Not All Photography Is Equal

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One of the things that frustrates me as a professional photographer is the all too common belief that great photography is just a simple matter of pointing the camera and pressing the button and then, maybe, adding some weird, digital filter to the final photo.  Photography is a skill, an art, a passion.  Some have it and some don’t.  There is a difference between taking a photograph and making a photograph.

Ice formation on Parker Brook in Stokes State Forest
©Dawn J. Benko

I arrived at this spot (above) on a cold, February morning, somewhere between 8 and 9 o’clock.  I didn’t like the light, so I moved on, wandering up and down the brook all day taking photos.  I would come back to this scene every so often to see if it was ready for it’s closeup.  This photograph was, finally, created around 5pm.  I had about a ten minute window to setup my tripod and camera and find the angle I wanted.

A northern water snake takes a has a green frog for dinner.
© Dawn J. Benko

Similarly, I arrived at this swamp between 8 and 9 am.  This shot was made around 5:30pm.  In reality, it took days, weeks, even months of sitting in (yes, IN) the swamp in the hot sun watching, and waiting.  That time was also spent learning.  And once the action began, I had to find ways to get my photos without interfering with the natural process.

I had posted this photo on Facebook, and a friend remarked on what a lucky shot it was.  After I explained what it took to get the shot, another friend remarked, “It’s hard work being that lucky.”

Indeed.

 

The Pterodactyl Has Landed

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Great blue heron in High Point State Park, Montague, NJ

The great blue heron is the largest heron in North America and is very adaptable, thriving from subtropical mangrove swamps to desert rivers to the coast of southern Alaska.

53 Beats

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Ruby-throated hummingbird in Stokes State Forest, Montague, NJ

Ruby-throated hummingbird in Stokes State Forest, Montague, NJ

A ruby-throated hummingbird can flap its wings at about 53 beats per second, which makes photographing them a bit of a challenge, even at very high shutter speeds.  What I’ve found is, if I back off a little, I get much better results.

Both photos, above, are full frame and shot at 1/2000th of a second.  The first one is a little soft overall and suffers from a lack of depth field, but you can see how much more motion there is in the wings.