Category Archives: Flower Photography

Don’t forget to shoot in your backyard

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One of the joys of being a landscape photographer is traveling the country or perhaps the world to pursue your craft. In this blog I would like to suggest that you not overlook your own backyard. I’m guilty of this I must admit. For the past several years I have been working to cultivate a nice garden at home. Last year I was taking another photographer friend to the airport for a trip to Iceland and he looks around my front yard and asked if I had been taking pictures. It was a reminder that my hard work from years past was paying off and there was a lot to photograph. I too was guilty of overlooking the beauty in my own yard.

Since then I have made more of an effort to photograph the beauty of my own yard. The blog image is one of my Calla Lilies shot with the new Lensbaby twist 60 with a macro adapter that fits between the body and the lens so I could shoot a little closer. Clients of Road Runner Photography Tours are eligible for a 10% discount on Lensbaby products, so drop me a line if you want to make Lensbaby part of your photography toolkit.

Sunflower Season

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The middle of summer has arrived and if you live in the DC area we are lucky to have some great fields for sunflowers that are open to the public. Mckee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area grows several fields each year and currently the flowers are peeking!

Having shot the sunflowers each year for the past several years I find it a bit challenging to come up with fresh compositions. On the way to the field this year I noticed some fast moving puffy clouds and was hoping to do some long exposures, but by the time I arrived the clouds had moved out and I was left with a clear blue sky. I reached for my seldom used fisheye lens and came up with the shot above. I used a reflector to light up the face of the flower, but fill flash would have been an option here as well.

Playing With Ice

Although winter is steadily coming to an end, ice may have a place in your future! Here is a fun idea to try out at home, maybe on a warm summer day to keep you cool while you practice some macro photography.

Start by taking a plastic container or a clear Pyrex cooking dish, filing it with water and submerging flowers, either silk or real). Put this in the freezer the night before you need it and let it set up. You do not want to freeze it too early, as the ice could turn weird on you.

Next day, take it out and out it in a large aluminum baking dish, or something similar.

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Start shooting away. You might be intrigued by the results… soft, hints of subject matter.

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Be creative… you don’t need to stop at the ice… use textures and borders to highlight your image!

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The possibilities are limitless! Let your creative juices flow!

It’s Almost That Time of Year Again! Cherry Blossoms!!

That’s right, it is nearly that time of year… Cherry Blossoms! You would think that Spring lasts for weeks, but really, in a Cherry Blossom’s life cycle, this period of time is brief and in fact, very elusive. Weather is the biggest factor, with varying degrees of impact. For example, last year:

  • The weather pattern resulted in blooms being nearly 3 weeks late.
  • Windy mornings near the water make it impossible to get a crisp shot.
  • Rain, very common during early spring in DC, knocks all the blooms off.
  • Late-March and early-April is generally frigid, making the experience less than pleasant.

But who’s listing! Capturing the elusive cherry blossom is what we, photographers, are all about. Suffering for that one stunning image! So get ready, because it coming… RRPT will hold a Meetup, so keep an eye on the Meetup page (click here), as the Meetup will be announced as the timing predictions get more accurate.

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Camera Raw Processing

RRPT has just returned from a wonderful photo tour of the Great Smoky Mountains. We had a great group of folks who were game for early mornings, long days, and late evenings! This was my 3rd trip to this area and by far, it was the best. We were gifted with some of the best weather conditions I have ever seen in this area.

During our trip, we discussed a lot about image processing, from which software products we use to which techniques we use to create our final images. So I decided to create some tutorials to demonstrate my approach… starting with my thought process and approach to my images, through the use of Camera Raw to enhance images and Photoshop layers and masks to modify specific areas of the images, to final touches!

These tutorials are chock full of tips and tricks on how to navigate and use Camera Raw and Photoshop. I focused on these products because I wanted to demonstrate that you can achieve beautiful images through basic tools, as not everyone has Photoshop plugins (NIK, TopazLabs, onOne, etc). So for these tutorials, I used what I consider to be the basic software tools need. For full disclosure, I work in Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite (Photoshop CC) and use and describe Photoshop’s version of Camera Raw, but if you have older versions of Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, you should be able to use processes described in these tutorials to enhance your images!

These tutorials are somewhat sequential… starting with Columbine, then Rivers, then Foggy Tree. I mentioned this, because Columbine is the longest tutorial and includes a significant amount of Camera Raw explanation. The other two tutorials, although still descriptive, are not as in-depth on Camera Raw functionality, but get straight to the enhancements. Although the tutorials demonstrate the use of Camera Raw and Photoshop on specific subjects, all of the techniques demonstrated can be used to enhance any image, any subject.

My goal was to create instructional videos that help photographers learn how to use the image processing tools available to them. Hope you enjoy! If you find these tutorials helpful, please subscribe to RRPT’s YouTube Channel, as we add videos and tutorials regularly!

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis):

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In this tutorial, I show you the various features of Camera Raw and describe how I use the Basic adjustments, as well as the Adjustment Brush, features. Then I demonstrate how to bring the image back into Photoshop to enhance the blur/soft background (2 techniques for this!) and how to sharpen our main subject. I describe how to use layers and masks to selectively apply our adjustments, including what white/black masks do, and some tips and tricks for manipulating masks. I also describe how to select the brush tool and how to change its characteristics, including size and opacity. Lastly, this tutorial also describes Free Transform and how to use the transform tools, along with layers and masks to clone parts of your image.

To view this tutorial, click here.

 

 

 

River:
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In this tutorial, I demonstrate how to enhance a forest river scene. We cover how to clone unnecessary features from your image, add dimension to long-exposure water, straighten the image through the crop tool, and how to enhance the mossy rocks to give the image that added pop! These tutorial focuses primarily on the Adjustment Brush tool in Camera Raw and shows that you can take an image to nearly its final stage with this one invaluable piece of software.

To view this tutorial, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foggy Tree:
_XT19932-EditIn the final tutorial in the set, I discuss how to enhance an image taken in deep fog. Most of us LOVE foggy days and foggy scenes, but can be stumped when we get home and see this flat monochromatic image. Where do we start? Well, this tutorial demonstrates that in a few easy steps, you can take a bright, flat, foggy scene and create a moody scene with dimension fit for a zombie movie!

To view this tutorial, click here.

The Illusive Blue Bell

For a week or so every year, this little blue flower pops up in wet shady areas around VA. Delicate and happy to groove in the wind, these flowers are more challenging to capture in camera than one might imagine. The slightest breeze moves them about. They are low to the ground (so us folks with older knees suffer). They like wet, shady areas so hand-held images are nearly impossible. They are nearly translucent, so bright day light can blow the petals right out. And these are the reasons we go back year after year to shoot them! Now is the time folks… there may be a few good days left…

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