Photography

I have moved my photography to a separate blog – http://cathywagnerphotoblog.wordpress.com/

If you are also a keen amateur photographer, you might enjoy reading these:

  • Monte Casino and The Pivot at Night – my growing infatuation with night-time photography, and a few tips for those who might be new to it
  • Family Portraits – the newest addition to our family meets his Great Gran for the first time, resulting in some beautiful portraits
  • Florence, Italy – one of the most photogenic cities on Earth, in my opinion
  • Rome, Italy – the Colosseum, the Valley of the Vestal Virgins, and the Vatican

 

Photography: New Blog

I have decided to start a new blog, exclusively for my photography. I’m sure that not all the photo-enthusiasts who visit this site are interested in my rantings about psychic frauds, astrologers and other crackpots!

My previous photography posts will be moved to the new blog:    http://cathywagnerphotoblog.wordpress.com/

I hope that if you have enjoyed my photography, hints and tips and comments that go with it, you will follow me there 🙂

Photography: Flowers in my Garden

 

I am fortunate enough to have a really pretty garden. Even though it is now almost mid-winter in Johannesburg, the Aloes, Strelizias, Daisies and even the Clivias are flowering!

It hasn’t been a particularly cold winter so far – none of those bitingly cold evenings, and no frost as yet. I’m sure the bad weather is ON ITS WAY!

I grabbed the opportunity to snap some photos this afternoon. First a gorgeous yellow Thistle:

Canon 60D, Lensbaby Double Glass Optic 50mm,  f/4, 1/400th sec, ISO 3200

My husband the Landscape Architect tells me this is called a Crocosmia – I believe him, because I don’t know any better…

Canon 60D, Lensbaby Double Glass Optic 50mm, f/4, 1/50th sec, ISO 200

This shot of a Strelizia is quite abstract – I love the contrasting colours:

Canon 60D, Lensbaby Double Optic 50mm, f/4, 1/125th sec, ISO 125

The Clivias are flowering way too early. (The Plastic Optic lens gives them a glowing, ethereal look which I find quite interesting.)

Canon 60D, Lensbaby Plastic Optic 50mm, f/4, 1/500th sec, ISO 100

This beautiful specimen is not growing in my garden. My dear Husband gave me two dozen red roses for our second wedding anniversary (he CAN be romantic when he tries…)

I took these two photos this morning as the sun came up:

Canon60D, 50mm prime lens, f/1.4, 1/60th sec, ISO 640

Canon 60D, 50mm prime lens, f/1.4, 1/60th sec, ISO 500

Some blooms from earlier in the year: first a magnificent Barberton Daisy:

Canon EOS 1000 at 263mm, f/5.6, 1/200th sec, ISO100

And an Agapanthus head, up close. The series of photos had an incredibly 3-dimensional “popping” effect. If you have these flowers in your garden try photographing them from above with a wide-angled lens. Get as close in as you can to achieve the same effect:

Fuji Finepix S9500 at 29mm, f/3.9, 1/150th sec, ISO 200

Photographing flowers can be very rewarding. Here are my tips, based on my experience:

  • Fill the frame with the flowers, edge to edge
  • Use a wide aperture so the background is blurred.
  • You can use either a wide-angled lens, or a macro lens. Both will give great results
  • Don’t photograph in bright sunlight – the best times are early morning, late afternoon, and on cloudy days – avoid strong shadows, unless it’s for effect
  • Bright sunshine on red, yellow or orange flowers totally blows out the detail. It really is best to shoot them in the shade if you’re after sharp details.
  • Use a fast enough shutter speed to freeze movement – flowers move unpredictably even in a slight breeze. If you have to hold the stem to keep the bloom still, make sure your hand is not in the shot!
  • Be aware of the composition. Diagonals will make the picture more interesting
  • Look out for strongly contrasting colours and make the best of them.

 

If you have any tips for shooting flowers, I would be delighted if you would share them with me 🙂

 

Photography: Rand Air Show, Johannesburg

I had a great opportunity to try my hand at Air Show Photography about a week ago, at the Rand Airport just south of Johannesburg.

I did some research first, and found out that there are some basic rules to this type of photography:

  • The underside of an aeroplane is not the most interesting bit
  • You should stand at the end of the runway the Sun is at, so you don’t end up shooting into the glare
  • You should use a slow enough shutter speed to capture the movement of the propellers – frozen props look highly unnatural on an aeroplane in flight!
  • You should be careful to not underexpose the aeroplane, or overexpose the sky
  • Try to get the pilot in the picture – photograph the plane from the front or side as it’s banking
  • Pan with the motion of the planes and don’t be afraid to take multiple shots as they fly past (It looks and sounds so sexy and professional)

With those basics in mind, my Hubby and I trotted off to the show last Sunday morning. I took more than 600 shots, and had to discard about 80% of them because they were: too blurry, under- or overexposed, photos of the undersides, looking into the Sun – this stuff is HARD!

I’m proud to say ALL my propellers were obviously whirling 🙂

Fortunately, there were some shots I think are pretty successful – and here are a few of my favourites:

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200sec  –  ISO 100

A flyby of an old DC3 and a whole crowd of colourful little planes – Harvard in front, Yak 52s in the middle. The next shot is a close up from the same flyby (Yak 52s):

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200 sec  –  ISO 100

Some spectacular Pitt Specials flying in formation….these guys are brave, or maybe just a little crazy?

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200 sec  –  ISO 100

A couple of Extra 300’s:

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200 sec  –  ISO 100

I love this one! These two Pitt Specials did a whole routine with one of them flying upside down. It must be very disconcerting flying for any length of time with the earth over your head… and the sky beneath your feet….

Canon 60D  –  f/11 – 1/200 sec  –  ISO 100

Those Extra 300’s again:

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200 sec  –  ISO 160

I know the next one is not a great photo ( a bit noisy) – but check out these Pitt Special moves!

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200sec  –  ISO 100

The middle plane (a Mustang) is called Mustang Sally:

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200sec  –  ISO 100

And, please note – a couple of Pilots! (First a Pitt Special, and below that, a Bell helicopter)

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200sec  –  ISO 100

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200sec  –  ISO 100

This last photo, I’m ashamed to admit, was taken by my clever husband – and I think it’s BRILLIANT! Possibly the best of the lot……

*Grrrr*…. I’m the one who stood there for hours, with all the other photographers and their long lenses, patiently panning every passing ‘plane.

Glenn sits on the grass, looking after my camera while I go to the “ladies” – and he just casually takes this incredible shot of the DC3 rumbling past!

Canon 60D  –  f/11  –  1/200 sec  –  ISO 100

Well done, Darling – I’m officially jealous!

Never mind – I will persevere and maybe one day I’ll also be a Genius 🙂

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A note for photographers:

When I was adding the EXIF information for these photos, I noticed that they are ALL shot at f/11, 1/200 second and mostly at ISO 100-200. That’s because I only use the manual setting on my Canon 60D.

I had to do minimal extra work on Photoshop – mainly a little cropping (it’s hard to frame something perfectly when it’s careening past you at 350kph!) and I adjusted the levels on those that were a little over-exposed due to shooting close to the Sun.

I did not use a Polarising filter: I thought about it but realised I would have to be constantly aware of the Sun position with the Polariser on – I didn’t want to have to worry about that, so I only had on a UV filter.

African skies really ARE that blue!

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Update:

I am indebted to the son of a friend, who kindly went through my photos and identified the planes for me!

Photography: (Lion)sex – Rated PG

 

Okay, I know some of you may have found my post (Lion)sex in the city(zoo) a bit of a let-down in the end – a bit of an anti-climax, you might say 🙂

I’m sorry about that – I didn’t want the blog to be in bad taste.

However, friends and family who have seen the photo of the lions actually doin’ it don’t think it’s so terrible…. and I don’t want to be accused of false advertising!…..so here goes….

(if you have a six-year-old sitting next to you, perhaps you should put your hand over his eyes about now….)

Naughty beast!

 

Photography: (Lion)sex in the city(Zoo)

 

A blogger once told me that if I wanted more hits on my blog, I should write about sex!

Does writing about a couple of lions having sex count? If I include pictures?

We have a lovely Zoo here in Johannesburg; Sunday was warm and sunny, so we took the kid, the camera and a couple of sandwiches and had a pleasant day wandering around, looking at animals and of course taking photos.

I hope you will like these. Yes, there are some (tasteful)photos of lions having sex 🙂

Not this one – this is an alert suricate (or meerkat),  guarding his burrow. These are sociable little mammals found only in southern Africa. The name “meerkat” is Dutch for “lake cat” – strange, because they don’t live near lakes, and they are not cats!

Canon 60D, 70-300mm @ 225mm, f/6.3, 1/800 sec, ISO 160

Meerkats are quite comical – their expressions can be quite human… I wonder what those two on the right are thinking?

Canon 60D 75-300mm @ 300mm, F/6.3, 1/800 sec. ISO 500

A pair of ducks:

Canon 60D 75-300mm @ 275mm, f/6.3, 1/800 sec, ISO 320

What can you say about a couple of ducks….? Not much really…. I liked the symmetry of the photo, that’s why it’s here 🙂

Canon 60D 75-300mm @ 300mm, f/11, 1/1250 sec, ISO 5000

Nile Crocodiles. Very common, very dangerous. It is NOT a good idea to take a dip in a river in many parts of Africa – these 5 to 6 metre long reptiles are infamous for leaping out at the water’s edge, grabbing an unsuspecting animal (or human) and dragging it down into the depths, never to be seen again. They wedge the dead carcass under a log or stone, wait for it to rot, and then tear it to pieces…..They have very strong jaws, but they can only bite, not chew….

Canon 60D 75-300mm @ 225mm, f/10, 1/800 sec, ISO 6400

A much happier picture! This old female African Elephant has been at the Jo’burg zoo for many, many years. She is one of the main attractions.

And now, as promised, the sexy lions!

These two were “playing” under a bush…

Canon 60D 75-300mm @ 200mm, f/11, 1/1250 sec, ISO 3200

When they walked out into the open, the male was nuzzling the female’s hind quarters, and then he took her tail in his mouth. I had never seen or heard of this behaviour before…. but it could obviously only mean one thing…

Canon 60D 75-200mm @ 220mm, f/11, 1/1250 sec, ISO 1000

Note the huge scratches on his nose! The lady must have put up a good fight at some stage….

I believe lions mate up to 40 times a day for the four days the female is on heat, so it’s probably just as well each  mating lasts only about half a minute.

Canon 60D 75-300 mm @ 165 mm, f/11, 1/1250 sec, ISO 1000

Magnificent beasts!