Night Blooms:A Unique Way to Combine Our Natural and Man-Made Worlds

Close up photo of cherry blossoms with blurred city lights in the background. "Cherry blossoms amid city lights and sunset skies." © F. M. Kearney
Cherry blossoms amid city lights and sunset skies. © F. M. Kearney

By F. M. Kearney

I often write about the challenges of finding nature subjects in an urban environment. Of course, even the largest concrete jungles aren’t all concrete. There’s always a local park or a botanical garden somewhere nearby. Places like these are perfect locations to capture unique compositions of natural and man-made subjects.

Continue reading

Gourmet Photography: Making Memorable Images of Forgettable Subjects

Close up photo of a few holly leaves with a splash of yellow color in the background. "Holly leaves with a bit of color." © F.M. Kearney
Holly leaves with a bit of color. © F.M. Kearney

By F. M. Kearney

Besides photography, one of my other passions is cooking and baking. To satisfy my sweet tooth, I’m always baking some type of cookies or cakes. I use baker’s tools like piping bags and scrapers to make them look like they were purchased from a bakery. People often tell me I should bake professionally, but I have little interest in doing that. I don’t think I would enjoy it as much if I knew I had to do it. I also have an extensive collection of cookbooks and a filing cabinet full of recipes, categorized with folders devoted to specific meats, vegetables, and of course, sweets. However, I would never consider myself a chef. A cook, perhaps, but never a chef. Unless I’m intimately familiar with a dish, I have to follow a recipe. True chefs don’t “cook by numbers.” They instinctively know how to combine obscure ingredients to produce the most spectacular dishes. I love watching cooking competition shows on the Food Network. I always marvel at how chefs are able to take an odd-ball collection of ingredients like a banana, a pork chop and a cup of cashews, and combine them into award-winning, gourmet masterpieces.

I started to wonder how I could apply that same concept to photography. It’s really not that difficult to create an amazing photo of a great subject in the perfect light. But, what if your subject is less than stellar and your lighting is awful? As a personal challenge, I set out to find the most unremarkable subject and to shoot it in the worst possible light.

Continue reading

Shooting Through “Distractions”: Using Natural Elements to Frame Your Subjects

Blue spruce pine needles (200mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/90 sec.)
Blue spruce pine needles (200mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/90 sec.)

Story & photos by F. M. Kearney

Imagine a child’s frustration in trying to see a passing parade while peering through a forest of gargantuan adult legs. I suppose it’s human nature to always want an unobstructed view of whatever it is we’re trying to see. This is especially true of press photographers, and of course… the paparazzi. How many times have you seen them on the evening news jostling and elbowing each other out the way in order to get the “best” shot? In nature, however, the best shot isn’t always necessarily the cleanest shot. If used correctly, certain “distractions” can provide a creative frame or bokeh around your subjects.

Continue reading

One Little Tree

Lone Star Magnolia tree New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY  © Franklin Kearney

Story & Photography by Franklin Kearney

It stood alone at the back of the fog-shrouded field. Situated far off the beaten path and dwarfed by its much taller neighbors, it was virtually invisible. Tram loads of visitors were invariably drawn to the flashier specimens along the roadside – giving nary a glance to their diminutive counterpart in the rear. It can be a losing battle for a tiny star magnolia tree to garner any attention under these conditions. However, unexpected gems might be found when you take a closer look at the “underdog.”

Continue reading