Photography Styles

Every photographer is different. We each tend to take photographs of what inspires us in a style that speaks to our artistic side. I’ve developed a passion for rolling countryside landscapes, green pastures and blue sky. I also love to find those hidden gems of flowers nestled down inside tall grasses. I also like to capture images of those special moments like the love between a mother and child, the twinkle in the eye of a laughing individual, the gentleness of a newly wedding couple kissing and those moments when people let down their guard and become comfortable in front of the camera.

I’ve always had the tendency to research what other photographers are doing. I used to be very active on Deviant Art when I was building my budding talent. I shared images, read critics on other images and took 10,000 plus my first year with my DSLR. I am 100% self-taught. I didn’t work under another photographer. I didn’t attend classes. I would read and then take an hour, a day or a week to figure out just one setting until I would get the effect I was looking for.

Recently, I was doing some digging into photography styles that seemed to speak to me and I stumbled upon what’s called the Brenizer-method. It’s something unique. It built his career as a high end wedding photographer but I don’t see any reason that it can be used in many different photographic situations. If you haven’t seen his work, it can be found at Ryan Brenizer Photography. His technique is to shoot multiple images, anywhere from 7-70, and compile them into a panoramic shot. It’s not what you are thinking. Traditionally, panoramic shots are thought of as elongated, narrow views of a horizon. Not so with the Brenizer method. The technique is to build a square image. You could consider it a compiled high-definition shot that is achieved with multiple images. It’s fascinating how beautiful the photos come alive.

Here’s a video on how it’s done and how to get started.

Direct from Ryan’s web page where I found this video:

Quick tip: One important thing that got left on the cutting-room floor. When shooting any panorama ALL of your settings should be the same shot to shot — your focus, your ISO, your aperture, your shutter speed, and your white balance, otherwise it will be a hot mess. If your camera has an “AEL/AFL” button set to lock both exposure and focus, this takes care of all the variables except the white balance, and if you’re shooting RAW you can correct that later.

This is my mission for the week! I want to find some time to attempt some of these shots. Just like the video says, 4 shots is really all you need…. I’ll make sure to share the end results, both good and bad.

Morning Light

My favorite time to capture photos is in the early morning. It’s peaceful to be out there listening to the roosters crowing while the sun peeks up over the hill. My absolute favorite mornings are foggy mornings that leave lots of dew on the grasses and flowers. This morning, the fog burned off just as the sun was rising. It created a perfect opportunity to “play” with the camera.

This morning my goal was to get some dew drop photos and some photos of the sunrise behind the barn. In less than 15 minutes (and a pair of wet shoes, socks and pants later) I think I captured the details I love the most.

Barrows Farm Barn in Silhouette against the sunrise

A tiny flower reaching for the light with tiny drops of dew.

A tiny flower reaching for the light with tiny drops of dew.

 

One drop of dew on the tip of a grass blade. The "dots" are thousands of blades lines up with dew drops

One drop of dew on the tip of a grass blade. The “dots” are thousands of blades lines up with dew drops

Anyone with a DSLR can play with the different settings to lengthen exposure or shorten it. I decided to shorten the exposure time and attempt to pick up just the light refraction through the dew drops along the edge of some grasses in a pasture. Below is the final result! I’m very happy with the results! By the way…that’s with ZERO editing!

 

Dew Drop Silhouette

Dew Drop Silhouette

 

 

ISO settings

Since I have been working with a couple of people on creating better images. I think the biggest flaw that people have when using a DSLR is that they have no desire to learn and incorporate ISO speeds. Digital photography gives us much more flexibility within one camera than any film ever could have. Changing the ISO is the DSLR equivalent of changing film speed in a conventional camera! Now think of it like this, one change can be done from photo to photo with a DSLR. That couldn’t have been done EVER with a film camera.

This tells you how sensitive the film is to light, a higher number indicating more sensitivity to light. In digital photography ISO indicates how sensitive the image sensor is to light.

The following information is taken DIRECTLY from the Digital SLR Photo, Starter’s Guide…so don’t say you have an excuse for not knowing this information if you are reading this and  you own a DSLR!

The most common ISOs are:

100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200

Quick tip

The higher the ISO number = the higher the sensitivity to light

Moving from one ISO to the next value changes the exposure by half or double.

The ability to shoot in low light has a trade-off in the form of grain or noise. In digital cameras it’s not the grain of the film that becomes visible at higher sensitivities, but digital noise – the visual equivalent to the hiss you hear when you turn a hi-fi amp up to full volume when nothing is playing.

100 ISO will give you sharp images while 3200 will show quite a lot of noise.

The higher the ISO number = the more noise/grain

The rule of thumb is to select the lowest ISO you can get away with that will allow you to take a picture at a fast enough shutter speed and/or larger aperture.

A football match outdoors on a bright day: at ISO 200 you should be able to shoot at 1/250 or faster to freeze action.

Concerts and gigs: always a tough one especially at smaller venues where there’s little lighting and the subject is moving. Best bet is to start at 3200, do a few test shots and then lower the ISO to the lowest you can take successful shots.

Churches and galleries: 1600 might be the minimum ISO you can get away with to shoot at 1/60. 

Top tip 1: faced with the choice of introducing more noise and a fast enough shutter speed, go with the shutter speed.  You can live with noise and make attempts to reduce it with software but you can’t do much with a blurred shot other than bin it.

Top tip 2: purposely use a high ISO for a grainy effect and give  mood to a scene.  This might be harder to do than you think as camera manufacturers are continuously reducing (“improving”) the noise from ISO settings to the point where you might need to add it in post-production.

Here are images, taken at the same shutter speed, of the same object, but at different ISO speeds. Shutter speed (Or exposure time for the Novice Photographers was set to 1/160 sec on the TV mode). As you can see, the images are “brighter” due to the increased amount of “light” let into the camera. Not one of these images uses a flash and all were taken on the same parameters for Black and White Photography, just to show the differences.

ISO-200

IMG_1321

ISO-400

IMG_1322

ISO-800

IMG_1323

ISO-1600

These are just FOUR of the many ISO settings available on my camera! If you are willing to learn ISO differences, this is one of the most important tools you can use to capture those special moments in EVERY different lighting situation!

GET OUT THERE! CAPTURE LOTS OF NEW IMAGES AND CHANGE THOSE ISO SETTINGS! Your photography will thank you for it!!!!!

Fund Raising

As many of you already know, I live my life attempting to capture the moments that inspire me. I do that with old, used equipment and it’s almost done taking it’s last photos. I want to continue to share not only the moments from the farms I am so blessed to be connected with but also moments that are near and dear to others. In an attempt to raise funds so that I could purchase my first brand new batch of equipment, I am humbly asking for donations. Please help me continue doing what I love so much. Money is extremely tight and any amount will help me continue sharing the things I like so much in life. Thank you to all who would be willing to donate a few dollars. I will gladly send prints or photograph for you. If you can’t assist, maybe you know of family or friends that can, kindly sharing the link below with them would be greatly appreciated.

http://www.gofundme.com/3v40fg

Farm Work and Fencing

UGH! That’s probably the simplest thing to put.

As many of you already know, I am still working on the farm attempting to put the past where it belongs. It isn’t easy to do that under highly stressful situations but I am really trying to just keep my mouth shut and move on.

We ended up hiring a fencing contractor to do the 90 acres of perimeter fencing. In a way, I’m thankful that we have because I am so overloaded with work everywhere right now that I am having issues thinking straight at times (I’ll discuss the repercussions of that in just a second). We found a contractor we could work with but that doesn’t mean that everything is going smoothly. We have had a few issues over some minor things but I am really learning what a hard ass bitch I can be  when people don’t do a job according to specs. I always thought I was a nice person, I am almost reconsidering that train of thought right now.

Add on top of all this the arguments with the business partner on the farm and I am about ready to snap. I am ashamed to admit that my patience has worn so thin with everything going on right now. We still haven’t managed to get the 60 acres of first cutting hay done due to rain, rain and more rain. Now the fencing is going in, minds are being changed three or four times on gate placements, my photography work load just doubled and I have an editor waiting for articles. This isn’t the only issues going on through. We have financial issues too and fairly big one’s that total about $50,000 dollars. I’m just overloaded. I have too much going on and not nearly enough time to think about so many things.

I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to work with a contractor that understands my overload and how much I am trying to do. He is being very patient and has listened to me bitch and complain about the indecisions. I’m not saying that we haven’t had words. Like when he told me that he could just pack up and leave to which I replied, “Feel free because I’m not dealing with another egotistical male right now. Either you follow the specs or leave. The choice is yours.” I hate being like that but when the government gives you specs on fencing and they aren’t going to pay if you don’t meet code, then sorry dude, don’t expect me to feel any sympathy when you screw up.

This is the area where the gate will be going up to the corner. This was after the old fencing was removed and the area was brush hogged.

This is the area where the gate will be going up to the corner. This was after the old fencing was removed and the area was brush hogged.

Midway point of fencing. Gate post set and line posts in. Wire comes next.

Midway point of fencing. Gate post set and line posts in. Wire comes next.

The first paddock, the top of which is shown in the images above, will have five strands of wire and maybe a gate or two in today. I plan on turning cattle out into the upper section of this paddock sometime this evening or first thing in the morning, depending on what time the wires are in place and how quickly I can relocated some temporary wire and the watering system.

I’ve had a couple of highlights and little breaks for an hour or so, here or there. I did a photoshoot last Friday of a little cutie pie I’ve been trying to find the time to take some photos of for a couple of months now.

Miss C is about a year old and loves everything nature and animal

Miss C is about a year old and loves everything nature and animal

This little one’s mother is getting married in a little over a week. I am so excited that I will get to take photos of the wedding of two of my most favorite people in the world. I love these two like they were my own flesh and blood. They mean more to me than I will ever be able to express.

I also took five or ten minutes to go get a couple shots of some flowers I have never seen and a dragonfly.

Dianthus deltoides  Caryophyllaceae Family  An excellent groundcover, front-of-the-border edging, or rock garden specimen, these mat-forming plants produce countless dainty blooms with fringed petals in shades of red, pink or white in spring and early summer. Prefers well-drained alkaline soil and full sun.

Dianthus deltoides
Caryophyllaceae Family
AKA Maiden Pink
An excellent groundcover, front-of-the-border edging, or rock garden specimen, these mat-forming plants produce countless dainty blooms with fringed petals in shades of red, pink or white in spring and early summer. Prefers well-drained alkaline soil and full sun.

 

Common Whitetail Dragonfly

Common Whitetail Dragonfly

Oh yeah and I forgot to mention….ALL CALVES FOR 2013 ARE NOW BORN! No more late night pasture strolls checking on mothers, thank goodness.

The lone bull calf born

The lone bull calf born

The first heifer of 2013

The first heifer of 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auburn, aka Aubrie, the last heifer calf of 2013

Auburn, aka Aubrie, the last heifer calf of 2013

My favorite first calf heifer with her spunky, adorable and obviously my favorite calf of 2013

My favorite first calf heifer with her spunky, adorable and obviously my favorite calf of 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yup, as you can tell, I have been slightly busy. I keep telling myself that it will get easier. The fence is started. The calves are born. A few items have been checked off the list but there is still so much left to do. I can’t wait to take a break and snow flying in my opinion can’t happen fast enough! Colder weather means less work load for me. I look forward to those days now more than ever.

Did I also fail to mention that I don’t get paid for 90% of the work I do? Anything farm related gets me zero income due to the simple fact that everything is being built from the ground up….literally. Barn, fencing, cattle. All of it is all money invested so far. I can’t wait for the day when I can just go to the store, buy a pair of boots without having to save change. Since today is assessment day this week after having a little episode of overload yesterday, maybe it’s time to reconsider the work load. Maybe if I plan a little better and can somehow manage to come up with the funds to save the farm, I wouldn’t be so damn overwhelmed all the time. If anyone wants to make some interest and let us borrow some money for a year, let me know.

All kidding and complaining aside, life isn’t so bad. I have a beautiful area to relax. I have fairly good health and things are slowly progressing. I really shouldn’t complain because I have so much that others would love to have but it doesn’t come easy. It’s an uphill battle right now for me. I’m still taking it one step or more appropriate, stumble, at a time. It’s all I can do for the time being. I am almost to the top of the hill. Only a little more to go. I just need to keep fighting and keep pushing. No pain, no gain. No risk, no reward. So if I grumble and complain, remember that I am only doing so out of frustration. I live a lonely life out here in the stick, 20 miles from the nearest city, seeing more cattle faces than human interaction. Cattle don’t verbally talk back and normally don’t make me feel bad about my day but they also don’t give me the love and support I need to keep pushing through to attain my goals. I hope that you all realize that those likes or those comments are boosters for me. They pick me up, make me thankful that I have shared even a small part of my life. Sometimes we all just need that little pat on the back that says, hey thanks for all the hard work you do or a way of saying job well done.

For now, it’s back to editing images and figuring out what this rogue grass is on the farm, pointing fingers, moving temporary fence and writing up an article. I’m making myself tired just listing out the few things I need to do. I guess I better start moving before I get too tired and just go take a nap. Thank you all again for your support through all the transitions, heartbreak, heartache and tough times right now. It means more to this hermit than you can imagine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Therapy Animals and Photography

As you can read on the About Me page, I am a person who has suffered through a great deal in my life to date. I’m okay with everything that has happened, the medical diagnosis that turned my life upside down and even the tragedies that have occurred. I am not saying that it’s easy or that I am 100% dealing with the issues but I am saying that I have learned to cope.

In 2008, when I had two years of massive depression and then the diagnosis of Multiple sclerosis, a counselor decided it was time for me to access what meant the most to me in my life. Her suggestion was that I pick up a camera and start photographing everything that “spoke” to me. I started taking photos of nature and wildlife, animals and farms. My health care provider suggested that I start eating more raw foods, home-grown items so that I knew what went into the production of food goods and to find time to release stress.

All of this started a major transition in my life. I discovered my love of cattle. I discovered what I felt about the land, my natural environment and more of who I was on the inside. Working with the cattle is my true therapy. I learned that when I am around them, I breathe slower and I am more relaxed. I am not like Tigger on drugs, which is me at any other point during the day. I learned that calves never fail to bring a smile to my face. I learned the sense of accomplishment like I never have before after saving a calf from near death and then watching them give birth to their first calf.

I have learned that I can capture this passion through the lens of a camera too, not only for cattle but for tractors and diesel trucks, flowers and nature, wildlife and water. I’ve learned that I love the little things in life and have come to appreciate them that much more. It just seems that no matter how difficult my life is, there is always something so small that thrives through wind, rain and snow. If a tiny plant with the smallest of flowers can come back year after year during the harshest of elements that nature provides, then I guess I don’t have an excuse anymore to feel sorry for myself. Mother Nature has taught me that we all have our own storms to weather but, as long as our roots are strong, we can always regrow. During our regrowth, we may become something slightly different from what we were before but usually we are stronger on the other side.

I have lots that I could share about these feelings and emotions but I won’t bore you with the details. I will just remind you that no matter what, each trial we go through brings us closer to who we really are on the inside. I am a survivor, plain and simple.

So for now, I will keep working with my therapy cattle and grooming them to be friendly animals for others to use and learn from. I will continue to learn about what’s best for me and my environment. And, of course, I will continue to photograph everything along the way.

If you live in the area and just need some space…I will be more than happy to let you come laugh with me over calf-antics, share a spot on the banks of the pond at sunset, or allow you to stroll through the pastures capturing your own photos. My work here is meant to be shared.

Calf-Antics

Calf-Antics

Those Moments

Sometimes I just have THOSE moments. Maybe I am just a little more aware of the things around me because I am always searching for just the perfect shot. Maybe it’s because I look at things a little differently, seeking those things that a different and unique. I’m not really sure what it is, it just is. It’s difficult for me to explain and even harder for me to teach. It just is what it is.

Those moments I speak of are when something happens, for me it’s usually captured by a camera in my hand, that makes you sit back on your heels and ponder the moment. The moments don’t happen often. It’s rare and it takes you by surprise. It could be something crazy like a grasshopper that jumps on the window of the truck on a cloudy day. It could be something as simple as a calf smelling a flower. Then other times, it could be something as simple as the delicate petals of a flower that are nearly transparent from the rain, wind and sun.

These aren’t those moments that are bad. They are the moments that are miraculous. Those moments that I just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Some require patience but most just happen while out walking doing something entirely different. They are moments full of awe and wonderful amazement as you look up and see things in a different perspective. I am a professional photographer. These are the moments that take my breathe away and moments I am always on the look out for.

Amy, a week old Jersey/Dexter cross calf, smelling a wildflower.

 

The delicate petals of an unusual colored wildflower

 

The flight of the grasshopper

I have won awards, placed in the top 300 for international competitions, been published countless amounts of time and nothing compares to the moments when these moments are taken. No amount of money, praise or attention can compare. I take photographs JUST to capture these moments. It happens with nature, with people and everything in between. I’m just blessed to be able to have them happen time and time again!