Saturday, November 20, 2010

National Audubon Society Guide to Nature Photography: Part Five

"National Audubon Society Guide To Digital Nature Photography"
Part Four: Light on the Land

     Part Five of the "National Audubon Society Guide to Digital Nature Photography" by Tim Fitzharris is titled "The Close-Up World," and gives some good tips on working at close range; pointing out the various accessories and lenses that can be used. This section also discusses some different ways of taking shots of wild flora, whether it be close-up or with a telephoto lens. I enjoyed reading this section because of my recent interest in taking macro shots, as well as learning how to see the world from a different perspective.
     The first part chapter one in this section discusses the different types of lenses that can be used for taking close-up shots. Fitzharris points out that choosing the right lens or lens combination for your shot really depends on the subject that you are shooting. Having a true macro lens would be a very beneficial thing for me to have since they would allow me to get quality close up shots of various subjects. Another lens that Fitzharris discusses using for close up shots is a telephoto lens, which can be helpful in situations where you must remain at a distance from your subject matter. 
     The second half of the first chapter discusses improving image quality and light conditions when shooting up close. The first interesting thing that Fitzharris talks about is the idea of reversing the lens using an adapter piece to improve image quality. I found this to be an interesting method and not something I had ever really thought about doing. He also goes over the importance of using flash, especially since the camera itself can block the light when taking close up shots. I think that having multiple electronic flashes instead of just the one on my camera body would be extremely helpful when taking some shots, especially since it will allow me to choose where I want the light source coming from. Another helpful accessory that I would like to invest in would be a light diffuser (although I guess I could just use a Kleenex as Fitzharris suggests). I rarely use flash when taking shots, but it would be helpful to have a way to soften the light if I do need additional lighting. 
     The second chapter in the section is titled "Wild Flora" and in it Fitzharris discusses some considerations when shooting flora, some traditional techniques to shooting flowers, as well as some more "offbeat" techniques. Some things to consider when shooting flowers is dealing with wind because unless you are trying to create movement, you will run into some problems. Fitzharris suggests using a "Plamp" to help stabilize the flower on windy days or making sure you time your shots in between wind gusts. He also points out a few tips on lighting conditions that I found helpful, such as using an umbrella to block the sun and a reflector to bounce light off of when shooting in direct sunlight. 
     Later in the chapter, Fitzharris gives a few tips on how to take conventional portrait shots of flowers but then suggests experiments with other angles and creative ways of shooting flowers. For example, he explains the "slow smoothie" which takes what most people dislike when shooting flowers--wind--and turning it into something creative. I thought that this was an interesting way of shooting flowers, because while shooting an animal in motion seems normal, a flower in motion seems a little different. I also was found the "down and dirty" approach quite interesting, as well. I know that next time I am taking a flower shot, I won't go for the conventional portrait shot with sharp focus, but maybe try something new and creative instead. 

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