With a telephoto lens, netting and bars are easily overcome. For our protection and theirs, the animals at the zoo are kept in enclosures to keep from getting out. Unfortunately, this ofte places a barrier in the way that makes photography difficult. Chain link fences, netting, bars, and other devices obscure the view.
But this problem can be over come. With a long focal length lens set to a wide enough aperture. thin objects like chain link, disappear in the camera’s view. This caused by light diffraction. The light passes by the object and will recombine on the other side to allow the image to pass through. The are are slight signs that this effect is happening in this image. Look closely in the circular shapes of the out of focus background (referred to as Bokeh) you will see dark lines looking like a chain link fence. This is actually the foreground fence incompletely removed from the image. These line are visible due to the darkness of the image. In a brighter image they probably would not have been visible.
To shoot through a barrier such as this you need to get as close as safely possible to the barrier with a long focal length lens with a a wide aperture. I find at least 85mm with an f4.0 to be the minimum. and wider or smaller an aperture and the barrier elements begin to creep back into the image like an annoying ghost.
This technique is not limited to the zoo. By far the most popular venue to use this technique is at the ball field. With stray balls flying everywhere, home plate is often shield by nets and fences that pose a challenge to sports photography. With proper practice this factor can be mitigated. One caveat though, the ability to cover action midfield is hampered shooting through a fence as the auto focus on your camera will be confused by the fencing material and will fight you as you track the action from base to base.
to learn more about Bokeh:
This is the harbor to Plymouth Massachusetts at low tide. Around the world, the oceans levels changes through the day. This change is due to the constant pull of the Moon upon the oceans of Earth as it rotates around it. This causes the level to rise and lower. Around the world this effect is vastly different based upon Latitude, or ones position from the equator. As one gets closer to the North Pole the effects of the tides increases.
Nothing says tropic as much as photo of a Macaw. The macaw or parrot is a member of a group of birds known for their colorful feathers and high intelligence which allows them the ability to mimic the human voice and other sounds. These characteristic make them popular pets. This also makes them very susceptible to be trapped out of existence.
This bird is a resident of the Gator Farm in Saint Augustine, Florida. Though the name of the attraction refers to another tropical denizen, the place is home to numerous species of tropical birds. It is easy to walk up close to this birds examine their beautifully vibrant feathers.
This photo was made with the 200-400mm lens and demonstrates that this lens can be used for close up photography as well as distance photography. The lens allows the image to fille the frame as well as provide a large aperture to keep the background nicely out of focus. With the close distance the fine detail of the feathers and the beak stands out.
Polo is a game played upon an open field 300 yards long between two teams of 4 players on horseback. Often called the “Sport of Kings”, it was imported to England from India. It is an adaptation of the an ancient sport of the Persians, who used it originally as training in mock battles and later it became a formalized sport. Much like jousting became a sport in Europe during the late medieval period.
The sport is popular among the richer classes of society due to the high cost of owning and maintaining so many ponies required for the sport. The game is divided into six periods called chukkas of 7 minutes each. Most teams change ponies during each chukkas. This means a team may require at least 8 and up to 96 ponies for a match.
The extreme distances of polo are a photographic challenge similar to other field sports but on a larger scale. At 300 yards, this distance is triple what could be expected in Soccer or Football. However, this is mitigated in that the subjects are larger with a horse and rider, versus an unmounted player. Polo is also difficult sport to follow as the players can move from one end of the field to the other quickly. This makes it difficult for a fixed focal length lens to track and the great distances makes it necessary to have a long lens to keep close enough.
For this photo, I used a 200-400mm zoom lens. This allowed me to follow the action close enough across all distances of the field from behind the goal post on one end of the field. The viewing line behind the goal posts sit 30 yards back to prevent any accidents happening as the riders and the ball move down the field at great speeds. Another option to covering the players would be to use a 70-200mm lens with a tele-extender mid-field to halve the distance to either goal post.
A quick rule of thumb for telephoto shooting is to have 100mm of lens for every 10 yards of distance to capture a six foot tall subject. For a horse mounted subject this distance can be doubled. Also, the multiplier factor for digital camera should be factored in. For example, you should be able to get a full body shot of a footballer at 42 yards with a DSLR (with a 1.5x multiplier factor) and a 200m lens with a 1.4x extender. With a 400mm lens, the same extender, and the same camera you should get 168 yards with a mounted subject. Remember, this is a guide and is not a firm mathematical law. Your mileage wil vary.
I shot this in manual mode as the light was consistent through out the match and allowed me to select the optimum high shutter speed to stop action and the shallow depth of field to soften the background, keeping the subject in sharp relief. I found my exposure by making test shots of the field grass to ensure that the shots would ne be too murky or washed out. Manual exposure setting can help in exposures because even though cameras are very sophisticated, they can be tricked by a confusing background or excessive contrast in the subjects brightness.
To learn more about Polo:
Again with the Narragansett Bay. I went out onto the bay on a boat in October with John Stone.. It was our last weekend up there and we wanted to get our chance to go boating. The bay is encompasses over half of the size of Rhode Island. The state wraps around the bay with two large islands in the middle. The middle area of the bay between Aquidneck and Conanicut Islands is over a mile wide and over 100 feet deep. During the colonial era Newport was a thriving port rivaled only by New York and Boston. The American Revolution and the War of 1812 tempered the the port access early in its development as many ships were sunk by the British deliberately to prevent it use by the Americans.
The photo of above is a Herring Gull as it takes off from the water. The photo is as much about luck as it is about skill. Technically the photo was made at aperture priority at 1/640 sec at f5.6 at ISO200 with a 70-200mm. Vibration reduction was critical in making this photo as we were on a 18 foot skiff going at 10-12 knots. The luck was that the bird lifted off in our direction, but it was the preparation for this scenario that got the photo. Most lenses are at their optimal sharpness 2-3 stops down from their widest setting. In other words for a f2.8 lens set the aperture to 5.6 or 8. This ensures a sufficient amount of sharpness over the whole subject and a fast enough shutter to freeze action.
I noticed the bird a few yards ahead as we were moving so I set myself up and tucked the camera in as close as possible to minimize the bouncing of the waves. Then I monitored the rhythm of the bouncing to shoot at the proper time. Luck would have the bird taking off as we were in a dip in the waves to allow a brief moment to shoot. The VR mode on modern cameras is terrific in it compensating for the violent pounding of the waves.
To learn more about Narragansett Bay:
Rhode Island. Is it a road or is it an Island. Tough call, but for the most part it is a large bay that consists of several islands. Two of the most noteworthy islands are Aquidneck and Conanicut Islands. Between the two stands the Newport Bridge, also known as the Pell Claiborne Bridge. It is a 2 mile long suspension bridge that stands 215 feet above the water level. It was built to this height to accomodate aircraft carriers to pass under. Newport was once a large Naval port for the US Atlantic Fleet until the ships were moved to elsewhere during the 1970s.
The lighthouse in the scene is not a functional beacon but a prop built on Goat Island in Newport. The island was previously used by the Navy to train sailors on using torpedoes. Now it is owned by Hyatt Hotels and Resorts. The club at the hotel is called the Five33 Club. The standard diameter of submarine torpedoes is 533mm or 21 inches. Newport has long been the home to many of the richest families in America and the world. The bay has been a popular anchorage for the wealthy with multi-million dollar super yachts make frequent visits here.
One of the most noteworthy features of the bay is its rolling fog. To make this image I made a series of bracket images. Fog is a difficult subject to photograph, like snow, it tricks camera light meters into making false readings. To compensate, overexposure is necessary by bracketing.
South of Boston sits the quiet town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. This was the site of the landing of the Pilgrims to the new world in 1620. Brought here by the sailing ship Mayflower. The Pilgrims were leaving their home world of England to create a new home to practice their version of Christianity. Originally intending to travel to the Virginia Colony of Jamestown, they were beset by a sudden storm while exploring the bay. They decided to stay here and form the Plimouth Colony.
In 1947 a Boston stockbroker named Henry Hornblower II funded the creation of what would become known as Plimouth Plantation. The site was a recreation of the original town of Plimouth in the year 1627. It is staffed by interpreters who inhabit the town and maintain a first person persona of actual residents of the village. First person is the method by which a person acts as if they are from the era surrounding them. Third person which is where the guide lectures to the visitors aware that the current era exists. The park is renown as one of the premiere interpretive parks in the country.
The photo above was made in the colony’s blockhouse which also served as the town hall and church. With the only available light coming from the open doors, the scene was very dark. I wanted this image to be illuminated by the beautiful side light but I wanted to the image to be sharp. I had been making HDR images earlier in the day but the movement of the subject, the Dr. Samuel Fuller, made that option impossible. I decided to go to a higher ISO and as low a shutter speed as possible.
This photo was made with a 70-200mm at 1/20 sec f5.6 iso 1600. The rule of thumb with sharp images is to set your shutter consistent with the focal length of the lens used. This is not a scientific rule but a practicality to follow. For example, if you have a 50mm lens then set your shutter to at least 1/60sec. This is to minimize camera shake from hand holding and is irrelevant if used on a tripod. Todays lens, including the one used here are often equipped with vibration compensation technology that allows a photographer to hold there camera at dramatically slower shutter speeds.
However, this does nothing for the movement of the subject. At 1/20 sec, it is difficult maintain a crisp image of a person even on a tripod. The technique to capture this image is to watch the subject and learn their rhythm. As people speak, they have pause points that they punctuate their talking with. The trick is to watch and time your shot when they hit these dramatic pauses. These are also the moments when they will have their best pose as well. So, technology will help but observation and timing is key to making images in low light levels.
To learn more about Plimouth Plantation:
Air shows are a terrific locale to get multitudes of different kinds of photos. Everything from macros to sweeping landscapes are available for the making. But, the bread and butter of air show photography is the high speed action photography of swooping planes and jets screaming in tight formations. On the third weekend in June, Quonset, Rhode Island host the Rhode Island National Guard Open House and Air Show. As with most air shows their are numerous static displays of aircraft and other heavy equipment. Throughout the day there are performers executing death defying stunts. Getting a clear view is difficult near the flight line but the ironic thing about airs hows is that the view is just as good from the parking lot as it is beside the yellow rope.
This photo shows a acrobatic stunt plane racing against a dragster. The car is outfitted with a rocket engine and started from the end of the runway as the stunt plane passed over it. And with that the race was on. The two speeding vehicles raced down they runway where they were greeted by a sudden explosion on the opposite side of the runway from the spectators. The heat from the explosion was intense, though being from Florida it only reminded me of August.
This photo was taken with a 70-200mm/f2.8 at 1/500sec, f/13, iso 320. The most critical aspect of this image was knowing where the explosion was going to be and timing the moment when the vehicles were at the right place. Normally, I would have gone with a f/8 or f/11 but I increased the aperture due the brightness of the scene. If shooting jets, I choose a very high shutter speed (1/2000 or higher) to keep the image crisp. For aircraft with propellers, I lower the shutter speed (1/160 or 1/500) to allow a little blur to the blades but enough to freeze the body. If I use the lower shutter speeds, I make sure to pan in the direction of the plane.