I was in Tokyo this past week for some new work and was able to do some shooting during the weekend. Fortunately, I came across a couple trees that were in bloom with what I think are plum blossoms. An added bonus was all the birds that were flying and jumping around these trees sucking the nectar. When I saw this I stopped, pulled my camera out and changed to my Olympus 14-150mm 4.0-5.6 lens. I started taking pictures from about 50 feet away with the lens all the way to 150mm, but the birds were still too small. I started easing my way toward the trees, but all the birds took off to another tree. I continued to ease closer and then just stood there with my camera at eye level waiting for the birds to come back. After about 10 minutes they would slowly come back. Again, I kept the lens all the way at 150mm the whole time and started shooting with high speed continuous shooting to get several shots of the birds and catch the right one. I spent about an hour just hanging around this one tree waiting and trying to follow these birds who were jumping around very fast. This was a fun and difficult challenge and look forward to doing more of this type of shooting.
I had some free time this past Sunday afternoon so I decided to try something I've been wanting to do for a long time. I headed to one of the marshlands nearby and tried to do some telephoto wildlife photography. First off, I do not have the right equipment to do this properly. I will get there before too long, but I did have an old Nikon mount Tokina 80-400mm lens adapted to fit on my Olympus OM-D EM-5 that I had to manually focus and manually set the aperture. Not an easy thing to do for wildlife photography, but I tried to put myself in the mindset of the photographers of yesteryear and do my best with what I had. Fortunately, the birds I was photographing, weren't moving around too much so I was able to setup on the tripod, focus and get some shots off. There were about 11 Great White Egrets in the marsh, but I spent most my time focusing on just one that was nearby. One of the challenges of this marsh area is that it is fenced off so, without breaking the rules and disturbing the habitat, you have to stay outside the fenced area. This one egret that you will see in the photo above and in the gallery below spent a lot of time within range of 600-800mm lens. Later on I decided to play around with handholding and taking some photos of some other birds in the area. Catching a flying hawk or a running bird is virtually impossible with a manual focused lens. Out of many, many shots I did get one that was only "adequate". I went ahead and created a gallery of the images from this excursion below.
When weather or whatever keeps me from getting new and updated photos, I end up going back to older photos that are in my editing queue and I start working on them. In most cases I tweak them to take advantage of new technology or my updated tastes, but........ sometimes the crazy creative man inside me takes over and goes nuts. The first photo (monochrome one) was the recent update. I used Lightroom's most recent perspective controls to straighten up the world and then did a crazy monochrome conversion. The second photo was what I did back in Feb 2012.
The same day I made all these recent flower shots, I was able to get out to Kadena Marina to do some sunset shooting. Fortunately we had a decent sky, but more importantly the location I chose had very calm waters. This led to a nice reflection of the clouds adding a nice touch to the scene. I picked two photos from this session and have struggled to pick which one is best. I'm putting them both up here on this post, let me know which one you like.
I was about to sell my Olympus 60mm Macro lens because I didn't think I was going to like macro photography, but lately I've come to really enjoy this lens and this style of photography. This lens is not only good for getting real close and capturing worlds we can barely see with the naked eye, but it is a fantastic portrait lens as well. Very sharp and superb quality images. You'll probably see more from me with this lens in the future.
It's early February here in Okinawa and the cherry blossoms have been out for over a week now. Cherry blossoms carry a special significance here in Japan, with it symbolizing the start of spring. One thing I've noticed different from the cherry blossoms here in Okinawa vs. the ones in Tokyo, they seem to be more red in color. The ones in Tokyo are a very light pink; almost white.
There are numerous festivals and celebrations in locations with lots of cherry trees. I decided I wanted to avoid the crowds and found a small park near my home with a few trees with cherry blossoms. I grabbed my camera and the 60mm macro lens and started shooting from a lot of different compositions. It was a fun time to practice getting focus with this lens when you are only a couple inches from the subject. Of course the beauty of macro lenses are the ability to get the wonderful bokeh (background out of focus). With a 120mm equivalent focal length and usually only 3-4 inches from the blossoms, I can get the background out of focus even at f8 - f10. I kept the processing only in Lightroom this time because there was no reason to use anything else. Please enjoy the gallery below.
This morning I was taking our dogs for a walk and shortly after we started, the rain started to come down. I quickly turned around and returned the dogs to our house, but as I was entering our building I noticed a number of flowers blooming. I then thought I would grab my camera and my macro lens to see what I could do before heading to church. The first one above is an example of using the water drop as a fisheye lens. You can see our apartment building and more flowers in the bubble (of course everything is upside down). Another thing I wasn't expecting was how the water seemed to encapsulate some of the pieces.
I indirectly learned a valuable lesson with this photo. Bottom-line is don't rush to post-process a photo I took the same day for posting. The other day, I posted a HDR panorama photo from a cliff-side, actually nearly the same spot as this photo. That photo was a very challenging post-processing project, and I tried to rush out a version taken the same day. The other problem is I didn't work on it until after 10pm, so I was working very fast, but the result was not very appealing. The next day after I posted that photo I was very disappointed with it. Trying to combine multiple images sequences into a good pano is hard enough, I then added the complexity of blending 5 images for each section. In the future, I've decided I will not rush out a photo from the same day, especially one that was so complicated as that one. If I want to post an image that day, then I have plenty of others sitting in an already edited queue I can use. I need to take the proper time for the photos to sink in and zero in on the "right" images to work on. That day when I got done shooting, I was excited about the pano and was going to do it whether I should've or not.
Now let me talk about today's image a bit vs. focusing on one that's not even in this post. As I stated, this was taken at the same area, but the light was better, and I took my time to see what I wanted to accomplish with this photo. This is from one image with some post-processing in Lightroom and Perfect Effects 8. I also brought it into Photoshop to remove a fence that went along the edge of the cliff in the flat area to the left (call me a cheater, I don't care. I didn't like the fence so I waved my magic "content aware" wand and made it go away). I really like this photo, in fact, it may be my favorite so far of this new year. The sky is more natural, and I gave it a soft look to match the windy day that was blowing the grass all over the place.
I was very tempted to start deleting all the posts with the HDR pano, but I decided to leave it alone. It is a record of a valuable lesson learned for the future.
This photo is an example of me trying to torture myself. This photo is an HDR panorama. What that means is I took 5 shots at different exposures for each section of the panorama. This pano is made up of 6 sections; therefore there are 30 photos that went into the making of this photo. What takes time is the processing of each HDR combination. I worked out a fairly streamlined system but I didn't start working on this photo until after 10pm, and it is now 11:30pm. It is time consuming and quite honestly it wasn't worth it (at least for this particular photo). It's not a bad photo, but there were some errors I need to look at in the future. First thing is I didn't have my focus nailed down before I took the photos. I also need to go to full manual for panoramas because if you don't you'll have different exposures as you make your way across the scene capturing the different parts. That happened in this photo (particularly on the left side) and I had to do some compensating.
The reason I went with the HDR technique was to capture a wider dynamic range with the sky being fairly bright but the ground in shadow. Learned some lesson today and will make some changes next time I try this.
Went out for a sunset photoshoot, but the sunset was a bust. So I decided to try something a little bit different.
I decided to head out toward Maeda Point to get some sunset shots this past Sunday evening. I had a specific idea in mind, but unfortunately nothing was working in my favor this time around. I was hoping there would be a bird or something on this outcropping in the middle of this dock and it would line up nicely with the setting sun. Well no bird, and basically and very mediocre sunset. I went ahead and tried some different compositions, but it became clear this was not going to work out. Before the sun fully set, I started walking around the dock area to see if there were any other opportunities of shooting and saw these bushes with some fruit on them with Maeda Point in the background. I decided I would try some bokeh shots and see what I could get. As I was walking back to the car, I noticed these small pine trees and that Id give it a try and well. These are by no means portfolio worthy, but it's good to try different things every now and then.
I saw we were going to have a great sunset today so I headed over to the Gala area and hiked up to one of the cliffs and waited for the magic. Enjoy.