Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to observe it close up. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics of photography to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

Prairie Sunrise

Prairie Sunrise
Prairie Sunrise

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Walk About

Sometimes I will take an hour or so and do a walk about in the fields and around the pond behind my house. I have photographed that area dozens of times and usually tend to capture the same kinds of photos each time I head out. Sometimes, I will stumble onto something that stands apart from everything else and when that happens, this rather ordinary location can produce some amazing photographic moments.

The other evening I managed to head out that way and came across a dragon fly that must have just hatched for he was still clinging to a blade of grass suspended above a large pool of dark water left over from a previous rain. I was using an old 75-300 Minolta lens on my Sony A65...its not a great lens but sometimes its size and ease of use is preferable to my larger 50-500 Sigma lens.

I zoomed in and fired off a few quick shots. When I took a closer look at them on the back of the camera I realized first of all the auto focus just was not locking in like it should. Secondly, I was metering using the evaluative mode and the dark background really thru off the exposure. Lucky for me, the dragon fly was not yet ready to start flitting about like they do and he stayed put while I adjusted the camera. First, I shifted the exposure compensation to -1.3 to allow for the dark background. Secondly, I turned off the auto focus and switch over to manual.

The A65 has an extremely cool manual focusing system where whatever you are focusing on will be highlited by a color you this case it was red. That feature visually helps when trying to focus thru a lot of stuff that might otherwise fool the auto focus. I took another aim at the dragon fly and manually turned the focus dial until he was highlited in red and fired the shot. Closer examination revealed a crisp and clean shot properly exposed that clearly showed the blood being pumped into his newly inflated wings.

As I continued my walk about, the sun settled closer to the horizon and started filtering thru trees and other cover. Some of that light backlit a small branch where new leaves were beginning to form. I have taken backlit shots like this hundreds of times...this one appeared no different than all the others and I almost passed up on the opportunity. Sometimes though the camera will see things we cannot, and it will capture a moment in ways we cannot visually see I made a quick frame and fired off a couple quick shots. What was captured was an exquiste example of how light reveals details thru the lens of the camera. What set it apart was how the background served to frame the backlit leaves against a natural dark green matting.

Walk abouts are easy to do and many times they will offer up an opportunity that defies the simplicity of the moment. Maybe it is because of that simplicty those kinds of opportunities can be so productive.


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