Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Raptor Experience (Photographing Birds)

As part of a Sony Meet-up Group I got the chance to photograph at the Mountsberg Raptor Centre near Campbellville Ontario. See their website Mountsberg Raptor Centre.

The experience was incredible. The expert handlers at the centre brought out several of their residents for us to photograph and the combination of that and having a great selection of Sony Lenses on hand to demo made for a fantastic day. One thing I found that even though these Raptors were tethered and perched photographing them was still a task that required a great deal of concentration and positioning to get some unique views with little background distractions.

Most of the my shots were taken at around f4.0 so it was necessary to carefully pick focus points to keep most of the body of the birds in focus and maintain a soft non-distracting background. I also chose to shoot at an ISO of 400 to give me a shutter speed that would mitigate the lack of sharpness from movement. For shooting birds I would definitely recommend a faster lens with a focal length of at least 200mm. My shots were taken with a 70-200mm f2.8, a 300mm f2.8 and a 500mm f4.0.

I hope you enjoy these photos,they are what i feel are the best of many, many shots taken that day.

I cropped the shot above in Lightroom to get the version below. 

The last photo of a Kestrel grooming himself has proven to be one of my most popular works yet. I hope you enjoy these examples of Raptors and my photography. Please check back for more blog posts or subscribe to my email list below and please visit my website for some interesting new projects and old favorites.

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Shooting Street Photography

I am by no means what some would call a hard core street photographer, but some of my most satisfying works fit this category. Being a rather shy person I don't generally get up close and personal with my subjects, but instead I like to capture things very candidly from a distance and capture the environment as well as the person. I like the quote Seth Resnick used in a recent seminar I attended in  that "a great photo needs both an actor and a stage". It is something that is with me now as I am out shooting more consciously than it was before. I am now looking much deeper in my work.

That being said I usually prefer to shoot with a longer lens, a Sigma 70-200 f2.8 in my case, although I find lately my Minolta 50mm f1.4 is finding its way onto my camera more often.

Camera settings; I usually walk with the camera in aperture priority mode and set an ISO (400-800) and f-stop (f4) that will give me a decent shutter speed for a sharp picture if I need to take a shot very quickly. The rear dial on my Sony is set for exposure compensation so I can make a quick adjustment if warranted. If I am in fairly consistent light I use manual mode with the spot metering and adjust to bring the shadows about 3 stops underexposed.

In my opinion interesting street photography needs an interesting background. And to me I separate that from street  portraiture where the person becomes the focus and the photo brings out the depth and complexity of the subject. Two photographers that I follow on G+ epitomize this talent, Alan Shapiro and Mike Shaw, check out their work, it is amazing and inspirational . I am constantly working on reaching that level both in my skill and my relationship with my fellow men, but for now my work is more from a distance.

Some of my favourite street photography shots I have taken among many:

Taken in Kensington Market this gentleman was just enjoying the day with his dog. In this case I did ask him if it was okay for me to take his picture after I had already taken this more candid shot. The hard edged graffiti in the background provides a contrast to the calm relaxed nature of this fellow.

This shot was taken on one of my morning walks. I saw the subject in the scene on this cold morning and his posture portrayed a look of despair  and it added to the mood of the scene. Looking at this one can draw many conclusions about the story of guy sitting on the bench and his situation. Another photographer described some of my work as being a Slice of Life so I like to look for that perspective when seeking out shots.

I though this shot taken in Havana Cuba let the viewer into a moment in which this guy was enjoying a cigar waiting for transit after a day of work. Although not much of the background is in focus to indicate where this shot was taken the image says Cuba to me.

Generally I prefer my street photography to be in black and white, I find the lack of color creates a deeper focus on the details and complexity of a scene. In this case the city lights reflecting of the water provided some extraordinary color that adds to the scene. Taken during the storm that was the end of Hurricane Sandy as it passed through Toronto this lone guy out getting some street food was very interesting and it leads into a story.

On other thing I always try to do is keep my camera with me whenever I can. Great street photography scenes can happen any time, just like this moment I caught walking down to my local bank. Even though you can't see the faces the grasp on the shirt says so much and leads into a story. The great thing about photography is the capture of the moment, and a simple gesture can say so much, even if it is out of context and for me that is the art and essence of street photography. This scene really made me smile.

I hope you enjoy my photography and my blog. My If you want to see more of my street photography and urban landscape work please check out or My photography and my writing is constantly evolving so please stop by periodically to see what is new.