Thursday, 31 May 2012
We often think about pushing flash into the post-sunset sky. But just behind us, there is a cool mix of light happening from the east as night encroaches. Paying attention to that mix can serve you well when you are learning to create interesting light on your own. Read more �
Our wildlife photo contest winner is Arun Kumar from India, [...]
Well conditions were far from ideal, stiff breeze and grey cloud. Any how I wanted to test the macro gear to give me an idea of what settings to use and see if it was all functioning correctly.
A Michigan police officer was caught on video lying about his authority to confiscate a camera as evidence.
The Waterford police officer approached the citizen who was recording the aftermath of a police pursuit turned traffic collision involving serious injuries and said:
“You have two choices. You can either turn it off or I’m going to take it as evidence.”
When the citizen asserted his Constitutional right to continue video recording, the cop said, “You do have the Constitutional right to not videotape that.”
Police officers only have the legal authority to confiscate a camera under “exigent circumstances.” Otherwise, they must obtain a subpoena.
For example, a citizen who captures a murder on camera, then acts as if he is going to disappear with that evidence could be considered exigent circumstances. Even then, a police officer must make a sincere attempt in obtaining that footage without have to resort to outright confiscating it.
That obviously was not the case here. It’s most likely they did not want footage of the victim being published considering she ended up injured as a result of a police pursuit.
It is not clear from the video if she was the one they were pursuing or just somebody who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
This is how the videographer explains it in his Youtube description:
Waterford police officer was in pursuit of a Sport bike Motorcycle for speeding. I was driving by and saw the commotion and decided to check it out. Was told i couldn't film. Also was told my Constitution don't allow me to film and said he is allowed to take my camera. I am appalled by how the the bystanders acted like i was in the wrong for filming. What is the difference between them all standing there and me standing there filming and the news chopper flying over and filming hmmmmm? nothing! There were others recording with there phones and was told to shut em off by the Waterford Police from what i heard.
And here is an excerpt from the U.S. Department of Justice’s guidelines recently issued to the Baltimore Police Department:
Policies on individuals’ right to record and observe police should provide officers with clear guidance on the limited circumstances under which it may be permissible to seize recordings and recording devices. An officer’s response to an individual’s recording often implicates both the First and Fourth Amendment, so it’s particularly important that a general order is consistent with basic search and seizure principles. A general order should provide officers with guidance on how to lawfully seek an individual’s consent to review photographs or recordings and the types of circumstances that do—and do not—provide exigent circumstances to seize recording devices, the permissible length of such a seizure, and the prohibition against warrantless searches once a device has been seized. Moreover, this guidance must reflect the special protection afforded to First Amendment materials.
Please send stories, tips and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CARLOS MILLER'S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.
My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.
So if you would like to contribute, please click on the "donate" button below and contribute whatever you can afford.
Also, in an unrelated PINAC matter, I recently went through a hair transplant operation and I'm documenting my recovery on this blog if you are interested. I did not pay for this transplant, which is why I'm promoting the doctor through the hair transplant blog.
On Sunday afternoon my parents and I spent over four hours at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, one of my all-time favorite places to bird watch and a site I try to visit whenever I'm in the area.
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
During a wander around the common today I stopped at a small stagnant pool where there was at least six male Broad-bodied Chasers (Libellula depressa) darting hither and thither as they all attempted to seek out what appeared to be a single female while also vigorously defending their individual territories.
Caption: White-fronted bee-eater ( Merops bullockoides ) looking over its shoulder to display the full color spectrum of its plumage, Mashatu Game Reserve, Botswana.
For the second time in a week, a Paul Buff mod that is so simple I wonder why I hadn't thought of it earlier. This one is via Houston-based photographer Stephen H�bert.
This Home Depot version of the famed Profoto Globe will set you back all of $10. I have seen people hacking these for Profoto lights using SP-systems mounts and/or gaffer's tape. But the fact that they mount right to an AB or Einstein is, like, poetic justice or something.
If you are really slick (and handy) you might want to try to drill some holes around the base for heat venting. And I am guessing the color temp is, er, "close enough."
But having enough money left over from the savings to buy the actual flash (and an additional $130 in other accessories) is icing on the cake.
Honestly, I did not get many flower photos this year, partially because a hugely overcast day in a very wooded area made for miserable photo-taking conditions (especially since the flash on my camera is on the fritz), and partially because I spent a lot of time tuning in to the b-i-r-d-s. Nevertheless, my camera was always with me, and I was able to catch quite an incredible event with it.
First, though, a little bit of back story.
When I visited Adams County back in early April, I saw an Eastern Fence Lizard for the first time ever. Actually, we saw two of them that day: first a female, and then a male. One has to move quickly to catch these lizards, as they will immediately run for a tree the moment something starts coming its way. But we had some fast folks on hand that day who were able to carefully grab a specimen for observation (not to mention some very sharp-eyed folks to be able to spot them in the first place). The males and females are sexually dimorphic, meaning that the sexes can be told apart based on appearance. Below you will see first a female, and then a male. The females are more boldly patterned along the back.
If you turn them over, the difference between the sexes becomes more apparent. The female is plain-colored on the underside, whereas the male has a blue band across the throat, outlined in black, with blue also on either side of the belly.
Female fence lizard, with her plain belly showing
Male fence lizard, with blue throat band and blue on the belly
These lizards hibernate during the winter months, and once they come out of hibernation, territories are set up and mating begins. According to the ODNR species account for Eastern Fence Lizards, incubation lasts from 6-8 weeks, and then a clutch of anywhere from 5 to 12 eggs will be laid. Fast forward from April to May, when our Flora Quest group on Saturday was extremely fortunate, in that we came across a female who was laying eggs.
I've been able to make out 11 eggs in this photo, 6 directly behind the female (who is well-camouflaged among the leaves), and 5 more off to her right, near the right edge of the photo. The eggs are small, about the size of an M&M candy, but more oblong in shape. I'm not sure who in our group made this discovery, but we were all just blown away by it. Obviously she wasn't going to scurry away anywhere, since she was in the middle of some very important business. Given the incubation period of 6-8 weeks, that means that the female I photographed in early April could have very well already been pregnant when we caught her. Who knows, she could have been laying eggs on this very same day. (Saturday's lizard was in a location that is quite a distance from the early-April lizard, though, so it's definitely NOT the same lizard.)
Female Eastern Fence Lizard, laying eggs
Of course I felt very fortunate to have witnessed this in person, as I'm sure it's something I'm not likely to come across again. But I could not help but feel that we violated this process for her, and made it very stressful for her. She was right alongside the trail, and luckily she was off to the side enough that we weren't in danger of stepping on her. It was obvious that we had disturbed her, and I saw her draw in at least one very deep breath while I was taking photos of her. Whether that was part of her labor process, or if it was a stress response, I don't know, but I couldn't help feeling like we needed to leave her be as soon as possible. Luckily our group was small, so there weren't too many of us to cycle through, each taking photos. I just hope our presence and the attention that we paid to her didn't draw too much (or any attention) to her while she was in this very vulnerable state.
As we left her, we all wished her well, and thanked her for the story she enabled us to tell. Hopefully later this summer the eggs will hatch successfully, and the cycle will begin again.
But after a while, a few hundred shots, and a lap around the area having seen and shot everything at least once - I started to play.
A few of the things this involved were - hand holding long exposures, taking shots were the horizon was not level on purpose, and then really tossing it all aside and zooming the lens during the exposure, spinning the camera during the exposure, and even doing both of those plus trying to pan on moving rides/subjects.
Landscape and Wildlife Photography - shooting, the gear, the techniques involved, it can all be so technical. Do this to improve that, try this to avoid that, make sure this or that is sharp, this is out of focus, etc, etc.
It was nice to for a brief while play around and see what the results were later. In around 4 hours I took just under a thousand shots. It was around shot 500 that I began to play more and more.
I got to the fair about 45 minutes before sunset and it worked out perfectly. I was able to check everything out with some day light, shoot the sunset and rides w/ lights and then shooting everything in the night sky/dark.
It was fun.
I started the night bracketing shots 3 or 5 clicks per, then changed to shooting 2 shot brackets of 0ev and +1ev, in aperture mode. This helped by adjusting the exposure to the changing light as I went along, and by changing the amount of time the shutter was open without having to think about it too much. I adjusted the base EV to tweak the exposures a little, but still let the camera meter things. Most shots were taken with the Nikon 18-200mm VR and with the Vari-ND filter.
In took these images a couple of weeks ago while at Haydn's Pool. It was a wet morning and between showers I was joined by this little Blackbird foraging in the soft ground.
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
One of the 3 Osprey chicks from the nest in Maryland.
With this blog post I'm going to show how I edit and crop for effect. Here's the original photo with no cropping and just my base Lightroom import settings. These Lightroom settings include - saturation, whitebalance, and defringe edge correction. I have a preset for the settings I like to use as my own defaults for import. It took me a little while to come up with them, nothing too special, I just got tired of doing the same settings every time. Once these defaults are applied I often tweak them more.
The nest is distracting and the twig on the right meant I needed to crop tight. If I had a longer lens I would have shot tighter...
Levels adjusted to white out the background and contrast added to make the bird's tones stronger.
The feathers around the chicks neck were also sharpened using Unsharp Mask in Photoshop. Generally I do a couple minutes in Lightroom, and then a couple minutes to reduce the image for posting and add the final adjustments like sharpening in Photoshop.
Our house is now feeling a bit empty. Emmett was the last of a host of pets that Dave and I have had the pleasure of knowing over the last 11 years. At 15-1/2, he was the oldest of them all. His sister, Jupiter, passed away a little over 2 years ago, just shy of her 13th birthday.
Amid all the bird songs that I hear daily now that are a sure promise of spring, a certain stillness hangs in the air. It's hard to adjust to not having a wagging tail and happy puppy to greet us when we get home from work. But instead of focusing on the things that are difficult, let me share some happier memories with you, memories of both Emmett and Jupiter.
I didn't know them as puppies, unfortunately - they were already full-grown by the time Dave and I started dating. I met them both the first time I came to Dave's place, and they were both very accepting of me, which was something that I felt was important if Dave and I were going to be a couple. I was especially grateful that Jupiter, the "other" girl in his life, took a liking to me.
They were both very cute adults, but as puppies... well, it was just ridiculous.
Emmett was quite a little ball of fluff. It took him a little while to grow into his face and his ears, though.
Emmett in his "adolescence."
And Jupiter in hers.
They loved to chase each other and play. I can't tell who's chasing who here, but I can hear them going "nyyeeeaaawwwwwrrr," round and round in circles!
They also liked to bite on each other, especially Jupiter on Emmett. This is when they were wee pups...
... and as adults. It's a move Jupiter would repeat over...
... and over. Eventually, many years into adulthood, Emmett finally developed a strategy to shake her off when she chomped on him like this, and it was a move that I called the "butt block." Actually, it was more of a hip block, where he'd ram his hip into her to get her off of him, but "butt block" sounds way more fun.
This isn't to say that he didn't get his own chomps in on her, though!
Their exact lineage is unknown, but "husky mix" was the breed reference we always gave. Having husky blood meant they liked to roam, often quite far from home. They always came back, but Dave and Jupiter one day learned the hard way that some folks don't take kindly to having strange dogs on their property. Jupiter got shot in her rear left leg, and fragments of the bullet stayed with her until the end. Living on 8 acres in the country made containing the dogs a challenge, to say the least. A radio fence was employed after the shooting incident, but both Emmett and Jupiter were masters at finding ways to get through the field of the fence, and they were always testing it, waiting for those times when a rodent chew or a deer run-through caused a break in the line, leaving the whole system down.
The day Dave asked me to marry him, the dogs "broke out" and came over into the field where we were (across the road from the house) to congratulate us. They didn't want to be left out! This was one time that we didn't mind that they were naughty dogs who disobeyed the rules.
Overall, they were good dogs. For as long as I knew them, they were outside dogs 90% of the time (with plenty of shelter available when they needed it, of course), and they seemed very content being that way.
They both loved the snow...
... and they both loved a good leaf pile.
And we loved them both very, very much. Two weeks before Emmett reached his end, I was able to get some nice photos of him. When I look at this photo now, it still tugs at my heart strings, but it also makes me smile. It captures his essence very well.
We miss you, dear friend. Rest in peace.
I started my Big Five blogs with articles about leopards and buffalo.� Today is the turn of the mighty lion – one of the most impressive animals in Africa.� We’ve been fortunate enough to spend holidays in Botswana’s national parks, as well as Etosha, Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, all of which [...]
A recent shoot I did for Rosco is a good example of both.
Read more �
Monday, 28 May 2012
The Yellow-fronted canary is a beautiful little bird, about 12 cm in length, which has been quite extensively persecuted by the cage bird brigade (where it is often called a Green singing finch), not just for its looks, but also for its clear and musical song. The fact that it breeds well in captivity adds [...]
They are super-useful, small, light and cheap. Or not, if you mistakenly buy more capability than you need... Read more �
There is beauty in shooting with available light.
Existing light is what I live to capture. Existing light is why I photograph.
As a rule, I do not care for the use of flash or fancy lighting setups when I shoot my subjects. I have never really cared to alter what I see. I am attracted by the sheer beauty of existing illumination. I am excited by the colors, the shadows, the subtle reflections and details. The attraction is with light as it exists. The real beauty is the light itself.
For me, the photograph is an attempt at capturing the beauty of the scene as first experienced. As a photographer, I work to find the best angle, the best composition, and the best exposure. Outside of choosing a lens, finding the best use of shutter and aperture is usually all that is required to capture the essence of a subject. Usually, I find that there is no reason to alter good light.
I should also state that for much of my photography, I have learned how to utilize HDR to control even the harshest lighting.
At times, I might alter my position relative to the subject or wait for a little something extra to happen, such as the furl of a flag, a glint from a window, a shadow of a person. Timing, and placement can make a huge difference.
I will admit that from time to time I will use some form of additional lighting including a flash if I feel a need to do so. However, for me, at least during the day, it is rarely something I would do.
Electronic flash has never been particularly useful for the subjects I tend to shoot. However there are times when I might use a card to add a bit of reflected illumination into my subject. As well, I might use a similar method to add light to some of the darker shadows. There are occasions when shooting in daylight while using long exposures, where I may use a small flashlight in order to produce details where otherwise there would be none.
At night, I find it necessary to add small amounts of light in order to pull out the details that I actually see. Even with HDR, many of the important details I am after, would be lost or made more difficult to capture without the aid of a flashlight.
During my night sessions, I nearly always use a small flashlight to bring out details such as rooflines or to light an edge that might blend into the darkness. However, in most situations, I take great care to carefully manipulate the amount of illumination used so that it is not obvious.
Contrary to what some may think, not every image needs to reveal the darkest of details. Personally, I love the mystery that happens when there are dark shadows. I think back to the days when photographers used the shadows to instill cinematic effects such as mystery and drama into a photograph. We should always keep in mind that darkness and lightness are a few of the powerful compositional tools within our set of photographic possibilities.
Existing light is the light that is present in your scene. It is the sunlight, a window, a light bulb, moonlight, a streetlight, a neon sign, a campfire, or any and all of them together. It is direct, reflected, transmitted, diffused, mixed and colored. It is miraculous and to many spiritual. It is experience. It is what we see. It is real.
Copyright Notice: THIS POSTING AS WELL AS ALL PHOTOGRAPHS AND GALLERY IMAGES ARE COPYRIGHT - © JOHN NEEL AND ARE NOT TO BE USED FOR ANY PUPOSE WITHOUT WRITTEN CONSENT FROM THE WRITER, HE PHOTOGRAPHER AND/OR PIXIQ. THE IDEAS EXPRESSED ARE THE PROPERTY OF THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND THE AUTHOR.
PLEASE READ MORE OF MY POSTS REGARDING DIGITAL AND ANALOG PHOTOGRAPHY ON PIXIQ.
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Also available in Spanish!
Brown-hooded kingfishers are fairly widespread in Africa, being found as far north as Somalia and as far south as the Cape in South Africa. Within the southern African region its distribution is limited to the wetter eastern half of the country and it is virtually absent from the arid west. It favours well wooded areas [...]
When I worked at The Sun, a lot of emphasis was put on always having multiple projects in the hopper. Self-generated projects are the lifeblood of any good paper, and they promote exploration and serendipity.
Since I have gone out on my own, I can honestly say projects have the single most important vehicle for developing my photography. I always have at least one on the front burner, with a couple more in the on-deck circle.
When my friend Miller Mobley tweeted last week about his series of U.S. Civil War re-enactors, I reached out to him to see if he could give us a little BTS ? not only into the photos and lighting, but into the process of his project as well. Read more �