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Friday, November 21, 2014

Beautiful Fall: Our Favorite Season

Summarizing today's post: Using your photography skills to capture this beautiful fall season, peace and contentment, & carrying your camera with you always.

fall photography
shot at 48mm, ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/320th of a sec, ambient light only, morning sun
Nothing comes close to the beauty of the fall season. We look forward to it every year, and this year has been especially nice. The exquisite colors produced by the vast amount of trees in our area have been prolonged by several weeks of mild weather. Other years I remember the season being cut short by an early frost or a period of heavy rains (which knocks the brittle leaves off their branches).

fall photography
shot at 150mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/250th of a sec, ambient light only, morning sun, WB set to shade
There have been so many opportunities to take photographs of the beautiful foliage around central and eastern NC. It has been hard to know what to shoot, and when to shoot it, honestly. There are times that a camera doesn't do the scene justice. When those times come about, it is best to simply take a "mental snapshot" and just enjoy the moment (more on that here).

I preach all the time to my readers that if they...YOU...will learn to use that dormant camera of yours and shoot things that naturally bring you happiness, cool things will happen. Such as? Your level of peace and contentment rise. And in such a busy life today, we need all the little nuggets of peace we can get. Amen? Yes.

On that note, today I thought I'd share a sample of the photos I have taken over the past few weeks. These are images that have made me happy, and that have brought me peace and contentment.

fall photography
shot at 75mm, ISO 400, f/5, 1/800th of a sec, ambient light only, afternoon sun
The two best times to photograph anything outdoors (if you have your choice) is either early morning or late in the day. When the sun is low on the horizon, you'll get the best results, every time.

The first two images at the top of the page were shot early in the morning just after the sun had peaked over the treeline at our home. Notice in the second photo, you'll see the steam rising off the roof as the early morning sun starts to warm things up a bit. Nice little effect. 

fall photograpy
shot at 24mm, ISO 400, f/11, 1/25th of a second, ambient light only
These last 2 photographs were shot late in the day as the sun was setting. I literally had to pull over on the side of the road while driving one Sunday afternoon to "take in" the beauty of the treeline. And since I had my camera with me--of course--I was able to capture what I saw. [Read the Camerawith! Challenge here for more on taking your camera with you all the time.] 

I certainly hope that you have taken the time to appreciate the beauty in nature with the fall season this year. If not, there's still a little time left. Take a drive down a long stretch of highway this weekend. Bring your camera and give yourself a little extra time. Test your photography skills a bit and just play. 

When you get home, you just may find that you have increased your level of peace and contentment...if only ever-so-slightly. 

Thanks for reading, and have a great Friday!

Brant
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Friday, November 14, 2014

Happiness In The Little Things

Summarizing today's post : Finding happiness in the little things, family time, capturing these awesome little experiences with your photography skills, & some photo tips for outdoor shooting.

photography, picnic
shot at 32mm, ISO 200, f/11, 1/250th of a second, on-camera fill balanced with ambient light
A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to go on a quick little picnic. It was a gorgeous 65-degree day with hardly any clouds in the sky. We took advantage of the opportunity and headed down to the "Town Commons" in Greenville, NC.

photography, picnic
shot at 36mm, ISO 200, f/11, 1/250th of a second, on-camera fill balanced with ambient light
When we arrived, we immediately headed down to the water's edge (Tar River) and found a nice spot to spread out our blanket. Since we had a stiff breeze coming out of the north, we situated ourselves so that we were mostly in the sun. Nice and comfy

I, of course, had my camera with me hoping that we might see some early fall colors, but none to be found just yet. That's okay because I had a couple of models right ready to pose for me :) 

I put my camera to good use and captured our fun day. Talk about happiness in the simple things... nothing could be simpler than a picnic, yet it turned out to be so much fun

pinic, photography
shot at 70mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/320th of a second, ambient light only
I have touched on taking photos in fun-on sun before (see here) and I utilized some of these same techniques here. In the 2 images at top I added a little on-camera fill lighting from my flash to lighten the shadows across Pinky and Gavin's faces. Nothing fancy, just something to balance the ambient light.

picnic, photography
shot at 18mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/250th of a second, on-camera fill balanced with ambient light
My sweet Pinky had to grab the camera and play a little herself, as she couldn't stand for me not to be in some of the shots. She did an awesome job in capturing Little Bud and I horse-playing a bit, don't you think? I think this photo of Gavin's expression is the best of all, so natural and not forced. 

It was such a fun and priceless day. Simple and inexpensive fun with the family.

When was the last time you went on a picnic? You ought to try it as we still have some nice fall days left before heading into the winter months. Carry your camera of course and capture YOUR happiness along the way.

Thanks for reading and have a nice Friday!

Brant
     
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Friday, November 7, 2014

New Website: BrantThompson.com

Summarizing today's post: The introduction of the new website and defining my purpose.


Happy Friday!

This is a quick post to let my readers know that from this point forward I will be linking to my blog thru my new website, which is found HERE.

To say the least, this site is a work in progress. It is sufficient, however, to allow you to see it and for me not be too embarrassed over it. I doubt I will ever be completely satisfied with it, but that is just how I am!

Go check it out and see what you think. Browse around my About page (found HERE) and let me know if you see any typos. On this page you will find that I am defining my purpose for what I am doing here.

I trust my readers to let me know what you think. If you have any recommendations, let me know! 

Have a great day and thanks for reading!

Brant




Monday, November 3, 2014

Photo Tip Monday: Changing Perspective

Summarizing today's post: Photo tips and tricks, changing your position/angle as photographer, & giving a new perspective. 

sun behind tree
shot at 18mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/250th of a sec, ambient light only
I hope everyone had a nice and safe Halloween and a wonderful weekend that followed. Its so hard to believe that it is November already...Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. Then Christmas! Wow. Time is flying by, and 2014 will be in the history books before long. Mercy. 

I want fall to hold on a little longer. My wife and I love this time of year when the leaves are bright and colorful. May it stay a while before wintertime hits.

Okay, today is Monday, and that means I have a quick photo tip for you! Let's talk about changing perspective. 

On a recent trip to the park a couple weeks ago, I went out with the camera in hopes of catching a few leaves turning colors. I was a bit too early, the foliage was mostly still green. Dang it. I wasn't going to NOT shoot something tho. [If you have read my post on the Camerawith! Challenge, you'll know why (see here). In short...when you bring along your camera, you will look for things to photograph!]

There was a beautiful little cedar tree in the corner of the park that interested me. Instead of photographing it head-on, I decided to change my perspective and walk underneath it and shoot looking straight up. With the sun shining thru its needles, it turned out to be a pretty interesting shot. I thought I'd share it with you. Technically speaking, it is not correctly exposed (its a little too dark and contrasty), but I like it. It would look nice on a canvas as more of an artsy piece, what do you think?

Photographing head-on would have yielded just an everyday looking tree. Especially since the sun was directly overhead almost (never the best time to take an outdoor shot).

Sometimes it's just about changing your camera position and your perspective. 

Don't be scared to lay on your back under a tree and try this sometime. You'll be amazed at what you can produce. Play with your shutter speed if you have a DSLR camera to get different results. Even if you have a point-and-shoot camera, you can still have a fun time. 

Just go play.

Thanks for reading and have a great Monday!

Brant

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Capturing Our Happiness: Off To The Zoo!

Summarizing today's post: Photos from our recent trip to the NC Zoo, happiness in photography, & some tips for taking full-on sun photographs.

zoo, family
shot at 50mm, ISO 200, f/10, 1/200th of a second, ambient light mixed with on-camera fill
It has been forever since I have been to a zoo. I remember going when I was in middle school, but can't remember exactly when or where (it was a field trip I believe). Talking to Pinky about it one day a few months ago, we decided to make a plan to go. She hadn't been in a very long time either. 

We did a little research, and decided it only made sense to go to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, since it is the closest place to us (here's the link if you are interested). It's a little more than an hour's drive from Durham...so convenient! Can't believe we've never been.

I think having kids gives you an excuse to do things you wouldn't otherwise do sometimes, and this was no exception. We talked it over with Gavin, and although he went to the NC Zoo a few years ago with his mom and stepdad, he was all excited about it. Hooray! 

African Lion
shot at 200mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/100th of a second
We arrived at the zoo at about noon on a Saturday and the weather was beautiful. We had loaded up with sunscreen because the sun was out in force. The temperature was very comfortable in the mid 70s, and we never got overheated at all during our trip. 

The photograph at the top of the page is of my two babies leaning up against the railing outside the lion's den. Shooting in full sun can be a challenge (see here). The first photo I took was horrible because Gavin and Pinky's faces turned out too dark (I tried using only available light). This was due in part to the hats they were wearing...it cast a nice dark shadow across their faces. 

I didn't have loads of camera equipment with me to solve this problem, so I simply used my on-camera flash to lighten their faces a bit. Problem solved. I used this technique thru-out the day whenever I wanted to take a photo of them when we were out in the sun. It's all about balancing available light with your own added light.

It makes me smile to look at that photograph. They were having a good time...can't you tell?

I had to include a photo of the king of the jungle as well. You can see this stellar African lion just relaxing in the shade. I had to zoom in on him because he was in the back of the den. He wasn't interested in socializing. 

Afrian elephant, zoo
shot at 170mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/500th of a sec, ambient light only
Now it was a different story with this sweet girl! This young African elephant was all playful as her trainer was telling the crowd a few things about her daily routine. Talk about personality...she had it. It was awesome to see this beautiful 800 pound creature interact with him (and with us as well).

There was so much to see, I could never show it all here. So much to enjoy, to learn, to soak in. It was a nice day to say the least. I remembered to take my camera to capture some of it, and therefore we can look back and smile from time to time. Happiness increased and prolonged by photography? Yes, I would say! I'm still smiling :)


ice cream, zoo
shot at 56mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/80th of a sec, ambient light only
Before leaving we stopped to enjoy some ice cream from one of the local vendors. What a refreshing treat. Little bud sure did enjoy it (may have been the best part of the trip for him!)

It was a nice day. We encourage you to try it sometime!

Some tips for your trip to the zoo:
  • Take sunscreen and a hat
  • Wear some good walking shoes
  • Take a bottle or two of water and pack it in a backpack, it'll save you a buck (or twelve!)
  • Plan your trip in fall or spring
  • Arrive early
  • Remember your camera!
Thanks for reading, and have a nice Friday!

Brant

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Wore Out

Summarizing today's post: Working too much, dealing with stress, and a wildlife photograph thrown in for good measure.

shot at 200mm, ISO 200, f/11, 1/250th of a sec, full sun
Some days at work are harder than others. I seem to have had a string of such days myself, and I am flat wore out. The stress level is peaking. Not much time to post today unfortunately.

I bet that's never happened to you has it? Nah. 

I feel like the goose in the above photograph...I could take nap right where I stand sometimes, I truly believe. [I took this photo about 4 years ago at a local park and just stumbled upon it today. I thought it was fitting.]

I wish, for everyone's sake, that we could all have "good" and non-stressful days at work every single day. But that's just not in the cards. We are going to have some bad days mixed in there from time to time.

The best advice I can give you for dealing with stress at work is to simply take one thing at a time. Forget that "one day at the time" cliche...sometimes is comes down to taking one hour at the time, or even one minute at the time.

And remember, the longest day will have an end. 

Thanks for reading, and happy Friday of course!

Brant

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Photo Tip Monday: Keep Your Background Clean

Summarizing today's post: Photo tip for wildlife photography, snapshots, & carrying your camera with you always.

colorful bug photo
snapshot using available light
Happy Monday! 

Yes, even if you have to get up and go to work this morning like most of the world, it's still a happy Monday. You're vertical aren't you? Some folks are not so lucky!

Let's be thankful to the good Lord that we have jobs to go to so we can keep the heat on and food on the table. I know I am.

So it's Monday and that means I have a quick photo tip for you. This one is so simple, but important none-the-less.  

Take a look at this beautiful little insect at the left. I had stepped outside one day at work and saw this colorful little creature just sitting on the side of a car taking a break. Of course...I had to take a quick photo.

Look at him, then look at his surroundings. What don't you see? 

How about clutter and even dirt particles in the background? That's right.

How much would it have detracted from the photograph of this little guy if the surface he was perched on was filthy? Probably a lot. If he were sitting on the side of a nasty car that hadn't been washed in 3 years, it may have been enough for me not to even bother to take the shot. The dirty surface would have easily taken away from his beauty. I would have just enjoyed a few seconds of watching him and then walked off in that case.

So this got me to thinking. While there's not a whole lot I can do about the cleanliness of things away from home, I can do something about it on my own property. How many times has it happened that I haven't taken a photo of some cool-looking creature that landed on my patio table because I hadn't taken the time to wipe it down in a a week or so? (Admittedly, I still may have snapped a photo, but I'd never show it to anyone!)

Photo tip for today: Take notice of where you often see insects and wildlife stop off around your home (for the sole purpose, of course, to allow you to take a photo of them). Then make it a point to wipe down those areas from time to time and remove the clutter. You will thank yourself later when your little friends return.

You'll make your snapshot (which is all that my photo above really is, truthfully) into a much more appealing piece of art that you can show off.

Have a great Monday and thanks for reading. Don't forget to carry your camera with you today as you walk out the door!

Brant

Wow, look at you...you made it all the way thru my post! I really appreciate you as a reader. Don't forget to register your email for automatic updates up at the top. Please pass this blog post on to your friends using the Tweet, Facebook, and Google+ buttons. That would be awesome.