Category: Flora

Springtime

Walking about it’s clear even though I don’t think it’s spring yet the plants do. Cherry blossom is out, many of the streets in the city are bursting with the profound pink that Cherry blossom throws forth. Also the Magnolia in the area are starting to blossom. Magnolia fascinates me because it seems that depending…


Back from the Land of the Long White Cloud…

Waterfall-at-the-Gates-of-Haast-NZ-South-Island

I have been back a week now, and starting to get some of the stock organised from the New Zealand (South Island) Junket. I had a fantastic time, and managed to improve my skill set immensely as well as come back with some beautiful memories and shots. I’d really love to get back there soon, and possibly move there in the future. It seems to be one of the last paradises left.

I was somewhat disappointed from the wildlife point of view, but I guess that’s because I aimed to see so much that I didn’t allow myself the luxury of the time necessary to just sit and wait for the local fauna to begin to ignore me and get on with normal activities. Somehow I lost sight of that in the euphoria of making the trip happen. Still, I met some great people, managed to generate a bit of free publicity for my business internationally, hopefully it’s generating further interest when each of those I chatted to gets home themselves. Best of all I enjoyed a magnificent country with a population working quite hard to live in an environmentally sustainable manner, with an environmental, economic and social focus. Fantastic to see in action.

Overall, I’d say there was not much I could have done to improve this trip being my first overseas working photography trip. As I said, unintentionally I think I prioritised scenery and flora over wildlife, but then on reflection I’m not sure in this instance I could have done it any other way now. I would need to have that focus purely for the trip I think as so much of the wildlife is birds, which requires quite a bit of waiting at times.

One of the other glaring gaps in my planning for the trip was the lack of a 35mm Lens. I can see that because I wasn’t originally planning to be doing so much landscape when I was organising the trip originally. Certainly I was planning on seeing the landscape, but hadn’t consciously realised I’d be shooting that above everything else. Still lessons learned, and still plenty of stock. And certainly I could do with more landscape stock. Still on landscape, I was very happy with my filter work (see featured shot above). I believe I’ve improved that significantly on the trip, and also found that I can achieve similar results with my AF-S NIKKOR 14-24MM F/2.8G ED (1.7X) without a filter with a bit of patience. Great considering a special adapter is required to use filters on such a lens. And it gives me great results such as this one below.

Barrow Downs 2

 

Although both the images in this post required a tripod, I did do far more handheld over the course of the trip, and also felt that my ability to shoot handheld in difficult circumstances improved significantly as too did my ingenuity for when I didn’t have a tripod but needed some extra stability.


Trips being Planned…

I’ve been putting together some plans for the next few trips to do some shooting.

Mallacoota
Located on the far east “point” of Victoria, it’s about as far on road as you can go in this State. This seems like to be comprised of two components: a short 4 day trip to scout about and the second part a week long trip staying on a hired Houseboat with a friend. There are apparently plenty of jetties to tie up to at different points about the river & inlet.

Grampians
It doesn’t matter where in the Grampians you go, there’s nothing but awesome scenery to shoot, along with beautiful wildflowers and in particular Orchids.

Otways
Located in the south of Victoria, there is some absolutely amazing Forest & Wildlife to be seen. In particular I’m looking forward to walking out to Sabine Waterfall. It’s an hour’s walk from the road, but approximately 130 metres high, so should be a treat! Apparently there’s a Black Carnivorous Snail that’s rare, apparently endangered, but a real treat if you get to shoot one.

Werribee Gorge
Apparently this is a area abounding with great scenery & walks for all skill levels. Walks go from the easy right through to tough!


Photography Online Shop going up Soon…

Well this evening I’ve upgraded my Paypal to a business account, and purchased a WordPress theme that I can host for my own online store complete with e-commerce integration. Obviously this is for the Photography not I.T. Should get it up and running this week. This saves me the hassle of having to code and fit’s within my existing System Architecture. I can host it myself or host it anywhere.

This is a demo: Darkroom 2 theme for Photocrati. These are obviously not my photographs. But you can click through to get an idea how the site will function.

When it’s up, http://shardsofarcadia.com/ will no longer redirect to Idyllic Moments in Time: Shards of Arcadia | How I’d like it to be… but be it’s own entity and allow e-business via Paypal & Credit Card.


Beautiful But Deadly If You’re an Insect…

Sundew

Yesterday afternoon I spent a couple of hours shooting Sundew that I have growing (natively) up the back of the yard. I’ve always been fascinated by Carnivorous Plants, and although Sundew aren’t as “notorious” as Venus Flytraps, or Pitcher Plants, they’re just as interesting. I think I’m very lucky to have these fascinating plants growing in my backyard “as is” mostly all year around. Not sure I’ve noticed them flowering every year though, but I guess they must.

These ones seem to have only a single flower at a time or possibly one only each time they flower (currently not sure). I believe this one to be Drosera Rosulata “giant” ( white flowers ), and I’m fairly certain the critters around the Stamen are Mites.

These were a good opportunity for the “Stacking” technique I’m using at times, as they are extremely low to the ground, so tend not to move even in a mild breeze. Of course there’s always the chance that the lighting levels can change drastically and quickly at this time of years, but I hoped to get around that by a higher number of shots with more overlap of DoF. That allowed me to drop several if I needed to because the light wasn’t consistent.

Although this shot had preliminary work in Lightroom (Ver. 6) it was then exported and worked on in Helicon Focus before being finally finished off in DXO (just to make you happy Stefan) which I’ve not used much yet. I think it’s come up quite well.


‘Tis the Time of Fungi…

Cortinarius-Archeri

A few hours walking along the side of a road not far from home offers a range of Fungi different from the Chalet de Darriwell. Quite a few I’ve not seen before.

Armed with my new CamRanger, the trusty Nikon Micro 200mm F4, D600, mini tripod and iPad, I took a jaunt up Fisken’s Road on the suggestion of a Neighbour. I wasn’t disappointed (see Flora), I can easily spend another trip there just as enjoyably. I was treated to a variety of new Fungi, most of it Mushrooms. Late Autumn and early Winter can be just as “fruitful” as Summer.


Ode to Fungi…

Here’s a couple of shots done using the Focus Stacking technique not by hand, but rather using the Camranger & it’s associated software for the iPad. Click on each to see a better resolution for the photo.

From one side trying to pickup the back curl.

 

Saffron Milk Cup

From another side trying to follow the curve along the gills.

 

Unfortunately for this mushroom, seconds after I finished shooting, it was broken in half by two furbags, one in hot pursuit of the other. All in fun, but not fun for the poor old fungi!


Calibrated and On Course…

Well at some point when printing photographs you become concerned about the differences in printed media to the scene as edited on the screen. To that end I’ve bought a device for calibrating the monitor. To be able to see the difference I went and had a few recent shots printed at my usual Photography Store, and brought them back to compare again before calibrating. Upon doing so I must say I was concerned that in particular these shots looked considerably less vibrant than I expected.

Interestingly after calibration there was little difference between what I’d had printed and what I saw on the screen. In summary that means I will have to re-edit most prints that I’ve marked for printing or have up for sale. But enough talk, let’s look at examples.

Here is the first print. After the Calibration there was a definite correlation between the screen and the physical print from my photography store print.

Puffball

Then follows the same photo, re-edited after calibration to be about what it appeared on screen to me BEFORE calibration. There’s considerable difference, and although I’ve yet to have this printed, I am fairly confident now that the physical print will match much more closely from now on.

Puffball Pre Calibrated Monitor to Printer

I’m looking forward to reprinting some of my favourites! And, I’m actually glad I’ve yet to make a sale so far from the business, because now I’m much more confident in the quality of the print that someone will be buying. I know now that they will be getting my best.


Stacking It On…

Flowering-Sundew-Drosera-rosulata-“giant”-white-flowers-Plus-Mites

More practise with the Focus Stacking technique in mind this afternoon. Had Stefan drop over and while he was experimenting with his new Fisheye lens, I was crawling on the ground with the 200mm Micro and mini tripod while lying on a blanket to keep the dampness off myself. The toughest parts so far are making sure to overlap the DoF outer range, and getting the shots done in a quick enough time so lighting and other exposure factors in the environment don’t change too noticeably.

So for a couple of hours shooting this afternoon, which admittedly was pleasurable in itself, I really only came out with 5 shots overall that I’m happy about the end result.


Cold Autumn Afternoon

Cold Autumn afternoons are still full of opportunities if only one can muster the effort to get out there with the Camera and seek the beauty that’s present even in such weather. So while I’m out shooting in the backyard, the Furbags come out for some exercise instead of getting fat lying on the slab in the study!

This afternoon I had my first real session of practising shooting with Focus Stacking in mind for the shots later. This is a technique I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Today I took shots with that technique in mind for the post processing. I have to say that my first impressions have left me in awe of the opportunities this opens for my Macro shots in the future.

This first shot

is around about what I’d normally at F8 using the Nikkor Micro 200mm fairly close to the subject.

This next shot is a “composite” of six shots with slightly different focal points and all exposure factors the same.

Of course there’s a nifty bit of software involved to make this happen, called Helicon Focus, not cheap but works damn well. The above is not necessarily a great shot or perfect image, but it’s enough to demonstrate the technique. Over time I’ll become more practised and the shots will become better. But still a good afternoon’s work was done. I’ve some others to work on later, this was just the first to confirm how to make it work.