Between my shoulder/neck and headache pain that I get when carrying to much in my pack and just wanting to enjoy the moment, I have been learning to carry as little camera gear as possible. I used to feel I needed every focal length possible in fear that I may miss a shot, but I have learned that is not necessary. I often enjoy the freedom of carrying only a couple lenses/focal lengths, and it often helps me be more creative. Sometimes if I know I will be going on a long hike I will bring just one focal length, or my crop sensor mirrorless to keep things light. There have been a couple times I wished I had brought another lens, but not often, and I usually find a way to get the shot. Try to limit yourself, it can be very rewarding.
Often when I am photographing and editing images of flowers I let the subject itself along with the atmosphere dictate how I will photograph and edit the final image. An example would be if I am photographing a happy flower in bright dreamy light I will often keep with that look when I photograph it and edit it later. Where as a flower that is perhaps situated in some dark deep shadows I will tend to darken things more and go for a moodier look. Do you have a certain look or style or does it vary based on the subject/mood?
One subject I have been having a lot of fun with lately is capturing abstract images of waterfalls or rapids. A couple bonuses about shooting these is you can do it just about any time of year and it requires minimal gear, therefore I can hike lighter which is always a plus to me. Typically I bring one camera with a telephotos lens and ND filters. I may bring a tripod depending on the location and my goal. You would need a tripod if you are going to include anything in your image that is stationary to ensure it stays sharp with the slow shutter speed you could be using. Often though I won't bother bringing the tripod and just stick to more abstract images to keep things light and free. No two images will look alike which is part of the fun. You can vary your composition and shutter speed to change the outcome of each image. You never know what you will get!
Do you enjoy viewing or photographing wildlife? It can be a good way to get out and enjoy nature during this difficult time we are experiencing. Below are a few wildlife subjects to look for during late spring/early summer.
First half of May- Warblers in their full breeding plumage. Also look for indigo bunting, scarlet tanager or rose-breasted grosbeak. Start searching prairies for upland sandpipers, marbled godwits, bobolinks along with butterflies and wildflowers. Trumpeter swans will be nesting in marshes of central and northern Minnesota, with their young hatching by mid-June (please keep a respectable distance).
June- In northern Minnesota watch for ruffed grouse and spring songbirds. Shallow prairie marshes may have waterfowl and waterbirds. Watch for grebes, coots, ducks, swans, blackbirds, wrens, rails, minks, and otter.
Use binoculars and a telephotos lens, keep your distance and be respectful. If you notice the animal is stressed, back off. Especially during nesting season.
Visit your local DNR website for more Information on wildlife near your area.
After being stuck inside most of the winter it can be very exciting to finally get out and enjoy nature again. Since it can take a while before we have any greenery in Minnesota here are a few subjects that I will look out for during those first couple months of spring.
Plants that are just opening up. One of my favorites are ferns. They have this really eye catching curl to them when they first start growing.
Spring migration (see my previous post about spring wildlife for more details)
Unique tree/plant buds
Raging waterfalls/rapids (get closer or zoom in for a more intimate or abstract image)
The days are getting longer and I could not be happier that spring is around the corner. I am looking forward to getting out soon and photographing birds that are returning to the state of Minnesota from their migration south. Below is a list of wildlife to watch for in the next couple months.
March: Canada geese, bald eagles, American kestrels, eastern bluebirds and wood ducks.
Mid-March through mid-April: waterfowl migration and sandhill cranes.
Mid to late April: shorebird migration, watch shallow wetlands for yellowlegs, willets, dunlins and other sandpipers.
Late April: first wave of early migrant songbirds.
Other animals to watch for in the spring would include river otters, and beavers. In Northern Minnesota you may spot moose, fishers and pine martens.
Use binoculars and a telephotos lens, keep your distance and be respectful. If you notice the animal is stressed back off, especially during nesting season.
I try to photograph flowers indoors to get me through the winter. Here is what a typical flower setup looks like. This table is near a patio door that offers plenty of natural light during the midday. How do you stay creative with your camera during the long cold winter months?
White snowy scenes can trick your camera into underexposing, resulting in a gray color instead. To make sure your snowy winter scenes look white increase your exposure by 1 or more stops. You can also accomplish this with your smartphone by swiping your finger up (after you pressed on the screen to achieve focus) to increase exposure. Just be sure you are not over exposing to much which would result in a lack of details within those white snowy areas.
I took this picture a couple years ago when visiting Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park with my family. I have recently learned that the future of the Mississippi could be at risk. Near us the river is still clean, however further downstream increasing pollution has become a threat. We need to take action to stop this before it becomes a bigger problem that could cost us dearly. I urge you to visit the following link to learn more and find out how you can take action. The website is easy to navigate and only requires a few minutes of your time. Together we can help save this beautiful river that is precious to us in so many ways.
Please visit: www.ourmississippiourfuture.org
Want to change things up a bit? One way to do that is by hanging wall art based on seasons. Some examples would be flowers for spring and summer, fall color landscapes for autumn, poinsettias for the holidays, and monochromatic landscapes for winter.