Backyard photography

More Lightpad Flowers and Post-Processing Fun

Posted on
Reds and Purples

Poor Squirt – it wasn’t enough that I withheld pansies for lightpad photography once, but I had such a good time that I did it again!  I took some pansies and some small petunias and played more with my new ArtOGraph Lightpad.  Then I spent a rainy afternoon having fun with the post-processing.  A few of these got a “hmm! I like that!” from Rich.  Can you guess which ones? This first image is a petunia, face-down.  It reminds me of a dancer doing a waltz.  I added several rounds of the Fractalius filter, one to soften the image, the next to add the extra detail in the petals only.  Then I added a texture from Shadowhouse Creations.  I liked the colored texture background better than the original white of the Lightpad. This next image is a typical flower image taken on the Lightpad.  I put the pansies and the petunia together and played with the composition till I liked it.  I did very little post processing to this one, just a little touch-up from Nik Color Efex Pro.  I’m finding that the Tonal Contrast filter works wonders with the flower colors that are otherwise softened but the bright light of […]

Backyard photography

Fun with my New Lightpad

Posted on
Pansy Heart Close-Up

Rich got me an ArtOGraph Lightpad for Christmas, after seeing me drool over some of Denise Ippolito’s flower shots.  I infuriated Squirt by photographing some pansies on the Lightpad out on his porch, where he sat waiting to devour my subjects as soon as I finished photographing them.  Whiskey was right there, too!  At our house, flowers are meant for eating…at least according to my favorite felines. I had a great time with the lightpad.  The lightpad provides a bright even white light to use as a background for high-key images.  It was a cloudy day, so I used my flash on my 5D III to throw some extra light on the flowers.  I had fun in post-processing, trying different effects with the colors and details.  The first image is just the flower lying on the light pad. I really like playing with close-ups of flowers, so after I did a few shots of the whole flower, I put the extension tubes on my macro lens and started focusing on the center of the flower.  I really liked how the high-key background brought out the whites of the flower. I kept focusing closer and closer until finally three extension tubes […]

Backyard photography

Frozen Orchids

Posted on
Frozen Orchid

My mom’s neighbors (hi Dick and Connie!) recently gave her a branch from a flowering orchid, and my mom was sweet and froze it for me!  I guess she wanted to see more frozen flowers on my blog. :)  Then she was nice enough to keep it in the freezer for me for a few weeks until I had a chance to take my macro lens over to shoot.  So I finally got my frozen orchid pictures… Orchids are pretty flowers, and fun to photograph.  My mom had positioned the flower on a nice angle, such that the petals all froze at the top of the ice.  That was really good, because the parts of the flower that are buried in ice don’t tend to be as pretty in the photo.  When I first took it out of the freezer, the ice was covered in pretty frost.  It didn’t last long in the 80 degree Florida heat!  (Yes, somebody forgot to tell Florida that it’s wintertime.) I got to experiment with flash and I tried to use the flash light to illuminate the flowers from behind.  I thought that might bring out some really pretty details.  Instead I ended up […]

Backyard photography

Photographing Pansies in Rain

Posted on
Pansy Droplets

I have a secret.  Don’t tell Squirt.  The last time we bought him pansies, I didn’t give them to him right away.  I took them to the backyard and photographed them.  Then he got to devour them. I have another secret.  I wanted to try photographing pansies in rain, but there was no rain in the forecast.  My solution?  A garden hose hanging from my crape myrtle!  That and a slowish shutter speed make for nice rain shots. Usually when I use a hose or spray bottle to make artificial rain drops, it looks really fake.  But this time the hose did a pretty good job.  My favorite shot from the day was a line of water droplets on the pansy’s stem.  The water droplets reflected the grassy area behind me.  I created my own texture by applying the Fractalius filter to an image of falling water droplets.  That texture was a nice finishing touch to the droplet image. After a while, the pansy couldn’t take the force of the water droplets anymore.  The stem broke off and the flower tumbled down to the mulch.  The sun came out and shone on the poor little flower getting battered by water. […]

Backyard photography

Around the Backyard

Posted on
Ladybug

I’ve been working every weekend since I returned from Maine, and I need to start making time to get back out with my camera.  I’m hearing warblers chip-chip in the treetops in the evenings, and the sunrises this week have been gorgeous!  In the meantime, I took a page from Herman‘s book and played with more macro photography around the backyard.  This ladybug was crawling around in my coral porter weed.  There were tons of bees nectaring on the blooms, too. We’ve gradually been getting more squirrels in the neighborhood.  It might sound strange, but we really don’t have squirrels around our house.  Our neighborhood was a citrus grove, and when they put in houses, they planted lots of little oak trees.  Those are gradually growing, as as they do, the squirrels are starting to come back.  I’m also hearing more “normal” birds this fall, like the Blue Jay that yelled at me while I trimmed our hedges the other day, or the Tufted Titmouse that called “Peter, Peter” at my neighbor while he mowed. I just upgraded my feeders to a Wild Birds Unlimited Advanced Pole System, which includes a raccoon baffle.  I’m pleasantly surprised at how well made […]

Backyard photography

Fall Mums

Posted on
Pink Mums

Can you believe it’s October already?  Seems like it was just yesterday that I was photographing baby Sandhill Cranes and newborn cygnets!  And now the fall breeze is in the air and the days are getting shorter, quickly.  That means it’s time for fall mums and pumpkins! Chrysanthemums are some of my favorite flowers.  They are so cheerful.  They are fun to photograph in clusters. It’s been a while since I played with RainEx droplets.  I got this idea from Denise Ippolito‘s blog.  You put a sheet of glass over the flowers and spray RainEx on it.  That treats the glass so that water droplets will make little beads on it.  Then you spray water onto the glass.  Using a macro lens, you focus on the water droplets, which show the reflections of the flowers below.  It’s a fun technique to play with! For the image above, I used a small enough aperture that you can see the flower underneath the glass, as well as the reflections.  I only had time to make a few images, and this one was my favorite. I found that it was easiest to set the flowers underneath my glass table and do the RainEx […]

Backyard photography

Pentas in our Neighborhood

Posted on
Pentas Zoom Butterfly

We took a walk around the neighborhood the other night and I had to take my camera.  Our community flower beds are full of colorful pentas right now, and they call my name every time I drive by them!  The mass of colors made me want to experiment with some intentional blurs… First I tried moving the camera in small circles with a long-ish exposure.  I got a lot of strange looks from people driving by!  I added a bit of Oil Filter and Color Efex to the resulting image and I kinda like it. I did some zoom blurs, too, but they were a little boring.  So I started to play with the Flaming Pear Flexify filter.  I kept using random settings until I stumbled upon one that made my zoom look like a butterfly.  Then I added a touch of Fractalius and enhanced the colors a bit.  It looks nothing like the original pentas, but it was a fun little experiment! As we walked home, the sun was setting behind our neighborhood pond.  Our weeping willow trees have always caught my attention, and with my 5D Mark III, I finally have the wide angle to try some of […]

Backyard photography

African Irises

Posted on
African Iris

Ever since my first frozen flower experiments, Rich whispers “Freeze me!” in my ear every time we pass a clump of African Irises.  On a recent rainy day (we’ve had plenty of those!), I took a flower inside and did some more experimentation.  This time I didn’t freeze the flower.  I set it up in my living room and played with lighting.  I’m primarily a bird and wildlife photographer, so I’m used to working with the available light.  I’m still learning about flash and lighting.  So I got out my flash and some lamps, and set up some shots on my glass table.  I’m not sure if I achieved the effect that I wanted, but I had a blast. I love the big, beautiful files that my new 5D Mark III produces!  I’m also surprised how much I notice the increase to 22 megapixel images.  It’s not such a jump from my 18 megapixel 7D body, but I do enjoy the extra pixels. For the next image I played with the post-processing and filters.  I added some Nik Color Efex, and a slight white vignette to soften the edges.  Then I downloaded some textures from Shadowhouse Creations.  I really liked […]

Backyard photography

Hummingbird Alert!

Posted on
Hummingbird Bush. A hummer was here!!

Last week we had a hummingbird in our backyard! We were eating dinner on our back porch with the cats when I noticed the hummer nectaring on my hummingbird bush. By the time I grabbed my camera, the bird had gone. I couldn’t tell if it was a male or female. But it was a hummingbird! Come back, little hummer!

Backyard photography

Backyard Rainbow

Posted on

It’s been raining cats and dogs around Central Florida lately!  And my cats are not particularly happy about it.  They are not fans of lightning and thunder, and even the gentle rains often leave the porch too wet for feline usage. But on the bright side, there’s a decent chance of catching a rainbow after work on hot summer afternoons.  This one was pretty over my backyard at the end of May.  I drove off to a grassy area near the house, hoping to get a better foreground for my image.  Alas, by the time I got out to the right spot, the rainbow had disappeared. My rain lilies have been blooming a lot, too!  Rain lilies only bloom after it has rained.  Mine were tag-along transplants from my parents’ yard when I took their purple Crape Myrtle a few years back.  They have since been flourishing in my backyard.  I love the mass of pink flowers around the base of the crape myrtle.  Rich doesn’t mind these flowers, either, since they surround one of his turtle statues! Rain lilies look like they should be fun to photograph, but they are actually a bit challenging.  When I’ve tried to do […]

Backyard photography

My New Toy :)

Posted on
Goldilocks

The little brown truck brought me a new toy this summer! It’s a Canon 5D Mark III camera body. I’m so excited about it, as it has much improved autofocus, even better than my 1D Mark IV. It also does in-camera HDR and in-camera multiple exposures. It’s a full-frame camera, which will be fun for some of my more “artistic” photography. There’s a rule at our house that the first photograph taken with any new piece of camera gear must be of our cat Goldilocks. It’s a tradition we’ve had since before my first DSLR. Goldy is pretty cooperative and she makes an adorable subject. Since the 5D Mark III does multiple exposures, I figured I’d try a technique that my friend Kathy did with her cats. It’s a combined exposure of the cat’s fur and the cat’s face. I love the LCD on the 5D Mark III! I had such fun experimenting with the multiple exposures. You can set it to do any number of exposures, with several combination options. You can also save the original captures, which is cool, because I found that I wanted to tweak these a little in Photoshop. I liked the in-camera captures very […]

Backyard photography

Freeze Me!

Posted on

A while back I read a fun blog entry by Denise Ippolito where she froze flowers to photograph.  It sounds weird, but she got some amazing results.  Then my friend Kathy Urbach started experimenting with the same technique.  I liked their images and decided to try the technique myself.  It’s not as easy as it sounds!  First you have to pick a flower or composition that will look good frozen.  Then you have to get enough water in the plastic container to cover the flower, but not so much that all you see is frozen water.  Then comes the really hard part – you have to convince your husband to make some space in the freezer.  For your freezing flowers.  Rich thought I’d lost my mind.  (Again!) The image above was my first attempt. I took some rose petals and scattered them in the water.  After a few hours in the freezer, they were ready.  I found that my first challenge was finding a good background for the photograph.  If you put the ice block on a table, you can see the table through the ice.  Also I didn’t like the light inside the house.  So I ended up taking […]

Backyard photography

An Hour and a Daylily

Posted on

The other day we got home from work and Squirt really, really wanted to go out on the porch.  So did Whiskey.  How to say no to two adorable cats?  So I grabbed my macro lens and extension tubes and we all went outside.  While the boys sniffed the breeze and chased lizards, I photographed flowers.  One of my favorite daylilies, a pale pink variety with a yellow center, was in bloom.  I took it into the shade and photographed it from all sorts of angles.  When Rich called us in to dinner, the cats and I were both surprised.  We’d been out there for an hour, and I spent the whole time with one flower! I found a cool tutorial online for doing filmstrip effects with digital images.  I thought it would be fun to use this format to showcase some of the different images that I made of the daylily.  The main image is just a color blur of one of the petals.  The top right is the traditional shot of the center of the flower with a large depth of focus.  The middle shot focuses on just the stamens (boy it is hard to get them all […]

Backyard photography

Flower Power!

Posted on

My daylilies in the backyard are starting to bloom, and they are so colorful.  I’ve been having fun with my macro lens, Photoshop, the Nik filters, and some Fractalius.  (Rich loves to tease me that I have Windows running on my Mac for almost the sole purpose of the Fractalius Photoshop filter!)  It’s fun to sit and play with angles in-camera, and then colors and effects on the computer.     I know I’m onto something interesting when I get an “oooh!” from Rich (instead of a “that’s nice.”).  We both really liked the colors and overall effect of this “daylily heart” image. It was tricky photographing the daylily because of the tall stamens.  They kind of got in the way if I was trying to focus on the colors at the center of the flower.  I tried large apertures to blur them, then switched to tiny apertures to capture them in focus.  It was a breezy day, though, and I had to time it when the flower wasn’t waltzing in the wind.  I like how the colors radiate from the center of this flower, with a touch of Fractalius to add some interest to the stamens. Daylilies really do […]

Backyard photography

Azalea Fun on a Rainy Day

Posted on

This past weekend I was feeling well enough to get out and shoot, but it was windy and rainy.  Yuck!  So I got out the camera and headed for my own backyard.  My azaleas are in full bloom, and they are just gorgeous.  Luckily the rain didn’t blow all the azalea blooms away like last year!  I couldn’t resist the opportunity for close-up shots of the raindrops on the blooms… The pink and green colors are some of my favorites of spring.  I tried to capture the masses of colors, but with all the leaves and flowers in focus, the images looked too cluttered.  Then the rain started again.  So I started making blurs.  First I started with small circles of my camera, and a shutter speed of one second.  That gave me enough time to circle several times per shutter click.  I liked the almost multiple exposure feel of the resulting image.  You can still see the flowers, but it’s mostly an abstract blur. Then I switched to broader strokes with the camera, for a shorter shutter speed.  This gives almost a “river of color” feel.  One thing I’ve learned about playing with blurs is to start moving the […]

Backyard photography

Backyard Signs of Spring

Posted on
Heart of an Azalea

Today is Groundhog Day, and Punxsutawney Phil says that we’re in for an early spring.  Thank goodness — I’m tired of the cold!  I didn’t need a groundhog to tell me that spring is coming, though.  My backyard plants are telling me all about it.  The oaks are putting out their new leaves already, my azaleas started to bloom several weeks ago, and my honeysuckle never stopped blooming this winter.  All these backyard signs of spring are  exciting…spring is my favorite season and I’m looking forward to getting out into the garden to plant some new flowers. I took my macro lens out front to photograph some of the azalea blooms.  They are so pretty!  I played with focusing on the stamens first, then on the flower centers.  The above image was my favorite.  It doesn’t show the stamens, but I love the colors and lines. Soon it will be time to trim the crape myrtles.  The poor goldfinches will have fewer branches to sit on while they wait for their turn at the feeder.  Even without their leaves, the crape myrtles are kind of pretty, with all sorts of interesting bark.  Have I mentioned that I am really enjoying […]

Backyard photography

Fun with Gerber Daisies, Photoshop, and Filters

Posted on

You know you’ve been bitten by the photography bug when you’re in a garden center, and you see a display of flowering Gerber Daisies, and you purchase it thinking, “oooh, that one would look good with the Fractalius filter applied!”  You can have lots of fun with a pot of Gerber Daisies, Photoshop, and filters… I love Gerber Daisies. They are colorful, they have such interesting centers, and they are easy to grow in pots. They will continue to flower and provide me with further macro opportunities in the months to come. They also provide much-needed color to the backyard in January! I actually purchased the daisies to continue experimenting with the RainEx technique of photographing flowers reflected in water bubbles. I experimented with focus stacking to try to bring more of the reflected flowers into focus. However, I did my little experiment on a gray nasty day, and I think I needed more light. My pictures from last time were better. So after viewing some of my images in my camera LCD, I switched tactics, and tried to photograph the Gerber Daisies differently than I had ever photographed them before.  I thought about the shapes of the petals, the […]

Backyard photography

Squirt’s Delight

Posted on

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! Work is done for the year, the cats are enjoying the cold front breezes out on the porch, and I got to photograph Squirt’s favorite holiday treat. Well, one of Squirt’s favorite holiday treats. :)