Crossroads

Last week, my wife and I enjoyed a brief holiday with my family on Terschelling, a Frisian Wadden Sea island off the coast of Fryslân, the Netherlands. With its quaint little towns, historical lighthouse and (by Dutch standards) large surface of nature reserve, I find it to be one of the more beautiful Wadden islands. Like the other islands, its salt marshes, meadows, dunes, forest and heath fields, along with the unique intertidal mudflats of the Wadden Sea provide an extremely important site for many species of migratory, wintering and breeding birds. An estimated 12 million(!) birds use the Wadden Sea area every year, so it’s not surprising that the UNESCO has listed it as a World Heritage Site.

Although it was too early for the peak of spring migration, we found plenty of gulls, of various species, on the beach. Gulls might seem somewhat boring or even a pest to many people, but they are (at least to a biologist) really interesting species. Few people realize for instance that the black-headed gull they see eating discarded fries from a garbage bin during the winter, might be found breeding in a marshy area in Estonia a few months later. So although many Europeans see black-headed gulls in their cities year-round, depending on when they see them, they might be of very different “nationalities”. The northerly breeding populations are all strictly migratory, whereas populations found more to the south might consist of year round residents. As such, gulls from different countries might cross paths in the winter season.

Cropping

From stitching big to cropping small: Where the images in the panoramas of my previous post featured a multitude of the  MP (Megapixels) found in normal dslr images, today’s image, a female Costa’s Hummingbird, only has a fraction of my D300’s 12.3 MP:

To crop or not to crop
This image is a 22% crop, which means that it’s only 2.7MP. As you can see, even such a significant crop still produces an image that’s usable for web purposes. Some photographers try to convince others that cropping is bad. They think that you should just frame the image right from the start. While I agree that it would be ideal to do so, often it’s not only difficult, but simply impossible. Continue reading

Panorama photography

In today’s post we’ll have a look at a type of photography that is very popular these days: Panorama photography. What is panorama photography? In theory: Capturing images that show a lot. In practice: A type of photography in which multiple overlapping images are stitched together, creating one large image. Where this was very difficult to do in the film days, nowadays, with digital files, it’s relatively easy with specialized software. With panoramas, we tend to think of wide, horizontal landscapes, but panoramas could also be vertically stitched images, or images stitched together both horizontally and vertically, sometimes creating a 360 degree view!

Hugin
A while ago, my friend Julien showed me the free photo stitch software by Hugin. With Hugin “you can assemble a mosaic of photographs into a complete immersive panorama, stitch any series of overlapping pictures and much more”. Before I got to know this software, I had never taken the time to really dive into the world of panorama photography. Since I learned that I didn’t need expensive software (like Adobe CS5) to create panoramas, I started reading up a bit more and actually trying it.In this post I’ll share the great challenge of panorama photography with you. Before I do that, you should understand why you would do panorama photography to begin with. It will be from a dslr camera point of view, but most concepts can be applied to other systems as well. Continue reading

Capturing the right emotion

There can be a vast difference between how you think a place should make you feel and how it actually makes you feel. Consider the image below:

For those who are not familiar with this particular scene, you probably see a rather boring picture, shot in harsh day light. Some, however, might recognize it as the entrance to the former concentration camp of Dachau, in Germany. Either way, I bet most of you didn’t get a sense of sadness when looking at this image. Even once you know what you’re looking at, the image might still not ‘do anything’ to you. Today I’ll discuss how you can use photographic creativity to help evoke the emotion that fits the story you want to tell. Continue reading

Blogging to become a better photographer

The recipe
Before starting to write this first post, I had a quick look at first posts from a random selection of blogs. Most of them go by the following recipe: The author describes who (s)he is, what (s)he does and what’s going to be so unique about their blog, often topped off with a nice quote and a promise of much more to come.

I feel a bit like this fledgling Winter Wren: For the first time exploring a new world.

Nothing new under the sun
Within this setup, most authors try to come up with an original, unique first post, aspiring to bring in many readers. Unfortunately, with well over 150 million public blogs scattered over the world wide web (as tracked by http://www.blogpulse.com), that’s going to be tough these days. So rather than trying to come up with some unique concept for the first post, I decided to simply start doing what I plan on doing in most of my posts: Share my work and thoughts on photography and related topics. I’m sure that I’ll be learning along the way, and hopefully I’ll also teach some readers a thing or two. Continue reading