Telephoto Lens Cap for Canon & Nikon Camera Lenses

Archive for November, 2015

Artistic Vision Beyond the Obvious

artistic vision
FAR
too often we get too caught up in the excitement of our subject to take a step back, take a deep breath, and allow our own artistic vision to flow. We arrive at an exciting destination and switch from artistic vision to, “getting the shot”. We travel half way around the world dreaming of the unique images that we are going to create, but when we arrive, we panic; we cling to safety and shoot what is in front of us in fear of “missing the shot”. Staying safe ensures we will come home with images to show and share; proof that we have been to some remote, exotic location.

When we first pick up a camera, we are so excited by the possibilities that we are happy just learning the buttons, dials, focusing and exposure. We use the camera as a tool to seek out the exotic, snapping away, and are thrilled when we take a technically acceptable image; it’s in focus, the exposure is good, and nothing is clipped out of the frame. This is an important part of learning the craft, but we end up stagnating in this learning phase for way too long. Every time we get back from a location, we begin to wonder why our images aren’t more exciting. They are from a different place in the world, but technically they seem to be the same. The faces are different, the background is different, the animals are different, but the style is still boring and lifeless.

Whether it is a portrait of a lion or a portrait of a person, STOP CLICKING!! There are times when I still take that quick grab shot to satisfy the nagging need of, “getting the shot”; a habit that is hard to break, but it is a quick one or two clicks and then I quickly move on. Most times, when editing my images, I delete the “safe shot”, as it has no emotion, no connection, or creative expression. It is only a snap shot of something I found extraordinary or exciting in that very moment.

I am constantly striving for motion and emotion in a still photograph. This generally means I am breaking all the rules by manipulating my camera settings to over expose, under expose, or to create movement using slower shutter speeds. This also means that I risk deleting 99% of what I shoot; in turn, possibly “missing the shot”, but who is “the shot” for? Learning to trust your artistic vision, letting go and thinking quickly all come when you have confidence in your process because you quit caring about what others think. When you become so completely immersed in what stirs your soul that you lose yourself in the artistic process, your photographs will become artistic beyond the obvious.
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In this image I slowed my shutter to 1/50 and focused on the still subjects. The edge of the river dropped off. The wildebeest would pause until the build up from the back pushed them forward catapulting them into the river. The slow motion of wildebeest falling into the water puts movement into the image.

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Dust is always one of my favorite moody elements; add light, a slower shutter speed of 125 for a softer focus and the movement of the elements and you have an artistic painterly image.

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This is a pan-blur technique. I slowed my shutter to 1/30, focused on my front subjects, held down the shutter while panning with the moving herd.

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In the migratory herds, the zebra tend to be calm and still, while the wildebeest are are nervous and constantly moving. Similar to the fist image, I slowed my shutter to 1/20, focused on the still zebras, and the moving wildebeest in front are blurred by their motion.

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When elegant herds are on the move they surround the babies to protect them. I chose to go in really tight, focusing on and framing the young elephant, and slowing the shutter just enough to blur the motion of the faster moving older elephants.

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I have not been in the Mara just after the big rains. In some area’s the grasses were as tall as my Land Rover. Although it was challenging, I love the creative aspect of all the tall grasses. As the light was getting bright and I was heading back to camp, I came across these two Dik-Dik’s standing very still. They are usually very shy and run off quickly.  I made the creative choice to use a slow shutter speed so the blowing grasses would blurr and to over expose the image, creating this artistic look.

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There was beautiful light at sunrise, I could have easily captured the technically perfect shot with golden light on this lion, but I chose to do the opposite. I position myself for backlighting and underexposed by -1.67.

Nevada Wier recently wrote a great article about techniques that help you to make unique and personal images. Learning, developing and grasping these techniques before you travel half way around the world will give you the confidence to take artistic risks. You can grab your camera and hit the streets to practice or take a creative workshop. Personally, I am more inspired by surrounding myself with other passionate photographers feeding off each other’s creativity, rather than going out solo practicing tips I have read about. This is one of the reasons I love teaching the spirit-n-Light Creative workshops. Although I am there helping photographers with their creative process, I always come away inspired by their images, passion, and ideas.


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Piper Mackay is a world, wildlife and cultural photographer, based in Long Beach, California. She believes compelling visual images help to protect what is right in the world. Her work takes her to very remote locations, living cross culturally in the villages and environments that she is documenting.

Her work is heavily concentrated on the African continent, a land she fell in love with when she first touched foot on it’s rich red soil. Her passion for the natural world has grown into a lifelong commitment to inspire others to explore, respect and preserve the beauty of our fragile planet.

She believes compelling work comes when you invest time, living the stories you are trying to tell. It is important to interact and gain the trust of those whose stories you are telling, especially when sensitive and complicated. The world has enough images of poverty, pain and disaster, much more needful is imagery that reveals the beauty and dignity of the communities that are, except by their geography and circumstances, very similar to our own. Powerful images help shape the view of the world and play an important role in disseminating how cultures and wildlife are coping with the rapid changes happening in the developing world.

Piper’s images have been displayed at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, The Museum of History and industry, and The Art Wolfe gallery, as well as local galleries. Her work has been featured in Nature and travel publication through representation of several photo agencies, including Rangefinder, Nature’s Best, Birders, and the World Wildlife Fund. She is an independent photographer and available for assignment work.

Her prior career in the fashion industry, where she was deeply involved with combing color and texture, has greatly enhanced her approach to the unique look and feel of each culture and photographic subject. This also gave her a strong background in business and marketing. Please visit Piper’s website at www.pipermackayphotography.com.

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Living with Lions

africa safari

A gentle wind blows across the plains as prides of lions lie in the shade of the acacias, waiting patiently in anticipation. At any moment now, a dust cloud will gather over the horizon, as thousands of wildebeest thunder through the tall grasses of the Maasai Mara; marking the arrival of the Great Migration. During migration season, the Maasai Mara is arguably the greatest wildlife photography experience in the world.

I am currently in the Maasai Mara, at Little Mara Bush Camp, which is my home for the next three weeks. This is a fascinating time to be in the Mara. The grasses are the highest of the year, providing tremendous opportunities to capture artistic and unique photographs. I am slow to click the shutter, as my focus is on creating interesting and powerful images through the use of dramatic lighting, slower shutter speeds, creative exposures and different white balance choices. Each morning starts before sunrise, quickly fading into the heat of the day without seeing another vehicle. It has a feel of a private reserve; the calm before the storm.

I have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours photographing in this reserve over the past decade. What’s so different about these three weeks is that I am driving my own Land Rover. I must admit, it takes the experience to entirely new heights. I feel even more connected to the wildlife and this extraordinary place; no longer a visitor, but a feeling of belonging. Over these three weeks, I will be maneuvering over rough roads, crossing through rivers with rocky boulder bottoms, and sliding through the wet swampy black cotton soil, covering as much of the Mara as possible. Some of the most important skills for a wildlife photographer to have are to intimately know a location, understand the animal territories and behavior, and to build strong personal relationships in the area.

I wish to not only improve my own skills as an African wildlife photographer, but to specialize my guiding skills for those joining me on safaris.

Africa truly awakens your soul, as it did mine, on my first safari eleven years ago. I will savor these three weeks and immerse myself fully into every moment. As always, it will be hard to leave, even if only for a short time. I will return in August and September to lead my annual safarisKenya Wildlife Safari and Great Migration Safari, during the height of the migration season. No matter how much time I spend in the Maasai Mara, it is never enough; it never gets old. Most all who have been here would also agree.

You know you are truly alive
when you are living among lions.
Karen Blixen – Out of Africa

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Piper Mackay is a world, wildlife and cultural photographer, based in Long Beach, California. She believes compelling visual images help to protect what is right in the world. Her work takes her to very remote locations, living cross culturally in the villages and environments that she is documenting.

Her work is heavily concentrated on the African continent, a land she fell in love with when she first touched foot on it’s rich red soil. Her passion for the natural world has grown into a lifelong commitment to inspire others to explore, respect and preserve the beauty of our fragile planet.

She believes compelling work comes when you invest time, living the stories you are trying to tell. It is important to interact and gain the trust of those whose stories you are telling, especially when sensitive and complicated. The world has enough images of poverty, pain and disaster, much more needful is imagery that reveals the beauty and dignity of the communities that are, except by their geography and circumstances, very similar to our own. Powerful images help shape the view of the world and play an important role in disseminating how cultures and wildlife are coping with the rapid changes happening in the developing world.

Piper’s images have been displayed at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, The Museum of History and industry, and The Art Wolfe gallery, as well as local galleries. Her work has been featured in Nature and travel publication through representation of several photo agencies, including Rangefinder, Nature’s Best, Birders, and the World Wildlife Fund. She is an independent photographer and available for assignment work.

Her prior career in the fashion industry, where she was deeply involved with combing color and texture, has greatly enhanced her approach to the unique look and feel of each culture and photographic subject. This also gave her a strong background in business and marketing. Please visit Piper’s website at www.pipermackayphotography.com.

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GEAR – Custom flash drives!

flash drive

I was contacted the other day by the extremely nice people at USB Memory Direct about making some custom USB drives with my logo. I’d seen such drives before and had actually been thinking about making some as a way for people to remember my name and website. T-shirts and hats are great, but I like something different yet functional for PR purposes. When USB Memory Direct offered to send me a shipment of 25 customized drives for free, how could I say no?

When I went to the USB Memory Direct website, it took me quite a while to settle on a style. They had so many cool shapes and finishes from modern to quirky to rustic. I ended up choosing one of the wooden styles, which I thought looked super cool and expressed a great contrast between high-tech gadgetry and materials from the earth. To make things better, they had some that were made with bamboo, a pretty sustainable way to provide for our wood-like needs as bamboo grows rapidly and regrows in the same spot. Trying to select sustainable options when possible always sits well with nature photographers.

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Besides looking cool, they work great. Though USB Memory Direct offers only USB 2.0 drives, I think an 8 GB (or even smaller) USB 2.0 drive is just fine as a promo piece. I have a couple of larger drives I’ll use for photos and software programs, but a smaller drive that’s not quite blazing fast is just fine to have in your laptop or tablet sleeve for everyday files and sharing. Oh, the magnetic snap between cap and main unit is wonderful as it keeps you from losing the cap.

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I liked the sample batch so much that I’ll be ordering a larger supply that I can hand out to clients and when I present at photo conferences.

Thanks to my son Josh Basco for taking the product pics. We set the USB drive up on my home office desk and did the lighting solely with one small flashlight – a pretty fun and easy way to do some quick product photography.

CHECK OUT THE FULL SELECTION OF DRIVES AT USB MEMORY DIRECT.


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About the author Gregory Basco
Like many nature photographers, I started my career doing something else. A political scientist by training, my research focused on the politics of the environment in Latin America. I researched environmental politics and ecotourism in Costa Rica and worked here for a number of years as a conservation professional, having first come to the country in 1992 as a Peace Corps volunteer. I now dedicate myself full-time to my own photography and my Costa Rica photo tour company. I work out of my home office in Costa Rica’s central highlands, where I live with my wife, twin boys, our dogs and cats, and various hummingbirds and songbirds that visit our backyard feeders.  Visit Greg’s galleries, store, and workshops at Deep Green Photography.

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Keomuku Boulders Sunrise 2

KeomukBoulders Sunrise

USA, Hawaii, Lanai, A dramatic sunrise on the north shore of Lanai from an interesting lava rock formation along Keomuku Road

This image was created along the drive down to the north shore of Lanai on the first day of my February visit. Though the main purpose for my trip was to photograph humpback whales breaching, I also photographed landscapes whenever I had the opportunity. I had arrived the night before and not yet assembled my inflatable boat to go out whale watching, but I still wanted to shoot the sunrise. I knew from my previous explorations of the island that there were large numbers of lava formations along the side of the road which would make an interesting foreground. As the sunrise approached, I parked, jumped out of the truck, and then bolted towards
this prominent feature, barely setting up my camera in time to photograph this magical light briefly illuminating my subject as the clouds moved across the sky. I created this image using my 36MP Sony a7R camera body with a Metabones Canon lens adapter, and my new Canon 16-35mm f4 IS lens, Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer, and Singh-Ray 2-stop Hard Graduated Neutral Density filter. I processed the RAW file using Aperture 3, Photoshop CC 2014, and Nik Software’s Color Efex 4‘s White Neutralizer filter.


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MEET THE AUTHOR

Jon Cornforth photographing surf on the North Shore of OahuJon Cornforth photographing surf on the North Shore of OahuJon Cornforth is an award-winning wilderness photographer whose images have been recognized internationally for their masterful composition and incredible detail. He’s compelled to express the beauty of the natural world through his photography, traveling all year, challenging himself in new locations and documenting the unique creatures who live there. All of his images are captured in the wild. He believes in supporting environmental groups and raising awareness through photography. He lives in Seattle, WA with his wife, Daisy, daughters, Maddy and Chloe, and Boston terrier, Buni.

Click here to visit Jon’s website.

Cornforth Images are copyright protected. Cornforth Images are available to be licensed for a fee and can not be used without permission.

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