Often enough, there is enough colour and life in one's own garden to capture. A rare respite for me today in the blistering heat as I shot a few of the flowers in the garden. I used the Sigma 18-50mm F/2.8 HSM Macro. An excellent lens that I don't use that much and will therefore try to sell. I hope that it finds a more worthwhile home. The shots were mostly taken at a wide aperture, around F/4, where this lens is still very sharp. The backgrounds are especially unobtrusive. No filters were used.I tried to exploit the sunlight on the petals in some instances, in other cases, I simply tried to achieve a decent contrast with the background.
Despite the scorching heat, it was a great day out at Hatfield House, now celebrating its 400th year. The grounds are extensive and very well tended, and populated with many sculptures from the late Henry Spencer Moore. The main house did not allow any photography inside, but was thoroughly fascinating, with many historical artefacts, including one of the first copies of the King James' Bible (the most published book in the English language).There was also a terrific sundial, with directions to all over the planet, and a farm, with very tame goats and a very muddy pig.I used a number of lenses, the Tokina 11-16mm F/2.8, the Nikkors 50mm F/1.4 AF-D, and the 18-200 VR.
These are some of my friend Bizhan's excellent photos. Bizhan used both his Canon 70-300mm IS USM, and his 60mm F/2.8 Macro lens. He has captured the animals in some terrific lighting and especially the eyes are captivating.Enjoy!
My friend Bizhan and I visited Linton Zoo in Cambridge last week to get some animal photos. Striking a good balance between containing and conserving the animals and allowing visitors to fully appreciate them is undeniably difficult as we discovered at Linton Zoo. We didn't get to see the snow leopards or the lions, even though they were supposedly there. But we managed to capture a few shots of the available exhibits.I used my Nikkor 70-200mm F/2.8 VRII for all the shots, sometimes using a 1.7x teleconverter.
Lisa and myself have had quite a bit of experience photographing in zoos, and have visited some of the top zoos and animal parks in the world. A few days ago, Lisa and her friends went to Southwick Zoo in Massachusetts. Lisa managed to get some fantastic shots, typically placing the animal in a natural frame with very little, if anything, to suggest an enclosure. She demonstrates that the best way to photograph an animal in captivity is to carefully and judiciously frame the animal so as to place it in as natural a setting as possible.Lisa managed to capture not only the entire animal in its environment, but some stunning close-ups too. Sometimes, getting in close also makes a powerful image.I have edited a few of her shots in Aperture and presented them here.
Following on from Lisa's terrific butterfly shots in the previous post, my friend Bizhan has contributed his own exceptional butterfly images here. They were taken at Butterfly World in Hertfordshire, as yet unfinished, but once completed, will be the largest butterfly experience on Earth.Bizhan used only his 60mm F/2.8 macro lens and ring-flash, and it is a testament to his vision and ability that he was able to make such a variety of interesting shots with just the one lens.His careful use of the ring-flash has rendered the butterflies sharp and well isolated against the diffused background.
Lisa took some amazing photos in the Butterfly Garden at the Boston Museum of Science this past weekend. They are terrific shots and I have thus decided to post them here.Lisa managed to get close, carefully select her backgrounds and keep the eyes in sharp focus. She used the Nikon D5000 with the 18-55mm VR lens, which is not only pretty sharp, but has a pretty good close-focusing ability.
To describe Cambodia/Vietnam in a paragraph is a tough challenge. There was so much to see and do. A short flight from Hong Kong took me to Siem Reap, where the largest temples in the world reside. The temples cover a vast area of land within the cleared jungle so one has to get around using the tuktuk . The sheer scale of each temple makes you wonder how a more primitive society constructed such buildings. Phnom Penh is a much more suffocating city, attributable to both the humidity and the people harassing you on the streets. Phnom Penh offered a more sombre touristic visit with their Killing Fields and Prison S21 tours, exhibiting the brutal regime of the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge was responsible for the largest proportional genocide of the 20th Century, murdering over 20% of Cambodia's population. Hanoi was a little lighter ; it's colourful colonial architecture and wide roads is a left over from their French oppressors. Again, examples of torture were displayed at the Hanoi Hilton, as well as anti-American propaganda. The art gallery was surprisingly one of the highlights. Beautiful Vietnamese artwork, scarcely found in the West. Visiting the embalmed Ho Chi Mihn was a strange experience , watching hundreds of locals queuing to pay their respects to their revered leader. His museum was even more bizarre as there was no order to it and it was difficult to follow but for 25c it wasn't a waste. The trip was rounded off with a junk boat trip to Ha Long Bay, gliding past gigantic rocks, some of which housed caves that told stories with their stalagmites and stalagtites formations, and venturing out to a floating fishing village.
I have posted some of Lisa’s photos here from our New York trip. She really took some exceptional shots in my humble opinion, capturing the places we went to and the things we saw with great vision and enthusiasm. Lisa took terrific pictures of everything, but her photos from the Bronx Zoo were particularly exceptional, especially of the lions and butterflies. But not to be limited to just animals, Lisa also took some truly terrific shots of the carnival that we happened upon on 5th Avenue. In my view, she captured the dancers in a most intimate flattering way, showing moments that draw the viewer into the movement and colour, rather than just spectating from afar. I hardly ever photograph people, so I learned a few things from her shots!
New York City is somewhere that I was always reluctant to return to after my first trip there exactly 11 years ago. I’m not entirely sure why that was, but any reservations I had were entirely unfounded, as my recent trip there with my friend Lisa proved to be another amazing vacation for both of us. It was for the occasion of Lisa’s birthday, and we had entirely too much fun! And not least because my New Yorker friends, Gene and Ralph, took such amazing care of us during our brief stay.Gene had been so typically considerate in providing us with passes to museums and the botanical gardens, the latter of which we didn’t have time to see. And Ralph, a New York detective, chauffeured us around like a police escort in his unmarked squad car, clearing traffic with a combination of sirens and microphone! Both joined us for dinners, the most delicious of which was a Korean restaurant on 34th Street (also known as Korea Street), a first for both Lise and myself. We cannot thank Gene and Ralph enough for their kindness.