Monday, September 27, 2010

Pet Photography --- Adding Fill Light

Nikon D700, 24-70mm lens at f3.3, 1/250th, ISO 200
flash on a bracket with diffuser at 1/64th power

For my second assignment in my online Pet Photography class, we had to add fill light with a reflector or flash.  And we had to photograph a pet other than our ownThis is my father's cat Chi and I was pretty skeptical that I could go to my parents' house and get cats to do something I wanted, but it was easy as pie.  Chi posed so well for me and he did not seem to mind the bright flash at all.  Here the flash was above my camera in a bracket so the light was very even.  I had tried removing my camera from the bracket and putting it to the side on the carpet earlier when he was in front of the hearth, but the light was too harsh and not flattering.  I did not want to push my luck by trying too many things! I had hauled reflectors, a light stand and umbrellas, some baskets and fluffy blankets, and did not end up using any of them.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Available Light

Nikon D700, 50mm lens at f2.8 and 1/1000th, ISO 1100

I am taking an online class in Pet Photography taught by Jill Flynn to try to improve my skills.  Our first assignment was to search out great natural light inside and outdoors and photograph a pet with only available light, no reflector or flash.  Since Mags is just about the only dog who listens to me, she was once again my subject.  Well, it could also have been the treats I was using but the other 2 just take them and run.  This was taken in our entry, inside our front doorsAt first I was using a high ISO with the  light coming through the windows in the doors and above them but eventually I opened the doors and let the afternoon light come in.  This was about 3 pm with clouds passing over the sun that hits the front of our house in the late afternoon.  The image above is one I submitted for the assignment but below are a few more.

f1.8, 1/350th, ISO 400 

f5.6, 1/45th, ISO 800

f5.6, 1/60th, ISO 1100

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


This is the plant the Monarchs ate down to stubs, it is blooming again.  It is Asclepias, better known as Milkweed and is a host plant for Monarch butterflies...huh, pretty amazing that it works!  I wish I had been able to find a cocoon.

From a link on the internet I found out that last February a violent winter storm hit central Mexico where the Monarchs overwinter causing flooding that killed half of the butterflies:

Scientists predict that the number of Monarch returning to the northern range of their breeding grounds (the US and Canada) this summer will be fewer than at anytime since the overwintering colonies were first discovered in Mexico in 1975. And because of this, the expectation is that the number of Monarchs returning to Mexico in the fall of 2010 will also be dramatically reduced.  If any of you have in the past contemplated the idea of planting Milkweed (the host plant for Monarch butterflies) to help Monarchs in their quest for survival, this might be the year to act. Monarchs are going to need all the help they can get this summer.

Adult Monarchs (and many other butterfly species) love nectar-rich milkweed as a food source, but there is a more important reason for the Monarch's close attachment to milkweed. Milkweed is the only plant material that Monarch caterpillars can eat. Remove Monarch caterpillars from milkweed and they will starve; or they will eat other plant material, sicken, and then die. The scientific name for milkweed is Asclepias (pronounced as-KLEE-pea-us).

I am so glad I chose this year to plant Milkweed!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Food 2

Nikon D700, 60mm macro lens at f6.7, 1/60th,
-0.5 exposure compensation, ISO 400

I thought about entering this image for the "Food" assignment, but totally forgot about it.  Several of these Monarch caterpillars ate this plant down to stubs but the leaves have come back again.  This image also captures a tiny yellow aphid (I think), thousands of which had been feasting on this plant before the caterpillars.  I was spraying the stalks with insecticidal soap and that did not seem to get rid of the aphids.  I was about to spray again when I saw several of these caterpillars.  I had purposefully planted a Butterfly and Hummingbird garden this spring --- it worked!
Here are a few more shots where I tried different angles.  But with the macro lens and the shade I was working in causing my shutterspeeds to be pretty slow, the depth of field was very shallow.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sweet, Sweeter and Sweetest

My photography club's assignment for September was Food.  For quite a while I could not get inspired or come up with something I thought was interesting enough until one day I saw these delicious looking cupcakes at Cinnabon.  I thought it would be really cute to try to incorporate our white Samoyed (or whatever she is) Pearl against an aqua background I have and let her lick the cupcake.  Well, whatever you have in mind for Pearl she immediately decides she won't do. So, I got one or two shots off and she ran off and would not come back and pose for me anymore.  The shot below was OK, but I thought I could do better:
Nikon D700, 60mm lens, flash in bounce umbrella on camera right

Our Labrador Retriever Maggie May is wonderful at cooperating so she willingly stepped up to the plate, in more than one way.  I got several shots that I liked so much I had trouble choosing which one I wanted to enter for the assignment.
This one was a close contender, I know exactly how she feels.

This shot may tell the story I wanted to tell just a little bit better.

But this one makes me smile every time I look at it.  I have no idea why her cheek is puffed out like that, but I like it!  Her eyes and the tip of her tongue bring this image the feeling that I was after.  Thank you, Mags, you came through once again.

BTW, I do realize that the second image has a strange reddish green color cast.  I cannot figure out why and I have not been successful in using a Hue/Sat layer or a Colorbalance layer to remove it to my liking.  It was a little more underexposed than the others and seems to be beyond my knowledge of Photoshop techniques, another reason I did not choose that one.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September Rain Lilies

All the rain lately has helped the Fall blooming of another favorite flower of mine, the Rain Lily.  For this image I used my Lensbaby Composer with the +4 closeup filter.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hosta Flower

Nikon D700, Lensbaby Composer with f4 aperture ring
and probably a close-up filter, 1/350th at ISO 200

I may have used one of the close up filters that screw onto the front of the Lensbaby Composer for this image, I can't remember.  A Hosta flower is not very large, the spike has individual blooms that open along it so to get this close I probably used one of the filters.  The wind was blowing that day which did not help with getting an area in focus so this image is a composite of 3 separate shots, combined to get the group of pistols and stamen sharp.  A texture was added in Photoshop.

Friday, September 3, 2010

How Observant Are You?

These are not 3 shots of the same kitten, but 3 different ones ---siblings Felix, Frank and Fiona.  Fiona has a HEART-shaped black mark on her pink nose!  All of them need a home, so if you know of anyone who could use some smiles and has the time and place for one, two or all of these, please send them to our Facebook page or to Friendswood Animal Control's page on .