Friday, June 4, 2010

On The Road

I am on the road today driving to Destin, Florida. Taking the whole family on a beach vacation. It should be an 11-12 hour drive, but when you are traveling with an 11month old baby, you work around their schedule.

It appears we may get the majority of our stay in before any oil arrives in Destin. The oil is expected to start showing up on the Florida panhandle beaches very soon. Although I will be taking a ton of family photos, I am sure I will have time to go after those postcard sunrises and sunsets, sprinkled around some nature and wildlife photography.


If I have time I will try and get some posts in from the road. 


                         Have a great weekend!!!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Where to Shoot in Bad Weather

It is very frustrating as a photographer to make plans to go somewhere to shoot some photos with a limited window of time and then have the weather screw it up. The problem with the weather in the St. Louis area is it is not dramatic very often, For the most part it is grey and cloudy. The light is flat and horrible at best. Many people pack it in and wait for a better day. I love to try and shoot storms, clouds, and lightning, but usually it is just nasty grey. Luckily I have a few places to go no matter how bad the weather.  

 White-Barred Friar - Amauris niavius

My first choice to go when the weather is bad is the Missouri Botanical Gardens Butterfly House located in Chesterfield, Missouri. This is about a 40 mintue drive from my house. No matter what the weather is outside, it is about 90+ degrees in there and very humid. Acutally it is better on a slightly overcast day so the sunlight is not to harsh and contrasty. Plus the colors look better on a overcast day. So on a recent rainy day I had my wife drop me off and she went shopping. Usually when I go there I will spend about 3 hours inside taking photographs. A good way to sweat off a few pounds. Since I go often, I get a lot of practice and have really learned how to take some decent butterfly and flower photos.

The flowers on the left are Butterfly Milkweed, and the flower on the right is a Chinese Lantern. I shoot everthing off a tripod in the butterfly house. This forces me to slow down and study the subject and figure out in my mind what I want to accomplish before I start. This also allows me to use very slow shutter speeds and gives me much more control over the depth of field. I use my Canon 180mm f3.5L marco lens and then add a 1.4 extender. This gives me 252mm of focal length. Enough to give me a very nice working distance from my subject. I also use mirror lockup to further reduce vibration in the camera and hopefully result in sharper images. Once it stopped raining, I went to the outside garden and shot this Eastern Columbine Flower.

                       Eastern Columbine


                                     Newborn Baby Mallard Ducklings

I was walking around looking for some flowers to shoot when I noticed this pile of newborn baby Mallard ducklings on the edge of the pond. Momma Mallard was not bothered by my presence, so I was able to get off a few frames using my macro lens and tripod setup. I sat down in the wet grass to get down to their level. A got a very wet rear end, but well worth it to get this result. Another one of my favorie places to go on a bad weather day is the St. Louis Zoo. I know I just did a post on the zoo short time ago, but again people do not think of all the possibilities the zoo offers for photographers when the weather is bad.

                                         Green Iguana

Many of the exhibits at the St. Louis Zoo are indoors. The Insecterium, Reptile House, Primate House, Puffin and Penguin Exhibit all offer good opportunities for photographs. They are not without some challenges though. Poor Lighting is the biggest problem. Using a flash is very difficult as most of the time you are shooting through glass. A trripod, cable release, and longer exposure solves many of these issues, as long as you subject is stationary.Many times if the light is either to harsh or to flat, I will convert the photo to a B&W. 

                                           Grevy's Zebra             

Some days when the light is to harsh, you have to find a subject in some nice open shade. This is great light and will really give you a nice result. The Tiger area at the zoo is a great place to view them, but not easy to photograph them. You are overhead and have to shoot down at a vey steep angle. By using a 500mm lens and a 1.4 extender, I was able to shoot from a longer distance through the train station to get at eve level to make this great portrait. 

Amur Tiger

What seperates the great photographers from the rest of the pack is being able to create outstanding images no matter what the conditions. I use to just say maybe another day, but now there are no excuses. If I plan to have a photography day and the weather is bad, I go anyway. There is always something to shoot no matter what the weather is.