Friday, August 22, 2014

Sunflower Field - A Photographer's Playground

It's August in Michigan.  Cherry's have been harvested, apples are expanding every day and in the near future pumpkins will be glowing orange in the fields.

Sunflower Row - Sheen's Nature Photography
This is the time of year when many farmers have dedicated acres of their farms to sunflowers.  Rows and rows of vibrant yellow faces are loaded with pollen for the bees and seeds for the birds.

"Blues Skies Shining on Me" - Sheen's Nature Photography

Bee's Breakfast - Sheen Watkins
Sunflowers with their happy, yellow petals and intricate, kaleidoscope patterns of seeds are simply a joy to photograph.

What lenses to use?

Because of their photogenic nature, portrait, macro and wide angle lenses allow the photographer to 'play' in the field. The "Sunflower Row" image was taken using my 50mm 1.8G lens on a full frame camera (Nikon 600).

The "Bee's Breakfast" macro image to the right was captured with a 105mm Macro lens.

These images were taken last weekend just north of the little quaint town of Pinckney, Michigan. I spent two hours 'playing' photographer in sunflower rows on this multi-acre sunflower farm.

There were still many petal-posers in full bloom even though I was two weeks behind the peak blooming time for this particular patch.

When in the field, it's easy to lose track of time.  But that's ok when surrounded with subjects that shout 'sunshine and happiness'.

Happy Shooting!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Gear Review: Nikon's 50mm 1.8G Lens is a Fast Friend

How clearly I remember the day when my first 'surprise' camera with a Nikon 55-300mm telephoto lens arrived.  As someone who's primary subject was to going be birds and wildlife, I seriously thought this was the only lens I'd ever need.

First and foremost I am a bird photographer.  Birding was the passion that stirred the interest in photography.  Over time, the passion for birds has not changed.  Instead, a passion for photography expanded my horizons of what images I capture.

After investing in a bigger telephoto lens (150-500) and a Nikon 105mm macro lens, I started playing around with the 24-85mm lens that came with one of my cameras. The world of landscapes emerged as subjects.  A landscape lens was then added to the growing collection.

Along the way I heard many photographers talk about how they enjoyed 'walk around' prime lenses.  I received another 'surprise' gift.  A 50mm 1.8G lens.

A big hello to world of exploring things outside of macro, telephoto and landscape.  

Airport Wait - 50mm, f/4, ISO 250, 1/80sec

The 50mm 1.8G is fast, lightweight, sharp prime lens (fixed focal length) with a beautiful bokeh.  The 50mm is easy to take on a walk in a garden, the woods, and even use in the airport for something to do while waiting for the flight.

A prime lens encourages and forces the photographer to consider different perspectives and composition. 

Night Moves - Nikon 600, 50mm,  ISO 2500,  f/1.8 1/60sec

The Night Moves image above was captured in my hometown, Birmingham, Michigan around ten at night.  Using a big aperture (f/1.8), the shallow depth of field, bokeh and desired sharpness all came together.  No flash or tripod needed.

The flowers below would have been only a close up with my Macro.  I intentionally left it at home because it would have been faster to gravitate to the macro comfort zone.  With the 50mm, the composition brought in more of the surroundings and better reflected the cheerful sunny day.

Cheerful Flowers, Sunshiny Day - Nikon 600, 50mm, B+W Circular Polarizing Filter

We are all in different mindsets with our photography and subjects.  As someone who waited too long to add the 50mm to their arsenal, I would easily recommend this as a must-have lens sooner versus later.

The 50mm is a photographer's friend, offering speed, fun, creativity and awesome quality images. 

At the very reasonable price point of $219.95 on the Nikon site and $216.95 on Amazon and B&H Photo, it's a relatively painless addition from a cost standpoint.

Happy Shooting!