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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hot Summer Tips

Shooting Local • Botanical And Commercial Gardens • Falling Water • High-Basin Wildflowers • Up, Up And... • Time-Lapsing • Lightning In The Daytime • On The Water

Labels: How-ToColumnTech Tips
With the money you save on travel, you can invest in more equipment! You'll need a sturdy tripod for both macro and panoramic renditions of gardens and fields, and a flash bracket system is really critical for butterfly photography. For high-resolution panoramas, consider the GigaPan system, and don't forget the capabilities of stacking (blending multiple exposures) to achieve maximum depth of field.

Falling Water
I'm partial to waterfalls. The flow is most robust in early summer and tapers off into the fall, but both offer great photography, albeit different experiences, and backdrops or foregrounds changing from wildflowers to lush foliage to autumn leaves. I like to use locally produced websites and books as guides to waterfalls and cascades because that's a way to support the photographers and writers of the region.

Long exposures or extremely fast shutter speeds are my choice for capturing the feel of flowing water. The idea is to show the water differently than the eye can normally see it. I stay away from the middle shutter speeds like 1/30th to 1/250th because they produce mostly boring results: the water neither flows nor is stopped in detailed mid-fall. Go too long on the shutter speed, and most detail in the falling water is lost. Sometimes that's okay. My favorite shutter speed for falling water is around 1⁄4 sec., which gives a flowing rendition with detail. Shutter speeds of 1⁄1000 sec. or faster can be revealing and dramatic. Be creative, and don't forget time-lapse and HDR interpretations for an entirely different view.

A tripod is essential, along with a remote release, for the sharpest images. Telephotos offer a chance to take extracts from the falls, and I sometimes stitch these together to make a high-resolution image that works as a design piece.

High-Basin Wildflowers
In midsummer, wildflowers are abundant in the high-elevation (10,000 to 12,000 feet) Rocky Mountain basins, where spring arrives in July, summer in August and fall (and first snows) in September. The rest of the time, it's winter. Working out of Ouray, Colorado, follow four-wheel-drive roads to fields of flowers occupied by hummingbirds, marmots and pikas. If grazing domestic sheep get there first, then, well, never mind. Typically, the wind is minimal in the early mornings and the critters are active; be prepared for afternoon thundershowers, and take it easy at these altitudes where oxygen is in short supply. Bring your long lens and your landscape rig.

Up, Up And…
As the weather warms, it's great fun to find a location away from city lights to capture astro-landscapes; the Milky Way can add great interest to night captures that include star trails and long moonlit exposures. You need that tripod again, and a fast wide-angle lens and ISO capability from 2500 to 5000. The best apertures are ƒ/1.4 to ƒ/2.8 and exposures no longer than 30 seconds to add the Milky Way into your night shots. Your best bet for star trails encircling the North Star is to capture many 30- to 120-second exposures from one position and assemble them later in Photoshop.


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