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West Virginia Photo Op

West Virginia, in my opinion, is one of the best places to be a photographer. There is so much natural beauty here that there is always a place for a photo opportunity. There are plenty of mountains, forests, and rivers so finding wildlife is never a problem. In the spring and summer, there are literally hundreds of different species of wildflowers that bloom. On top of all that there are plenty of places to hike throughout the year to see these kinds of things.

Dolly Sods is definitely one of my favorite places to hike. A hiking trip there can last a day or even a few days. There are plenty of areas to sketch wildlife or to photograph it. In June there are plenty of wild blackberries to eat, but make sure you don’t eat anything unless you know for sure what it is!

West Virginia also has all four seasons, making it ideal for seasonal photography. In the fall, entire mountainsides can turns to various shades of reds, yellows, and oranges. In the winter, it usually snows creating a beautiful, icy landscape. The spring and summer provide a ton of different wildflowers and there are plenty of neat birds that do their spring/summer nesting in WV.

So if you don’t live in West Virginia, definitely take the chance to go see it someday. If you do live in West Virginia, than get out there and enjoy the beauty of ‘The Mountain State.’

Montani semper liberi

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Playing with focus

Trying out focuses while taking photographs can be a lot of fun. There are lots of different styles of photography that deal with altering the focus. One such style is Bokeh photography.

Sorry this post is so short today! It’s snowing a lot outside and focusing on anything else is tough for me today! Expect some new snow photos soon! Until then, enjoy these berries I shot yesterday.

Camera Angles

It’s amazing how a change of the camera angle can radically transform a photograph. A bird’s eye view of a forest will be quite different from eye level. I think the key to finding the right angle for a shot is to take lots of pictures from different angles. The old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ is definitely true when it comes to photography. Through practice, a photographer can find what angles work and what ones don’t.

The angle of a photo can be really telling for what type of story is being told. Unique angles tend to be more artsy and less formal. Unique angles may show the subject off to the side of the photo or perhaps looking straight down/up at the subject. This types of angles can also portray a first person view remarkably well, since people don’t always see things at the ‘perfect’ angle anyway.

The more traditional photo tends to be more formal. These types of angles tend to be more straight on and don’t really use camera tilt. While these typs of angles can be used in a more artistic manner, they are generally used to tell stories that can be found in a newspaper or other formal settings; but even now stories found in the news are starting to take more artistc photos. I find this development to be pretty amazing, since the traditional view of printed news seems to be somewhat stuffy and boring. I think it’s great that it’s trying to move in a more upbeat direction.

Now, I know what you’re thinking; “This is (more or less) a nature photography blog! Get back to the nature stuff!” So how can unique angles be used to photograph nature? For one thing, a unique angle can give an animal’s eye view at scenery. Here’s a pretty neat video of a college campus through an animal’s perspective. Also, because nature in itself is unique, I think the best way to portray nature is in a unique way. Looking straight down at a flower or looking straight up at a sycamore can be unique and look really cool too.

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So much for a snow storm

Unfortunately, the snow didn’t last. Deep down, I want around 6 ft of snow. I got a pretty nice shot of the snow coming down, and with it, my hopes were soaring. I tried to catch the flakes in motion, and I had some difficulty. For one thing, getting good lighting along with a shutter speed quick enough to catch the snowflakes in motion wasn’t quite possible for me. With the shutter speed moving at a such a quick pace, the camera wasn’t picking up enough light to create an image.

The cool thing about a shutter speed that doesn’t quite move fast is it can create an image that seems to stretch. This can be especially seen with lights, and I’ve seen some pretty cool photos of cars moving on a road with prolonged exposure. The longer exposure made the snowflakes in my photo look like sheets, and I kind of like the way it turned out.

My backyard when it's snowing.

Sadly, this is my backyard the morning after it snowed. The cold snow was no match for the warm sun and grass that desperately wanted to survive.

My backyard the morning after it snowed.

Snow!

So, it finally snowed where a live. It was only a little bit, but it did snow none the less. I think the snow really makes the world look amazing. The way it clings to branches give trees an icy appearance, making even the sturdiest elm tree look fragile. Snow can also make things look alien. A once familiar field can appear as a snowy, unfamiliar tundra when it finally snows.

Snow also brings out some pretty interesting photos of animals. Photos of animals in the snow can range from cutesy to visually stunning. Wolves in particular take great photos in the snow. If can catch birds in the snow, it can be particular stunning. The cardinal looks especially beautiful with his stark, red color against a mostly white background.

So expect some snow pictures to come, especially if we get a lot of snow!

Views from the Top

While photos of mountains and hills look nice, photos from the top of those mountains and hills look even better. While not quite an aerial view, this style of photography is something I really like. Not everyone can make it outside to climb hills and mountains, but I’d bet everyone would enjoy the view. I think photos like these can be used as great motivators to get people outside. “Look at these neat things I saw. You should see it for yourself too!”

As people, we like to see things with our own eyes. Sure, seeing pictures is fun, but deep down I think when people see a picture they enjoy they think to themselves, “I want to experience that for myself.” I know I’ve talked about what I think photography should be, but I think using photography as motivational tool is great. Anything that gets people to better themselves, in any way, I find to be tremendously valuable.

Morgantown from the top of Dorsey's Knob.

So get out there, and enjoy your own view from the top!

Photography and Technology

There is no real ‘best way’ when it comes to photography. Sure, there are things that work and things that don’t work, but a lot of that depends on the situation as well as the perspective. What does seem to be true, regardless of the situation is that a good mixture of technology and photography can make a good picture great. With the right technology, memorable photographs can be made.

Technology isn’t limited to the camera equipment you have either. Now, not only is a nice camera valuable to taking great photos; you also need some nice editing software and techniques.  A shadow can be made more bold, or it can be faded into the background. Photos once thought ruined can, for the most part, be salvaged to some level of usable degree.

One thing I worry about with all this technology when it comes to photography is whether it is too much or not. Complex pictures are nice, but a simple photo can be great. I worry that with all this new technology, simple pictures may get pushed to the wayside. Photographers trying to push themselves may over do it. Simple pictures may be overlooked to try a more complex picture, say of a sunset. While the sunset is very nice, there are hundreds of sunset pictures. A picture someone takes while hiking on the other hand can be both simple, and just as visually stunning as a sunset.

Underwater Photography

I think underwater photography is really neat. Not only are the angles unique, but the photographer can show his or her audience something totally different and alien. The water can make objects appear weightless. Also, the ocean is filled with interesting creatures and plants to be photographed. Depending on your location, you can have creatures that look like they came from some horror film. There are also creatures that light up and glow, like little stars in the deep darkness of the ocean. Unfortunately, I don’t have the right kind of camera or equipment for this, but if I ever get the chance I will definitely do it!

Close Up Photography

I think close up photography is really cool. Getting a closer look at something that usually goes unnoticed can really show you a brand new world. Close up photography can even take something totally normal and make it look otherworldly. Ultimately, I think making people see the world through a different view is the job of photographers. Sure, those mountains and sunsets look nice, but I find myself yearning for more in my photographs. I like to look at mountains and sunsets, but I want to see them from new angles. I found a great blogger that has some really great work here, and I think he gets it.

Up close look at some shelf fungus on a stump.

Missing Spring

If you live on the East coast, you’ve noticed that this weather has been very weird. One day it’s warm, the next there’s snow on the ground. It really makes me wish spring was here with its freshly blooming flowers. One of the best places to see these new flowers bloom is West Virginia. There are hundreds of varieties of wildflower to see, and that can be on just one hike! Taking a break from walking and sitting down to sketch a wildflower can be tremendously relaxing. Even if the drawings aren’t that good (I know mine are that of an amateur!), the habit can still be enjoyable. When you sketch something, you start to really see the object. You begin to notice every line and every curve of the object. This ‘true seeing’ can help you better understand, and therefore better appreciate, whatever it is you are sketching. Hopefully spring will get here soon and we can all start enjoying some spring flowers!