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Welcome! I'm an amateur wildlife photographer from New York State. My specialty is nature and wildlife photography. I specialize in wildlife, birds, and landscape photography. This blog is where I share some of my photos and adventures. Please comment and post questions!

Monday, January 30, 2012

2 Reverse Lens Technique

One of the best subjects to shoot is close up shots of tiny objects, which are less obvious to one’s eye.  With a little effort and practice, macro photography can yield very intriguing photographs.  Macro photography typically requires dedicated macro lenses, which more often than not are very expensive.  So what does a photographer do if they can’t afford a dedicated macro lens?  They use a technique known as the Reverse Lens Technique.

To understand how this works, one must understand how a lens works.  The elements of a lens are arranged to capture light from a wide angle of view.  The lens converges the incoming light and focuses it onto a much smaller plane.  Now think about what would happen if you flipped the lens.  Now the very small elements would diverge light coming in from a smaller source, which is exactly what we want when shooting tiny subjects.  Once the lens is flipped the only way to attach it to the camera is with an adapter ring that mounts to the camera body and then screws into the filter ring on what would normally be considered the front of the lens.  In this case it is the back.  Make sure that you are very careful using this technique because areas are not protected as well as normal.  If you don’t have the adapter ring you can just hold the lens close to the camera but be very careful not to damage anything.  Also I would recommend using a UV filter to protect the lens from scratching.  This technique can wield very good results but it does take a lot of practice to learn how to focus properly.  Also due to the very small depth of field you can use a technique called focus stacking.  You use a photo-editing program like Photoshop or Gimp and you take many pictures of the same subject but just focus on different sections so when you stack them together everything is in focus.  Using a tripod makes this process much easier, because the photo needs to be the same distance but just focusing on a different section.  I will try and talk more about focus stacking in a later post.  

Important Information:
1. It’s best to use a wide aperture lens.  The standard 50mm lens is great.
2. The lenses’ aperture is no longer under the camera’s control.   
3. Automatic controls like auto-focus and auto-metering won’t work. It's best to use manual focus.
4. Always protect your lens with a UV filter so you don’t scratch it. 
5. Use external lighting, flash can work but sometimes it leaves undesirable lighting.
6.  Depth of field is restricted so it is very hard to focus on the precise place you are trying to get in focus. 
7.  To focus you must move the camera back and fourth instead of focusing the lens. 

1.     Inexpensive
2.     Works well
3.     Most people already have a small lens that comes with the camera body.
1.     Depth of field restricted.
2.     No auto focus
3.     No auto settings
4.     Aperture no longer controlled by camera
5.     Harder to focus
6.     Need External Lighting

Special Thanks:
Thanks to my roommate George Meyer for allowing me to take photographs of his eye using the reverse lens technique.   
Please feel free to leave comments about any of the photographs I will try and respond as fast as I can.  I normally check comments daily.    

George Meyer's Eye with 55mm reversed lens

George Meyer's Eye 24mm reversed lens

This is a good example of the small depth of field.  You could improve this shot using the focus stacking technique.

Photograph of one dollar bill.  Another example of the small depth of field that could be improved using focus stacking.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

0 Back to College

Eagle Landing

Now that I am back to college I won’t have many opportunities for wildlife photography but I will have chances for other types of photography.  It makes me depressed to know that I will not have a chance until March, to go home and photograph bald eagles.  To make matters worse it was just getting really good and I had to leave to go back to school.  

After browsing other people’s photography blogs I have really wanted to go out and find owls, but so far no luck.  I have never photographed owls before and from other pictures I have seen they make very interesting photographs, and many people do not see owls on a regular basis.  I am hoping I can find some owls up here at school, because I have heard that some classes do go out and attempt to see owls.  I guess knowing that I can keep my spirits up until I can go back home and photograph Eagles.     
Full mature bald eagle fishing on rocks along a stream.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

0 Abundance of Wildlife

Yesterday was full of excitement, from the time I got to the lake to the time I left.  When I first arrived I spotted a couple of eagles.  Plus there were many types of waterfowl including common mergansers, American black ducks, and Red-breasted mergansers.  The lake was also teeming with seagulls.  After about a half an hour more eagles started to show up.  I could not even count how many I saw during the day.  They were very active fishing, but I did not capture a good shot of any while fishing.  I did get a good shot of an eagle while it was taking off.  Out of all the photographs I took it seemed like the only good one.  I not only got to see eagles chasing ducks and one eagle attack a seagull that had caught a fish, but I also saw eagles locking claws and fighting each other.  It was absolutely incredible.  I hope when the snow stops, that I can get another chance at the lake this afternoon. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

0 Eagle Season is Finally Here

I think this may be my best Eagle Photograph to date.
Eagle Season finally seems to be here.  I am starting to see more eagles than I was in the past month.  So it appears that the eagles have finally gotten here.  It has been an odd year because of the mild temperatures, so the season is starting later than normal.  But I am happy that they are finally here. 
He got a little to close and I cut off his other wing, but I was still happy with the shot.
Yesterday was an amazing day.  All the wildlife were very active, including the black ducks, seagulls, and bald eagles.  The day started out with about a dozen bald eagles sitting in the trees.  Then one eagle would dive bomb the water and all the other eagles would then follow, trying to steal his catch.  Then they would land back up in the trees and repeat the process.  So most of my photographs were of flying eagles.  The hard thing for me is I use a manual focus lens at 650mm for most of my flying shots.  So it is much harder to get good shots.  I also took some pictures of seagulls and ducks fishing but none of the shots were that impressive. 

I also noticed that yesterday there were a lot more bald eagles than there has been in the past few weeks.  Plus it was not a normal day because the eagles remained active for most of the day, including the middle hours, which does not normally happen.  So I guess I was lucky.  Another hard part about getting good photographs is dueling it out with other photographers that are there.  Because there are only a few places to park where you can get good shots.  I hope to go back out tomorrow and Saturday, so check back in a few days for the next post.  Don’t forget to leave comments, and I will try and get back to you as soon as possible.      

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

0 Bald Eagle Heaven

I spent about three hours yesterday afternoon out at the local reservoir and it was like Eagle Heaven.  I saw at least ten eagles.  Plus they were very active.  Most of which were fishing and landing on the ice.  I didn’t get any good flying photographs or any good shots on the ice, but I did get some nice shots of them in the trees.

  I was not alone though, there were several other photographers there with very nice equipment and they were making it challenging to get good shots.  Since I have been going to the lake for years I felt like I had the advantage of knowing the eagle’s habits.  I guess a little knowledge of where they like to land and a little luck got me a couple of good shots.  I decided to stop fighting over position with the other people and went further down the lake, where the lake thins out to a stream.  That’s when I saw an eagle sitting in the tree really close.  Most of my photos were taken at 600mm but a couple were taken at 1300mm, because I did not need to get any closer.
Plus the lighting yesterday was very good.  The light was not to bright and not to dark for me to use my larger lens.  Please take a look at my photographs and leave comments and questions.  I will try and answer any questions that you leave. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

0 Astrophotography

This is my first attempt at Photographing stars.  I was amazed that in complete darkness that the camera can pick up on light that even the human eye cannot really see.  I wish the sky was clearer but I could not even really tell that there was all the white clouds.  I could only see the lower darker clouds.  I was really amazed to see the outcome because it looks like a sunset or sunrise shot with stars in the sky.  I cannot wait for another chance to try this.  In the photographs you can clearly see the constellation Orion.  I found out after I took the shots that the milky way galaxy was actually behind me and I wish I would have known, because from photographs I have seen it looks really cool in photos.  

In order to take photographs like this you need to set your camera to full manual mode.  Then change your lens to manual focus.  You need to focus your lens to infinity.  Your camera settings need to be:  A high ISO, as high as you can go without a ton of noise.  I used 6400.  Your aperture needs to be as wide open as possible.  I believe mine was about an f4.  Also you need to have a long shutter speed.  I used between 20 and 30 seconds.  The rule to find out what shutter speed setting you should use is called the rule of 600.

The rule of 600:

The rule is that you take 600 and divide it by the focal length of the lens.  For example I used a 20mm lens.  So you take 600 and divide by 20 and you would get 30.  The 30 is the number that you set your shutter speed to, in seconds.  If you go by this rule you should be fine.  If you go beyond these settings you will start to get streaks of stars because of the rotation of the earth.  Which can give your shots a cool effect.  But your camera must be able to have longer than 30 second shutter speeds in order to do that. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

0 New Equipment Has Arrived

My new Manfrotto Tripod and ballhead combo has finally arrived.  I cannot wait to test it out.  I know it is much better than the tripod I had previously and from a few tests it seems much more sturdy and hopefully much easier to manipulate.  Only time will tell.  It has been snowing for the last couple days on and off, and I have not been out photographing.  The next few days look much better weather wise so I will most likely be out.  Also I was looking into photographing landscapes with stars at night.  I was also hoping that I could find the milky way to photograph but I will have to be lucky.  I will post if I can photograph these because I have never tried it before.  Also I updated the blog with a new comment bubble to the upper right of each post so viewers can easily see how many comments have been posted for each post.  Also I updated the "My Equipment Page" to include my new tripod and ballhead.  I have plans for posting some photographs of my equipment on that page as well.  Please leave comments or questions about anything, I will try and answer them all.  Also the counter will make it much easier for me to notice if someone comments.     

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

0 Disappointing Week

So far this week has been very disappointing.  I have taken trips out to the river and the reservoirs every day but so far there has not been very much action.  I have only seen a couple of bald eagles, and a few ducks and other small bird species.  Hopefully in the next few days the action will start to pick up and I will get a few good shots.  It has been such a mild winter this year that it seems to be cutting down on not only the bald eagle activity but it also seems to be affecting other bird species.  I wish it would start to get colder and stay cold for a while that way some of the bird species will finally come far enough south due to the ice.  I will be really happy when the activity in this area starts to pick up because normally by now the eagles are already here.  But from the eagles I have been seeing on my trips, I can tell that most of them I see all year long so the eagles from the north have not migrated down yet for the winter.  The only good thing about this week is that I bought a new Manfrotto Tripod and ballhead combo, and it is supposed to be delivered tomorrow.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate since tonight we are supposed to have a small ice storm.  I will be really happy if this tripod works well for me.  My last tripod was just a cheap one and this will be my first good tripod.  I hope it will help me improve my photographs.  Also I made a YouTube video that showcases some of my photographs.  I will link the video on my blog.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

0 Light Photography

 I know this is not wildlife photography, but I wanted to try something new and I think they turned out good.  I used a white flashlight to make the light in a completely dark room.  Using my camera set on a 30 second shutter speed, ISO 100, and F22, it allowed me to draw with the light.  You can also use techniques like this when photographing sunsets and other night landscape shots, because you can use lights to paint color on foreground objects.  For example they use yellow or red lights to color the rocks in sunset shots.  In my photographs I used white light, and then colored the light, using photo-editing software.  This is my first time attempting this and I believe that these two were the best photographs that I took.  Please comment and let me know what you think.  Thanks.

Friday, January 6, 2012

0 Great Day

Today was a really good day.  About a week ago I was wishing for bright sunlight but today I finally got it.  The only problem was that the light was so bright it was washing out the whites in the Bald Eagles heads.  I wish there was a little bit of clouds today so the light would have been filtered but it was not.  I was so happy to see many Eagles, and was delighted that there was a good amount of action but I was dissapointed when I saw the images when I got back home.  Today wildlife was plentiful.  I saw many American Black Ducks, seven Bald Eagles, four of which were full mature.  Also I saw some sparrows, and I just missed my chance to get a photograph of a kingfisher on a stump.  I was so close but it flew away.  Overall the day was very good, but it could have been a little better.  I just need to work on my skills and capture even better images.  Dont Forget you can click on the images to enlarge them.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

0 Freezing Cold

Today was a good day.  All the wildlife were very active, but it was very cold out.  I think the Mourning Dove would agree with me.  The wildlife I saw on my trip were black duck's, black capped chickadee's, a male and female cardinal, sparrow's, mourning doves and many other small birds.  I also spotted 5 bald eagles.  Three of which were full mature.  So overall today was a great day, even though it was really cloudy and really cold.  I Plan on going out again for a while tomorrow, hopefully it will be an even better day.  

Monday, January 2, 2012

0 Bald Eagles

So far this winter all of my trips have been unsuccesful in getting some good shots of bald eagles.  Also I have not seen that many this winter because of the mild temperatures that we are experiencing.  At this point there just is not as many eagles in the area as their normally is.  I took another small trip today to a couple of the local resevoirs and I did not even see one bald eagle.  There were times in previous years that I would see anywhere from 5 to 10 eagles at once.  I have an older picture of 5 eagles in one tree.  So this year has just been really odd.  To keep my spirit up I decided to post another one of my old eagle photographs.  Hope you like it.  I would really appreciate comments, and if you get a chance please vote on the poll to let me know what I can do to improve my blog.  Thanks

Sunday, January 1, 2012

0 Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope everyone is having a good day.  Went for a short trip today along the Delaware River and then went along the Lackawaxen River for a while.  Only saw one bald eagle on the Lackawaxen but I did not get any good shots.  I also saw another eagle on my way back home.  I have been out a couple days now and I am finally starting to see eagles, which I believe is a good sign.  I also saw a black squirrel today, which I rarely ever see.  
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