“Silken Touch” Hemerocallis (Hemerocallidaceae)
New York Botanical Garden
I was setting up atop a small hill when I heard the sound of quick footsteps. Seconds later, they stopped. I heard a click, and the footsteps sounded again followed by another stop and another click. This pattern repeated several times. With my curiosity stirred, I finally looked up and saw a man briskly walking through a cluster of daffodils. He would stop just for a moment to take a quick photo, then walk a few feet away and take another. That kind of “rapid-fire photography” usually results in mediocre snapshots. Creative photographs take time. Often, deciding what to do with your background can make the difference between a mediocre shot and a creative one. Read the rest of this entry »
New York is a city known for its attractions: the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the Bronx Zoo, the Brooklyn Bridge Waterfall. Waterfall? Yes, for a brief period during the summer of 2008, there was a waterfall at the Brooklyn Bridge, thanks to the imagination of artist Olafur Eliasson.
The Brooklyn Bridge Waterfall was part of a public art project consisting of four artificial waterfalls situated along the East River and the New York Harbor. They were created by pumping river water up and over 100-foot-tall scaffoldings. The Brooklyn Bridge Waterfall was placed under the bridge’s tower. Of the four waterfalls, it was the most picturesque.
Like a typical New Yorker, I suppose, I never really paid much attention to public art installations. One in particular, installed a few years earlier in Central Park, left me more puzzled than anything else. It was known as The Gates–a winding, 23-mile-long row of saffron-colored fabric sheets strewn along the park’s pathways. Personally, I didn’t get it and I didn’t see the fascination. However, a waterfall flowing under the Brooklyn Bridge is something else. There aren’t alot of waterfalls to shoot in New York City, so even though it was artificial, I didn’t want to miss it. Read the rest of this entry »
Garden Highlights © F. M. Kearney
Flowers are usually best photographed on overcast days. The cloud cover acts as a giant softbox, evening out the light by eliminating dark shadows. Sometimes, this flat, contrast-free lighting is exactly what I’m looking for. Other times, when I’m in the mood to spice things up a bit, I seek out the harshest, most direct lighting I can find. I don’t necessarily want this type of light on my subject but, rather, behind it to create a nice backlight.
Roses are in season now, providing many creative photo opportunities. One sunny morning, I came across a row of white shrub roses in the New York Botanical Garden. After surveying them under standard frontal lighting, I thought: “Nothing to see here. Move on.” But when I walked around to the other side, I was absolutely amazed to see just how much more dramatic the roses looked backlit. No longer static and boring, they came to life against the sparkling highlights that danced in the background.
However, backlight isn’t the easiest kind of light to work with. Unless you’re going for a complete silhouette, additional lighting and techniques are needed to properly expose your subject. Read the rest of this entry »
Story and photograph by F.M. Kearney
This winter has certainly been one for the record books. While most people probably long for the warm days of summer, I personally can never get enough of the cold and everything that comes with it.
There’s nothing better than photographing a freshly snow-covered landscape glistening in bright sunlight. For an added dynamic effect, I sometimes include the sun and position it partially behind a tree branch, to create an eye-catching starburst. Although stunning images like these “after the snow” photos are well-worth capturing, I recently began experimenting with taking pictures during the actual snowfall. Read the rest of this entry »
Story and Photo by F.M. Kearney
After the Fall, (c) F. M. Kearney
The brilliant colors of autumn have faded. Most of the leaves have already fallen; only a handful of stubborn diehards remain clinging to the trees. I used to think that come the end of October, the “show” is over until I started noticing all the little holes in these weather-beaten leaves. If the sun is placed directly behind them, a multitude of interesting sunbursts can be created.
I specifically look for low-hanging leaves with an unobstructed line of sight of the sun in the background. Exposure is best determined manually. Auto exposure will only drive you nuts as the meter bounces from one extreme to another with each subtle movement of the leaves—resulting in a series of inconsistent exposures. I simply spot-meter the area of the sky next to the sun and lock it in. Now, no matter how much the leaves want to dance around, the overall exposure will remain the same. For a more dramatic image and to better emphasize the sunbursts, I’ll sometimes slightly underexpose the sky. So as not to underexpose the leaves as well, a flash is a must. Fill-flash isn’t always strong enough in these situations, so I usually turn it off and use the flash at normal power. If necessary, I increase its output by a stop, which restores detail in the leaves as well as any lingering traces of color. Read the rest of this entry »
by F.M. Kearney
I often look at autumn as nature’s version of information overload. With fall colors exploding all over the place, it’s sometimes hard to know exactly where to point the camera. Trying to capture everything in one frame often results in not capturing anything at its best advantage.
I’ve learned to use a variety of simple techniques to help make sense out of this visual potpourri. One way is to extract a subject out of its environment in order to help it stand out. A zoom lens is usually the best lens of choice to perform a “visual extraction.” Read the rest of this entry »
by F.M. Kearney
The weather forecast called for clouds in the morning, followed by sunny skies in the afternoon. I had spent the morning shooting a series of tulip photos in the New York Botanical Garden. I was using a double exposure, soft-focus technique giving them a certain romantic quality that was further enhanced by the subdued light. But I had to work fast. The cloud cover was getting thinner by the minute—soon to let forth the full, harsh light of the sun.
Of all the days for the weather report to be completely accurate! Read the rest of this entry »