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Spring is in the air

Spring is in the air; at least I hope so, as I am writing this in February. Spring gives us new life, bright colors and a multitude of prospects to get outside and take some pictures. I am going to talk about a couple different things, just because it is spring and these opportunities are available for only a limited time.

First, be alert for news of the Walleye and Pike spawning runs at the Conesus Inlet. As the water warms these fish go upstream to spawn. The creek is sometimes filled with thousands of fish. This is worth seeing all by itself even if you do not take any pictures.

However, if you do want to take pictures, this environment presents some challenges. Water is a highly reflective surface, and taking pictures of something under the water and that’s moving can be difficult. Here are a few tricks to try to get a good image of these fish as they respond to the call of nature.

  • Go on a cloudy day. The bright sun makes more reflections on the moving water and a cloudy day helps get rid of those

  • Go early, right after sunrise, or late, just before sunset. The sun’s rays have more of angle and are less likely to bounce reflections back at your camera.

  • Use a “polarizer” to cut through the reflections on the water. You can buy polarizing filters for your camera, but you probably have one already. Take any pair of non-prescription polarized sunglasses and hold them in front of your lens while taking the picture. Rotate them around a bit and take a few more. You will see an amazing difference.

  • Use the “Running Man” or Sport setting on your camera. That sets the camera to use a faster shutter speed, stopping motion.

The second part of this discussion is flowers and buds. You can take some wonderfully colorful pictures and it’s not difficult at all. All you need to do is set your camera to the “Macro” or Close-up mode; this typically looks like a little flower on the selector. This mode tells the camera that you are getting in close to the subject and sets the aperture [f-stop] to a smaller number [ larger opening] to blur the background This also presents us with some challenges that we will need to compensate for, if we want a great picture.

So here are a few things to try.

  • Get close, have your subject fill the frame

  • Don’t use the zoom. If you use the zoom the depth of field gets very shallow. You could potentially have part of your subject in focus and part out. With Macro photography the part that is in focus can sometimes be less than an inch in depth.

  • Wait for a nice sunny day. You want as much light on it as you can get. You might even want to try turning your flash on as well.

  • Try taking your shot with the sun behind the flower. This is called backlighting. It will bring out all the delicate veins and details of the flower.

  • Use a tripod if you have one, or find something to set the camera on so that it is steady.

  • If you can focus manually do so; the camera auto focus doesn’t do well with close ups.

  • Use the self-timer to activate the shutter. If you use your finger to push the button, it will show up in the image, making it look out of focus or like it’s jumping around.

  • If you are outside, try to protect your subject from breezes.

  • Take more than one shot. You can always erase the bad ones.

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