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Ok, so you know that photography is all about “Light”. You UNDERSTAND it and you know how to USE it and make your camera work, but do you really SEE THE LIGHT and know when to ANTICIPATE it? You’ve been told what the best times of the day are for outdoor photography and you know how to read the light with your camera and all the technical STUFF and on and on, blah, blah, blah. Have you really EXPERIENCED the light? I’m referring to sunlight not heaven’s light :-)
I have always suggested to people that they test their camera and lenses by bracketing (using several different settings) for each photo at different times of the day etc, until they are familiar with how that particular camera and lens work and which film and settings work best for which situations. So, now enter the digital age, same thing. Do the tests; bracketing f-stops; various speeds; various ISO, and whatever other settings your particular camera may have.
Ok, now let’s do a test that involves your eyes more. Hopefully you can have a day (preferably several days) when you can be outdoors sun up to sun down. You can do this indoors too, if you have a lot of sunlight coming in to create shadows.
1) Think about shadows from sun up to sun down.
2) Search for shadows, find as many as you can.
3) Observe the shadows as they change. Don’t wait for an hour before you look at a particular shadow again. Check it often and think about how it has changed.
- Is it darker and more defined than it was?
- Is it smaller or larger than it was? Longer or shorter?
- Where is the sun in relation to the item causing the shadow?
- If you can move or turn that item, how does the shadow change when the item is moved? Is it a more definite shape now, or less definite?
- Photograph the shadows without any care of what the item is, just photograph the shadow at various settings and at different times of day. Make it a point to not shoot anything but shadows for at least several days. You can observe those photos at the end of each day.
Do this for a few days or as many days as it takes for you to start noticing shadows without even thinking about it. Hopefully your eye for shadows will become so honed in that you start seeing shadows everywhere, indoors; outdoors; while you are walking; while you are driving. You will notice the large shadows from things like buildings; bridges; clouds and trees. You’ll notice smaller shadows from things like small rocks; birds; even something as small as a spider. You will notice shadows everywhere that you never paid any attention to before.
Once you have mastered spotting and photographing shadows then try the same thing with reflections.
1) Think about reflections from sun up to sun down.
2) Search for reflections in lakes; pools; puddles; any liquid anywhere (how about in a cup of coffee?); any reflective surface, a glass table top; sunglasses. Keep your eyes open for any reflection
3) Observe the reflections at various times of the day.
- Where is the sun in relation to the reflection?
- Is it a tall reflection; short reflection?
- Is the reflection brighter or dimmer at different times of the day?
- Look at the reflection from various angels.
- Photograph the reflection without any regard to what the subject matter is that is being reflected. Just photograph any reflections you see.
The great thing about DSLR cameras is that the technical information is all recorded and you don’t have to stop and write everything down before proceeding to the next one (as is the case with film photography). You will want to review this information when you are reviewing the shadow and reflection photos you’ve taken. Study it, learn from it, absorb it.
Happy Shadow Shooting
Record breaking temperatures across Northern California brought Jack Frost nipping at our Roses (not just our noses). It was quite a magnificent and unusual site in our garden. The ice crystals adorned the roses like diamonds on Elizabeth Taylor. Too bad we don’t have the Elizabeth Taylor rose in our garden, she would have been fabulous adorned in the ice crystals.
Author and Photographer – Karleen Gansberg
I’ve been asked how I get photographs of cats with their tongue out or their mouth wide open. Well, the first step I will refer to as lots of “P & P”, that’s “Patience and Persistence”. I also think it helps to have a love for cats and photography to accomplish the animated faces. You just have to hang out with them for awhile and follow them around or just sit near them. Become one of them, be at one with the cat, and BE READY! CAMERA READY!
If you see the cat start to lick then immediately start clicking that shutter. The great thing about digital is you can do that without wasting film. If you don’t get the shot you want then you can delete it and it didn’t cost you a thing. If a cat starts to yawn and you only have one shot to get it, well, you may have to hope for a little luck, well, maybe lots of luck.
If you have lots of shots left on your memory card and your camera can shoot several FPS (frames per second) then you have a better chance at getting the great shot. Some photographers put milk or cat food on the cats paw to make them lick their paw and that works too (though I haven’t tried it) but you have to be quick and it may help to have an assistant. The assistant can put the milk on the cat’s paw and move out of the way quickly, while meantime you are in place and ready to shoot immediately.
I’m not going to discuss what F-stop or shutter speed or even ISO to use. That is a whole other subject and so many variables depending on the camera, the lens, the available light. You should know your camera and lens and your preferences better than anyone else and that comes from shooting, shooting, and more shooting. The best way to test your camera is to use it often and try different things all the time. Bracket, Bracket, Bracket, and review your shots and see what worked best in each situation.
So, with all of that said, some cats just have an overactive tongue or yawn a lot more than others as is the case with Goldie. She yawns all day long and she is a licker. She will lick other cats like she is their mom. We often refer to her as momma kitty. She loves to lick people’s faces, hands, legs, and toes. Sometimes I am photographing her and not even trying to get her with her tongue out but when I review the photos, lo and behold, there is that tongue! She is so much fun to photograph!
Hey Goldie, Karleen is at it again with her Photos from the garden. She entered some Rose photos in the Sierra Foothills Rose Society Rose Show and she was awarded a 1st place for one and a Best of Show for the other. We’ll have to do some extra loud purring to congratulate her. Of course I still think that I (Flower) am the prettiest “Flower” in the garden, even if I am actually a cat. Hmmmm, wonder when she is going to post my portraits?
Hey Goldie, have you seen Karleen’s new book, it is fabulous! I was shocked to see it. I see her with that camera all the time but I thought she was only taking pictures of us. Those birds, and those butterflies and dragon flies, wow, I want to chase them all! Check it out, you can preview the book and even vote on it. Hurry though because the voting only goes till August 20th!
Hello, Goldie here, I just have to let you know that my portrait gallery has been posted
Flower’s gallery will be posted soon. Karleen is also working on a gallery of “Friends of the Garden Kitties.” We will be posting some photography tips soon and hope to get some gardening tips from our California Certified Nursery Professional (CCNPro) Duane Gansberg.
Coreopsis and Sweet Peas are abundant in our garden right now and the insects are all over the place! OMG, I don’t know which one to chase first! Flower of course is out in the field chasing mice.