Monday, January 21, 2013

Walking on Water

So I wanted to try for a real blogging schedule. Like maybe every two weeks. Other people do it. It may be too much too often for some of my readers, but I'm curious to see what happens when I don't just write when I feel like it or work on photos when I'm in the mood. 

And, of course, it's winter. A FABULOUS time to do garden photography in the Northwest. Yeah, right. Green and grey and brown. A color palette to swoon over. Don't get me wrong--at least not too wrong--I love the seasons up here. All of them. But it's late(r) January, and I'm pretty much done with winter.  Unfortunately, it's not done with me.  

I'm just looking for a little magic now.  OK?   Leaves draped in diamonds. A hillside swathed in fog that's being slowly diluted with a weak, winter sun.  However I seem to have forgotten how to take photographs.  And not just any type of photograph, but MACRO photographs! Every shot I take comes up soft (blurry), muddy (bleh light), and/or just plain boring.  And getting a sharp photo of ice crystals seems totally beyond my vanishing skill set.  Come on!  Is it really that difficult?  Is the heat of my enthusiasm/frustration melting the ice, thus making sharpness moot (mute?). Have I completely lost my macro-mojo or just misplaced it?   Crap

Then one morning a few days ago, I saw a blue heron standing on the pond. Yes, standing ON the mostly-frozen pond.  At first I thought it would take too much time to change from my macro to my 75-300mm lens and change clothes. But I really wanted, needed to be closer to that heron walking on water. I changed lenses, left the tripod, threw a coat over my nightgown, and raced outside. Then spent a wonderful if very chilly 45 minutes inching my way closer and closer, snapping shots all the way and trying to keep from shaking the camera with my shudders.  At that I was still selective and took about 96 shots. None are "tack sharp" and I don't care. The heron even looked me in the eye (at least it appeared that he/she did from the distance) and didn't leave. Not until I turned back to get my very blue self back indoors. Then it vanished.

The second gift I received (because that lovely bird was a serious gift) came in a wonderful blog entry by nature photographer Rob Sheppard titled "Savoring vs. Harvesting Nature Photography."  He wrote about how photographers can go through periods where filling a memory card and rushing back to the computer for post-processing can become more important than savoring the experience of nature. Slow down and fill yourself with those moments BEFORE taking the picture. 

I began taking pictures because I wanted to be closer to what I was seeing. If I found myself staring at something for longer than a few minutes--a flower, tree bark, light breaking apart on ice--then I knew I needed to photograph it. But when time pressures and technical issues push these moments aside,  the resulting images (as well as my own experiences) suffer. 

So I went back to my ice photos and found a few that looked better to me.  The images are far from ideal, but there were leaves draped in icy diamonds that day.  I just didn't see them until I spent some time with a blue heron taking a stroll across a frozen pond. 



 By the way, if you'd like to take a look at Rob Sheppard's blog, it's Nature and Photography http://www.natureandphotography.com/





26 comments:

  1. So beautiful! Now I want to go take pictures of ice crystals!

    ~Jan

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    1. Thanks Jan! I wish I could magnify them more.

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  2. I love blue herons. Judy's taken pictures of them both here and in South Carolina. As to blogging, I find the more you do it, the more you want to do it. Maybe that's true for photography as well.

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    1. I'd love to see her photos, Jason! And it is true; I just have to work on getting out of my own way.

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  3. Emily, I am suggesting that you link this post up to our No Winter whining meme.

    Learning to love winter, even if you are out there shivering in your pajama's taking amazing photos of herons...so worth it. I love your enthusiasm...and your images.

    Jen

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    1. Thanks Jen! With your help, I finally figured out how to post there. Now I'm looking forward to reading everyone else's posts. Great way to get through (or simply enjoy) winter.

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  4. Love herons! What a treat to see and photograph one so close!

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    1. Thank you, Diane! He/she was out there again this morning. At least this time I already had pants and a t-shirt on when I went out.

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  5. First of all let me say, wonderful photos... you sound way too much like me as someone who would run out in their PJ's just to get a shot, LOL! I took pics of a heron this summer, but did not get as close as you because he kept flying away! Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a lovely comment! Cheers~

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    1. Thank you! And I get that feeling from you too, Heather. Actually, I wish I could get a good shot of a heron flying. They almost look like they shouldn't make it further than a few feet off the ground. But I'm afraid I'm more comfortable taking pictures of stuff that doesn't move : -)

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  6. Emily, I just realized that you are also our newest "no winter whining" meme joiner... thank you for joining and I look forward to seeing more of your lovely photos! Cheers~

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  7. Emily, I read your posts and looked for your email to invite you to join us on No Winter Whining. I was born in LA and spent time in Salinas before moving on to snow country in Alaska. I am so glad you have joined us. Even though I now retired to lower Alabama, I love all the seasons and celebrate them joyously. Welcome. All is well . . .

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  8. Hi Emily.... just wanted to let you know that you have won this week's "no winter whining" meme... we'd like to send you a "virtual snowball" to display on your blog if you'd like... so, if you'd like to email me, I'll send you a jpeg! Congratulations and thanks so much for participating! Cheers~

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  9. Thank you, Jen! And thank you for inviting me.

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  10. I was thinking maybe his little feet were frozen to the pond ice, lol. We have lots of herons around here and they always seem so uninterested in the passing traffic. They are quite a sight when they take flight.
    You captured some beautiful moments in time. Ice crystals are so fleeting, sometimes gone within minutes of a temperature change, gone forever.

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  11. Thanks Lori! I wondered about that too. He just looked so cold standing there.

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  12. Emily, I just discovered your blog at Blotanical and wanted to say how much I am enjoying it. I do a "Blog of the Month" feature on my blog, Jean's Garden, where I review and recommend blogs that I think my readers would enjoy. I wanted to let you know that your blog is one of three that I am focusing on this month. My post reviewing the blogs just went up, and your blog will be highlighted on my sidebar throughout the month. -Jean

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    1. What a wonderful surprise! I'm rather bowled over by your words,your kindness, and your generosity. Thank you so very much for taking the time to write about my blog. It means a great deal to me.

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  13. Your heron photos are fab.
    I havent a clue how to use the macro feature on my camera and keep trying to find someone to teach me and failing. I went through a whole phase in January of rubbish photos and like you winter is getting wearing and my enthusiasm is low. I blog on wordpress and they have daily and weekly challenges. They do a a weekly photo challenge and I am finding these are getting me through the dull non gardening period of winter.
    I find doing a few memes helps to make me blog regularly. I do wordless wednesday and some monthly ones and then fill in as and when I think of other things. If I have a lot to say or show I drop the memes.

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  14. Thank you, Helen! I felt pretty lucky to get them. Macro's can be tricky, but not difficult. If I can help in any way, just contact me. Maybe I can make some suggestions. Speaking of, your suggestions of weekly challenges and "wordless Wednesdays" might help me get on with publishing with more regularity. Thanks!

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  15. Hello Emily, congratulations on that wonderful picture of the blue heron. It looks pretty cold and somewhat bemused that it can stand on the water. It was also probably waiting for you to hurry up and take the perfect shot of it before you both froze! I'm pretty hopeless with anything that isn't a plant and isn't a few feet away from me and even then it can be a gamble.

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  16. Thank you so much, Sunil! I would love to know what was going through its head. It certainly didn't look all that comfortable, standing on the ice. But, then again, I don't know what a comfortable heron looks like either.

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