Feb 282014

Three Vases ©2014 April Siegfried

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Sunlight changes so quickly. This moment made me stop, and then run for my camera—adjusting settings on the fly. There was no time for a tripod setup.

On first review, I was dismayed to see that even at f11—the best exposure I could capture handheld—focus on the foreground vases was soft. Then I realized what actually caught my eye was the background shadow and light, and that is sharp. Yes!

This camera has been my best friend for 6 years now, and is showing some signs of age. I know it so well I can shoot without thinking, and it’s going to be hard to move to a new system. However, the Fuji XT-1 sounds very appealing and would bring me full circle to my first love affair with digital: Fujifilm FinePix E900 (dating back to 2006). I still have that one, though it was re-purposed for a “shoebox camera” in 2009.


Nikon D300; 1/15 sec @ f11, ISO 3200 (handheld);
18-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 @ 112mm (168mm EFL); focus distance 1.5m

May 212013

Enjoying the light thrown by a green glass vase received from my husband for my birthday. It’s not just for flowers!

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Jul 062012

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I’m in Boulder, Colorado right now for another Miksang workshop. Yesterday, my husband and I moved up to the place we’re staying in the mountains. This was one sight which greeted me this morning. 🙂

Nikon D300; 1/180 sec @ f11, ISO 200 (handheld);
81-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 @ 65mm (97mm EFL); focus distance 3.16m

May 092012

Spring Light
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Nikon D300; f11 @ 1/350 sec, ISO 200 (handheld);
70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 220mm (330mm EFL); focus distance 1.68m

Prairie Fire
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Nikon D300; f9.5 @ 1/125sec, ISO 3200 (handheld);
70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 165mm (247m EFL); focus distance 1.68m

“Dappled light” sounds pretty, doesn’t it? But high contrast and hard shadows have led me to dismiss it in favor of photographing subjects under soft, even lighting…

Until last month, during the Callway Gardens workshop, when a participant opened my eyes to possibilities I’d been ignoring. She was photographing the color and reflections of azaleas along a riverbank, playing with impressionist ripples in the water. What especially struck me, however, was the way she’d been drawn to one particular mound of blossoms spotlit by sunshine through a break in the surrounding trees. Ah-hah.

Thank you, for showing me the light!

Apr 122012

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Photographed in Callaway Gardens, the variation below was shot just one minute earlier.

Nikon D300; f11 @ 1/125 sec, ISO 400 (handheld);
70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm (450mm EFL); focus distance 1.68m

Feb 122012

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Today I landed on a site called The Quiet Place. Go ahead, take a peek. The link will open in a new window/tab; I’ll wait… 🙂

In that Quiet Place, gazing out my window and trying to do absolutely nothing, I thought “Don’t even look for a photo.”

Then this appeared.

Nikon D300; f8 @ 1/125 sec, ISO 320 (handheld);
18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 200mm (300mm EFL); focus distance 14.96m

May 282011

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With the forecast calling for partly cloudy skies, I decided to visit the Chicago Botanic Garden. Wouldn’t you know,  it turned severely clear instead! So I focused on the assignment “light” from The Practice of Contemplative Photography.

This was photographed in the Sensory Garden, which “celebrates fragrances, sounds, colors, textures, and movement.” Taking pictures was a great excuse to spend a lot of time in those surroundings.

Nikon D300; f8 @ 1/500 sec, ISO 200 (handheld);
18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 200mm (300mm EFL); focus distance 2.66m

Feb 262011

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I love the Neotec tripod.

Walking upstairs the other evening in our home, I was stopped by color in this scene. Light from the setting sun was changing rapidly, so I ran down to grab my camera which was already mounted on the tripod with a cable release attached. It took no time to find the right vantage point and set the legs on different steps. Even working that quickly, there was time for only two exposures before the moment was gone.

Noise was a problem during post-processing, despite in-camera long-exposure noise reduction. I exposed for highlights to capture the window as I saw it—spot meter +2EV—and let shadows fall where they may. In hindsight, to “expose right” even further and darken later would have been a better approach. Then, however, I’d have to rely on memory as a reference and try not to fall into the trap of opening everything up for detail.

Nikon D300; f9.5 @ 20sec, ISO 200 (tripod);
18.0-200.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 44mm (66mm EFL); focus distance 5.96m