Friday, September 25, 2009

Foxes, Foxes Everywhere

Last weekend I was back up in Grand Portage. I went up early one evening, prior to meeting up with Travis, to see if the foxes were still around. Sure enough there were two right by the road.

I stopped and shot these guys for a while then went further down the road to see if there were any more. I found the fox that had gotten into a fight earlier this summer and is still looking rather ragged. It was laying on a small cliff soaking in the warmth of the day. (I don't have a picture of it.)

I went back to the original two, Got out of my car and slowly approached them. Once I got relatively close I got down on my knees and remained there quietly. One of the foxes laid down and started grooming itself.

Every once in a while it would hear something and pop it's head up to survey the area. These little guys are always on the alert and quick to respond.

On the way up to Grand Portage, from Grand Marais, the evening before I saw 3 foxes along the side of the highway. And when returning to Grand Marais after dark I always see at least one fox along the main road. There are foxes, foxes everywhere.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

LeeAnn's Garden Revisited

After my first visit to LeeAnn's flower garden I had some ideas I wanted to try out. This of usually the case for me wanting to return to the same place to try out something new. During my first visit I wanted to do very selective focusing with a small f-stop, a large aperture. This makes the depth of field very narrow throwing a good portion of the image out of focus and giving the image a soft abstract impression.

But for this trip I wanted the entire flower to be in focus but have the background out of focus. Normally one stops down the lens, higher f-stop smaller aperture, to extend the depth of field. However when doing macro this has the side effect of not only bringing the flower into better focus but also the background. Turns out this effect is impossible to make without some special digital darkroom techniques.

To make these images I set the f-stop to f/4 giving me a slightly, and I mean slightly, greater depth of field over the largest aperture of the camera f/2.8. I then focused the lens, which is on manual focus, at the closest part of the flower. Then I began making exposures and with each succeeding frame changing the focus point to be slightly behind the previous. This created slices of the flower that is in focus while the rest of the image is out of focus. I probably took about a dozen images of each flower.

Back in the digital darkroom each image was studied for the parts of the flower in focus from the very closest part to the very last petal. Turns out for each of these flowers the number of images with parts of the flower in focus was 8. These 8 images were read into a program called Helicon Focus. This is a specialized program that takes the sharpest parts of an image and blends them together. After a little touch-up, blurring some background that god a little to sharp you get what you have here.

This is a very neat effect and one that results in some striking images.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

GP Fox

Every once in a while the fox(es) of Grand Portage make their appearance. They're nice enough to stick around for a while providing an nice opportunity for some photography.

This little gal, or guy, was a beautiful fox that scurried about for a couple of minutes prior to running off into the woods. Some of the foxes are used to the presence of people and while they are weary of people, they keep their distance, they aren't so spooky they quickly run off.

When on the North Shore I keep my second camera close by. On it I have my 100-400mm lens so I can get some nice tight closeups. (Someday I'll see a moose again and I'll be ready. Where's the Moose!!!)

This little one provided me with some poses that really showed off it's beauty. Every night when I'm driving back to Grand Marais from Grand Portage I see at least 1 fox along the shoulder of the road. Of course that's no time for photography so it's nice to have this opportunity.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Partridge Falls - August 22 2009

We arrived at Partridge Falls with the intention of shooting sunset but with no clouds in the sky the sunset options were limited. One failed opportunity leads to a great opportunity. No clouds meant for a great night of star shooting.

As the sun went down the falls provided us with an opportunity to get close and photograph the interesting patterns the water makes as it cascades down its face. I have a real soft spot for silky water and it's patterns.

The dark blue sky reflects on to the water and gives the falls a rich color. Our brain knows, rather thinks, that the color of the water isn't influenced so much by the sky so we have a hard time seeing the blueness but the camera has no such knowledge. It just records what it sees.

Darkness descended and we played with light painting, opening the cameras shutter and using a headlamp to paint the water with light. From my vantage point I was having a hard time just illuminating the water without getting the foreground rocks and plants illuminated as well. I thought I could go stand in front of the plants and rocks and paint from there but I would be in the way. Bingo, I decided that I would become part of the foreground and would silhouette myself against the falls. I quite like this image.

The last exposure was a 21 minute one with a very small amount, and I mean very small amount, of light painting.

What was most memorable about this exposure was lying on the rocks with the thunder of the falls as a backdrop and gazing at the endless universe of stars overhead. This is the magic of night shooting especially with a good friend enjoying the same experience.