Sunday, July 20, 2014

Photo Pfun

Took a two hour hike at Tanglewood Nature Center near Elmira this Sunday morning. Did not want to be loaded down with a lot of weight, so I only used my iPhone camera. It's "pfun" to see what can be done with a really simple camera.  The hike would have been an hour, if I  had not discovered so many interesting subjects to photograph.  (I've had some fun editing too, rendering some to pen and watercolor versions.)

Once I got to the steep sidehill portion of the trail, I discovered a lot of fungi. Love the variety.  I think this might be one of the Amanita genus.

Another possible Amanita was nearby. It has the coarse cap surface characteristic of them.

There are two secrets to these photos. First I turn the smart phone upside down so the lens is very low to the ground and second I get very close, usually 5 inches away. Resting the phone on the ground keeps motion to a minimum too.   I know that the closest possible focus distance is 4 inches, and stay close to that limit.  I always want the subject to be a strong element in the composition.

There were other discoveries. This toad was unable to get past a row of logs placed to mark the trail.  After photographing him, I placed him on the other side. The never-smiling face reminds me of a fifth grade teacher that I had; never a smile.

Another nice surprise was the Indian Pipes that are flowering at present.  Lacking chlorophyll, they are essentially colorless.

As I climbed up the steep  hill towards the parking lot, I came upon the first meadow and found a nice Swallowtail Butterfly.  Moving slowing, I was able to inch to within inches of it before it chose to fly away.  Aren't they beautiful?

This worked out to be a nice hike.  I was not loaded down with a heavy camera, and there were plenty of reasons to pause along the way and avoid overheating.

This outing explains the popularity of the smart phone camera.  It is always with me, and it is "good enough" when I stay within the limits of a wide angle lens.  The two keys are to get close and to pick locations with good light that is out of the direct sunlight. I can't do large prints nor reach out to skittish animals, or photograph birds in flight.  But often, it is "good enough" and using it builds my skills.

Paul Schmitt

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