning adventure to my favourite sunrise location.  I was happy and excited to see the black, clear ice.  I went close to the edge of the ice to check out how thick it was and ran back to Mike, my Swiss Army car (he is his own survival kit and has everything imaginable, including beef jerky!), and whipped out my ice cleats.  I slipped them on and ran onto the ice, all while hearing, "danielle, get off the ice! You don't know how thick it is!  There is open water over here!  Danielle, don't go any farther!"  Haha!  Completely in the zone and 100% ignoring my mother's yells from the shore, I knelt down and spread my weight over the ice so I could get closer to the spine of ice I saw from the shore – well worth the ear ache. :P

Because I do very little processing (no HDR, no blending, no masking), I rely a lot on gradient filters.  Over the years, I have perfected the art of free-handing my filters, mainly because I always forget my filter holders (I have four, and none of them ever seem to be with me).  With free-handing, you have the freedom to move the filter to spots in the image that will need more neutral density. This also gets rid of the slightly gradient horizon line.  The best thing I ever did to further my creative process and vision was to experiment with filters!

-Dani-Lefrancois





This view of the Vipava Valley always inspired me, and when you drive on the highway at the correct time, it is just outstanding.

For a long time, I was planning to capture this particular view.  The first problem I encountered was the location.  It wasn't easy to find a sweet spot, but after searching Google Maps and walking around, I found the location from which to capture this view.

After sturdily placing the tripod in the desired spot, I started to capture the scene as it unfolded.  My goal was to compress a few hours of exposures into one image, like a light painting but with the sun as light source.  I made around 140 images, around 20 images being for the day exposure and 120 for the star trails in the sky.  I spent 11 hours making the final image, but in the end, I was quite happy with the result.

Day exposures:
Canon 5D Mark II + Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II @ 35mm (f/16 + nd8, different exposure times) RAW
Night exposures:
Canon 5D Mark II + Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II @ 35mm (f/7.1, 30s each) jpg

-eriksimonic




Bastei Sunrise by MatthiasHaltenhof



Camera: Canon 450D
Shutter: 1/1 second
Aperture: f/16.0
Focal Length: 10mm
ISO: 100

I travelled to the national park "Sächsische Schweiz" with three other photographers of a local photography group.  Some months ago, I asked them if they might join me for this trip.  They said "yes" and wanted me to do all of the detailed planning.

I did a lot of Google Earth research and looked for the sunrise and sunset directions and times.  I decided that an area called "Bastei" would be good for both sunrise and sunset.  I found a holiday flat about 3 km from the location, and one phone call later, we were booked in.

On a Friday afternoon after work, we drove down, checked in quickly, had dinner, and went up to Bastei to start shooting.  Everybody was busy at different places, and we had a nice sunset that evening.  We kept shooting even longer, being it was not far from summer solstice.  Two hours later, we photographed the stars above the national park.  It was already 11 o'clock, so we went to the flat, had a beer, and went to bed.

After three hours of sleep, the alarm clock rang, and we had to get up again.  Sunrise was at five o'clock, so I planned to be there at four so we would have enough time to build up the cameras and get familiar with the awakening nature.  Everybody was quite exhausted and, as we arrived, not a single cloud showed up – not the sky situation I wished to have.  I walked around quite a bit and decided to mount the camera on the tripod looking directly into the sun.

We've been lucky with the weather.  Below us, the clouds floated over the trees.  With no clouds in the sky at all, I thought a sun star might be the best choice.  I made my composition and included some foreground to add depth to the image.  I knew f/16 would make a nice sun star, but it would also blur my image due to diffraction.  When the sun came up, I took brackets with f/11 for optimum sharpness and brackets with f/16 for the sun star to blend them all later in Photoshop into a final image.  After two hours of shooting, we went back to the flat and back to bed.  All in all, it was pretty exhausting, but the images were worth it.

-MatthiasHaltenhof




Natural Arch Springbrook by DrewHopper



Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
Shutter: 1/1, 8/1, 1/10 second
Aperture: f/16.0
ISO: 100 - 400
Filters: CPL
Post: LR3 - PS CS4

A little bit of history: Natural Bridge section of Springbrook National Park forms part of the World Heritage listed Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. The cave is geologically significant due to the erosion process involved in its formation. It contains one of Australia's largest glow-worm colonies, attracting more than 200 visitors a night. Natural Bridge section has pristine subtropical rainforest, containing epiphytes, palms, tree ferns and a canopy of black bean, brushbox, giant stinging trees, strangler figs and lillipillies. It is home to an array of rare and threatened fauna and flora, including smooth davidsonia, small-leaved hazelwood, the cascade tree frog, tusked frog, sooty owl and koala.

During the summer months, the creek bank at the entrance to the cave often becomes overcrowded with visitors picnicking and swimming. Overcrowding reduces the natural aesthetics of Natural Bridge. However, swimming inside the cave is now prohibited since March 2008. Pollution from visitors using insect repellent, sunscreen and leaving rubbish in the creek harms the insect food source of the glow-worms and microbats. Cave Creek is home to several frog species including the rare Australian marsupial frog, which may also be affected by visitor pollution. This is why National Parks and Wildlife Rangers have restricted the access to the public.

About the photo: Taken September 13th, 2010, which happens to be the off peak season, therefore I had the whole cave/park to myself. Unfortunately, the conditions for rainforest photos were non-existent with the day being very sunny and clear blue skies, not what you want when shooting in the forest. Ideally, you want an overcast sky, preferably just after some rain so that all the foliage is lush and green. Not living anywhere near the cave, I decided to make the most of my time there while I was on a family vacation. I adventured through the rainforest and into the cave, which wasn't exactly flowing all that much compared to how I have seen it in the past after heavy downpours. I wasn't feeling hopeful at this point, but this place is one of my all time favourite locations in Australia, so I told myself I had to get a photo to the best of my ability.

Due to all 4 of my memory cards being full from our vacation to the Gold Coast, I only had 20 or so frames left on a 4gb card. This made it challenging seeing as I needed to shoot multiple exposures for the correct exposure for the interior and exterior of the cave, not to mention the highlights inside the cave (waterfall). I can't remember off the top of my head, but I'm pretty sure this shot I used 4 or 5 exposures blended manually together in Photoshop CS4.

Sentimental Value: I grew up only a short drive from the rainforest and my mother used to take my sister and me swimming after school most summer afternoons. That was back when swimming was allowed in the cave, the good old days. It's not just I who has fond memories of this place though. A gentleman ordered this print from the USA. He was touched by this image when it brought back special memories when he proposed to his wife 10 years ago.

-DrewHopper




Fire with Water by SebastianKraus



Camera: Nikon D70
Shutter: 1/250 second
Aperture: f/8.0
Focal Length: 18mm
ISO: 200

On any given day, you will probably see a line of cars on a cliff-top or headland, the occupants silently surveying the scene in front of them.  Some of these people will likely be photographers.  The UK has approximately eleven thousand miles (depending on which expert you ask) of mostly accessible coastline, and its beauty and variety has been a magnet to snappers, probably since the invention of this great medium of ours.

I became interested in landscape photography in 2006 and, since then, have been hooked, reading everything I could lay my hands on to widen my knowledge and expertise.  I soon realized that this was an art form that would enable me to express my feelings about the natural world in which we live.  I'm drawn to the coast and the ever-changing nature of the sea that surrounds it.  My images capture moments in time. If my camera has taught me one thing about nature, it's that it holds so very much more than is first apparent to the naked eye.  Landscape photographers should be intensely aware that nature is not inert; it's a living thing, constantly changing with the light, the time of day and the seasons.

In coastal areas, the tides and winds add another set of dynamics.  Taking pictures of water is an amazing experience that gives a lot of satisfaction to me and – I hope – to those who view my images.  However, water and waves by their nature can be unpredictable and forever changing.  Sometimes the sea is violent, crashing against the rocks and beaches.  With good timing, this can be captured using a fast shutter speed to freeze the action.  At other times, the sea is calm and benign, and a slow shutter will bring out the delicate movements and shapes revealed by a longer exposure.

There is third way, of course: Get into the water, surfer style, and be right in the action!  This is not for the faint-hearted requires the usual safety precautions, but you can get some interesting and unique pictures.  Clearly, anything to do with water, salt, spray and sand will probably mean the instant demise of your beloved camera, so a waterproof housing is essential.  These are expensive and dedicated to the job, but it is possible to come up with ideas of your own, such as using plastic bags and elastic bands.  I have even used a coating of cling film around the vulnerable parts, leaving the lens exposed.  It worked perfectly!  These home-made efforts probably won't take a full soaking but are great around the water's edge to help protect your expensive kit.

My approach to coastal photography is always the same.  I like to arrive a couple hours before I start work to watch my surroundings and plan the all-important composition.  This is the way we lead the viewer through the image.  Should you separate the main subject, or should it be integrated into its surroundings?  Incorporating all the different elements is a complex task, especially when using a wide-angle lens to capture the grandeur of the scene before you.  Of course, coastal photography isn't just about the big view; there are details to be seen.  Reflections in pools, shells at the waterline, rock formations and so on are all part of the bigger picture.

Timing is important.  The best images are made at the start and the end of the day.  There will be fewer people about and the sun will be lower in the sky, making for longer shadows and, late in the day, the lovely warm light of evening.  Remember, it's worth checking the weather forecast before you set off!  The weather doesn't have to be good, of course.  The coast comes alive on stormy days, with rough seas and threatening skies.  Don't be afraid to get wet – on days like this, you will get the shots that others miss!

When shooting seascapes, it's very easy to end up with so-so images that contain little in the way of points of interest.  Half land, half sea snaps spring to mind.  Try to add good focal points by including a feature in the foreground: a rock pool, a groyne, perhaps – something that helps to lead the eye into the scene and add depth.  There may be a distant feature – a lighthouse or headland – that can be placed in your composition in relation to your foreground.  Vary the views by shooting from a lower or higher vantage point (which is why it is necessary to do a reconnaissance of the location).  You'll need to consider where to focus.  Depth of field that keeps everything sharp front-to-back requires a small aperture, f/16 maybe, or you may choose to open the lens aperture to throw backgrounds into soft focus.  I know you've heard it before, but, especially if you are just starting out, you can't beat the good old "rule of thirds" for composition set-up.  Dividing your image into imaginary thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and placing your focal points there with your skyline high or low on the horizontals is a great starting point for a balanced composition.  It doesn't hurt to focus one-third of the way "into" the image as well.  Of course, rules such as this are made to be broken.  It's interesting to see what happens!

Be careful, though.  What can kill a promising shot is a sloping horizon.  It's all very well using a tripod but is it level?  Some have a spirit level built into them; if not, you can buy a hot shoe level at modest cost.  Sorting it out in Photoshop isn't the answer!

The human eye sees things differently from the camera, which is limited by its ability to deal with the wide range of exposures often encountered on the coast with the light reflecting off the water and sand and then bouncing around inside your lens.  In my opinion, the need to understand the light, even in this digital age, is paramount.  At best, the average camera can handle maybe seven stops of light.  I would counter this by taking several readings using my Nikon's very accurate meter (you could use a separate hand-held meter) and calculate an average exposure, setting this manually on the camera.  Just leaving it to the matrix metering may work sometimes, but it doesn't help you to control how you want your image to look.

If in doubt, say with a high-contrast scene, you might chose to bracket your exposures by a few stops either way, over and under.  A good DSLR should have this facility built in, so, as every good tutor will tell you, make sure to read the manual!  If your scene is static, you may even be able to combine exposures in-camera or later with imaging software.  This is where your trusty tripod will be your friend, holding your camera rock-steady (Rock-steady! Rocks! Coast! - OK, never mind).  With coastal photography, my Giottos tripod is my constant companion – it slows my working method down and makes me consider all the variables before releasing the shutter.

And talking of slowing things down, another way to add atmosphere and interest to your photographs is by introducing blur to anything moving within your chosen composition by selecting a slow shutter speed and/or your lowest ISO number.  With water, especially quiet sea, the movement of the waves will soften and eventually blur into mist – very atmospheric if done correctly.  I don't need to remind you that your three-legged friend is vital here.  You can achieve similar effects with the grasses on pristine sand dunes or even with the swirl of a flock of seagulls.

Bright weather means achieving a slow shutter can be difficult, which is where filters come into their own.  There are many different brands and prices – I use Hi Tech –  and you should always buy the best you can afford.  For coastal photography, graduated, polarizing and neutral density filters will serve you best.  Avoid the cheesy-coloured ones or the dreaded sunset filter (find a real sunset instead!), and stick to the ones that can really do a job for you.  They come in various strengths, with the density of the filters expressed in stops.  With graduated filters, from coloured to clear with the most versatile being grey, you can manage the contrast difference between sea and sky for a balanced, detailed exposure.  No matter how good a photo is, it won't work with a blown-out sky.  Some grads have a straight-edge transition called "hard step," which is fine for a clearly defined horizon line, for example, but the more versatile filters have a gently feathered colour-to-clear transition, which is generally more useful.  It's probably best to avoid the screw-in graduated filters, as they don't have the flexibility that a sheet filter in a holder can give.  Every good camera bag should have a few of these.  Similarly, neutral density filers are all a single colour for contrast control – ideal if you want to achieve slow shutter speeds!

The polarizer is another must-have.  These remove the specular reflections from shiny surfaces and help boost colour, but they need to be used with care.  At higher altitudes, blue skies can nearly turn black!  If you own a modern AF DSLR, as most of us do, you will almost certainly need to buy a circular rather than linear polarizer; otherwise, you will probably get inaccurate light meter readings.

Our coast doesn't just encompass nature's marvels; it can also be manmade.  There are weed-encrusted piers, ancient jetties pointing out to sea, the ultra-modern and the derelict – all there for the taking.

I derive great satisfaction from producing my images.  I've wasted my time with inferior light, gotten wet and cold and muddy and hot – sometimes all on the same day – yet still achieved the results I wanted.

I've seen the tidal transitions caused by the pull of the moon – the long, sandy expanses of low tide and crashing waves with the sea at its height.  I try to reveal the changes that nature offers throughout the year.  The photographer who watches and waits sees so much more than the casual visitor.  I hope you enjoy my photographs as much as I have enjoyed the experience of creating them.

EQUIPMENT TIPS:  In addition to a camera and lenses with hoods, I recommend the following for your kitbag:

:bulletblue: UV filters to protect the lens.
:bulletblue: Remote control or cable release. You could also use the self timer.
:bulletblue: Spare battery power.
:bulletblue: Filters, tripod and spirit level.
:bulletblue: A flashgun for fill flash, should you need it.
:bulletblue: A powerful torch to illuminate the foreground in low light to aid autofocus. It also helps to stop you from stumbling around in the dark!
:bulletblue: A small head torch for low-light camera controls and finding stuff in your bag.
:bulletblue: Cleaning/drying cloths for your gear. A towel for you – yes, in the UK you will need it!
:bulletblue: Rain protection for your camera. If all else fails, use a shower cap from the bathroom.

-SebastianKraus


Thanks to all of you who have been sending APN Daily Deviation suggestions.  Here is a collection of Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature DDs for the month of January.



Chitwan Monsoon by LindelCaine Livingstonii by dampStamp Sunday by Northstar76:thumb274450337: I'm still beautiful by littlerobin87 barrage by NWunseen Flamingos Do Sleep by toribio First light by gnohz Osprey family at lunch by Mateuszkowalski I'm lonely by eyesweb1 Hell is livin without you by SaraGregorcic The silence of a wintry forest by sahk99 Profondeur des champs - II by SylveryFox Twenty Five Past Three. by andy-j-s Aurora Borealis 2012 by Killswitch88 Fluffy Luggage by StacyD No Smoking by Sagittor SNOW by lisans Einsam by Analil Kastoria-Lake by sui400 Lumino by Thinking-Silence:thumb274362620: My Rainbow Fairytale by da-phil:thumb160066902: Jellyfish Bloom by leighd I have wings by clippercarrillo Can i walk on water? by Metkan Fairfax Bolinas Road by JasonTheStranger Population Density by Raymaker Flying Pintail by simzcom i'm here by Turqoose



Please note that this doesn't include all APN DD's.  Other volunteers and/or staff members can also give DD's to Animals, Plants & Nature photographs. This article is a showcase of the DD's that I featured.



Please note Daily Deviation suggestions for Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature to me with:

:bulletblue: "DD Suggestion" in the subject line
:bulletblue: A link or thumb to the deviation (Thumbs can be created by copy/pasting the :thumb#####: code located to the right of the deviation you are suggesting.)
:bulletblue: A brief description (if you choose)

:bulletgreen: Please do not send me suggestions that you have sent to other volunteers or staff members (to avoid mix ups).
:bulletgreen: Make sure you don't suggest work of deviants who have received a DD in the past 6 months.
:bulletgreen: Please understand that I can not reply to all DD suggestions (but I will read them all!).
:bulletgreen: If I send you a note telling you that your suggestion has been accepted, keep it a secret! Otherwise it will will ruin the surprise!

Things to consider: DDs for a strong and healthy community (the following will have no bearing on my DD selection but it's something to think about).

:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions from galleries of active deviants!  (Deviant uploads work, posts journals, makes and responds to comments, etc.)
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces where the artist comments list helpful or interesting information about the piece.
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces that display accurate EXIF data (so we can all learn!).
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces from lesser known deviants.

Some useful links;
FAQ #18: Who selects the Daily Deviation and how is it chosen?
FAQ #85: Can I be a volunteer on deviantART?
FAQ #313: How can I find out if someone already has a Daily Deviation?
FAQ #873: What do I do when I disapprove of a Daily Deviation feature?
Peace Of Mind

If you had your camera/grip/lens/flash/etc. around your neck and fell down a flight of stairs, would you prefer to:

smash your gear into tiny bits but escape with very limited physical injury

OR

protect your gear with your body (to the extent that everything comes out of the ordeal in functioning condition) but suffer a concussion or broken limb?

Discount any medical costs you would incur in this hypothetical situation.

---

I shot a wedding in July of 2009.  After the ceremony, while we were getting ready to go to a nearby park for the wedding party/bride and groom photos before the reception, the unthinkable happened.  My Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L mysteriously fell off my 5D Mark II and dropped to the concrete sidewalk.  :O

Careless, I know, though I am not the only one...

I was lucky.  Even though the rear element had a nasty scuff and the zoom ring had to be forced to turn, I was able to shoot the reception with the lens (the wedding party photo shoot was rained out by a freak downpour).  I got clear shots and the AF was still good.  However, the lens definitely needed a trip to the repair center, a trip with a nice $290 price tag.

Luckily for me, about a month before that fateful day (now know as OMGIBROKEMY$1200LENS-Day) I purchased a Personal Articles insurance policy for my camera equipment.  There was no deductible and I received a $290 reimbursement check shortly after submitting my receipt.

Camera insurance is even better than extended warranties, in my opinion.  Warranties expire and may only cover certain circumstances/defects.  I have over $9000 in camera equipment insured through State Farm (with a Professional Business Use citation) and it only costs me $99/year.  That's $8.25/month for peace of mind.  If I drop another lens (heaven forbid!) or my bag rolls down a hill into a lake (I believe this very thing has happened to photographers on dA), I know I'm covered for the insured amount.  (Keep your receipts!)

Though I hope to avoid making any claims in the future, I definitely feel more comfortable knowing if I fall down the stairs with my camera, I can take care of my me body before my camera body.

Now you're thinking with portals!

(OK, that had nothing to do with the post above, but I felt I need to end with a tag line of some sort.)
Thanks to all of you who have been sending APN Daily Deviation suggestions.  Here is a collection of Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature DDs for the month of December.



Playing in the mist by carlosthe Meet Birdy by kauf-mich Paisley.. by M-Atif-Saeed Carpathians by eugene-kukulka Black Throated Diver 9 by Starfall00 Northern Highlands III by LG77 -Turning above hills- by Janek-Sedlar Monochrome by alischan 76 by hamingja Jewel by DaisyDinkle Owl by Svennovitch Winter in Holland  IV by Betuwefotograaf Cosmic Ray by Thomas-Koidhis s t o r m by MaphiuLuta attack by odpium Black and white by Vikarus Breakfast by KatiBear Wuermtal by quintz furry mouth by XSini Giants gathering by Bojkovski The Breakthrough III by rekokros Half Dressed by CapturingTheNight Third Time's The Charm by JacquelineBarkla Christmas Pug 2 by garnettrules21:thumb213303836: Paradise at Christmas Cove by Julian-Bunker Double Rainbow by samuelbitton Sorceress by ColinHSillerud



Please note that this doesn't include all APN DD's.  Other volunteers and/or staff members can also give DD's to Animals, Plants & Nature photographs. This article is a showcase of the DD's that I featured.



Please note Daily Deviation suggestions for Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature to me with:

:bulletblue: "DD Suggestion" in the subject line
:bulletblue: A link or thumb to the deviation (Thumbs can be created by copy/pasting the :thumb#####: code located to the right of the deviation you are suggesting.)
:bulletblue: A brief description (if you choose)

:bulletgreen: Please do not send me suggestions that you have sent to other volunteers or staff members (to avoid mix ups).
:bulletgreen: Make sure you don't suggest work of deviants who have received a DD in the past 6 months.
:bulletgreen: Please understand that I can not reply to all DD suggestions (but I will read them all!).
:bulletgreen: If I send you a note telling you that your suggestion has been accepted, keep it a secret! Otherwise it will will ruin the surprise!

Things to consider: DDs for a strong and healthy community (the following will have no bearing on my DD selection but it's something to think about).

:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions from galleries of active deviants!  (Deviant uploads work, posts journals, makes and responds to comments, etc.)
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces where the artist comments list helpful or interesting information about the piece.
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces that display accurate EXIF data (so we can all learn!).
:bulletyellow: I love DD suggestions of pieces from lesser known deviants.

Some useful links;
FAQ #18: Who selects the Daily Deviation and how is it chosen?
FAQ #85: Can I be a volunteer on deviantART?
FAQ #313: How can I find out if someone already has a Daily Deviation?
FAQ #873: What do I do when I disapprove of a Daily Deviation feature?
I apologize for my recent lapse in activity.  I have been in and out of Portland over the last week and a half launching the Trail Blazers Fan Photo program.  I may jump over to Phoenix and/or Chicago in the next month or two to manage some other operations as well.

Trail Blazers Fan Photo Store

I arrive back in Denver this evening and hope to get caught up on a few things before the New Year!  My message center is a bit ridiculous at the moment...

How They Did It: The Story Behind the Shot

I hope everybody had the chance to read through the first installment of "How They Did It: The Story Behind the Shot."  I am looking for more APN photos and stories to feature in next month's issue.  Please note me if you would like to participate!

Photography Goals for 2012

I have been making a list of goals I hope to achieve (or make progress toward) in 2012.  I am developing a "Vision Statement" and putting together a "Photography Bucket List," both of which I hope to share once they are complete.  I have made a list of locations I want to visit and explore, general shots I want to capture, and specific ideas with which I hope to experiment.

I need to work harder to promote my business, though it's hard because time to do so has been difficult to find.  I am almost finished with my website and I have new business cards coming in this week (my current ones don't match the new website design and, in general, really needed an update)!

I am also trying to develop a personal "style" for my photography.  If you look at my site, you will see that the subjects I shoot are all over the place.  I hope to develop a "look" that will help define my work (or vice versa) and create some "brand recognition."  There are several photographers in my watch list (like kkart, my-shots and PeterJCoskun) who I can pick out just by looking at their images.  They have a cohesive style that is a combination of subject matter and post-processing (and more, of course!) that makes their work immediately recognizable to me (most of the time).

Having something to work toward can help guide your photography down many different paths.  Set goals and see where they take you!

SO!  What are your photography goals for 2012?
I wish you all the best for a safe and happy holiday season and a great new year!
HTDI:TSBTS aims to guide emerging photographers by showcasing tips, techniques, and stories generously shared by some of dA's most accomplished Photography > Animals, Plants & Nature artists.  At the same time, we hope to shed light on the often overlooked amount of effort that is required to create striking images like these.  Making a great photograph takes time, planning, a creative eye, and solid photography skills.  What happens behind the lens is just as important as the final product!

I am sure many of you have been told "Great photo!  You must have an awesome camera!" or "Wow, you sure were lucky to get that shot!"  While a "good camera" and "luck" are small ingredients when creating a visual feast, we photographers would like to remind everyone that technical competency, determination, patience, and creative vision are the real meat and potatoes of any tasty photo.

"Was it luck that I happened to wake up at 3am five days in a row, hike two miles through a snow covered forest with a flashlight and freeze my butt off waiting for the moose to arrive at the lake just as dawn broke over the mountains?  I don't think so!"

If you would like to submit your own amazing APN photo and story for a future installment of How They Did It: The Story Behind the Shot, note trevg with your image, story, and the subject "HTDI:TSBTS."  Also, please go show some love to the amazing photographers who contributed to this article and thank them for sharing their insight!  :squee:




Starry Night by Meowgli



Camera: Canon 40D
Shutter: 112/1 second
Aperture: f/5.0
Focal Length: 11mm
ISO: 400

There are only a few days each month when attempting this shot is possible.  To get good star visibility, it's best to shoot around a new moon.  Of course, a clear night is also a must and several months this past year the two never coincided.  Other times I was simply too busy with other engagements or afflicted by an uncharacteristic apathy and laziness (call it seasonal affective disorder or something!).

Anyway, last night ticked all the right boxes and I was psyched to go give it a try.  Probably a little too excited cos I rushed out the door not long after sunset, drove the 15 miles there and realized immediately upon getting out of the car that I didn't have my tripod.  Muppet!  I played around with a makeshift support on my bag and coat for the best part of an hour before deciding it was hopeless.  Dejected and mad at myself, I got back in the car and drove home under starry skies.  Damn.  Can't be having this...gotta go back...

So I packed a sandwich, mini bottle of whiskey, whacked a load of tunes on my phone and headed back out about 11:30, determined to have something to show for my efforts.  After about an hour of experimenting with points of view, camera settings, and lighting methods, I had formulated a game plan.

The shot went something like this:

Open the shutter on bulb mode, paint the windmill with a powerful handtorch, fire an external flash into the foreground on 1/64 power, leg it up to the mill, fire two flash bursts into the ceiling on 1/8 power, search for the red light of my camera in the field so I could find my way back to it, wait about half a minute, close the shutter...all the while with my playlist blaring on full volume in my pocket.  I must have looked a right nutter having my little one-man rave and shining lights everywhere!  Fortunately I was alone with nobody to witness my madness :giggle:

Eventually got home just before 3...

-Meowgli




To me (and these are purely my opinions) there are three critical factors to a good nature photograph.  The first, and maybe the most important, is light...

Light transforms objects, especially natural objects.  Ever watch a time lapse video and see the shadows of an object spin a 180 or more?  It's the position of the sun that draws us to certain locations at certain times of the day.  As most photographers will say, shooting in the early morning hours and late evening hours will provide the most dramatic lighting conditions.  This is true for the most part.  Only on rare occasions I have seen incredible light mid-day due to atmospheric conditions and intense storms.  The image above was shot about a half hour before the sun set behind the horizon.  Typically, I find this to be some of the harshest light to deal with and, of course, some of the most appealing when you know how to handle it.  This was shot at the tail end of an early winter storm.  It may be odd to hear, but the best thing a photographer can ask for is inclement weather.  Storms provide the most dramatic lighting conditions, especially when there are gaps in the clouds.  For the serious nature photographer, being out when its raining, snowing, hailing, or even a dust storm, are usually the happiest moments, especially when you have captured something out of the ordinary.  It isn't easy trying to photograph in pouring rain or around extremely close lightning.  In fact, a lot of nature photographers have put their lives on the line to get that one shot.  Weather has limits, so don't push those limits.  I can count the number of times on one hand where I knew I had some special light, and this was one of them.  As it's always hard to incorporate the feelings and actual view of a scene on the web, one might not think this light is anything to get happy about.  It's the glow on the foreground cacti that really drew me to this scene.  As the sun peeked through the clouds it also illuminated much of the desert in different shades and created a very nice contrast to the scene.  Knowing how to expose for the light was critical.  The use of graduated neutral density filters was also very helpful.

The second important aspect of any photograph is the composition...

I always head out to areas I know I will photograph either at the time or in the future much earlier in the day to scout out compositions.  However, referring back to the first aspect, you never know how the light is going to look over a specific area.  I frequent the area shown in the photo for hiking and, of course, photography, and one thing I always look for are groupings of cacti and a clear view of the mountains.  Here, the mountains create a nice backdrop and almost make you wonder what is on the other side.  As mentioned with the light, those foreground cacti were vital to the scene.  They act almost as sentinels of the desert watching the dramatic light drift over the mountain.  With the inclusion of the cholla and saguaro cactus, one can easily pinpoint that this is the Sonoran Desert, hence the title "Sonoran glow".

The last and final aspect to a good image is patience...

This is almost a two way road, because sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you have to wait and wait for that moment.  All too often nature photographers are told they are so lucky to have photographed a scene or an animal.  However, luck has little to do with the time and effort one puts into the image.  Although it does happen...luck that is.  Being at the right place at the right time and knowing the subject will help you get the most out of your time in the field.  There have been times that I have gone to the location only to be shut out by clouds or an animal never showing their face.  On the other hand, I have showed up at a random location and shot some of my favorite images.  The shot above did not require a lot of patience.  This specific outing was mere chance of getting anything decent.  Once I saw the heavy clouds and some clearing towards the sun, I hit the road.  This evening I felt I took some of my best photos including this.  I will spend countless hours in the field maybe just in one little spot waiting for something to happen.  And when it does, it usually pays off big.  To be a good photographer and see things others might not see, you must be patient.  Spending days and days at a location will help you visualize something someone had missed or, perhaps, never thought of photographing, and fuel your creative airwaves.  I've learned to be patient with almost anything these days because of photography.  Don't get frustrated because you can and will miss the shot of your life.  Believe me, it's happened to me.

-PeterJCoskun




Season's First Flake by FramedByNature



Camera: Canon Rebel XSi
Shutter: 1/332 second
Aperture: f/inf (reverse mounted lens)
Focal Length: mm (reverse mounted lens)
ISO: 400

Macro images are perhaps the most underestimated and overlooked sub-category of the Animals, Plants & Nature gallery.  The common viewer may think "Oh, they saw a sweet insect, pulled out their camera, and took a photo of it. Cool."  But this couldn't be farther from the reality of what a macro photographer goes through while taking their images.  Insects can be extremely skittish and can find a million ways to escape.  Jumping spiders are absolute escape masters!  Even if your subject isn't a living thing, that doesn't make it any easier to photograph.  Snowflakes, one of my favorite things to shoot during the winter, last only a few seconds before being destroyed.  They are such delicate objects.  One degree too warm, and they melt in an instant.  The slightest breeze picks up and they completely disappear from your viewfinder.  This shot was taken during an early season snowstorm back in 2009.  This meant that the flakes were particularly wet and only held their crystalline structure for a couple moments.  Since I don't have a macro lens, I used the reverse macro technique to capture my subject.  I steadied my camera on my wrist, waiting for a snowflake to grace my glove.  I dialed in my settings, using a moderately high ISO in order to counteract any shaking caused by my shivering hands.  The moment a snowflake fell on my glove, I quickly tweaked the camera into position and took the shot.  The first few attempts didn't turn out so well (the depth of field associated with the reverse macro technique is very shallow).  I was about to give up but I finally managed to get this shot after about half an hour of standing out in the snow.  My gloves were soaked and hands frozen, but I didn't care.  I got the shot I was hoping for!

-FramedByNature




Suspended in Light by justeline



Camera: Nikon D300
Lens: Nikkor 18-200mm
Shutter: 1/2 second
Aperture: f/5.0
Focal Length: 150mm
ISO: 200
Filters: Lee 2 stops soft grad ND (0.6), Hoya ND8

The Metéora (Greek: Μετέωρα, "suspended rocks", "suspended in the air" or "in the heavens above") is one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos.  The six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and Pindus Mountains, in central Greece."

…a low mist was the kind of weather I had hoped for even before we set off for that surreal place.  But after having spent 4 afternoons and 4 mornings at the same chosen spot, having to deal with light but annoying showers for the most part, after witnessing rainbows materialize in all the wrong spots (over my companions head), after watching a wonderful cloud formation changing colors over the wrong spot (the road), I went to bed on our last night there having already put this place in my "to re-visit" list and I would have gladly stayed in bed on the following morning, dreaming about this shot rather than be mocked by the weather once again.  Fortunately KirlianCamera wasn't ready to give up and it was on that fifth morning that the rising sun worked its magic and created the low mist I was hoping for.

Location: Meteora, Greece

-justeline




Autumn Aquarel by DimensionSeven



Camera: Nikon D80
Lens: Nikkor 16-85mm
Shutter: 1/2 second
Aperture: f/22
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO: 100
Filters: Soligor CPL

2010.11.04, Árpádtető, Mecsek, Hungary.

I know, it's been done before a lot, but I always wanted to have my take as well.  The trick in shots like this is to get the shutter speed and the panning angle together so that they fit the subject.  Easier to be said than done! :D

The first problem I encountered was the tripod: a ballhead won't do.  It's nearly impossible to get a perfectly linear pan with the camera being either perfectly horizontal or vertical during the pan on a head that allows free movements in all 3 dimensions.  Lucky enough, I could find a way around this with my ballhead: my tripod can have it's center column taken out and attached horizontally.  I loosened the screw between the base of the head and the horizontal central column, and voilá, there you have your one dimension rotation.  However, I still had to pay attention that the ballhead gets the camera level so that vertical trees are vertical in the picture.

The second problem is the perspective distortion.  Unless you use a tilt-shift or PC-E lens for the pan, you'll end up with bent trees on both sides. The trick to work around this problem (it's not perfect, though), is to use longer focal lengths with small panning angle to minimize this effect.

After this, there's the shutter speed problem.  If it's too long, you land on the overly abstract side with lines only.  If it's too short (or you start the exposure with the camera being steady), the scene becomes too recognizable.  It's a tough decision, and it's also subjective, depending on the result you want to achieve.  The shot that I picked to upload is neither too abstract, nor too recognizable.

As for the composition, it's always a trial-error thing.  The camera had to keep moving as the exposure started and ended, therefore, I never really knew what was gonna be on the final picture.

Oh, and one last thing: DON'T forget to blow dust off your sensor/front lens/filters before the shooting, as small apertures tend to reveal a small Sahara inside your gear! :XD:

-DimensionSeven