A simple photo caught my eye for today’s Featured Photo. Phil was able to get this tight shot of a star on one of the smaller Christmas trees with the National Christmas Tree in the background. Two things drew me to this photo: one, the lovely color of the lights, and, two, the bokeh of those lights. For those who don’t know what bokeh is, it’s that fine blur in the background of photographs. One of the pluses of bokeh is that it helps the viewer focus in on the main subject matter of a photograph; this is because our brains naturally want to pay attention to what’s in the focus. This effect certainly compliments Christmas lights because it gives them a dreamy, yet colorful, look; a look and feel I love to associate with the Holidays.
Phil, our resident Osprey contributor, has really outdone himself with this photo. The bird is not only in caught in a dramatic pose, but also while carrying a branch for nest building, which helps to give the raptor a sense of scale. Notice the symmetry of the wings is almost perfect, allowing the pattern in the feathers to be shown off to its best. In fact, it’s such a great effect that it takes a moment to realize that the bird’s eyes are clearly visible and looking straight into the camera. Isolating the raptor is also an excellent framing decision, as it allows the viewer to not be distracted by objects in the background and focus all their attention on the bird. Very well done!
If you’re wondering how someone could get such amazing photographs, know that it’s a matter of two things: investing time and knowing the animal you shoot. Phil has been going to the same Osprey nest for at least five years (2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009). As well, knowing that Osprey nest in the same location over their adult breeding lifespan, helps Phil to know he can always come back year after year to this nest at Belle Haven Marina to see these birds. Knowing other behavioral traits also helps him anticipate what the birds will do, which helps gets better photos. Two simple things, but they make all the difference with wildlife photos.
Twice a year the moon rises (roughly) at the eastern horizon; it happens at the full moon closest to each Equinox. With the Mall set up on a east-west axis, that means the moon visually align itself with the major monuments and buildings of the city. Because it rarely rises on that axis perfectly, the sight seems to always be different.
Phil, who has been taking these pictures for a number of years, came away with a great one this time. The first thing you notice is the orange coloring of the moon; that happens because the light the moon is reflecting is going through more of the Earth’s atmosphere than if it was at the apex of the sky. The atmosphere scatters the light and redshifts it (if you check out an earlier shot the redshift is more evident). But beyond the quirky rules of physics, the shot is well framed; with the Capitol dome fully visible, the size of the Washington Monument evident, and even the beautiful dome of the Natural History Museum. And then there’s the moon in the Reflecting Pool, which seals the shot. It’s certainly a gorgeous enough sight to keep one in love with DC!
That is one great shot of Nationals Park! Phil employed his trusty fisheye lens to get nearly the entire seating bowl of the stadium into one shot. A fisheye lens is an ultra wide-angle lens which gives a 180 degree view. It’s a fairly specialized lens, and few photographers use them. This is mainly because the distortion that is created can become a tiresome effect and people lose interest in using it. Also, such a wide-angle lens is not useful in most situations. However, when employed properly, like the shot above, the results are outstanding!
I’m fascinated by window washers. Every time I see them setting up at building downtown, I just want to stop and watch them work. I think it’s the combination of being gusty enough to trust your life to a rather thin piece of rope while also having a unique “office” view. The suction cups they use also remind me of 1960s Batman.
So imagine how I feel about Phil’s photo above. Take one part unique perspective, add the mystique of window washers, and then throw in the blown out highlights of the sky; you get one great shot.
For me, the only thing more fascinating than interesting pictures, are interesting pictures of very small things. Macrophotography, or close-up photography of small objects, can reveal a world of amazing detail. Really, such photography is limited only by the tools of the photographer.
Take the above picture from philliefan99. Clearly the four eyes of the spider are visible, along with their unique size and shape. You’re even capable of seeing the individual hairs on the legs and body of the creepy crawly. Would you notice such details if this were to scurry onto your leg right now?
Wildlife photography: the art of taking photographs of wildlife. I’ve had the impression that it is generally underappeciated in the digital age of photography. But when you really look at it, this is an incredibly difficult art form. You not only have to find fascinating subjects, but you also have to learn how a specific species will behave. This is important so that you have an idea on what they will do next, unlike with humans.
Phil demonstates many of the key skills of a good wildlife photographer with this shot. He’s been following the osprey, which take up residence at this nest in Belle Haven VA, for years. He also patientally waits for the bird to get into a dramtic, noble pose. And lastly, he aims for the eyes. This last point is most key for wildlife shots, for the same reason it’s important for human shots: we’re drawn to the eyes and it’s a window into the soul of the animal.