Euless Hawk: The Story Behind the Photo

By Mangesh Sangapu

Euless Hawk in tree photo by Mangesh Sangapu

Euless Hawk by Mangesh Sangapu

The first time I saw this hawk, it was on my porch lunching on a gecko. I tried to save the  gecko but the bird flew away with its meal.

I saw this bird a few times since, but it’s been too far away. I solved the distance problem by getting a Sigma 710mm, but I never expected to get such a close-up.

I was bird-watching from our back window and to my amazement, it came out of  nowhere and landed on a tree close to our home. I hastily grabbed my camera and quietly opened the back door. I took this picture just as the hawk became aware of my presence. It flew away moments later.

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April Showers Bring May … Awards?

Fair-weather photographers may only get fair, average images. But rainy days offer
opportunities just dripping with potential. Technically, May is the wettest month in
Texas, but April will give you plenty of practice. Here are a few things to consider:

Pack your tripod

Cheetah in the rain

Photo by Frida Bredesen from Unsplash.com

As Captain Obvious will tell you, rain comes from clouds, which also tend to block light. And increasing your depth of field will help capture raindrops but will require a slower shutter speed (or higher ISO). You’ll want a tripod. It can hold your camera while you hold an umbrella.

Cover yourself

Shooting in the rain is a lot more fun if you stay warm and dry. Make use of natural weather barriers like awnings, walls, and cars. Umbrellas are tricky to handle, but they can double as a prop to help tell the story of your image. Try to keep the wind at your back (unless you want a wet lens).

Cover your camera

Rain covers cost as little as $7, a small price to pay to keep moisture out of your camera. And make sure the inside of your bag is dry before you put the camera away.

Light it up

Often rain will not show up in your image unless there is a strong light source in front or back of it, so position yourself accordingly.

Freeze the rain

Crank up your shutter speed to at least 1/250. Try popping a weak flash into the rain, like -2 or -3 stops, to light it up a bit.

Create a curtain

Slow your shutter speed down to about 1/15 or 1/30 and you’ll paint more of a downpour feeling.

After the storm

photo of backlit person standing in the rain

Photo by Steve Halama from Unsplash.com

You don’t have to go out in the rain to get a great shot. Wait till it passes, then go see if you can catch a rainbow. Post-storm puddles create little mirrors that reflect light,  architecture, and people.

Happy shooting! And remember, our July competition theme is “All Wet.”

In the Windmills of Your Mind: The Story Behind the Photo

By Susan Taylor

double exposure of ferris wheel by Susan Taylor

In the Windmills of Your Mind by Susan Taylor

I took this picture as a multiple exposure on my Nikon 5200. I didn’t even know I had this option in my camera until the first day of class at TCC!

That same day we went to the carnival at the stock show, and I started shooting multiple exposures. When I arrived home and looked at my pics, I saw my double exposure of the ferris wheel and a title immediately came to mind: the lyrics from the ’60s era song “In the Windmills of Your Mind.”

I tweaked it a bit, made it black and white, and then looked up the lyrics to make sure of my title.

It was then that I read that the song’s composer, pianist and Oscar winner Michael Legrand, had died only three days earlier!

Shooting in the Breeze

They say March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb, which must create a considerable vacuum considering how windy it gets. But it makes for great (and challenging) photo ops.

Everything that blows and flows gets more blowy and flowy: elegant dresses, long hair, flowers, flags, waves, and clouds to name but a few. Here are some things to keep in mind to make the most of it.

Protect your property (and yourself)

If you’re going to be somewhere sandy or watery, be sure to keep your camera in the bag until you’re ready to shoot. Consider using a rain cover. And watch out for flying debris and narrow ledges. We’re all just one gust away from the emergency room.

Adjust your settings

woman with wind blown hair

Photo by Dev Asangbam from Unsplash.com

If you want to freeze the action, increase your shutter speed. Of course, you’ll need to up your ISO or open the aperture a bit to compensate. Or to help communicate the windiness, slow your shutter speed down a bit. Just be sure the things in the shot that are supposed to be stable stay sharp: mountains, buildings, etc.

Stabilize your gear

If your camera has image stabilization, turn it on, even on a tripod. Typically that’s a bad idea, but it can make a positive difference on a windy day. If it’s really windy and your tripod may tip over, steady the legs with something heavy or hang something from the bottom. That’s what the hook is for. But don’t use something that could double as a sail. It may contribute to the problem. And keep your center column unextended. Even lowering the overall height of the tripod can help.

Work the wind

smooth like glass water

Photo by Oldskool Photography from Unsplash.com

Add a neutral density filter to your lens to limit the amount of light entering your camera. This allows for longer shutter speeds in daylight to make water appear smooth and clouds seem extra wispy.

Add a dash of flash

If you want to create a frozen moment but still communicate motion, try using your flash. Just a quick pop of extra light will freeze part of the action, but keep the shutter open long enough.

Old School Lighting: The Story Behind the Photo

By Lana Macko

Photo of tomatoes on scale

Old School Lighting by Lana Macko

I will never forget the moment I spotted these tomatoes in a market in San Miguel, Mexico, and the way the perfect late afternoon light was hitting them.

So when I started to prepare the image for camera club submission, I darkened the shadows, bringing even more emphasis to the tomatoes and parts of the scale to intensify the old-school feel I had felt when viewing this magnificent light in that market.

The photograph did not get a very high score in our contest. Not only did the judge not “get” it (despite the broad hint I had dropped with my title), he shared how HE would have post processed this shot differently, thus creating HIS vision. Of course, that was a very HDR-type look, which I am normally not opposed to, but it was not the artistic vision I had for this shot.

So I felt compelled to write this, especially for our newest members. Don’t be intimidated by a judge’s comments or vision. They won’t always share YOUR vision. Just HAVE a vision, and learn to carry it out to the best of your ability.

A Photography Valentine

Why do we love photography?

Photo of roses by Katya Zyu from Unsplash.com

Photo by Katya Zyu from Unsplash.com

These quotes from famous photographers and artists are not necessarily answers to that question, but they could be.

When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking answers to things. – Wynn Bullock

The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do. – Andy Warhol

What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time. – John Berger

Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography. – George Eastman

What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce. – Karl Lagerfeld

The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words. – Elliott Erwitt

Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies. – Diane Arbus

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still. – Dorothea Lange

The camera makes you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much. – Annie Leibovitz

When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read the line of a poem twice. – Robert Frank

Essentially what photography is is life lit up. – Sam Abell

Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second. – Marc Riboud

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything. – Aaron Siskind

My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport. – Steve McCurry

Bridle Bit Bull: The Story Behind the Photo

By Darren Wiedman

Bridle Bit Bull photo by Darren Wiedman

Bridle Bit Bull photo by Darren Wiedman

This was shot a few miles west of Throckmorton, Texas, which is just down the road from the middle of nowhere. I originally chose this location because I wanted to capture the Milky Way and darksitefinder.com indicated this was one of the darkest locations in the country (and the closest to me). While cyber-scoping the area via Google maps to find an interesting barn or pumpjack to put in the foreground, I was delighted to discover this 22-foot bull statue near the side of Hwy. 380. I realized I would be facing the wrong direction to have the Milky Way in the background, but I thought the bull was too good to pass up.

Unfortunately, the dark spot I found was still surrounded by distant cities, and there were even lights on the horizon. I thought about walking into the field to shoot toward the darker south, but I’m not a fan of rattlesnakes and real bulls, either of which could’ve been out there in the black.

I tried to light-paint the statue with little success. Fortunately, on my last attempt, an 18-wheeler was coming up the road and provided very dramatic lighting with its headlights.

For future night shoots, I’ll find a darker spot, bring a stronger flashlight, and shoot at a higher ISO (and remove grain in post).