Monday, October 3

Look beyond the duck

In photography, as in life, you have to look at the big picture. Literally.

Check out the accompanying photo. If you look only at the duck, you'll see nothing of interest. The duck isn't flying, preening, mating, eating a Twinkie, or doing anything else that might grab your attention. It's just there.

And yet, the image is compelling. Which means the main subject, the duck, plays only a minor role in making the image a success. I don't know about you, but for a lot of people, that statement turns the notion of a photograph on its head.

So what makes this image attractive? The water, of course. It not only looks like liquid metal, but offers a playful reflection of the duck's head. You could even argue that the water forms the actual subject of the photo, and that the duck simply serves as a resting point for your eyes.

Key takeaway: A photograph isn't just about the subject you want to capture; it's also about about everything else in the frame. In fact, the "everything else" is often what makes the image sing.

So next time you're about to press the shutter button, stop for a minute and take a good look at everything in the viewfinder. Chances are, you'll become more aware of the bigger picture. And you'll find that the smallest change, such as moving the camera a few inches to the left or the right, can make that bigger picture, better.

I took this photo at Poole Creek.

Tuesday, May 31

What's in a name?

Here it is, my third post, and I still haven't explained why this blog is dubbed Poole Creek. So let's fix that, shall we?

If you took a ride on Google Earth, you'd see that Poole Creek is a tributary of the Carp River, which is a tributary of the Ottawa River, which is a tributary of the St. Lawrence River, which is a tributary of the Atlantic Ocean. Closer to home, the creek plays host to a phenomenal range of animal species, including beaver, muskrat, mink, deer, bittern, heron, mallard, blackbird, trout, and snapping turtle. In fact, you can see all of these species and more along a short bend of the creek at the bottom of my street — often in the same evening.

For instance, in the space of 3 days, I saw this young white-tailed buck (note the remnants of his winter coat):

I also saw this female red-winged blackbird (that's right, female red-wings are streaky brown, not black):

And I came across this frog, which I very nearly stepped on:

Mind you, I don't visit Poole Creek just for the wildlife. Standing on the side of the creek, I also noticed these colorful reflections on the water's surface:

So there you have it. This is a blog dedicated to photography, and Poole Creek is my little piece of photographic heaven. And if the name fits...

Sunday, May 1

A honey(bee) of a shot

To take action shots of flying insects, you need three things: practice, patience, and perseverance. For every successful image you make, you'll probably shoot dozens, or even hundreds, of clunkers. But in the process, you'll get to enjoy fresh air, learn about insect behavior, and hone your photographic reflexes. You might even bag an image that you're proud of. Heck, you might even enjoy yourself. What could be bad?

I shot this honeybee a few days ago, just a few feet from my front door. I can hardly wait until later this summer, when I plan to shoot dragonflies in flight. Many dragonflies return to the same perch over and over again, so catching them in mid-flight isn't necessarily as hard as it sounds. You just need to set up your camera on a tripod, pre-focus, and start shooting when the dragonfly comes in for a landing.

Well, that's the theory, anyway! I'll let you know how it turns out. And who knows, I might even come back with some useful techniques.

Tuesday, April 26

Welcome to my stag party!

Strictly speaking, this blog is about photography. But really, it's about having fun. Because as far as I'm concerned, play is the most important part of any art, photography included.

Sure, I'll get serious from time to time. I may even get technical. But hey, technique is important, because it can make your play more enjoyable.

Speaking of play, consider the photo of this young stag, which I took on a snowy winter afternoon last December. I had two choices that day: Listen to the adult in me ("Crap, it's snowing again") and stay home, or listen to the kid in me ("Oh cool, it's snowing outside!") and head out into the woods. Fortunately, I let the kid win.

In this blog, I want to focus (yes, you will have to put up with my puns) on enjoying photography — whether you're making pictures or simply looking at them. So take a sec to subscribe to my feed, and let's have fun together.