Zenfolio | Dave Skinner Photography | March Challenge 2014 - My Best Pictures

March Challenge 2014 - My Best Pictures

April 02, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Sometimes the easiest sounding Challenge theme is one of the hardest, especially when each month we're sending in what we think are our best shots.  So March will earmark variety and give us sampling of what we like personally.  Then again, with this theme - if you only took a few pictures, most or all of them are your best.  Maybe we should do a 'Your Worst Shot' challenge and have you explain why you think it's bad - the technical and artistic reasons.  Another good theme would be 'Before and After.' Nikon camera photos are low on contrast, color and sharpening.  So you have to take time to crop, adjust everything, dodge and burn areas if you want, and apply other sundry tweaks.  You'd be surprised at the difference - or maybe not.  But the actual theme for April is given at the end of this blog.




Our first shot is a belated entry that was taken by John from his house in Paso Robles showing a rainbow over the Parkfield hills. Nothing like stepping out your door and seeing this.  Wow!  Unreal.






And here are Ginnie's best shots of the month, including some added comments for the last two pictures that I missed in her e-mail.  She says:


"These photos are certainly not my best, but might be a bit interesting to include for the March Challenge.  Mostly I just go thru whatever I've taken during the month and try to make something fit.  Uninspired, maybe.  Lazy, probably. First one was taken over in Harmony right before I almost stepped on the snake (dead, but I didn't know it at first).  I had spotted about 15 head of cattle lined up on a nice green grass hill and was walking along to get the best angle and don't even know why I looked down.  Yuck!  Anyway this one steer was watching me hop around so I got his picture.  The story is better than the shot."




Here is a San Miguel Mission picture - good early morning light to accentuate the shadows. Plenty of light on the left wall and roof. Great composition in a 1x1 dimension. Is there a pastel coming? Very nice.


"This one was taken at San Miguel Mission one morning.  Everything there is so over-photographed, over-painted and over-romanticized, but I still love it."




"The last one is a shot of these 2 hens sharing some gossip on the way in to lay one.  Kind of reminded me of girlfriends at the mall."



 ~~~ G.G.'s WORDS OF WISDOM ~~~


"I still long for the old days of SLRs, film and being in charge of the shot 100%.  I know, I know.  BUT, out of a roll of 24 I would get at least 2 or 3 keepers.  Taking time, framing the shot, getting the light just right, watching the depth of field.  Was a lot more fun.  Now we take 150 shots,  sit at the computer for hours figuring out which ones may be best and how to improve them and still only end up with 2 or 3 keepers."





Old Davy had plenty of opportunities to capture and share his best shots for the month, including tiptoeing through the tulips (literally),  visiting a concert, and watching a Civil War reenactment.  Quite a variety of venues and shooting challenges.

The tulip farm was a real dud if you wanted to get a landscape scene - not many blooms and city street background. So it was time to get out the MicroNikkor 55mm close-up lens and move way in, filling the viewfinder with explosive color.  I decided to apply the "Brush Stroke" filter to this shot to make it a little dreamier. Ha!



I like shooting events, especially reenactments because the people don't mind if you take their pictures.  They expect it, I think.  The Union troops were lining up, getting ready to deploy onto the battlefield when I went down low in front of these three young kids using the 12-24mm wide angle.  I knew the sun was in the photo and would produce a lot of flare, but that's the nature of this Sigma lens.  I was happy with the expressions of pride and determination, and having a little sister in there was icing on the cake (looks like that's her brother on the left).  When I processed the shot, the lens elements flare was green, so I selected that area and took most of the green out in the largest spot.




The wildflowers were beautiful that day at Knight's Ferry - I could have missed the reenactment and spent the afternoon just chasing them with my camera.  I've never seen so many poppies and bush lupine painting a hillside. This picture accentuates the lupine with a blurred poppy background. Again, I've used the Brush Stroke filter for more of a painterly effect. Here, I'm using the 55-300mm zoom, ISO 800.  More of these photos here: http://wordydave.zenfolio.com/p655841936





A friend invited me and Barb to a band concert in Lodi, so I knew I'd have to use the 55-300mm to zoom in on the stage from about 100' away.  We sat way up in the second row from the back of the auditorium.  During the intermission, people moved around a bit - one lady decided to prop her feet up on the seats while playing Solitaire on her cellphone.  Her eye-popping socks caught my attention, and I had to grab the shot.  I used a special filter on this picture, too, but can't remember its name.






Did you know that Don served his country in the 60's, bravely signing up for a crack at the enemy, ready to go into harm's way at a moment's notice, willing to travel the ends of the earth for Uncle Sam?  Now, that same adventurous spirit nerves him with his photography, as he heads out in the middle of the night to shoot in critter country or meanders the streets in the urban jungle.  These next two photos were taken in downtown Paso Robles at the train station when only the owls and crazies are wide awake.


Don says,  "The train station shots required some early morning shooting.  Note the time on the depot clock.  The moon was double exposed into the depot pic.  There's been a lot of railroad tie replacement going on.  Hence the stack of old ties.  Janet wasn't too crazy about me going out at the early hours.  I think she suspected if I didn't get mugged I'd at least get arrested." 


Very cool shots, but would have been much better if you'd been arrested.








"This [next photo] was with the macro lens on the tripod, 8 seconds @ f22 in the shade.  I was trying to capture as much depth of field as I could without the wind moving it during the exposure."


Shooting macros is a lot of fun. But the closer you get, the depth of field is pretty miniscule.  By stopping down your aperture, you allow more of your subject to be in focus.  It worked pretty well for Don in this beautiful iris picture. Wow!





Don's last shot is of a carpenter or wood bee foraging on some wisteria. These big guys are actually harmless, but may fly around you or into you during mating season:

"One behavior can be alarming, though. The males compete with other males to mate with females. This involves them chasing males away and chasing females to mate. During these chases they zoom about crashing into windows, people and anything else in their path. Humans in the way of all this may think they are under attack, they are not, they are just in the way. Males may also hang around waiting for adult females to emerge, and again they behave in what might seem to us as an aggressive way, by chasing other males away and investigating anything that gets near the exit hole. You might be buzzed around and checked out to see if you are a rival that needs chasing away or a female that needs mating. However there is no danger as males cannot sting, so like much male mating behavior it's all bluster and show." http://www.bumblebee.org/OTHERbees.htm


The colors in this shot are superb - no direct sunlight to overexpose anything. Thanks for being so brave, Don.







Well, it's already April and spring is here.   Thanks to the Lord for the recent rains and snow.   It's all about color this month, so the April theme will be Bold Color.  Should be pretty easy pickings. And you don't have to limit yourself to nature photography.  Signage, buildings, clothes, birds, anything will qualify.  Just make sure it makes a bold statement with color.

Happy shooting!





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