This immature Cooper's Hawk alternates with the adults hunting in the backyard. These shots have been a long time coming. It has been unbelievably frustrating trying to get photos of any of them. They don't stay long and my past efforts have been unsuccessful. I just wish the hawks were more successful at hunting as the House Sparrow population needs some serious attention.
It was 22 degrees Fahrenheit (not Celsius, you metric weirdos) when I arrived at the lake before sunrise in order to shoot the sunrise. Between the temperature and the wind, I could go about 20 minutes with gloves on before my fingers would start to hurt.
I'm pretty sure this tree rat was thinking about cuttin' me!
Linking to Saturday's Critters Today's Tip: To check for a dirty camera sensor, take a photo of something white (wall, sheet of paper, or even the bright sky) using a small aperture (large f stop number). Any significant dust or dirt should show up in the photo. Be sure to look at it on a computer monitor and not just the LCD screen.
Here recently I realized I had matured in certain aspects of my photography and found my own style, so to speak. I wasn't really attune to the fact it was occurring, but I suppose it's a natural progression. Perhaps you've been through it already or maybe you're going through it now and don't realize it. If you want to read for a couple of minutes, I'll explain. It dawned on me not long ago that I had found a style of photography that suits me more so than others. By that I mean I'm drawn to the "single photo" approach. For the better part of last year, the majority of photos I posted were single shots rather than a series. Early on when I posted a single photo it was usually because there was only one photo to post, but over time I began adopting a single shot philosophy where I would try to convey what I wanted with one photo. Obviously, I was consciously doing it, but I didn't realize I was finding my style. That doesn't mean I don't also use a series approach because I do. For example, when I'm shooting herons as they fish, my goal is to get the whole sequence from first strike into the water all the way to the final gulp. The series of photos tells a story from beginning to end. Some stories are best told with a series of photos. And that's what we're doing, by the way...storytelling. Photos are visual stories. But even when I have a series of shots, like herons, now I'm finding myself wanting to pick out just one photo to show rather than the entire series. That's what I mean about finding my style. I haven't just thrown other approaches out the window, but I really enjoy the challenge and simplicity of using a single shot. Another aspect of photography that I've found myself incorporating into my style is minimalism. I love minimalism! I enjoy the challenge of seeing just how few elements I can have in a photo and still pull off the shot. Minimalism isn't possible in every situation and it's not something I would want to do for every shot, but I love using it when it works. Negative space is minimalism taken to the maximum and I enjoy using negative space, too.
I've been talking about style, but I mentioned at the beginning I had matured in some respects. Maturity may not be the most appropriate word, but I'm going with it. I'll give you a couple of examples. The first one is very common. I no longer worry about the ISO setting. ISO is part of the exposure triangle and one I used to worry about. The reason ISO is such a big deal for a lot of photographers is because the higher the ISO setting, the more digital noise that can appear in the photo. Higher ISO settings increase the camera sensor's sensitivity to light allowing us to shoot in low light situations. The trade off is "noise" or a grainy appearance in the photo. I don't concern myself with this anymore. Let me be clear, I still use the lowest possible ISO setting I can for the situation. Here's the difference between early on and now...early on if the conditions dictated I had to increase my ISO really high in order to maintain a fast shutter speed or use a small aperture for good depth of field, I would often avoid taking the photo because I was worried about the high ISO. Not now. For example, if the conditions and lens I'm using dictate the lowest ISO I can use is 1600, then I use 1600 and take the shots. I've matured in the fact that I'm no longer enslaved by ISO. With modern cameras and the noise reduction capabilities available in post-processing, limiting myself because of ISO worries was just silly. The last example of how I've matured is in the way I approach wildlife photos. Everyone loves the frame filling shots of birds and animals. I try to fill the frame with a wildlife subject for many of my photos. Frame filling close ups can be very impressive. However, I find myself now wanting to take more environmental type shots. In other words, rather than trying to get really close to my subject, I look for ways to include the subject's natural environment while still making it obvious what the subject is. That's the key. It still needs to be obvious to the viewer what the bird or animal is while including the environment. Frame filling shots are awesome and I am not going to stop using them, but I think there's more story telling potential when a subject's natural environment is included. I suppose this could be part of the style aspect, but I consider it part of my maturity because I've grown beyond always trying to get the super close up shot. When I do get the frame fillers, I will often also take the wider photos so I have both close ups and the environmental shots. I'm not a professional and I'll never stop learning. If I ever think I know it all, it'll be time to put my gear on eBay and take up shuffle board. It was exciting, though, when I realized I had come into a style that I enjoy and could concentrate on rather than being all over the place. Having a style you like doesn't mean giving up the others, it just means you've defined yourself and your photography.