Layers of sharpness…

What I’ve begun to start tinkering more with in my photography, at least when it comes to shots that are close-ups, is layers of sharpness using depth of field. With close-ups, I need to be wary of my aperture, especially because of the closeness of the subject to the lens itself. What this means is that f8 will most likely not have half the scene in focus, but a bit less than that; for full focus, I’d have to go down to something like f20 or f22. It’s tricky, but I’m still working on it; with so much out there to use as potential subjects, finding one, or more, is not the hardest thing to do.

- Purple & Shade -
– Purple & Shade –

The above shot is one such example because of the aperture which was at f8 and the shutter speed 1/200 with a low ISO. What I was trying to get at with this was to set the flowers against the wooden fence and I figured that by blurring the background, it would really set off at least most of the flowers against the fence and it worked. Looking back at this shot, taken midday & a little darker than normal to bring down the highlights, I did the usual refinements of clarity, localized saturation (vibrance in Lightroom), some contrast & noise, to really set out the colours of the flowers against the fence. It surprised me that it came out as good as it did, especially because I wasn’t working a polarizer; that was mostly due to laziness on my part, but it still worked out, thanks to some decent thinking.

We’ve been given so much by the Creator, so much that I can’t really see why I don’t try to get the most out of a scene and really work at presenting the beauty of the scene in front of me; even with this, I don’t always get it right. In life, we’re given things to work with them for the greater good and, even though I often fail at it, I hope that I can at least get it right more than a few times and inspire others to do the same. I don’t want to compete with others out there, nor do I want others to do that, but I want to bring something to the table that will cause us to look up once in a while or even just lend a hand & be there for others.


Back to basics…

Thinking that I’m going to screw up sometimes comes with the territory when I go about photographing a small area no bigger than that of a football. Why do I do that? I do that as more of a training exercise to get my creative juices flowing; it helps to train me to see things that I would normally just pass up because of their small size. Shots, like the one below, help me hone my focus a bit and work on composition & colour in tight spaces.

- Raindrops & Flowers -
– Raindrops & Flowers –

The above shot had slight contrast, clarity, black clipping, vibrancy (called Vibrance in Lightroom 6), noise, & exposure adjustments to refine it, but it stayed totally true to what it had been when I first captured the shot. These flowers are tiny (about half the size of a penny) and have colour variations that are often tricky for me to capture, hence the colour & clarity refinements. For me, it’s about trying to capture the mood at the time in a small space; even though I was outdoors and free to move around, I confined myself to a space no bigger than that of a small vehicle in order to make myself get used to smaller, more refined movements & adjustments to how I was photographing. In a way, this kind of exercise forces me to get back to the basics & work with what’s directly in front of me.

This kind of thing is a way for me to continually make myself work on the basics so that I don’t forget them as easily as I usually do…This comes WAY too easy for me. Remember the old saying that sometimes we need something to jog our memory? Well, sometimes I need a good swift kick so I don’t forget. Another good thing about exercises like this is that they help to reinforce the basics through repetition that isn’t quite mindless, at least for me. So get out there & challenge yourself.


Usually, when we see a photograph, we think that the camera doesn’t lie or if it seems too good to be true, then it’s edited & becomes a so-called fake. Personally, especially after reading many a resource on this, I think that we have to get past the belief that the camera can’t lie, because it easily can lie with the use of colored filters, black & white, and/or specialty filters (polarizers, neutral gradient filters, etc.). We want so badly to see the truth in a scene that photography no longer becomes a kind of art and al the creativity gets drained out of it in the process.

- Yellow Trumpets -
– Yellow Trumpets –

We want reality in photography, but in life we strive mostly for wants over needs (myself definitely included) so it’s almost like being double-sided. Why? I think it’s because we focus more on wishes in life and hard reality in photography without actually, or actively, realizing it ourselves. The crazy thing is that we get so caught up in gear, belongings & non-essentials that we think that they’re a reality when in fact it’s all about what we believe & what we do that really matters & has meaning; when we tend to focus on stuff along, we kind of lose touch with reality. We lose touch with reality because we focus in on more of what we need instead of what others around us need in terms of a shoulder to cry on, someone to talk to without feeling judged or envious, or just a listening ear…All because we’re too focused on stuff instead of people.

Personally, I think we, as a society, need to back to the point that we can look after more than just ourselves, regardless of racial background & social standing. For some bands & groups, it’s about shaking off faith, but that’s where I think we go wrong, because we tend to have nothing to hold on to and then we get lost in the process. We all have a longing to hold onto something and we need to go after the reality in that, not in what we think is the so-called bad in it. It’s like the lyrics from the High Valley song, Don’t Stop, say: When holding on to heaven/Is all you got/Whatever you do, don’t stop. We all need something, or someone to, hold on to because, I believe, we’re not meant to be antisocial, but social people; in my opinion, this needs to become a part of our reality.


With spring here, finally, there’s a bunch to see out there in the gardens and so many colors spreading out. Having had a crazy winter here (long weeks of snow followed by long weeks of heavy rain), I’m more than ready for spring, but I can’t help but wonder if I’m somewhat missing the point of it all. Easter’s just passed and there’s a good month’s break until the next stat holiday here, but I guess I’ve had to say that sometimes the wait is worth it…not that I’d readily admit it. Gloomy weather has a habit of dragging us down and all because it looks sad outside; it’s something that takes some time to get past.

We’ve been told that spring is around the corner so many times that I’ve come to think that they’re all really taking about a small physical metal spring stuck in the wall, just around the corner. Personally, I believe we’ve been called to see things as they are and try to find inspiration in what we’re doing right now; we’re not supposed to get stuck in the here & now, but to see past it and help others who are struggling with it. Getting stuck in the here & now is somewhat like going to class without any textbooks or writing tools to take down notes; we should be able to look past just the physical & be able to focus on what the mind & heart need…Not that I’m anywhere near close to being good at this at all. Sometimes all it takes is one good day to lift our spirits, and sometimes more, but it’s about getting through with the help of others because we can’t do it on our own.

- White Magnolias -
– White Magnolias –

Focus isn’t always the simplest thing to do, mostly because life isn’t always so simple when it comes to the day-to-day stuff…And sometimes it’s just that kind of stuff that gets us off-track because we focus on it too closely. We, myself included, tend to jump over the big issues while hunting for the small ones because our focus gets mucked up. I’m not one to get the solution right the first time, or even the third, but sometimes we just need to really think where our focus is and why it’s there.


Every day we hear things about how we need to see the big picture and what the bigger picture means in photography, but I’m beginning to think that by doing this, we tend to lose sight of the little patterns in the scene by making everything in focus. When everything is in focus, there’s often somethings that get missed because it becomes harder to stick out among the rest of the noise around them. For me, I’ve been so guilty of brushing over the small details that it almost makes we wonder what was going through my mind when I go back & get a completely different shot the second, third, or fourth time around.

- Log Detail -
– Log Detail –

The above photograph was a recent shot where I finally did get the small detail in the log right for the first time in a long time. I had set out to photograph a completely different park in the city, but I changed my mind due to bothersome road construction nearby, so this park was a sudden idea; it was much bigger and presented a greater area from which to work with. This shot was of the detail of a log bench that has probably been at the park for quite a long time; with an overcast day, the shadows were spread out & faded quite well, so the textures were quite easy to bring out. As usual with shooting RAW, the image needed refinement and got a few tweaks (Tone Curve, Clarity, Vibrancy & Noise among them). Oddly enough, because of the duotone nature of the image, I could have gone black & white & then split-toned the image to get the same result, but that would’ve just taken the color out only to put it back in.

Nowadays, there are so many ways to process an image and many more ways to exhibit & show off what we’ve captured. It’s all about us in today’s society and so much to the point that we forget that it really shouldn’t be; nature doesn’t revolve around us, but it’s there, among other things, to allow us to explore it & take care of it. Constantly tinkering with what we capture can easily produce something that betrays how we felt at the moment of capture and something I too easily do. Photography is about producing something that says something and/or shows what, or how, we felt at the time of capture…The same goes for patterns around us; they’re there to say something & for us to say something through them in our photography. Like the above photograph, it’s not necessarily just about the greater pattern, but it can be about a small, isolated part of the overall pattern.

Stuck in the depths…

It’s probably one of the worst feelings, being surrounded and wanting to say something, but you can’t, or you feel like you just can’t seem to find the right words…Not just with our photographs, but with our lives. We’re all looking for something important, something that will make us feel something other than stranded without hope. I’m not talking about the greater picture here, but the smaller one; why not do something that positively lights up the moment?

The hardest thing is really doing something that matters, especially for someone else. I mean, why worry about the world when you’ve got so many things going on yourself? Sometimes, spreading a little cheer is all it takes, letting someone know you’re there for them, giving a shoulder to lean on. In photography, the closest thing I can think of off of the top of my head would be sharing a photograph (without bragging about how it was taken) that would make a person smile who hasn’t smiled in a long time because it could just take that one image to brighten them up. After all, isn’t it doing something that matters to someone that really matters in the end?

- Lily Pad Flower -
– Lily Pad Flower –

The last verse of the song Words In The Water (by Thrice) ring true because when we decide to shine a little light in someone’s direction, it brightens their day and can help them get out of the funk they’re in. The song may mean something greater, but even just applying it to the little acts of kindness or brightening up some’s day, it still works. When we, or they, are stuck in the depths, shining a little light helps, no matter how big or how small when it comes from the heart. The problem we all have (myself included) is that we sometimes have a difficulties doing just that because, in this day & age we’re so focused inwards on ourselves.

Focus & vision…

For one to work, we need the other, right? Not all the time, because there are what some people would call flukes or happy chances. What bugs me about this is that I’ve let it happen way too many times and haven’t learned much, if anything from them. For all the reading, studying, talking I’ve done, you’d think that it would come easier, but nope, I’m still the same old goof who forgets…At least I have my moments; we all do.

Sometimes, it’s extremely hard to focus and who can blame us with our constantly go-go-go mentality? Easy…We can. Just because it’s a go-go-go culture, it doesn’t mean we have to buy into it; I’m saying this knowing full well that I’m totally guilty of this on more than one condition, the chase for more gear & more praise being at least part of it. I mean, what gives? Surely there’s more to life than the pursuit of more gear? To that I have to say there is…There’s family, faith, integrity, honesty & humbleness among it all. I’d rather be the kind to focus & screw up and not focus than get a technically perfect shot and not know what on earth I did right.

- Purple & Yellow -
– Purple & Yellow –

Where vision comes in to all of this is when we’re out there, taking the photograph; it comes down to what we see, how we see it, and how we want to capture & present it within the shot (or shots). There’s this close-up floral shot I’m working on (shown above), it’s been at least a week or two since capture, and my vision keeps me coming back to it, refining it; just when I think I’m finished, the little voice inside tells me that I’ve been an idiot (I’m not joking, the little voice actually calls me idiot at times) & forgotten something…That’s shot-specific vision & focus for me and, to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way, apart from the little voice in my head calling me idiot from time to time.

Come to think about it…

When we tend to focus on…or try to focus on…a new subject, we often have only a small inkling of where we want to take it. And by new subject, I mean a new area of photography that’s foreign to us…like something we’ve never quite done before. And sometimes there’s more of a struggle than we care to admit because it’s a new area we don’t yet understand or can’t easily figure out how to capture with some kind of feeling to it. The hardest thing to do is to stretch out & engage in new subjects/areas of photography because we get used to the familiar way too easily. Sometimes, like I’ve said before, the familiar gets us comfortable with our photography and we cease to grow as a results. Trying something new can frustrate us, but it can reward us with photographs that we thought we’d never get. I guess, the surprise is reward enough and the frustration is just a part of it that just keeps us trying to learn & trying to get better at it.

So I’m done with the repetitiveness for now and I’m back to the topic: thought & photography. When it comes to taking a photograph with impact, often times, just snapping a shot & leaving doesn’t work because there’s no thought in it, and it comes out as just another snapshot; something that just says ‘I was here’ and that’s it. Those types of photographs are good for simple vacation shots, but they tend to lack impact & meaning because of the lack of thought in them to begin with. I fail at this plenty of times, mostly because it isn’t second nature to me to think too much when taking photographs, but it’s a learning process.

There are times when you can’t think too much (like action shots) because you’ll loose the moment, but then there’s also preplanning the shotwhile being open to new ideas of whatever might happen. Like in the birds shots I’ve posted on here before, it sometimes takes quick thinking to grab the shot you want, hoping that you got it, or waiting for just the right moment to come along. Nonetheless (big word for me, I know), it does take some thought before pressing the shutter all the way down. So the simplest thing to do…and the hardest…is to slow down & think a bit, or go for it if you’re doing action shots.

Getting a break…

It’s something that sometimes you/I have to work for and sometimes it just comes out of the blue. While I’m not going to debate which is better or which is more deserved…It’s not my cup of tea (or ice cold root beer) to take a firm side on it…I would like to take a deeper look at it. It should be something that we could be looking for, but not as our sole purpose, because then it just distracts us from getting the shot we’re trying to get and puts our focus elsewhere as well as frustrating us.

Come to think of it, it’s not the most important thing, getting a big break, unless you’re trying to make a living at it, but it also has the effect of keeping you from being humble as you go about it; mostly because it tends to make you/I focus on ourselves instead of trying to work at it and eventually it can make us push aside others for our own personal gain. It basically comes down to the question of pride: would you want to be know as the one who’s in it for himself or rather the one who would work with others?

What I can add to this is that there is nothing like going out and shooting with a friend, especially because it creates an atmosphere where you can bounce ideas off of one another. At the same time, doing this just so you can get your big break is practically useless; useless, because you’re just using the other person. Now I’ve never done this, but, following this & working it out logically, this is pretty much what could happen. Sometimes, we need to work out, logically, what we’re doing and our reasons for doing so, especially when it comes to you/me wanting a big break. Is it just for ourselves, or something greater??

On origins…

Ever feel like you’ve gone so far off track with your photography that you wonder what ever got you started in it in the first place? It’s happened to me, especially when I’ve gone beyond shooting a specific kid of object; I started in gardens and then branched out to nature & landscape as well as landscape & architecture, and now some wildlife. The best thing to do to keep yourself remembering what got you started is going back to what you first shot.

Reading also keeps you/me learning one different photographers’ approach to shooting and can often help broaden our horizons, but it can also make us think that we’re wrong and go completely off track by copying what other photographers do. The hard part in all of this is keeping it in balance, especially for myself, because opinions are about as plenty as sand in the desert and they sometimes just add to the noise while not doing anything to refine the field of photography. While growing in photography is a good thing, origins (or what got you started) shouldn’t be forgotten, especially if it was a good thing; the idea & goal is to be able to move on & improve while learning from your past.

Crocus & Branch

Like in the above shot, taken quite recently, it was a matter of applying what I’ve learned over the years to what got me started in photography in the first place; technique & methodology can change/morph over time and effect how you/I get the shot. The reason for going back to the gardens in the first place for me was to do something that got me back to my origins in photography and seeing how it has changed over the past few years. The definite result was that the overall mood & color has improved quite a bit, even using the same equipment. So going back to origins can also help you see how you’ve changed over time and see if it has gone off track or gotten more focused.