Lens-Artists Challenge #197: The Rule of Thirds

Not only haven’t I taken a photography class, I tend not to follow rules when it comes to photography. I just go with what looks good to me. I think it helps that I spent 20 years in business with a graphic artist (I was the writer.) and learned the basics of doing a flyer layout: have an odd number of graphics, avoid having text run down the center of the page (tunnel vision), and spread your text around the page.

This week Tina introduces us to the Rule of Thirds. The reason for this rule is basic–it helps us compose pictures that are pleasing to the eye, avoiding symmetry. But sometimes it’s better to have an image that is almost symmetrical or totally symmetrical.

Let’s see what I did in 1918.

Here are some floral examples. One is definitely centered. Although the second flower is centered, the water drop is not and it is the focal point. The last one is not centered, taking up 2/3 of the frame.

Next let’s look at some wildlife. The Canada goose in the left side of the image, giving it room to fly away. The small burrowing owl is centered but looking toward the left side of the frame. They are so small that a good crop was needed to show detail.

Landscapes are the most fun. In the first image, a white boat starts out in the lower left of the picture. You know where it is going! The second image starts out in the lower right corner with the road that takes you through the mid section and back to the right. The third is symmetrical taking us right up to and through the gate.

Sunsets can also be asymmetrical.

Portraits can also be off center. I did ask her parents permission to photograph her. I think by the way she posed, she’s had her picture taken before! Notice there’s a little room to her left.

So, yes, I break rules, but I sometimes follow them. It all comes down to what looks good to me!

Thank you Tina for giving us the nudge to look at how we compose and whether we can do anything different. When you post your reply to this challenge be sure to link to Tina’s original post and use the Lens Artists tag. Next week Patti will lead us next week with a Light and Shadow challenge.

 If you would like to participate weekly in our Lens-Artists Challenge, just click this link and join us: https://photobyjohnbo.wordpress.com/about-lens-artists/

Decision: The Nesting Tree

To buy or not to buy! To use or not to use! That’s my dilemma!! I’ll start at the beginning. For wildlife photography, I’ve been using an old, used prime F/4 300 mm lens on my Nikon D7100. It’s a bit heavy, hard for me to hold steady and the Nikon is not that good in low light. I finally decided to buy a used Fuji 100 – 400 mm lens for, of course, my Fuji XT3. It worked great and was easy for me to hold steady, but the barrel was tight when I zoomed. It’s in the return process. Question: should I get another one? Or just keep using the Nikon set up?

Here are some images from the Fuji set up taken at what I call the nesting tree in nearby Lincoln.

Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons nest each year in these trees. It’s a treat to sit and watch the activity. They fly off and bring back food and nesting materials to the nest. These next pictures were taken with the Nikon set up. Since I photographed mostly egrets on my previous visit, I was trying to photograph more of the herons. The trees are not close and I had to do a lot of cropping with these pictures for both set ups.

Do you see much difference? Both sets were processed in Lightroom and Topaz Sharpener AI. There is the handling ease, but that comes with about a $1,500. cost for a good used lens. I don’t think I need a new one because I don’t do that much wildlife photography.

So that’s my decision and dilemma! What do you think I should do?

Oh, if you want to see amazing Great Blue Heron Photography visit Babsje’s blog for wonderful stories and images. She is totally dedicated to the herons.

Oh no, birds again: Yolo Bypass Wildlife area

Let’s hope you see more birds once I get my new Fuji 100 – 400 mm lens. To do most wildlife photography, I’ve been using my Nikon D7100 and an old metal F/4 300 mm prime lens. It was almost impossible for me to hold until Ray made me a short monopod that helps hold the camera and lens steady. The other problem is the Nikon itself. It’s not very good in low light. So photographing in cloudy and overcast days was difficult.

So, I finally decided to try the Fuji lens which I hope is lighter. It’s coming tomorrow. Meanwhile, Laura and I recently went to our local wildlife area in Yolo County, just across from Old Sacramento. The Yolo Bypass is a favorite for local photographers.

I was lucky to get a series of a great egret hunting for what ended up being a cricket, beetle or some other bug.

There were also some other birds.

And then two cormorants.

Get ready and fly.

I’m not sure what bird this is but….

And here are some landscapes taken with my Fuji.

Now, I’m anxious to test out my new lens, but we will have to wait!

Lens Artists Challenge #181: Double Dipping

This week Tina encourages us to share photos from other challenges in which we participate or places in which we post. I’m typically not one for taking part in challenges except of course for LAPC. For the last year and a half, I have waited, with joy and anticipation, until 9 a.m. PST for the latest LAPC challenge to be posted. Then I would formulate my response and go through my archives. This was an enjoyable experience as I revisited former outings, bringing back fond memories.

And there I stay. You can call me one-challenge-Anne! But I do post in a few other places. First is the juried competition club Sierra Camera Club. I have gain so much knowledge by having my photos judged and critiqued. I’ve also found critiques of fellow members’ photos invaluable. Here are some of my past entries. With each entry, I choose a picture that will give me feedback in different areas.

The Sierra Camera Club is a member of the Photographic Society of America which I also joined. I quickly joined one of their Projected Image Division groups (PID). Each month we upload two images to be critiqued by the group members. I used the knowledge gained in the Sierra Camera Club to good use while looking at and critiquing the other group members’ photos. It’s all a wonderful learning experience. Here are some of my entries.

And finally, my own group of seniors, Camera Totin’ Days. We go out once a week, take it easy, enjoy shooting our photographs and then eat lunch. Here are some images from our outings.

Now that John, Sophia and I are joining the Lens-Artists team, I’m looking forward to some new experiences.  Patti will be leading our next challenge so be sure to visit her Pilotfish blog or to watch for her post in the Lens-Artists Reader section.

Lens-Artists Challenge #145: Getting to Know You

“…anything that has captured your attention, won your affection and taught you a thing or two.” writes Priscilla of scillagrace in her challenge blog post! I gave this a good amount of thought. A lot of people, places and things all capture my attention, teach me and win my affection, but one thing has brought it all to me–photography.

I remember being at a turning point in my life as I was giving up my business. You know when to call it quits when technology forces you into something you don’t like. My unwanted tech challenge was social media marketing. I just didn’t want to play the new copywriting game. But what could I do to fill the void?

After a lot of thinking, I chose photography. I enjoyed it as a returning student in my 40s with my semester in Photo 1. All journalism students had to take it and all the photography students had to take Journalism 1. But picking it up again 30 years later, going from a manual film camera to a digital SLR was challenging, fun and wonderful.

My adventure introduced me to amazing people. Photographers are willing to help a newbie. And many of them have become my dear friends. I’ve joined the Sierra Camera Club where you enter photos into a monthly juried competition. I didn’t and still don’t care about the scoring, I wanted to learn. I felt that my ability had reached a plateau. Through this group, I’ve learned how to process whites, that pictures should tell a story and composition (cropping) tips.

By going out with my photo buddies, I’ve also learned to appreciate what is around me like the beautiful roses in my yard, animals in their natural habitat and the beauty of trees and their shadows.

I also entered the In Focus Competition, in Columbia State Park, along with my friend Sandy who lives in Sonora. Two of my entries made it “on the wall,” meaning they were accepted. The water droplet made it to the final table, but didn’t win. That was an experience. Both Sandy and I were elated just to be on “the wall.”

I see things differently when I carry my camera, I’m more aware of my surroundings and enjoy being with other photographers. So I guess you would agree that photography has captured my attention, won my affection and taught me a thing or two

Lens-Artists Challenge #125: You Pick It!

For me, this challenge is like giving a kid a bunch of toys and saying okay pick one! Which one do you pick? Why do you pick it? So, what subject do I pick? What photos do I pick? Yikes!

This challenge by Tina Schell of Travels and Trifles caused me to think about how my photography progressed through the years. I went back to 2012 when I bought my Nikon D3100. This was a used entry level consumer DSLR. I was closing my business and looking for a hobby and didn’t want to invest a lot into something I might not enjoy.

I took the camera on a Mexican cruise that year and had fun photographing the colored lights aboard the ship.

I was still using my 3100 in 2013 when I made my first visit to a wildlife preserve (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge). Fortunately this little guy was on the ground and close. My post processing hadn’t reached the Lightroom stage yet.

In 2014 I had my first experience shooting light trails. I had upgraded my camera to Nikon’s D7100 which was Nikon’s highest level consumer camera. This was taken in Sacramento. I did have freeway shots, but I wanted to show you something more.

In 2015 I went to Bodie, a State Park and old ghost town, where I experienced my first bout with altitude illness. There I practiced HDR, popular then, on the old structures that were in danger of falling. By then I was processing with Lightroom and Photomatix Pro.

My first shot at the Milky Way came in 2016. I’ve had better success since, but astrophotography has never become a favorite of mine. This is strange because my husband is an astronomer!

Sometimes you take a leap of faith. This picture taken in 2017, provided me with an entry for what I thought was a small town photo contest my friend told me about. This was in Sonora in the Gold Country. Little did I know, the best of Sacramento were also entering. Two of my photos made it to the wall and one made it to the final choice table. My friend had one image make it to the wall. She was delighted to have been chosen among the talented photographers and so was I. This was the one that was so close to being a top winner in 2019. I didn’t enter that contest this year because it was nerve racking, and with COVID my nerves were already under pressure.

I love slow shutter photography and would go to our local mall when they had small carnivals to practice. I captured this in 2018.

While I’m not a birder, I can’t resist an easy shot. My friend took me to what I call the nesting trees. Egrets and other large birds choose to make their nest in the cluster of trees and put on a show for photographers. By then I got an old-used prime F/4 300 mm. Although heavy, it has clarity. So, here’s my 2019 entry!

And here we are in 2020, the year we thought we’d never experience. Photography is a little more difficult these days, but it still provides the relaxation and mental stimulation it always did. I’m so happy I started back in 2012. This has become my passion. I hope you enjoyed my photographic journey.

Lens-Artists #114: Negative Space

I’ve noticed that some people like negative space and create a minimalist lifestyle, and others like their surroundings busy (I won’t say cluttered.). I’m somewhere in the middle. My surroundings may be full, but it is neat and tidy. However, I’ve never thought about how the concept applied to how I take my photos.

Thank you Amy (The World Is A Book) for this weeks’ challenge. It helped me realize that I truly do not consider negative space when I shoot. Yes, I have skies that take up 2/3 of an image, birds in large pools of water, etc. But, these shots were never planned for negative space and its impact. I usually crop in close in camera. Even my landscapes are cropped in camera. Planning for negative space is something I should work on!

So, here are some of my inadvertent negative space images.

Thank you Amy!

Finishing up 2018: Effie Yeaw and Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Gray Lodge

Since our world is shrinking, most of you know about the government shut down partially in the United States. Let’s put politics aside and think about the people who are being used as pawns in this game. It’s even affected us photographers with some of our National Parks partially closed.

Being a National refuge, all services were gone at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge in Willows. It was, however, open for those who wanted to take the driving tour. Laura and I did just that, and we then drove over to the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Gridley.

Before that, my Camera Totin’ Tuesday went to visit Effie Yeaw in Carmichael. I wanted to photograph deer, but I didn’t see any. I know you’re beginning to be doubtful about deer in the Nature Center! Effie Yeaw is always a great place for a walk since it’s along the American River.

So here are some images from both outings. I’m hopeful that the next time I post, I’ll be able to say our government is open!

An apple a day: Apple Hill, Placerville

An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but it keeps people coming to Apple Hill in Placerville, El Dorado County each year. Everything is “apple” in this area where member growers show and sell their pies, apple fritters, apple doughnuts, etc. The months of October and November are so busy that crafters and more also show their wares.

This was my 4th trip to Apple Hill, so I decided to photograph different things. If you follow this blog, then you know I enjoy shooting close ups, lines and patterns, people, flowers and rust. So, that’s what I’m showing you today.

First close ups and rust.

Now flowers:

Now lines and patterns:

Now people:

Some leftovers:

Betwixt and between: Yolo Bypass

We’re still not moved yet. I can’t say this is the worst move we ever made because the move to this house was equally traumatic. Moving is about the most emotional change you go through. There’s sadness about leaving a home you loved and happiness about building a life in another. Right now, I do feel betwixt and between. Richard and I talk about “home” and have to qualify which one!

In the meantime, I’m able to go on photo outings. This blog is about Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (also known as the Vic Fazio Wildlife Area). I was there a month ago, but each time is different. On this trip, the hunting area was open so Laura and I drove through it. We saw more wildlife than on the regular driving route. Maybe they knew they were safe at the time!

Right now, photography gets me away from a house that’s missing furniture, a house that’s being painted and floors being put in, and the stress of it all. I did pack my camera cases, but not my cameras and gear. Yes, for me photography is great therapy for the moving blues!

Here’s the latest from the Yolo Bypass. Again, my bird book is packed, so no captions!