Monday, November 21, 2016

How to Keep a Fresh Photographer's Eye? Play!

Peeking at You by Sheen Watkins
Photographers began their craft being inspired by something.

Many photographers started as artists, using a camera to document their subjects prior to drawing on paper or other art medium of choice. Others were influenced by magazines, such as National Geographic, the Smithsonian and other magazines known for outstanding storytelling and imagery.

Some just knew they wanted a camera.

My introduction to photography was simple.  After I became an official birder, I would always say, "I wish I had a camera" whenever I would focus my binoculars on a beautiful bird.  I guess I said it more than once or twice because my husband surprised me with my first camera.  Since then,  it has been many thousands of photos of birds, flowers, bees, deer, landscapes, black and white, and other various nature images.

Sometimes I do worry about getting stuck in a routine.  Are my photos starting to look the same, am I missing great images because I didn't consider another perspective?

by Sheen Watkins
Over the past year, I've intentionally networked with other photographers.
I've joined the Motor City Camera Club in the Detroit Metropolitan area and have started to occasionally participate in group photo outings.

Even though my best work happens when I'm solo, my photographic and post processing skills have been positively influenced by joining others.

Lines, colors, textures, shapes and structures serve as interesting and colorful subjects.

I'll jump at the chance to photograph city lights, inside and outside of unique architectural buildings and street photography.

by Sheen Watkins

The reverse is also true, I've been able to influence and help others in their nature and bird photography journey.
by Sheen Watkins

There's another benefit ...I have friends that love to 'play' outdoors and talk about f/stops, lenses, settings, camera gear and photography plans.  It's expanded the meaning of one of my favorite phrases of "happy shooting" to "happy shooters!"

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Photographer's Sight: The Forest or the Trees?

What does a photographer see?  What is it about a subject or moment that one photographer may stop, pause and shoot and another doesn't notice?

Sheen's Nature Photography

How many times have you used the phrase  "you can't see the forest for the trees"?  In the images above and below, I chose to not see either.  Instead, I was moved by the array of green tints and shades,  soft lines and a wash of shapes.  

How this photo was made:  I stood in a shady setting with no sunlight streaming through. When I pressed the shutter, I gently moved the camera vertically while the shutter was open.  A one second shutter speed is optimal when using this technique.  Settings:  1 second shutter speed, f/16, ISO 100
Sheen's Nature Photography

Walk into an art gallery, museum or go to a multitude of artists' websites and you'll see many perspectives of the same subjects.  Some may be an accurate representation of the image itself, others may take creative liberty and add another layer of artistry.

As in the photo below, I applied dramatic post processing adjustments in Lightroom to modify reality.  These adjustments included contrast, clarity and increased hue intensity.

Sheen's Nature Photography
By seeing through the unique eyes of other artists- painting, drawing, photography, dance -  our own eyes can learn new techniques and ideas of communicating our subjects.

Happy Shooting!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"Songbird Sung Blue"

It's spring time which means the woods and fields are filled with the delightful songs and colors of songbirds.  Birds are flocking together to nest, breed, have chicks and depending on the species, travel south for thousands of miles after their chicks have fledged the nest. 
Lazuli Bunting by Sheen Watkins

It's time to celebrate a few of our magnificent little birds of blue.

The Lazuli Bunting, taken in Arizona could almost be mistaken for a bluebird.  Their white wing bars are an immediate giveaway.  

There's something a little extra special about birds in blue.  

Maybe it's because there are not as many species in this color range. 

They are so striking with their azure plumage.  Their sweet songs carry through the distance with unique and brilliant trills, notes and screeches.

The Indigo Bunting is a common sighting in Michigan and the midwest.  Even though it's a bit more common, that doesn't make it any less special to see....and hear.  The melodious song carries a distance from their high perches.  

This little guy is a regular on the Leelanau Peninsula on a trail managed by the Leelanau Conservancy in Michigan.

Indigo Bunting by Sheen Watkins

What 'blue' posting would be complete without a favorite for many?  The eastern bluebird entertains us by using nesting boxes to build their nest and their family.

Eastern Bluebird by Sheen Watkins
And lastly, the common but yet so striking Blue Jay.  We hear the loud calls when they fly in flocks. We see them visit our feeders.  Their bold crest along with the bright blue patterns make them standout from the rest of their family - the crows.

Blue Jay, a member of the Crow Family by Sheen Watkins
The title of this blog was inspired by Neil Diamond's "Song Sung Blue".  This is the second blog title that he, along with mother nature inspired:  What do Neil Diamond & Northern Michigan Have in Common? Cherry, Cherry!

Happy Shooting!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Photographer's View

Moody Morning  by Sheen's Nature Photography
When I became a nature photographer, the world changed.

The big scenes became less important.

The little moments and details took center stage.  Blue skies became boring, clouds and turbulent skies became a welcomed friend.

The morning hours
on the weekend can't get here soon enough.

One of my favorite subjects ~ birds ~ have amazing features.   Their beauty, expressions and movement are a pure joy to observe as a bird watcher and a photographer.

White Wings  by Sheen's Nature Photography

With landscapes, nightscapes and cityscapes, it may be the large scale view, or it may something as simple as reflections at night that make the scene.

River Walk in Winter by Sheen's Nature Photography
Finding your moment is just one look from behind the camera away.