A Familiar Friend

Whenever I get a new camera, I spend a few weeks getting oriented to the unfamiliar controls and system before embarking on any challenging shoots. As I go through this orientation, I like to revisit sites that I know as good trial grounds.

One of those places is Great Falls, which is on the Washington, DC / Virginia border. The falls are a great place for some spectacular long exposure photography. And most nights, the sky will give some nice pastel colors to reward a trip to the falls.

I have made a number of images at Great Falls before, but this one is very different. First, it was taken with a different camera system than the others. Second, my other images have had spectacular sunsets which made the process very easy - but this time the sun didn't cooperate. I had to do a lot of work to pull the colors out of the sky while preserving the detail in the rocks. Thankfully, the dynamic range of the D850 made this easier than I expected. 

It may not be the most spectacular sunset, but those don't happen every day. It's important to capture the world as it exists, and I think this image does a great job of depicting the world as it was on that night.

Quick Shot: Signs of Summer

It's June.... which means summer is here! Although its still cold and dreary here in England, that wasn't the case in Tel Aviv, where it's almost always in-season to wear shorts and a bathing suit! I took all of these photographs along the boardwalk that runs along the Tel Aviv coastline, and tonight I'm asking which of these photographs puts you in the summer feeling?

All shot with the Leica SL and 24-90mm Vario-Elmarit lens.

Quick Shot: Moonrise

In northern Sweden, especially in January, the sunrise and sunset blur into one long "day." The soft light and sunrise/sunset colors can last all day, creating a photographer's dream.

I had been taking photos with the beautiful afternoon light as it tints the pure white snow into a beautiful shade of light blue. My face was almost fully covered in heavy clothes and several hats to protect against the extreme (-30C / -25F) temperatures, so I almost didn't notice the moon that appeared above the tent. After spotting the perfectly clear moon, I immediately knew the composition I needed to capture.

Positioning so that the moon appears almost directly over the tent, I used the Leica SL (Type 601) with the Leica 24-90mm lens to take a series of shots at apertures around f/11. I knew it would be some trial and error to get the moon in perfect focus with the tent, but after a series of experiments, I got the shot I wanted.

I am elated with the resulting image, and I hope you share my excitement with this photograph.

Quick Shot: Those Magnificent Men

England has such an incredible collection of historic aircraft, but few as are unique as the early 1900's wood and cloth flying machines that paved the way for modern aviation. The Shuttleworth Collection, which is located near Cambridge, happens to house many of these exceedingly rare aircraft, and this is amongst them.

Although there are no flying original 1910 Bristol Boxkite left in the world, there are three replica aircraft in service, and seeing them fly is equally inspiring and mesmerizing. The Boxkite is most famous for it's role in the film Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines

The setting for this particular image was very unique. Every year the Shuttleworth collection holds an airshow where the London Symphony Orchestra comes to perform while aircraft perform a show to the music. It is unlike any airshow in the United States and the Shuttleworth Flying Proms are an event not to be missed. For this flight, the orchestra appropriately played the theme song from the movie Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines while the Boxkite dazzled us. Adding to the incredible sight was a picturesque sunset.... so I took a picture! While the photograph doesn't have the sound of the orchestra, it certainly captures the magic of this aircraft and the scene.

Quick Shot: Isolated

I am always looking for the opportunity to take a photograph that is so generic that it could have been taken anywhere, but so interesting that you stop and wonder how it was taken. I think this is one of those photographs. 

A tree on a grassy field is the kind of thing we've all seen hundreds of times. It's simple. It's clean. There's no fluff. But to make a photograph of a tree in a grassy field interesting, you have to do something different. 

This photograph intrigues me because of the low sun, which casts a long shadow from the tree and how the light sun warms the scene. While the lighting is intriguing, it's the the angle this image was taken at that really captures my attention. 

But I didn't use a ladder to get this photo!

Conveniently, there was a taller hill where I could position myself and shoot down on the tree. As the sun was setting, I noticed the lighting on the tree suddenly transformed the scene below me from mediocre to spectacular and shot away. Moments later, the sun dipped below the tree line and the show was over. 

Tree WEB.jpg

Quick Shot: Ponies of Assateague

It's been a few days since my last quick shot, but that's because I've been busy! I spent the weekend on Assateague Island, which is a long and uninhabited coastal island running through Maryland and Virginia. The island is most famous for the herds of wild horses and ponies that roam along it's beaches.  Equally famous are the marshes on Assateague, which are home to an abundance of birds and other wildlife.

The primary goal of this trip was to photograph wild ponies and birds. Like I normally do, I'd pre-visualized several photos I wanted to capture of these subjects (I'd never been there and used Google to research the wildlife extensively).  

One shot on my to-do list was a photograph detailing a pony's face. Ideally, I wanted to get the shot at sunrise or sunset, when the soft golden glow would cast the pony in a warm light.  

I had read online that the ponies often migrated to the beaches around sunset and would be inland during the day. Apparently the ponies read the same article I did; within hours of arriving on the island I found a herd of horses by the beach at sunset. Cha-ching!

I chose this pony for the face shot for several reasons:

1. He was facing into the sun, giving a nice cast of light on his face
2. I liked the white mark on his face
3. He was being a cooperative wild subject, which isn't something we get often as wildlife photographers!  

The ponies can be dangerous to humans if we get too close and the National Park Service gives every visitor a rather graphic flyer detailing the dangers of getting too close. That being said, I was sure to stay approximately 20 feet away and was mindful to never "box a horse into a corner" so as to not frighten them. 

Given the distance, it was a no-brainer to use the Nikon 80-400mm. I shot at f/8 to get a nice depth of field on his face and dialed in a -0.5 exposure compensation to ensure the camera didn't overexpose the areas in the sunlight.  

I did minor edits in Photoshop CS6 and ran a high pass filter over the nose fur to accentuate those details.  

_DSC3368 copy.jpg