For a recent Camera Club Contest with the theme of Still Life, I created this photo.

I used a SB800 Camera right high though white umbrella with black backdrop triggered remotely via Nikon CLS.

I shot five shots focusing on first the teacup, then the flower, then the marmalade jar, then the top left and right corners of the frame. I used Helicon Focus to put all of these photos together into one phot where everything was in focus. This gave me much better depth of field.

I did have a minor problem where the top right of the frame was crooked. I used Photoshop to correct by Transform->skew.

Finally I converted to monochrome using Lightroom 2.

Here is the setup Shot.

Dundee Marmalade and Tea

I entered this in the Arundel Camera Club Unlimited Monochrome Still Life Competition on 02/11/2009 and won Fourth Place.

ACC 4th

Viera Wetlands

Northern Harrier, originally uploaded by bmthomas.

Again based on a tip from Middleton Evans, we included a visit to the Viera Wetlands  during our vacation to Florida. We spent three hours in the morning and a couple hours at sunset at the Viera Wetlands.
The layout is great. You can drive around a number of man-made ponds.

We saw lots of Common Moorhens and Coots, a number of hawks that I think were Northern Harriers, Snowy Egrets, Anhigas were on every stump and tree, Great White Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, Greem Herons, White Ibis, Tricolored Herons, Black Vultures, Osprey, a few Ring-necked ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Blue winged Teal, a pair of Sandhill Cranes, Belted Kingfishers, Wood Stork. There were even a few alligators and armadillos.

We enjoyed Viera Wetlands much more than Merritt Island NWR. We would defeintely go back and would recommend a visit.


Originally uploaded by bmthomas

Middleton Evans told me we should visit Gatorland this week while in Florida. Sure enough they had a “Dawn to Dusk” pass for around $30 that allowed entrance at 0730 in the morning well before the park opens at 0900 and we were able to stay until sunset well after the park closes. We spent most of the day in their rookery which is in the aligator breeding swamp area. Mike Godwin showed us around and really made us feel welcome. You can find his blog here. Turned out there are what seems like hundreds of Great White Egrets nesting there. At sunset thousands more fly in to roost including Little Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, White Ibis, and Snowy Egrets. Well worth a day and the money. There were also lots of aligators and a couple of endagered American Crocodiles. We got to photograph the crocodiles mating which is a farely rare site.  This was definitely worth a visit.


Great Horned Owl

Originally uploaded by bmthomas

Here are some photos from today’s photo shoot at Carrie Murray Nature Center. There were aa nummber of folks from the Arundel Camera Club and one from the Bowie-Crofton Camera Club. They started out with a couple of great horned owls, then a barred owl, followed by a barn owl. I had to leave before they brought out the screech owls, the red tailed hawk, or the turkey vulture. They always move the birds to photogenic perches based on suggestions from the photographers. They also strive to hide the leashes used to secure them to the trees. All of these birds are rescued.

Great Horned Owl Great Horned Owl

Peppers, originally uploaded by bmthomas.

To light the peppers I used a SB800 Camera right high though white umbrella full power. To light the background and turn it green I used a green gel on a Metz 48 at 1/2 power aimed at a black backdrop. Black backdrops seem to work better at reflecting the gel color. I sat the peppers on a sheet of black Plexiglas. Black plexi seems to work much better than glass on a black cloth. See the following photo for the setup shot.


Playing With Smoke

Smoking Pipe

Smoking Gun #1

I wanted to create an image of a smoking gun for a still life. I had a SB800 1/8 power on a stand and snooted to camera left to light up the gun and knife and behind/below the table is a Metz 48 on 1/8 power also snooted pointed up and back towards camera to light the smoke. See the following photos for the setup.

Smoking Gun #1 Setup (back)

Smoking Gun #1 Setup (front)

Since I already was shooting smoke I thought I would go ahead ang get a shot of a smoking pipe. The only difference between the smoking gun and the smoking pipe shot is that I turned off the SB800 and used a gold reflector to reflect the light from teh Metz 48 back down to illuminate the pipe.

Red Tailed Hawk
Originally uploaded by bmthomas

If you want a great opportunity to photograph raptors, and you live near Baltimore, this is your chance. The Carrie Murray Nature Center in Baltimore usually hosts raptor photo shoots twice a year. Once in the fall and once in the spring. For the first time ever they are going to host a winter photo shoot featuring resident birds of prey. In the past they have had a barn owl, a red tailed hawks, a great horned owl, a raven, a kite, screech owls, and a vulture.

Barn Owl

Screech Owl


For more photos check out the Carrie Murray Nature Center Raptor Shoots

Saturday February 7, 2009

From 10 am- 3 pm

Cost is $20 for adults and $8 for children( 12 and under)

Dress for the weather! The photo shoot will take place rain or shine. No pet Please.

Please Pre-register by calling:

Lloyd Tydings

phone: (410) 396-0808

fax: (410) 265-1085

Email: Lloyd.tydings@baltimorecity.gov

I started playing around with HDR photography last year after Ferrell McCollough came and did a lecture at my camera club. Check out his book Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Digital Photography.

So what is HDR? Well basically the range of light that a camera’s sensor can process is limited. The challenge is to get details in the the highlights and the darks without blowing out the highlights or turning the darks black. The classic example is to get details in the forground photographers often blow out the sky creating ugly white detail free skies. Often photographers can compensate with graduated filters to reduce the range of stops of lights in a scene.

Here is an example. I had to bracket my exposure in this scene of the Western Maryland Railroad. I took the following seven shots to create the above photo. Note that none of the photos alone capture the scene but combining the best of each, I was able to create the above.


F7.1 Shutter 1/320 sec ISO 200 24mm Exp Bias 0



F7.1 Shutter 1/2500 sec ISO 200 24mm Exp Bias -3 F7.1 Shutter 1/160 sec ISO 200 24mm Exp Bias +1



F7.1 Shutter 1/1250 sec ISO 200 24mm Exp Bias -2 F7.1 Shutter 1/80 sec ISO 200 24mm Exp Bias +2



F7.1 Shutter 1/640 sec ISO 200 24mm Exp Bias -1 F7.1 Shutter 1/40 sec ISO 200 24mm Exp Bias +3

I used Photomatix Pro to combine these seven exposures into the final image. You can download a trial but it will watermark your images. Look for a discount on the purchase of Photomatix Pro at Ferrell McCollough’s website.

Assateague Snowy Owl

Assateague Snowy Owl, originally uploaded by bmthomas.

I spent the weekend on Assateage Island National Seashore in Maryland with my fellow photographers Dennis Wilson and Bob Leverton. A couple of weeks ago Middleton Evans came and gave a talk to the Arundel Camera Club.

After the lecture he told me we could find a couple of snowy owls wintering on Assateage. So this weekend we headed out with all our camera gear loaded in Bob’s 4WD. The snowy owls were easy to find. they perched on top of the sand dunes. I guess that gave them a good view to watch for predators and from which to hunt.

Guess who we ran into at the hotel…Middleton Evans. He had brought a few other photographers to see the owls. My thanks to Middleton for the tip. He has published some great books that I highly recommend Maryland’s Great Outdoors and Rhapsody in Blue.

For more of my photos of these owls visit my Assateague Set on Flickr.

Deer Silhouette

Deer Silhouette

Originally uploaded by bmthomas

I entered this in the Arundel Camera Club Novice Digital Open Competition on 1/14/2009 but did not place. The judge said I should clone out the birds in the sky. There are three birds that look like birds and are reflected in the water. According to the judge, all of the other birds looked like dirt and should be cloned out.

Here is a cleaned up version per the judge’s comments.

Deer Silhouette

What do you think?