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Sunflower Details

Macro Photo of a Sunflower

My car had to get some work done on it over the weekend, which left me stranded at home without a vehicle. Since I'm not big on watching TV, especially in the middle of a beautiful day, I decided to spend my newfound downtime out in the backyard enjoying the weather, drinking some tea and admiring nature's beauty on a smaller scale.

So with a relatively fresh bouquet of sunflowers on hand, I broke out my macro lens for a change of pace from the sweeping landscapes I'm used to. I brought the bouquet outside and placed them on a table in the shade. This shady light is primo for close-ups as it doesn't create too much contrast in these delicate subjects.

Using my Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro (the non-L version), I kept my aperture wide so I could get real selective with focus and create some more abstract-like compositions. I find that when shooting flowers, photographing them head-on tends to result in unoriginal pictures, so I usually try and get the most extreme angles I can on them, working to highlight intimate details like the delicate curves, repeating patterns and interesting textures.

Macro Photo of a Sunflower

Macro Photo of a Sunflower

Macro Photo of a Sunflower

Macro Photo of a Sunflower

Macro Photo of a Sunflower

Photographing this close-up world can keep you busy for hours. Examining things so closely with a lens that's capable of capturing it will open up tons of compositions. All you need is a macro lens and a steady tripod.

Wood’s Cove Waves

Sunset at Wood's Cove in Laguna Beach, CA

We've been getting some decent skies here in Southern California lately. As I've said before, the transitions between summer to fall and winter to spring typically serve up the best skies around these parts. I was lucky enough to have some spare time last Friday to head down to the beach and get some photos.

I decided to switch things up a bit and try a beach I'd never photographed before. That's always a gamble because, being unfamiliar with the area, it can be hard to judge how crowded the beach will be, where exactly the sun will set in relation to the foreground subjects and whether or not the angle I want will be possible.

But the good news is that I'm a student of my own teachings...and I like to teach the importance of scouting a location beforehand in order to get comfortable with it before committing to a sunset. This reduces unknowns and misjudgments when it comes time to get down to business. Having scouted this beach several days earlier, I was pretty confident where to point my camera once the sun worked its magic.

I played a lot with a slow shutter speed on the waves to catch different patterns. All in all, I took about 2 dozen shots of this same exact composition. Each had a slightly or drastically different shape and texture to the waves. I thought I'd share 3 of them with you here. The pictures aren't hugely different since they are the same composition, but I think the different look of the waves create very different moods in each shot. I still can't make up my mind as to which one I like best.

 Sunset at Wood's Cove in Laguna Beach, CA

Sunset at Wood's Cove in Laguna Beach, CA

Washington Trip: Part 4

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, WA

I finally made it through all my Washington pictures! So, now it's time for the 4th and final entry showcasing my images from my recent trip to the Olympic Peninsula. This entry covers the second half of the second shoot day plus a couple shots from the morning I left for home.

But before we start, I want to share one picture that should have been included in the "Part 3" post. I didn't include it in that post because I included another picture that was very, very similar. But on second look, I think this is the better of the two (click it to see a larger version):

Olympic National Forest, WA

Now that that's out of the way, let's move on to some brand new pictures of Bunch Falls, a beautiful little set of cascades on the side of the road, Ruby Beach and some wildlife.

First off, on the way to Bunch Falls after shooting the hell out of Merriman Falls (see previous post), I was lucky enough to spot a Bald Eagle picking at a carcass on the banks of the Quinault River! I very quickly and very quietly stopped my car, strapped on my telephoto lens and started snapping. Unfortunately, the eagle was very far away from me, and as a result I had to use my 2x teleconverter and crop the resulting images quite a bit. This is a recipe for poor image quality and low resolution. Oh well, I was just thrilled to see a Bald Eagle in the wild - it was my first time.

Bald Eagle on the Banks of the Quinault River, WA

^ Bald Eagle eating

Bald Eagle on the Banks of the Quinault River, WA

^ Raven getting all up in Bald Eagle's business

Bald Eagle on the Banks of the Quinault River, WA

^ Bald Eagle fed up with Raven's shenannigans

After this rare-for-me encounter with such beautiful wildlife, it was on to Bunch Falls just up the road. Much like Merriman Falls, Bunch Falls was much, much more impressive than I imagined. It was tall, it was gorgeous and it was easy to access. I enjoyed photographing these falls so much that I completely ignored the hunger pangs starting to plague my stomach. After all, "I can eat anytime...but the light is perfect now."

I particularly like the vertical panorama shown below. As always, click any of the panoramas for a larger version:

Bunch Falls - Olympic National Park, WA

Bunch Falls - Olympic National Park, WA

Bunch Falls - Olympic National Park, WA
Bunch Falls - Olympic National Park, WA

Bunch Falls - Olympic National Park, WA

Bunch Falls - Olympic National Park, WA

After getting my full share of Bunch Falls, I packed up my gear, stuffed my face with some trail mix, got in the car and started back towards some civilization. But only about 25 feet down the road, a little cluster of cascades caught my eye. With bright, vivid green moss covering the rocks and perfectly placed drops in the falls, I couldn't not take pictures of it.

And that about sums up the whole trip: "Woah! That's gorgeous", photograph the hell out of it, get exhausted, pack up my gear, drive 25 feet down the road, "Woah! That's gorgeous", unpack all of it and start over. It got to be exhausting, but in the best kind of way. Anyway, here are the pictures from that set of cascades - lots of similar shots here, but I felt they were different enough to post each:

Moss-covered rocks and cascades in Olympic National Park, WA

Moss-covered rocks and cascades in Olympic National Park, WA

Moss-covered rocks and cascades in Olympic National Park, WA

Moss-covered rocks and cascades in Olympic National Park, WA

Moss-covered rocks and cascades in Olympic National Park, WA

Moss-covered rocks and cascades in Olympic National Park, WA

Moss-covered rocks and cascades in Olympic National Park, WA

Then it was a quick bite (of some delicious battered fish) before hustling out to Ruby Beach. I didn't exactly luck out with the sunset because it was pretty much overcast, but I was able to make it work by utilizing a heavy magenta white balance on some of them to mimic the magenta color correcting filters of old. By the way, this technique is covered in the Filters for Nature Photography Online Course. Similar compositions here again, but I was playing a lot with the wave patterns.

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, WA

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, WA

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, WA

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, WA

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, WA

And finally, on my way out of the Olympic Peninsula as I started my journey home, I came across a herd of Elk grazing in a meadow. It was a nice little cherry on top to this fantastic trip.

Grazing Elk - Olympic National Forest, WA

Grazing Elk - Olympic National Forest, WA

Well, that's all of 'em, folks! If you see any you'd like hanging on your wall, drop me a line! Thank you for letting me share this experience and these pictures with you.