Backyard Nature Photography

On August 22, 2010, in Garage Photography, by admin

Pea Hen, Backyard, Northern Virginia

Here is something we don’t see very often in this area.  A pair of these pea hens started visiting us last weekend.  We don’t know where they came from, but suspect that they might have been someone’s pet.  We think they were either left behind by someone who moved and were tired of them, or maybe they escaped from their pen.  We’ll keep an eye out for missing posters.

One day they woke us up around 5:45AM with their squawking.  We went outside and saw them silhouetted on our rooftop.

After two days we bought some crushed corn from a pet store.  The sales clerk expressed doubts that we really had pea hens in the back yard.  We printed out pictures for our next trip for more crushed corn.

They now show up for breakfast and dinner.  I think they have us trained, they have gotten to the point where they will peck on our sliding glass door if we do not have their meals ready.  Once we open the door they move away until we put out the bowl.  I am able to leave the sliding door open about six inches and stick out my lens to take all the pictures I want.  Talk about a convenient blind for nature photography!

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Polarizer Effects

Waterlily, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. Shot with (on right) and without (on left) polarizer filter

The images above demonstrate the effect that a polarizing filter can have on your nature photography.  The image on the left was taken without a polarizing filter, the image on the right with a polarizing filter.   Notice the lack of glare generated by the water and the brighter colors on the lily pad and the water lily.  Why the big difference?

A polarizing filter works by reducing the glare and reflections off non-metallic surfaces.  In the images above, the filter removes reflections from the water and water lily.  The reduction in the amount of reflected light from the water lily results in more saturated color.  Had there been a blue sky in the image it would be much bluer.  By reducing glare, a polarizing filter is very helpful when shooting during the mid-day sun.

While Photoshop can be used to replicate the effects of many filters used in photography, this is one that it cannot.  If you don not use a polarizing filter in your original image, you have lost the ability to correct the image later.  I use my polarizing filter so much that it rarely leaves my camera.

Should you decide to purchase a polarizing filter, make sure you buy a circular polarizing filter, these are the only ones that will work with your camera.

To learn more about how a polarizing filter works in photography and to see other examples, click here.

Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

On August 14, 2010, in Washington DC, by admin

Pink Lotus, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, Washington DC

Where does one go to photograph nature during the dog days of summer in Washington DC?  One place that has flowers in bloom pretty much throughout summer, no matter how hot, is Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens.  This small National Park has some great photographic possibilities from mid-May until the first frost in October.  Make sure to check out the parks “What’s Blooming” page before you head out.  Look for the image on that page, it will show you what is in bloom.  When I talked to the Rangers today they said that they update this page whenever something new is blooming.  During the peak, they will update the page at least twice a week.

I highly recommend that you bring waterproof boots of some sort, just in case.  I went to the park today after two-three days of heavy rain this past week.  Many of the walking paths were under ankle deep water so my shoes and socks got soaked.  Wet feet were well worth the images.  As recommended on the parks web page, get there early in the morning during the summer.  The flowers tend to close up when the temperatures reach 90 degrees.  Also, after about 9 AM the winds start picking up so the blooms start moving introducing blur.