intention

Composition

Composition can be daunting. The good news is you can learn about it and get better with time and practice!

When I’m in the field, I always look for interesting shapes, patterns, lines and texture. Once I find a potential subject, I evaluate the intensity of the light, its direction and the need to use filters or not. I identify distracting elements, determine my focal point and move around to find my composition. I establish the depth of field, what should be in focus and which lens to use. Then I set up my tripod, which is essential in order to get sharp images. After taking my shot, I check the histogram and the clarity of my image on the back screen. From there I can adjust my composition accordingly. I find that seeing my image on the small screen tells me right away if the composition is good or not.

I believe that a poor image cannot be fixed with a software so I prefer to take the time to compose my images while I am in the field. I also prefer to spend my time outside rather than in front of my computer!

If you’re ready to learn how to get better images, sign up for an upcoming workshop or ask for a private workshop.

mussels on pipeline.jpg

Graduated ND filters

Graduated neutral density filters, or graduated ND filters, are used by photographers to control very bright areas of a scene. A graduated filter is made of glass which is half dark and half clear with a soft or hard edge between the two parts. Graduated ND filters come in different density, typically from one to 10 f-stops.

Fix or hand-held the filter in front of your lens. Place the darker area over the part you wish to darken (i.e. bright sky). The clear part of the filter will keep its normal brightness. You’ll notice that once you have placed the filter in front of your lens, you’ll need to re-adjust the exposure. You can use a graduated filter to emphasize an area of your image by darkening a less important area, knowing that the viewer’s eyes are naturally attracted by lighter areas in a photograph.

Note: The transition between the dark and clear parts of a filter can create an unnatural line in your image so use the proper density filter.

What wildlife really does when humans are away...

First look around and make sure no-one else is here. And then roll in the moss!

River otter, Lontra canadensis

Herring Spawn on the coast of Vancouver Island

After weeks of anticipation, the Pacific herring has spawned in shallow waters along the coastline of the Salish sea. Birds, mammals and humans have been competing for it since the controversial fishery opened last week.

I witnessed wildlife feeding, and even fighting, for the little silver fish. They could do with some good fish to fatten them up before their offspring are born in the coming weeks. They will certainly need a lot of energy at that time. I also saw a courageous mink running back and forth to get herrings from the shoreline, while keeping an eye on eagles perched on tall trees. It was going so fast, I had a hard time to keep track of it with my big lens. The light was great for photography as the sky was overcast and it was very early in the morning.

Enjoy these few images and if you wish to see more, go to my portfolio or in my stock images.

Element of intention and element of chance

I always go in the field prepared and with intent. However my mind is also open for the unexpected.

One morning, I went to the Oyster River estuary with the intention to photograph ducks. I arrived very early in order to avoid the dog walkers, dogs being a major deterrent to wildlife observation and photography. The fog was starting to dissipate as I quietly entered the woods. Every few steps, I stopped, listened and looked for birds and other wildlife. That’s when I had the chance to spot a heron resting on a branch by the trail. The branch was low, which was perfect for an eye-level shot. I slowly approached the heron from the side, warning him of my presence. I quickly set up my camera and took a series of shots. I didn’t overstay because herons have a low tolerance level towards human presence and I didn’t want to disturb him any longer than necessary.

Heron on a branch, Oyster River

Heron on a branch, Oyster River

On that morning, although my intention was to photograph ducks in the estuary, I had the chance to observe a sleepy heron on a branch and come back with some great images. In nature photography, be prepared for lucky shots!