Welcome Spring

I can't believe we're a week away from flipping the calendar to May, and here I am finally posting about spring. The fickle weather in Washington, DC has limited my photographic opportunities, but with two nice days in a row, I grabbed the camera and headed out to see the first signs of spring.

My destination this week was an old favorite - a site I haven't visited in years - Huntley Meadows. Located in the middle of the bustling suburbs outside Washington, DC, this is an unlikely location to find some of the best wetlands.... but unlikely can be good!

I started my day shooting 4x5 large format film (more to come on that in a future post). In other words, I was carrying the one camera that is basically useless for all types of wildlife photography! My goal was to focus on black and white abstracts, and every bird and mammal in the sanctuary must have gotten the memo. Never have there been so many wonderful photographic opportunities... clearly the wildlife knew I was without the right camera for the job. 

Frustrated that the wildlife was practically posing in mockery of my camera predicament, I went back and got my Nikon D850 and Canon 400mm f/2.8 lens (modified to Nikon mount) and returned to see if I could get the last laugh. Indeed, I found many of the same subjects remained very cooperative. 

I may have taken 200 photographs of this blue heron through the course of the morning. He was incredibly friendly and got close enough that I had to start backing up!

I may have taken 200 photographs of this blue heron through the course of the morning. He was incredibly friendly and got close enough that I had to start backing up!

The natural camouflage is very well done; a number of folks walked past and never noticed the bird hiding in the bushes. Of course it helps to spot these guys when you have a 400mm lens....

The natural camouflage is very well done; a number of folks walked past and never noticed the bird hiding in the bushes. Of course it helps to spot these guys when you have a 400mm lens....

These guys have this funny jerky movement, so I had to shoot fast to get lucky and catch them mid-movement.

These guys have this funny jerky movement, so I had to shoot fast to get lucky and catch them mid-movement.

So focused. So attentive.

So focused. So attentive.

One of these sticks is not a stick.

One of these sticks is not a stick.

I wasn't the only one who looked outside and noticed spring had finally arrived.

I wasn't the only one who looked outside and noticed spring had finally arrived.

Quick Shot: A Little Abstract

My favorite landscape images are hardly considered landscape photographs - they are abstracts. They are small extractions from a larger scene. They convey a grand vista in a tight frame.

This landscape is exactly that - although the sky isn't visible in the image, the reflection of the sky in the water gives a much grander image. I took this image at Blea Tarn, one of the more isolated lakes in England's famous Lake District. 

Photograph with the Leica SL Type 601 and 24-90mm lens.

Little Bits of Nature with the Noctilux

I feel like the Leica f/0.95 Noctilux is the most undervalued landscape photography lens...... Maybe because everyone thinks of it as a portrait and street photography lens with that insane f/0.95 bokeh. That same portraiture loving bokeh has some wonderful effects when used in nature and outdoors; I can isolate my subject from the background the same way a portrait photographer can isolate the eyes of the subject from the rest of the image.

Put the Noctilux on the Leica SL, and you have an insanely awesome duo. Seriously, go to a Leica dealer (or a Leica store) and ask to try the Leica SL with the Noctilux and tell me you don't love it. I've said it in previous blog posts, and I'll say it again.... If you have a Noctilux, you need an SL and the electronic viewfinder of the SL to really get the most from that lens.  

I have shot some "grand vista" landscape photographs with the Noctilux, but today I'm going to share some of the results you can get using it on smaller subjects. I don't dare call this "macro photography" - it's more like "small-ish landscapes."  Each of these images was shot on the Leica SL and edited in Lightroom. 

I don't like seeing people defile nature by carving their initials into a tree; however, this tree has aged significantly since it was carved with the heart, and the aging bark around it really contrasted nicely. I broke down and took the photograph..... 

I don't like seeing people defile nature by carving their initials into a tree; however, this tree has aged significantly since it was carved with the heart, and the aging bark around it really contrasted nicely. I broke down and took the photograph..... 

I usually shoot the Noctilux wide open, but in this case I stopped down to f/4 so that all of he flat leave scene was in focus. 

I usually shoot the Noctilux wide open, but in this case I stopped down to f/4 so that all of he flat leave scene was in focus. 

Here I'm back to my f/0.95 ways! I love how the ferns disappear into the background, while one fern reaches out to touch the viewer in the foreground. At an aperture like f/8, this image would have seemed very harsh..... But the Noctilux gives the dreamy quality to make this feel like it was photographed in a dream. 

Here I'm back to my f/0.95 ways! I love how the ferns disappear into the background, while one fern reaches out to touch the viewer in the foreground. At an aperture like f/8, this image would have seemed very harsh..... But the Noctilux gives the dreamy quality to make this feel like it was photographed in a dream.