Teeny, Tiny Dynamo

Captured last Thursday, this very small, white wildflower was found on a woodland near my rural Missouri home. I’m not sure what the identification is … so far, I haven’t found any images that compare favorably with it. If you might know what this little beauty is, I’d appreciate your assistance! The tiny flowers are about 1/4-inch in diameter, and they are growing just a few inches above the ground. Each flower has 10 petals. Sure are awesome, but would be even sweeter if I found out what they are! I had thought possibly Harbinger of Spring (which I’ve never found), but not sure.

Unidentified white, spring woodland wildflower

This image is a focus-stacked composite, using 19 images to get this capture.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 180mm macro lens, f/3.5
  • Bogen 3021 tripod with ball head
  • ISO 200
  • Aperture f/3.5
  • Shutter 1/160 sec.
  • Processing: Combined 19 images in Helicon Focus to attain a single, focus-stacked image

 

 

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Wheel of Fortune

Last Thursday morning, I was conducting a “workshop shorty” with a student when I came upon this wonderful-looking Blue-eyed Mary wildflower. What caught my eye on this particular flower was the wonderful, “wheel/spoke” composition the flower was exhibiting. Positioning my tripod above the flower, so that I would be shooting straight down, I moved in until the flower consumed most of the frame. I then placed my lens so that it focused on the nearest part of the flower, and began capturing the 14 images, moving the focal point a bit further into the flower for each subsequent image. Later, using Helicon Focus software, I combined them all to make this focus-stacked image, a wheel of true beauty:

Blue-eyed Mary wildflower

I intentionally did not photograph much below the level of the flowers. As you can see, I did not get the lower leaves in focus. If I’d shot another 15-20 images, I could have included these leaves, but I wanted to leave the lower portion of this plant out-of-focus, as a subtle background to the sharp flowers.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 180mm macro lens, f/3.5
  • Bogen 3021 tripod with ball head
  • ISO 200
  • Aperture f/3.5
  • Shutter 1/320 sec.
  • Processing: Combined 14 images in Helicon Focus to attain a single, focus-stacked image

Note:  If you live near the Kansas City area, you are probably aware that in August we will experience a “Spectacle in the Sky”. We will be blessed with a rare total solar eclipse coming through our area. The daytime will suddenly turn black! Birds, dogs and other animals will go crazy! And people will likely be even crazier! In preparation for this rare event, I will be teaching a one-night class tomorrow evening  (April 18), that will teach you how and where to safely observe/photograph this wonderful, natural phenomenon. We have enough students to run the class, but still have room if anyone is interested, but you must contact the Cass Career Center now! To learn more, click on this link:  “2017 Photography Classes”

 

 

Posted in 2017, Blog, focus stacking, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Photography Workshop, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: The Neighborhood Just Got Louder

Last weekend I was working just outside my walkout basement door when I heard a lot of loud, excruciating screeches coming from my back yard. Walking around the corner, I spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk circling over the woodland. Hearing one of these hawks is not atypical; a pair has been nesting in my neighbor’s yard for the past couple of years. As I watched, the hawk circled for a few moments and then flew into the trees and landed on a nest. Within a few seconds, it hunkered down on the nest. Watching the nest for a few days, I am sure she is incubating some eggs right now. I don’t know if this is one of the hawks that used to nest at my neighbors, or if this might be one of their offspring nesting for the first time.

When I got a few minutes, I grabbed my camera and large telephoto lens and captured this image from my back deck:

Red-shouldered Hawk nesting

I’m crossing my fingers that leaves don’t grow in and cover up my little “peek hole”  :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon 500mm, f/4 lens + Canon 2x TC (equivalent to 1600mm focal length)
  • Bogen 3021 tripod with Wemberly gimbal head
  • ISO 200
  • Aperture f/16 (to assure entire nest area, including the bird, would be in sharp focus)
  • Shutter 1/125 sec.

Note:  If you live near the Kansas City area, you are probably aware that in August we will experience a “Spectacle in the Sky”. We will be blessed with a rare total solar eclipse coming through our area. The daytime will suddenly turn black! Birds, dogs and other animals will go crazy! And people will likely be even crazier! In preparation for this rare event, I will be teaching a one-night class on April 18, that will teach you how and where to safely observe/photograph this wonderful, natural phenomenon. To learn more, click on this link:  “2017 Photography Classes”

 

 

Posted in 2017, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Fun Friday post, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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It’s All In the Name

A couple of days ago, I was leaving the woodland where I had been photographing wildflowers, when I ran across some Spring Beauty wildflowers, some of the small wildflowers that typically are very early bloomers. With just a few Spring Beauties blooming, and my need to move on to some errands that needed to be attended to, I quickly snapped enough images of a couple of small groupings so that I could combine them into a couple of focus-stacked images. Here is the result of the 10 minutes I spent capturing these images:

Spring Beauty wildflowers

Spring Beauty wildflowers

I always enjoy finding my first Spring Beauties of the new year … I love the wonderful colors flowing throughout their petals! An interesting fact about the spring beauty: Native Americans often ate the roots as part of their diet.

I have more wildflower images to post, but my next post will feature a wonderful bird of prey that is now nesting at the edge of my woods … the first time I’ve seen one of these guys nesting there. That is scheduled to be published on Friday.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3021 tripod with ball head
  • ISO 200
  • Aperture f/3.5
  • Shutter 1/200 sec. to 1/250 sec.
  • Further Processing: Each of the images were obtained by combining multiple images (7 in the top image, and 6 in the bottom image) of varying focus depths (“focus-stacking”), using Helicon Focus to combine the individual images

Note:  If you live near the Kansas City area, you are probably aware that in August we will experience a “Spectacle in the Sky”. We will be blessed with a rare total solar eclipse coming through our area. The daytime will suddenly turn black! Birds, dogs and other animals will go crazy! And people will likely be even crazier! In preparation for this rare event, I will be teaching a one-night class on April 18, that will teach you how and where to safely observe/photograph this wonderful, natural phenomenon. To learn more, click on this link:  “2017 Photography Classes”

 

 

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Invasion of the Trout Lilies

I spent a good part of the day on Friday, chasing the spring woodland wildflowers near my rural Missouri home. My target species was Bloodroot, but none were found blooming. However, I did find a lot of wildflowers in bloom. The Virginia Bluebells appear to be near or at peak right now, making the woodland floor a “sea of blue” … quite a wonderful sight to see! Several other species were blooming quite profusely and I will be featuring some of those wildflowers over the next few posts.

Today’s post features one of my favorite woodland wildflowers, the Trout Lily, aka the Dog-tooth Violet (Erythronium albidum):

Trout Lily (aka, Dog-tooth Violet) wildflower

Trout Lily (aka, Dog-tooth Violet) wildflower

Trout Lily (aka, Dog-tooth Violet) wildflower

Trout Lily (aka, Dog-tooth Violet) wildflower

Trout Lily (aka, Dog-tooth Violet) wildflower

Trout Lily (aka, Dog-tooth Violet) wildflower

The Trout Lily is sometimes a bit difficult to find on the woodland floor. As the flower shoot aries, it is very thin and easy to overlook. But when the flower petals begin to bend and rise upward, it is much easier to spot. In the eastern U.S., this plant is sometimes known as “thousand-leaf” because, when it grows in large colonies, literally thousands of leaves cover the ground (note: on one of the woodlands I photograph, this is the case). A very slow grower, it takes at least 4 years to raise a flowering plant from seed.

Coming up … more spring, woodland wildflowers.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3021 tripod with ball head
  • ISO 200 (all images)
  • Aperture f/3.5 to f/6.3
  • Shutter 1/160 sec. to 1/640 sec.

 

 

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Great Blue Herons

Another common bird found on the Aransas NWR during my winter trip to the Texas Gulf Coast, was the Great Blue Heron:

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron landing

A very common bird, but one always fun to watch/photograph!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Top Image: Canon 5D Mark III body; Bottom Image: Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon 500mm, f/4 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (both images)
  • Bogen 3021 tripod with Wemberly gimbal head
  • ISO 800 (top image) and ISO 200 (bottom image)
  • Aperture f/5.6 (top image) and f/6.3 (bottom image)
  • Shutter 1/640 sec. (top image) and 1/2000 sec. (bottom image)

Note:  If you live near the Kansas City area, you are probably aware that in August we will experience a “Spectacle in the Sky”. We will be blessed with a rare total solar eclipse coming through our area. The daytime will suddenly turn black! Birds, dogs and other animals will go crazy! And people will likely be even crazier! In preparation for this rare event, I will be teaching a one-night class on April 18, that will teach you how and where to safely observe/photograph this wonderful, natural phenomenon. To learn more, click on this link:  “2017 Photography Classes”

 

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Foggy White Birds

While in Texas this past winter, I saw a lot of American White Pelicans that were wintering on the Aransas NWR. Early one morning, we had a nice layer of fog settle over the refuge, where we came upon some pelicans.

In this image, a large group of white, wading birds were busy feeding in the refuge pool. The group was mostly American White Pelicans, but a small handful of Great Egrets were present, as well as some small shorebirds:

Group of white wading birds

As we slowly made our way along the coast, we came upon a pair of American White Pelicans that were close to us and busy foraging:

American White Pelicans

I’ll be sharing some more pelican images in upcoming posts.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 800
  • Aperture f/6.3 (top image) and f/8 (bottom image)
  • Shutter 1/2500 sec. (top image) and 1/800 sec. (bottom image)

 

 

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A Peek Inside the Bell

When photographing nature, I always look to find “different” ways of photographing something. In this case, I found a Virginia Bluebell wildflower with a clump of flower buds and a single bell open. I was wondering what it would look like, grabbing a capture looking down the bell of the flower. I captured 20 images, varying the point of focus slightly, then combined them in Helicon Focus to get this focus-stacked image:

Virginia Bluebells

The result was interesting, but I’m not totally satisfied with it. The wind was very annoying and is one of the most difficult things to work with when capturing images for focus-stacking. I still like the look, down the bell, but plan on trying this little experiment again on my next outing. And maybe capturing even more images, giving me more to choose from when stacking them. I’m also considering fabricating a plexiglass “shield” that I can carry with me to help block the wind.  :o)

Have you captured focus-stacked images? What have your experiences been?

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3021 tripod with ball head
  • ISO 800
  • Aperture f/3.5
  • Shutter 1/800 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2017, Blog, focus stacking, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Violets, Anyone?

Found a few Common Violet (Viola sororia) wildflowers growing in the nearby woodland a few days ago. Here are a couple of images I captured during my woodland hike:

Common Violet wildflower

Common Violet wildflower

Right now, we’re getting quite a bit of rain. Can’t wait for a lull in the rain so I can get back out to see what else has popped up with the warm temps and plenty of needed moisture … a sure thing to encourage the woodland beauties to spread their beauty!

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3021 tripod with ball head
  • ISO 800
  • Aperture f/3.5
  • Shutter 1/125 sec. to f/400 sec.

 

 

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Playin’ the Bells

After posting my first-of-year Virginia Bluebell in bloom on Friday, I headed back out to see if the bloom had progressed further. I was pleasantly surprised to find many bluebells in bloom. Here are a few of my favorite images I captured this past Friday in the rural Missouri woodland:

Virginia Bluebells

Virginia Bluebells

Virginia Bluebells

Virginia Bluebells

Virginia Bluebells

Virginia Bluebells

With so many brilliant blue bells a’ringin’ in the slight breeze, I had to take a stab at capturing images to focus-stack. Collecting 16 images, I later combined them in Helicon Focus to get this image:

Virginia Bluebells

As good as Friday was, the peak is still yet to come. While many bluebells were swaying in the light winds, there were thousands of buds yet to bloom. After the past couple of days of rains, I expect a great show later this week!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3021 tripod with ball head
  • ISO 800 (all)
  • Aperture f/3.5 to f/22
  • Shutter 1/15 sec. to f/1000 sec.
  • Focus-stacked image:  ISO 800, f/3.5, shutter 1/800 sec., the 16 images combined using Helicon Focus software

 

 

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