One of the more interesting projects I’ve explored in photography is shooting birefringent crystals. Birefringence is the splitting of a light ray by a crystal into two components that are at different velocities and are polarized at right angles to each other. What this means in terms of photography is that when light passes through the crystals, you can see rainbow colors in the unique and beautiful forms that make up the crystal.
I live in Tennessee, and in this part of the country it doesn’t get cold enough in autumn to see colorful leaves frozen in local rivers. When I first moved here, I had been hoping to get shots like that, and I was disappointed that it wasn’t going to happen. I came up with an idea to get the shots I wanted, though, and it worked out quite well. I was able to create artistic and colorful macro shots in which I had total control as opposed to finding beautiful patterns serendipitously.
It is disappointing when you travel somewhere hoping for beautiful weather, and instead of sunrise and sunset lighting, beautiful cloud formations, and comfortable temperatures, you face a rainstorm, a dull sky, or even a blizzard. While the pictures that you had in mind may not be possible, there are always great photographs that can be taken. It’s just a matter of expanding your thinking.
The ultra intense colors emitted from phosphorescent paint under a blacklight grab everyone’s attention. These colors exist nowhere in nature and any photographer who loves to think outside the box should experiment with the amazing possibilities this technique affords.
Architecture is one of the subjects photographers love to shoot at home and abroad. Even if your passion is shooting landscapes or people, it’s hard not to get excited by a stunning work of architecture such as the B’hai temple in New Delhi or the twin towers in Kuala Lumpur. From impressive city skylines like New York and Philadelphia to a Navajo Hogan in Monument Valley, and from the interior of a Buddhist temple in Thailand to a Bavarian castle in Germany, architecture is awe inspiring. It is art in the form of stone, steel, wood, and glass. It is often a glimpse into our past, and it is so varied throughout the world that it is endlessly intriguing.
If this were a perfect world, ice cream would be good for you, celery would be fattening, and camera manufacturers would arrange the controls on all flash units in the same place. It’s too bad on all accounts.
Even though portable flash units have buttons and dials in different places, the basic functions of the various features are the same. In this section, I will go over them and explain when to use them. You will probably need to consult the manual that came with your flash to identify where the features I discuss reside on your unit. Whenever you travel away from home, it’s a good idea to have this manual with you because if you don’t use a function for a while, it’s easy to forget where it is and how to use it.
Photographers are always concerned that their pictures turn out as sharp as possible. Photography has a seemingly endless number of challenges, but sharpness is number one. No matter how incredible your photo opportunity is, if the images are not sharp, nothing else matters. The pictures will be worthless. Too often images are almost sharp, and this is particularly vexing because if only you had paid attention to one tiny detail or two, they would be perfect.
I’m sure you have been intrigued by the rainbow colors you can see in CDs and DVDs. As a visual person, it’s hard not to be attracted to these intense, supersaturated colors. I’ve tried to photograph them but was never happy with the results until I experimented with placing drops of water on the surface of the disc. That changed everything. The colors of the CD combined with the defined shapes of the drops in amazing ways, and this was even more captivating than just seeing color in the disc.
We don’t normally speak of soft drinks and flowers in the same sentence, but there is a very cool technique that brings these two unlikely subjects together. Actually, you can use any kind of seltzer water or flavored water that is carbonated. Put the carbonated clear liquid in a glass or plastic container with clear and flat sides, and when you submerge the flowers in the liquid the bubbles cling to the petals. This is a unique subject matter for macro work, and with dramatic lighting the results can be quite beautiful.
Photographing small birds is extremely difficult because we can’t get close enough to them to fill a significant part of the frame and they are often so fast that it’s impossible to focus quickly enough. Autofocus is a great tool, and the AI Servo feature works sometimes, but neither can keep up with fast-flying birds.