I shot this a few weeks ago as the "super moon" rose above the Housatonic River. The moon was hidden by clouds when it was at the horizon but the sky cleared as the moon rose. I shot this with a 70-300mm Nikkor lens at 300mm (450mm on my Nikon body). I shot the image in RAW and adjusted the white balance slightly toward blue in the conversion. My best advice for exposing the full moon is to use minus exposure compensation to keep the moon from burning out to white. I used -1.33 stops of exposure for this frame. There's going to be another big moon in September, so go find a nice foreground and be ready at twilight--the moon usually rises just as the sun is setting.
My new book on color The Photographer's Master Guide to Color is available on Amazon--and it's about a month early, which is great. I started the book just about a year ago and finished it this past winter. The book covers a lot of ground and begins with a survey on the history of color theory, starting with the earliest cave painters and their attempts to mix colors and then goes into some detail about Sir Isaac Newton and his creation of the first color wheel. The book then takes a fairly detailed look at the way that color can be used, exploited and manipulated in color photography. It is, in short, a pretty comprehensive look at the subject of color.
I think the most interesting thing in writing this book was the research that I did before I actually began writing. It was a very hot and humid July when I first started the research and I spent about two months on my couch in front of a fan reading every book I could find about color and color theory. While I thought I was already pretty well versed in the topic before I started my research, I learned so very much--and it's a fascinating story. There is nothing like having an excuse to focus on one interesting subject for a long period of time.
I'm lucky that I live near a lot of beaches and close to a tidal river so there are always a lot of shorebirds to photograph. While a lot of photographers think that having huge telephoto lenses is the key to getting close to this kind of wildlife (and long lenses will certainly make your life easier), the truth is that shorebirds are very accustomed to human company and they'll tolerate your presence more than you might think. The trick to getting close though is to approach slowly and appear to be moving somewhat randomly.
Don't just hop out of the car and make a beeline for your subject, for instance. Instead, get out of the car slowly and stand beside it for a few minutes. Then, gradually make your way closer to the shore by walking in a somewhat circuitous route--edging closer and closer. And try to appear uninterested in your subject: never look directly at it, avoid eye contact and try to look at the ground, the sky--anything but the subject. Hesitate every few feet until you're close enough to shoot but not so close that you'll scare off your subject. All animals have a "circle of safety" where they feel secure and as long as you stay outside of that distance they will accept you as a reasonable risk. You can tell the instant you've crossed into that circle because the bird will stop hunting, will pay more attention to you, or may just up and fly away. If that happens, make a mental note of the distance and use that information next time.
Getting close to any wild animals, and shorebirds in particular, is a matter of patience and letting your subjects gain confidence that you are not an immediate threat. In shooting this egret I parked the car about 40' away and was able to gradually move to within less than 10' in under 20 minutes. Once I reached what I felt was the bird's safe zone, I stopped moving and just became a part of the background. I was able to shoot for nearly a half an hour while the egret fished.
I've been playing a lot with the "Oil Painting" filter that I discovered in Photoshop CC. I started a subscription to Photoshop when I got my new Mac Mini and I'm kind of enjoying not having to buy the software. This filter is a blast and very addictive--it allows you to apply an oil-painting look to your images very simply. But click the photos to see the full effect--you really can't see it on a phone or as a small image. I'm sure lots of people think it's tacky and it probably is, but I love it anyway. Lots of fun! Cool.
Recently I've begun writing for the wonderful DPReview website, certainly among the biggest and best photo sites in the world. My first published piece is a profile of the amazing young Canadian photographer Benjamin Von Wong. Ben is not only an incredibly talented, creative and hardworking artist but he has quite an inspiring story to tell: he quit his day job as a mining engineer just over two years ago and in that short time has won client and fans all over the planet. His behind-the-scenes videos, showing how he creates his amazing images, have had nearly two million views on Youtube! Ben's photos are a wild mix of surrealistic vision and hyper-reality and he uses every creative device at his disposal, including walls of fire, elaborate costumes and sets and a broad range of very talented models and actors. But what will blow you away most of all is the fact that the vast majority of his images are created right in front of the lens--there is almost no Photoshop!
My DPReview profile will run in two parts and the second part will publish on Mach 15, 2014. Also, be sure to check out Ben's own site for galleries of his wild photos. By the way, the cool photo here is a self portrait by Von Wong--photographer, visual engineer, storyteller...and fire spitter! (Photo Copyright Benjamin Von Wong, courtesy of the photographer.)