All I can say is…Wow!

Obviously, I’m going to say a lot more. After going back and forth for a long while and sitting on the waiting list for almost two months, I finally got my new camera—The Nikon D800.  You might recall that way back in February I started thinking about this major upgrade.  After Roger got his D4, I started to rethink my choice of the D800, because I was so impressed with the low light shooting abilities of that camera. After talking with my friends, and the Nikon sales rep at my local camera store, I decided that the improvements in the D800 were right for what I like to shoot. The first thing I noticed about shooting the camera is the incredible resolution.  It has an amazing 36 Megapixel sensor.  Here is an image of a Lo-biscus I shot this week while at an offsite for work. (Hey, we had a 30 minute break before the dinner session started.)

Hibiscus, Yellow

It’s a pretty boring shot.  But, with that many pixels you can really zoom in and crop it to get a much more interesting image. Yellow, Hibiscus  I was impressed with the level of detail I could pull out, so I wanted to see just how far I could push it.  You can just see the little box from the LR Navigator panel showing the fraction of the image I was looking at.  Look at the hairs on the stamen—oh, and this was all shot hand held.

I walked around the front of the inn and saw a nice little rabbit nibbling away at the clover.  I knew I wanted to shoot it as well, but all I had was the camera.  Here is the untouched image and here is what I could zoom in on.  This never would have worked with the old camera. 

When you do take advantage of all the pixels you also get stunning depth in the dynamic range the camera can pick up.Iron Tractor, Wheel  This old farm tractor is interesting in both natural color and as a Sepia tone. In the end, the right camera for you depends on what kinds of things you intend to shoot.


Virginia Spring Time

There are many lovely farms here in the VA countryside.  Last weekend for Mother’s day, the Mt Sharon Road Farm opened up their gardens to the public for the day.  The owners traveled in England and loved the gardens and have spent countless hours converting 10 acres into a variety of garden rooms.  In every corner, there were clouds of flowers blooming.  I took my 105 f/2.8 Macro lens and the 70-200 and shot most of these hand held.  I could have stayed in place for hours, but there was so much ground to cover. Flowers were not the only things on the grounds.  This five foot black snake was hanging in a branch.  It looked as if he had recently eaten.

Roses were everywhere and little details hidden at the turns.  Statuary imported from Europe was tucked in to corners or near the fountains.  Peonies may be my favorite flower.  The delicacy and the complexity fascinate me.

Here is a nine shot panorama of the view of the rose garden.  I could force myself to find a quiet retreat in one of the little pavilions.  All in all it was just a nice day.

Flowers and Light

Flowers are some of my favorite things to shoot.    My friend Pam asked how “you take such wonderful pictures of flowers?”  While I won’t claim that her assertion is 100% true, it provides a good starting point for today’s blog.   There are just a few tips which can help raise your photos out of the piles of really ordinary snapshots

First, you need to decide exactly what part of the flower you are interested in.   Is it the shape, the color,or is it the way the light is playing on the petals,

Second, you need to get down to the level of the flowers or raise them up to you.  Like pets or children, looking at the top of their heads is boring. 

Third, get close, no I mean really close.  You don’t have to have a macro lens, but it helps, this one was shot just a 70-300 Zoom   But fill the frame for sure.  Roger is going to do a whole blog on macro later, so I don’t want to steal his thunder.  By getting up close and shooting wide open, you can really control the depth of field, and choose what part of the image is in focus. 

Early morning, before the sun gets too high is the best time to shoot for me.  Sometimes it is good to include some beautiful insects as they add scale and interest.

Especially butterflies.

Where can you get beautiful flowers to practice on? Go on down to your local farmers market and ask the vendors if you can shoot their stems.  If you buy a few, they are usually very cooperative Or, just go to your local store or florist and buy a bunch.  Then you can practice all you want in a controlled environment.  Or as the ones below, in an empty fall field.

 Oh, and if you want to capture that beautiful morning dew, take a spray bottle and use it. Voila instant dew. 

Get outside and shoot!