Pavelle Photo: Blog en-us (C) Pavelle Photo (Pavelle Photo) Tue, 26 Jun 2018 15:46:00 GMT Tue, 26 Jun 2018 15:46:00 GMT Pavelle Photo: Blog 120 80 Photos of the Month - Mostly Wood Lake Warning:  This will be a long post with LOTS of photos.


I know...I've been a very inconsistent blogger and poster of images.  Blame it on weather, occupations, and circumstances beyond my control.  Still, it wasn't until this past weekend that I really had a lot to share or discuss.

A couple of weeks ago, I was out at Wood Lake and got some fun shots.  There were these of a painted turtle:

Click to PurchasePainted Turtle

Click to PurchasePainted Turtle

This one is a young muskrat:

Click to PurchaseJuvenile Muskrat

And I got this one of a green heron flying overhead:

Click to PurchaseGreen Heron in Flight

I've also managed to add to my collection of dragonfly photos, both at Wood Lake and Lone Lake:

This is a White-Faced Darter (also called a Yellow-Spotted Darter, for reasons made clear in the second image):

White-Faced Darter dragonflyWhite-Faced Darter dragonfly

Click to PurchaseWhite-Faced Darter dragonfly

And this one is a Chalk-Fronted Corporal:

Click to PurchaseChalk=fronted Corporal dragonfly

So, after all that, I thought I'd head back this past Saturday, both to see what was new and to reshoot a couple of images that needed work.  Plus, this provided an opportunity to go out with a couple friends from my photo club (for some reason, it is almost always more fun to go out shooting with someone else, maybe because you get a chance to bounce ideas off each other or point out an interesting subject).

As we started walking around, a glance to the left revealed something I had never seen before...trumpeter swans.  A trip to the dock and closer views was obviously called for.

Click to PurchaseTrumpeter Swan

Click to PurchaseTrumpeter Swan

Click to PurchaseTrumpeter Swan

Looking around a bit, we spotted a pair of red-winged blackbirds flying into the weeds next to the dock.

Click to PurchaseFemaile Red-Winged Blackbird

A closer look revealed the nest and the reason the female above was carrying a bug in its beak:

Click to PurchaseRed-Winged Blackbird chick

And, on the rail on the other side of the dock were some fledgling barn swallows:

Click to PurchaseBarn Swallow Fledgling

Click to PurchaseBarn Swallow Fledgling

After a lot of fun shooting these birds (and others), we started around the lake again, and got farther this time.  All the way to this dead tree with HUGE mushrooms growing in it:

Click to PurchaseMushrooms in dead tree

I had actually seen these types of mushrooms in that same tree a couple of weeks before, but they were dead and gone the last time I was there.  So, it was a nice surprise.

The others had to leave shortly after this, but I needed to continue in a different direction to reshoot a great tree stump I had seen my last visit.

Click to PurchaseTree Stump

I had spotted this stump and really liked the miniature landscape growing inside the stump.  However, I wasn't all that thrilled with the images I had managed to capture (the above one was the only one that seemed close to decent).  So I went back, tripod in hand.  And it was even better than I had hoped:

Click to PurchaseStump-scape

Click to PurchaseStump-scape

Don't those small orange mushrooms just make the shot SO much more interesting?  Plus the texture in the decaying wood and the plants (new trees?) sending up shoots.  These shots really encapsulate the decay and rebirth that I find so interesting in tree stumps.

After that, everything I managed to capture was just icing on the cake.  And BOY DID I GET A LOT OF ICING!!

First, here's another type of dragonfly that I hadn't captured before, a four-spotted skimmer:

Click to PurchaseFour-spotted Skimmer

Click to PurchaseFour-spotted Skimmer

Click to PurchaseFour-spotted Skimmer

There was actually another shot that I wanted to retry:

Click to PurchaseWater Hemlock in black and white

I had seen these flowers previously and thought they would work really well in black and white.  I think I was right.

Then, there was a pair of Canadian Geese sitting next to the path, standing guard over several goslings:

Click to PurchaseGoslings

As I got towards the entrance, I saw the trumpeter swans were still sitting in the same place, so I went back to the dock to try and get some more interesting shots (one of the ones above, as well as the single barn swallow images above were part of this stop).  However, maybe a minute after I got there, this happened:

Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron with fish -1 Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron with fish -1 Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron with fish -1 Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron with fish -1 Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron with fish -1 Click to PurchaseGreat Blue Heron with fish -1

Actually, I got there in time to watch the Great Blue Heron jump off the log to catch that fish in the first place.  Those shots were much more interesting to watch than they were to view as still images.  And, the fish was too big for the bird to swallow in that last image, but I got tired of watching and, instead, decided to call it a wonderful morning of shooting.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) b&w birds dragonflies Lone Lake minnesota muskrat photography tree stumps Wood Lake Tue, 26 Jun 2018 15:46:11 GMT
Photos of the Week - Black and White It's a new year, lots of snow has fallen over the past day, and temperatures are below freezing.  Typical.

But, that begs the question of what to do photographically until the weather is nicer.  Yes, I could go tromping through the snow looking for something photogenic, but I don't really have the equipment for that (meaning boots, thermals, etc.).  So, find stuff indoors to shoot or go through old photos and see if there is anything fun to play with.

Last week at my photography club, it was mentioned that one of the keys to good black and white images is having strong contrast in the initial image.  Good dark areas, definite light areas, shading and texture between.  So, I went and looked for some shots of mine that fit those criteria and decided to see what they look like in black and white.

Click to PurchaseGolden Eddy

This is the first image I decided to play with.  It happens to be one of my favorites.  But, the textures in the rocks and water, the dark areas of the stream and light of the water all fit what I was looking for.

Click to PurchaseEddy

This was actually a lot more difficult to convert than I had thought it would be.  The tops of the rocks are a lot brighter relative to the rest of the image, so I had to tone them down a bit.  The moss on the rocks on the right are a lot darker than I liked, so I had to bring that section up.  Still, I'm happy with the result.

Click to Purchaseorchid

Here's another image I really like in color, especially the contrast between the yellow in the center with the pink petals.

Click to PurchaseOrchid Detail

It's surprising how the shades of pink changing to gray makes the petals look like they have much more texture.


Yes, I still prefer the color versions.  That said, the black and white does work well and having that as an option means that I have lots that I can play with until spring.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum black and white minnesota photography Tue, 23 Jan 2018 17:29:48 GMT
Photos - 2017 Year in Review Hi all,

As the year flies past us into the sunset of that which was, it is time to reflect on what has been a very strange year in many ways.  So, I'll start out the retrospective with a couple of new shots, taken while flying home from DC after Thanksgiving:

Sunset out the WindowSunset out the Window Sunset out the WindowSunset out the Window

In many ways, the best part of the year for me from a photographic standpoint was finding out about Wood Lake.  I've lived here over 20 years now and didn't realize this wonderful place existed.  And it was there that I captured my first muskrat pictures, lots of new painted turtles, several types of birds, and several types of dragonflies and grasshoppers (you may not be as interested in those latter two, but I'm finding the variations of species fascinating and fun to shoot).

MuskratMuskrat MuskratMuskrat

I've not seen beavers up close, but am pretty sure I've seen beaver dams/huts in the area.  Because of this I was never sure what the small rodents I've spotted but not captured might be.  After stopping in at the visitor center at Wood Lake, where they have taxidermy examples of both, there's NO question they have all been muskrats.  Beavers are 10x the size.

Painted Turtles on a LogPainted Turtles on a Log Painted TurtlePainted Turtle

It has been a couple years since I spotted any painted turtles in the area, so finding them at Wood Lake was a treat.

Hidden EgretHidden Egret OspreyOsprey OspreyOsprey Northern HarrierNorthern Harrier Double-Crested CormorantDouble-Crested Cormorant

Some of the many birds images I captured at Wood Lake.  In order they are a blue heron, osprey, northern harrier, and double-crested cormorant.

The dragonflies/damselflies and grasshoppers below are from Wood Lake and elsewhere.  No reason to split them up by location.

Variegated Meadowhawk dragonflyVariegated Meadowhawk dragonfly Eastern Pondhawk DragonflyEastern Pondhawk Dragonfly White-Faced Meadowhawk dragonflyWhite-Faced Meadowhawk dragonfly

Common Whitetail Skimmer (female)Common Whitetail Skimmer (female) Widow Skimmer (male)Widow Skimmer (male) Blue DamselflyBlue Damselfly

Carolina LocustCarolina Locust Differential GrasshopperDifferential Grasshopper

I also managed to add several fun examples to my collection of tree stumps and dead branches:

Moss on dead treeMoss on dead tree Mossy KnotMossy Knot Devil's Tree StumpDevil's Tree Stump

I also got some fun shots of Minneapolis itself this year.  The first one was at Lake Calhoun and shows a small sample of the number of birds that stop there each spring.  The second one was me experimenting with HDR at sunset below the Stone Arch Bridge.

Minneapolis and cootsMinneapolis and coots

Minneapolis at NightMinneapolis at NightCreated via HDR

Finally, this was the first year I've had a chance to shoot fireworks, so I'll leave you with those and wish you all the best in the year to come.

FireworksFireworks FireworksFireworks FireworksFireworks FireworksFireworks FireworksFireworks


]]> (Pavelle Photo) birds damselfly dragonfly fireworks grasshopper insect minneapolis muskrat painted turtle photography Fri, 29 Dec 2017 22:33:50 GMT
Photos of the Week - 7 on the line I first started playing Ultimate my freshman year of high school.  I continued playing all through college, and have been part of the Twin Cities Ultimate League since 1992.

Needless to say, it is something that I've enjoyed playing and watching for many decades now.  However, being a player in a team sport doesn't leave a lot of opportunities to take pictures during a game.  This past Tuesday, though, I was able to bring my camera with me to the last game of the TCUL summer league for this year.

7 on the line.  Getting ready to receive.

Because Ultimate is a fast sport, it is not easy to take good photos.  Use a fairly large aperture (most of these were at f8 or wider) and a fast shutter to freeze the action.  I also found that I needed to zoom a lot less than I normally do.  Too close meant that part of the picture inevitably got cut off.  This is one case where cropping in camera was not a good idea.

Thanks to this year's team and all those I've played with in the past and in the future.



p.s.  The term Frisbee is trademarked.  Since other brands of flying discs are generally used, the name "Ultimate Frisbee" is now just "Ultimate".  For more information about the sport, check this:

]]> (Pavelle Photo) photography sports ultimate Thu, 17 Aug 2017 16:11:39 GMT
Photos of the Week - A walk in the park Sunday was a good day.  I had finally finished going through all my CONvergence photos and decided to reward myself with an easy stroll at Lone Lake.

White Water LilyWhite Water LilyClick to Purchase

The water lilies are blooming.  And, because the lake is much higher than normal right now, lots of them are quite close to the dock and easy to shoot.

Great Blue SkimmerGreat Blue SkimmerClick to Purchase

There are lots of dragonflies cruising around the lilies as well.

Fishing Green HeronFishing Green HeronClick to Purchase

I even saw a green heron there.  I've never seen one at Lone Lake before, and haven't seen any for a couple of years.

Click to Purchase

While ambling on the trail around the lake, I spotted some interesting types of fungi.

Moss on dead treeMoss on dead treeClick to Purchase

Mossy KnotMossy KnotClick to Purchase

I even spotted some new possible additions to my stumps and branches collection!


Unfortunately, none of the photos I took on Sunday came out decent.  Many were not as sharp as I'd like.  Others were too grainy or shaky.  That happens sometimes.  It doesn't ruin the memory or the enjoyment of the day.

The above photos, if you are wondering, are ones I took on Monday in order to replace the ones that didn't turn out.  The exception is the green heron photos, which is quite older.  I did spot the bird again, but it wasn't anywhere I could get close enough for a photo.  Again, that happens sometimes.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) dragonfly flower minnesota photography trees Wed, 26 Jul 2017 16:36:08 GMT
Photos of the Week - At the Arboretum I didn't realize until I started writing this that it has been a full month since my last posting here.  Sorry about the delay.

Anyway, I went down to the Arboretum a couple weeks ago to see what was blooming and what else looked interesting.

StumpStumpClick to Purchase

Actually, one of my goals was to reshoot this tree stump.  While I like parts of the image, other parts annoy me, like the way the shadows and sunlight fall.

Click to Purchase

Here's the replacement shot.  To begin with, I got really lucky with the weather.  It was a bright, overcast day, so no shadows but good light.  I also like that there are more plants growing around the stump, giving a more solid contrast between the dead tree and life around it.  The texture also comes out better in this shot.  Finally, I like the fact that you can see through the stump, which, for me, adds a little extra interest.

Devil's Tree StumpClick to Purchase

I think I'm going to call this the Devil's Tree Stump because the shape and weathering reminds me of pictures I've seen of Devil's Tower.

Click to Purchase

I spotted these mushrooms growing in the Iris Garden.  They are quite small and next to the ground, which made it tricky to shoot properly.  I do like the result.

Click to Purchase

The Wild Calla Lilies were also blooming.  I love these flowers.  They are so different from the cultivated varieties.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum calla lily flower minnesota mushrooms photography Sat, 17 Jun 2017 03:39:14 GMT
Photos of the Week - Return to Wood Lake I enjoyed my first trip to Wood Lake in April (here: so much that I decided to return last weekend to see what the place was like now that it is really springtime.  It was actually somewhat surprising.  I didn't notice a lot in the way of wildflowers or interesting trees.  In fact, what I ended up shooting was pretty much the same subjects as my last visit.  But in some ways I got much luckier.

Female Red-Winged BlackbirdFemale Red-Winged BlackbirdClick to Purchase

Female Red-Winged BlackbirdFemale Red-Winged BlackbirdClick to Purchase

These two birds actually caused me a bit of annoyance; not to shoot, but because I couldn't identify them.  I checked through all the swallows in my bird book, but couldn't figure out which one they were.  Turns out there's a good reason I couldn't figure it out.  They are actually female red-winged blackbirds.

Great Blue HeronGreat Blue HeronClick to Purchase

I spotted this Great Blue Heron on across a small channel.  It didn't seem to be calling and I didn't see a second one, so I have no idea why it was posing in this fashion.

MuskratMuskratClick to Purchase

My last visit to Wood Lake included my first photo of a muskrat.  I like the way this one looks, dragging a stick or reed.  I especially like the way the water ripples around it.

MuskratMuskratClick to Purchase

What was really cool, though, was when this muskrat swam onto the shore next to me.  It took some maneuvering to get a clear shot of the face, but well worth it.

Wood DuckWood DuckClick to Purchase

Finally, this was my first wood duck sighting of the year.  It always makes my day when I can get a shot of one.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Wood Lake birds blackbird heron mammals minnesota muskrat photography wood duck Tue, 16 May 2017 01:17:19 GMT
Photos of the Week - Lake Calhoun views I was out at Lake Calhoun a couple of weeks ago.  This is a good time of year for that (although now towards then end) because of all the migrating waterfowl.  Here are some examples:

Common MergansersCommon Mergansers

Here's a small example of what I mean.  This is a small flock of common mergansers (a bit far off shore, which is why I had to crop it so much).  There were lots of others around.

Minneapolis and cootsMinneapolis and coots

For instance, you can see lots of American coots in this shot, all over the lake in the foreground (note that I have a better one from last year if you look in the Minnesota folder).

American CootAmerican CootClick to Purchase

Here's a nice close-up of one of the coots.  It's nice that they come close enough to the shore to be able to capture detail.

Lesser Scaup pairLesser Scaup pair

This is a pair (female is the reddish/brownish one) of Lesser Scaups.  They were swimming amongst the coots, but got close enough (with a bit of cropping) for me to isolate them in a shot.

Easter BikerEaster Biker

And finally, because it happened to be Easter Sunday, a typically Minnesotan approach to celebrating a holiday.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) american coot birds common merganser easter biker lesser scaup minnesota photography Fri, 28 Apr 2017 22:02:18 GMT
Photos of the Week - Wood Lake A month or so ago someone posted a notice on Facebook about a photography walk/shoot at Wood Lake in Bloomington.  There were several reasons why I wanted to join this.  First, I haven't done much shooting this year because the weather is still chancy (that day, though, was gorgeous).  Second, I'd never been to Wood Lake, and finding a new place to shoot is always worth the time and effort.  Finally, photographers are fun people to hang out with and excursions with other photographers are always a good experience since they may spot something you didn't or have ideas on how to approach a subject that never occurred to you.

So, here are some of the images that I managed to capture.

MallardsMallardsClick to Purchase

Mallards are so ubiquitous that I generally skip them as a photo subject.  This pair, though, really attracted me because of the highly saturated green in the head, brighter than I've seen for a while.

Red-Winged BlackbirdRed-Winged BlackbirdClick to Purchase

Red-Winged Blackbirds are another VERY common bird, but I liked the pose on this, coupled with the fact that it was calling to others to let them know we were around and taking pictures.

Canada GeeseCanada GeeseClick to Purchase

I love trying to capture birds on the wing, but rarely get a successful shot.  This one was one of the best I've managed.

MuskratMuskratClick to Purchase

My first ever muskrat.  Well, technically I had seen others earlier in the day, but this one was much closer and ultimately a better shot.  I had not idea they are that big.

Painted TurtlePainted TurtleClick to Purchase

For some reason, I haven't seen a lot of painted turtles in recent years.  That day there were lots (including babies).  This is the best painted turtle shot I've ever gotten.  The lower angle shows makes it obvious why they got their name.


It was a really fun park to visit and one that I'll have to get back to throughout the year.  I can foresee lots of different photo opportunities and can't wait to take advantage of them.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) birds canada geese mallard minnesota muskrat painted turtle photography red-winged blackbird reptile turtle wildlife wood lake Thu, 20 Apr 2017 15:50:50 GMT
Photos of the Week - Project Thoughts I found last year that I really liked having a project in the back of my mind when I went out shooting.  Something to look for in places that I've been many times in the past and will revisit many times in the days/months/years to come.

Last year my project was dead and decaying trees/stumps/branches and such.  And this is something I'll continue to look for while wandering around, especially somewhere new.  The same way I always look for birds, butterflies/insects, larger landscapes, etc.  But, these are harder to come by in familiar settings.  So, what's the next focus?

Right now, I thinking abstracts and/or in-camera manipulations of images (that latter being what happens when the camera or lens or subject are not fixed).  I was out last week and made some examples of abstracts over at Lone Lake that I thought I'd share:

Rippled LightRippled LightClick to Purchase

The sunlight was creating interesting shapes under the rippling surface of the lake, while the blue sky was reflected on the surface.

Tree ReflectionTree ReflectionClick to Purchase

Here, I like the way the ripples distort the tree's reflection, creating a recognizable but abstract image.  In the past I've inverted or flipped images such as this, but I like the image as taken.

Reedy ReflectionsReedy ReflectionsClick to Purchase

The bold straight lines of the reeds contrast nicely with the reflections that are broken up by the rippling surface of the lake.

Sad EntSad EntClick to Purchase

The technical term for seeing an recognizable shape where none exists is "pareidolia".  In this case, I was wandering around the lake and saw a scowling face in the tree.  I decided to title this one "Sad Ent" after Tolkein's tree-folk.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) abstract minnesota photography Tue, 04 Apr 2017 00:07:04 GMT
Photos of the Week - Winter's End I was over at Lone Lake last week, hoping that the bald eagles would be back.  If they are, they weren't hanging around while I was there.  So, while sitting there waiting and hoping they'd show, I made some photos of things that caught my eye.

Frozen LeafFrozen LeafClick to Purchase

WaveletsWaveletsClick to Purchase

Last week was the tail end of Winter on the lake.  Most of the ice had broken up and the rest was probably going to be gone in a day or two.  The two images above show both aspects of this.  The first one is an oak? leaf that is still frozen in the ice, while the second is the small wavelets on the open water.  I was attracted to the repetitive pattern of the latter and the concept of capturing something that had been captured in the ice for the former.

On Thin IceOn Thin IceClick to Purchase

The final image, for me, exemplifies the end of winter.  There was a pair of Canadian Geese sitting by the shore who noticed some dogs nearby and decided to saunter over to the open water.  One had no problems doing so.  The other...not so much.  As I was watching, it broke through the ice and struggled a bit to get out.  Having seen this, I swung my camera around and, sure enough, maybe 5-10 steps later it went plop once again.  You can see the hole it made. 

By the way, the THIRD time that same goose broke through the ice it was close enough to the open water that it was able to force a channel through the ice rather than flapping its way back to the surface.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird ice leaf minnesota photography Mon, 27 Mar 2017 15:53:05 GMT
Photos of the Week - Minneapolis in HDR There has always been an inherent problem with photography:  the eye can see a much larger range of light than a camera can capture.  This was true with film and is still true with digital capture.

That said, there are ways around this limitation.  One of the most common and easiest nowadays is HDR (High Dynamic Range).  Using this technique, you take multiple shots of the same scene, varying the exposure so that you have a large range of exposures covered (i.e.  -3 stops, -2 stops, -1 stop, normal, +1 stop).  You then load all these images in a software package that combines all the images in such a way that dark areas in one shot have detail while overly light areas have a correct exposure.

Tuesday was a gorgeous night.  Partly cloudy, unseasonably warm (60s).  So I decided to head out to the Minneapolis waterfront and play around with HDR.

Here's an example of the unprocessed files:

Note the illuminated sign and the streetlights are close to correct.

This one the clouds are slightly lighter.

The water here is looking pretty good, but the clouds are lighter than I like.

The buildings and bridge are good in this one, but the sky has lost the color.

The files were then combined into this image.

Minneapolis at NightMinneapolis at NightClick to Purchase

Here are some other images I made before and afterwards.  I'm not totally happy with every detail, and I had problems with other attempted captures, so I need to play around some more.  I'm OK with that.

Minneapolis at NightMinneapolis at NightClick to Purchase

Minneapolis at NightMinneapolis at NightClick to Purchase

Minneapolis at NightMinneapolis at NightClick to Purchase Minneapolis at NightMinneapolis at NightClick to Purchase

]]> (Pavelle Photo) HDE cityscape minneapolis minnesota photography Sun, 26 Feb 2017 20:39:35 GMT
Photos of the Week - Playing with Orchids There's a new orchid display up at the Arboretum.  This is a good thing, not only because they are a fun and varied flower, but they also present a great opportunity to play around photographically.

One obvious thing you can try is taking portraits of the flowers.  Shoot individual buds, close-ups of parts, etc.  In the next couple of shots I wanted to try and get full branches filled with flowers and buds.  All were taken with the same lens and used a tripod.

The first considerations were framing and direction - portrait or landscape orientation, should the flowers be going from left to right or the other way. 

Next consider how much to show.  Since they weren't in nice pots, I didn't want to include the whole plant.  Instead, I framed the image to get all of the flowers mostly centered in the top half of the image, including enough of the leaves and enough blank space to avoid crowding the edges.

Finally, lighting and background.  In the first shot, the flower was under an overhead light, so the entire thing was lit fairly nicely.  The wall in the background is a fairly neutral color (slightly varied because it also has overhead lights hitting in spots).  Still, I felt a starker background would work better.  I don't remember if I used my black winter jacket or a felt backdrop (which some friends had brought with them), but I definitely think the black makes things pop.  The third image is obviously a different plant, but the only other difference is that I moved it so that it wasn't under the overhead light.   This gets rid of any unwanted highlights and provides a slightly softer feel.

Those are some examples of what you can get if you want to take straight-forward image.  Here are some examples where I'm playing around with different techniques.

These are both intentionally long exposures which allowed me to create something more abstract.  In the past, I've found that I can get interesting shapes and colors by moving the lens (zoom, rotate, shake) while taking a picture.  However, doing this can also lose the identity of the subject (ie. you can't tell it is a photo of a flower).  So, this time I decided to see what would happen if I only played around for half the exposure.  So, on a 4 second exposure I'd sit for 2 seconds to embed a definite sense of the flower, but then shake things up as much as possible to overlay an abstract/painted feel to the overall image.  I suppose I could have tried doing this as a double exposure, but that might set details that I would rather not stand out (such as the label sticks still visible in the top left of the first image).  Overall, I'm quite happy with the results, especially in the second photo.

So, head out if you want (or bring something home).  Play.  Enjoy.  Even if the results are not what you were hoping for, you'll learn from the experience.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flower minnesota orchid photography Wed, 08 Feb 2017 18:09:34 GMT
Photos of the Week - Extreme Close-Up Macro - a lens that allows you to shoot at a 1:1 ratio or greater

Close-Up - a photograph that shows all or part of a subject.

The reason I'm starting this post with definitions is because the terms Macro and Close-Up overlap and tend to be used interchangeably.

For instance, this is an image of a butterfly that is the size of my thumbnail, but was taken with a telephoto lens.  Many people might incorrectly call it a macro shot since it shows the butterfly larger than life.

Eastern Tailed-BlueEastern Tailed-BlueClick to Purchase

On the other hand, this image was taken with a macro lens, but it shows a full flower:

Blazing SaddlesBlazing SaddlesOne of the fun features at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is their Iris Garden. This image was taken there. It is a "Blazing Saddles" tall bearded iris.

Now, you may notice that I titled this post "Extreme Close-Up".  I'm using that term for those images that had to be taken with a macro lens because they show a subject at much greater than a 1:1 ratio.  In this type of photo, the subject becomes much more abstract and revealing of the structure and patterns that make it up.  For instance, consider this self-portrait (or is it a landscape).

Ocular ReflectivityOcular ReflectivityClick to Purchase

I was quite surprised the first time I tried something like this and discovered just how reflective the eye is (can you see the camera's reflection).

Extreme close-ups are especially fun with flowers because of the colors and textures that you can highlight when you look really closely at them.  This first flower becomes other worldly.  The second is a play of shapes and colors.

White Wings Tea RoseWhite Wings Tea RoseClick to purchase

orchidorchidClick to Purchase

So, that leaves us with the technical question:  How do I go about capturing an image like this?  There are several key features you need.

1.  You probably need a macro lens.  These are subject that you need to be able to focus on from a very close distance (sometimes less than 6 inches).  While extension tubes can be used, a macro lens is much more flexible and better quality. [Note:  Extension tubes are empty rings that sit between a lens and the camera, thereby shifting the area of focus much closer.  However, they will also lose you several stops of light and can be very tricky to get to focus correctly).

2.  You need a tripod.  The close you are to a subject, the more obvious any movement becomes.  You need a tripod to remove any slight jitters you may cause from the equations.  A remote release might also help, but something similar can be attained by using the timer.

3.  The closer you are to a subject, the smaller the slice of the image that will be in focus.  You want the most depth of field you can get.  f22 is a good place to start.  At the same time, try to make your camera as square to the subject as possible.  The flatter the focal plane, the more apparent depth you get.

4.  Depending on how comfortable you are working with your processing software, experiment with focus stacking.  This is a process that lets you combine multiple photos of the same subject into a single image.  In this case, you take a shot that keeps the closes part of your subject in focus and then change the focus so a part just behind that is good, and then repeat until you have photos of the entire subject in focus.  I believe some cameras can do this for you automatically, so check you manual.

I hope you can get out and play with some subjects this winter.  It's fun and keeps you active.


]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flower macro photography Mon, 30 Jan 2017 21:52:18 GMT
Photos of the Week - Snapshot vs. Photo There are a lot of clichés that photographers use when describing what happens when you trip the shutter on your camera.

"You take a picture, but you make a photo."

"People take snapshots, photographers take photos."

These are not meant to be disparaging.  Instead, they reflect the idea that there is more to photography than pressing a button.  There is a way of approaching a scene or subject that develops as you become more invested in the artform; a different way of seeing what is before you.  Once there, I don't know if you can actually take a snapshot anymore.

Here are some examples from the Arboretum's Conservatory this past weekend [Note:  The snapshots were taken with my lens at 50mm (which is close to how the eye sees a scene, neither zoomed or wide-angle) and my camera was set to Program (so I had no control over aperture or shutter speed).]

Here's an example of what might be a typical snapshot.  It shows many types of flowers sitting on their racks.  Photographically, though, it is a very chaotic and boring image since there is no subject.  Plus, the sunlight in the middle causes large bright areas that can be very distracting.

Another snapshot of the same scene improves it greatly by focusing much more closely on only two types of orchids.  However, the top half of the image is still very chaotic because of the bright light and shadows on the back wall.

The photographer will recognize those problems and (in this instance) focus on only one type of orchid at a time.  Using only the lower ones eliminates the sunlit wall.  Further blocking the sunlight with your body prevents distracting highlights and results in an acceptable image.  If I were to try this again, I might go even further and shoot a single bud to further reduce the background to a blur while framing it to block the wood dowel and black clip, which I find unattractive.


This one's not a bad snapshot.  The highlights on the fronds behind the flower are annoying but not too distracting.  However, the whole left side of the image is really not adding anything to the image.

So, here I've come much closer in and focused solely on the flower.  I also intentionally used a large aperture to blur the background.  Again, if I were to rework this image, I'd probably move a tiny bit to the left so that both types of orchid in the background are more integrated into the image, and the tiny bit of stem in the lower left corner would be removed.

The only real problem with this snapshot is the background.  It is busy.  The white sign(?) is distracting.  The wall and pipes are distracting and ugly.

Here again, focusing on a single bud vastly improves the image.  Taking it from the side eliminates the distracting background.  A large aperture further reduces background by blurring the leaves and making it so you can't see the lines in the brick.  In this case, I also held the camera over my head to get a straight-on angle.


None of this is to say that only avid photographers can get good photos.  That's obviously wrong.  It is the ability to consistently get better photos that comes with experience and practice.  It is knowing to look at the background and angle, the way light is hitting the subject (are there shadows on a person's face), understanding how the camera handles large contrasting areas of bright and dark, as well as basic composition.

This was an incredibly hard set of images for me to capture.  Not because of subject or environment, but from trying to intentionally ignore all the rules and approaches to photography that have become second nature.  I honestly don't think I can take a snapshot anymore.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum flower minnesota photography snapshot Thu, 19 Jan 2017 18:51:20 GMT
Photos of the Week - Year in Review I've been going through images I've taken this year and the predominant theme seems to be wish fulfillment.

First, there's the shot from last week that I've wanted to finish off for years (to check it out)

Then, there are some bird shots that I've wished to capture for many years:

Pileated WoodpeckerPileated WoodpeckerClick to Purchase

Red-Bellied WoodpeckerRed-Bellied WoodpeckerClick to Purchase

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Bald EagleBald EagleClick to Purchase

Then there's the tree stump project I've thought about for years and finally started:

Click to Purchase

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Dead TreeDead TreeClick to Purchase

There are always surprises along the way, like these:

Painted TurtlePainted Turtle Laying an EggClick to Purchase

Wild Turkey at FeederWild Turkey at FeederClick to Purchase

And finally, those subjects you shoot thousands of times and then find a new perspective:

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Small Yellow Lady SlippersSmall Yellow Lady SlippersClick to Purchase

So, that's it for 2016.  I'll leave you with the same wish I always do:  May the best of the year that has passed be the worst of the year that is to come.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum bird flower minnesota photography Wed, 28 Dec 2016 18:09:59 GMT
Photo of the Week - Alhambra Memory I really enjoy photo workshops.  It is not just the chance to travel to someplace new and interesting, it is capturing something new and essential.  One tool that can help in this is having a challenge given to you.  Some of my favorite images have come about due to these sorts of challenges.

That said, this post is about one that failed.

Over 10 years ago, I was on a trip to Spain and was able to spend several days in the Alhambra.  What a magnificent place to see and photograph.  The gardens and architecture are stunning and full of history.  With that in mind, we were given the following challenge:  Imagine it is 1492 and you are the last Moorish king in Spain and are being forced to leave forever.  You have a camera and can take 3 images with you and can leave one behind for the new occupants.

Ones to take with you are easy to figure out.  Just look for your favorite images, like these:

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The real challenge was figuring out a good image to leave behind.  I thought about it and wanted it to send a message.  And then an idea came to me.  I'd create a double image.  One would be a shot of the gardens and the other would be a close up of a face with eyes closes.  The message is that you can force me to leave, but all I need to do is close my eyes and I can return in thoughts and dreams.

Unfortunately, this was before I had a digital camera, so the only way to get a double image was to take a double exposure and hope it came out.  Right at that time my father came by and agreed to help me.  I framed and shot the garden image, then handed the camera over and he took the close-up of my face.  It wasn't until many days later that I got the slide back and found that we somehow messed things up...the face was upside down in relation to the garden.

This failure has stuck with me all these years.  So, I decided to try and finally get the image I wanted.  The first step was to take some fairly tight self-portraits.  Next, I found a slide that I had previously scanned from that trip that, I believe, is close to the one I was planning to use.  Finally, combine them digitally, making sure both aspects are clear.

Here's the result.

Alhambra MemoryAlhambra MemoryClick to Purchase.

]]> (Pavelle Photo) alhambra photography spain Mon, 19 Dec 2016 03:46:30 GMT
Photos of the Week - Moral Quandry Last week I was out at Lone Lake, wandering around as usual and taking some pictures.  When I arrived I notice that the moon was out even though it was over an hour until sunset, so I snapped one or two shots to see if I could get anything interesting.  Not at that time.  I continued strolling around the path, checking when I had the opportunity to see if the moon was close to something in the distance so that I could get a big moon shot [note:  For those who haven't done much photography, the moon is a constant size based on the lens you are using - 1mm on a 35mm equivalent for every 100mm of zoom.  So, for example, my 100-400mm lens will give me a moon that takes up 4mm on a 35mm slide.  What this means in practice is that if you want the moon to be a prominent feature in a photograph you need to shoot it at a large zoom and against something that is far enough away to still be visible.]

As I came close to the end of the path, I saw some birds circling in the distance quite close to where the moon was.  At that point, my goal became getting a shot of a bird against the moon.

Hawk MoonHawk MoonClick to purchase

I tried tracking the birds (I think it is a red-tailed hawk, but could use some independent verification. but this proved to be very hard and tiresome since they were a good distance from me and moving quickly.  So, instead I decided to focus on the moon and shoot when one of them got in position.  And I actually manage to get one.

And, here you can see my problem.  In the first picture, the hawk is quite sharp, but the moon doesn't show any detail.  In the second, the moon detail is there but the hawk is not sharp.

Because these are digital images, it would be fairly easy to take a sharp hawk from one picture and put it in a different one that has a sharp moon, exactly where I would want it.  The question is whether that is cheating (or how much cheating it is or how you label the image to reflect the processing done).

What do you think?

]]> (Pavelle Photo) bird minnesota moon photography Mon, 14 Nov 2016 17:26:44 GMT
Photos of the Week - Around Lake Harriet Wow!  I knew it has been a while since I last posted something but truly didn't realize it has been over a month.  Sorry about that.

I really haven't done much shooting in the past month, though.  Just two trips to Lake Harriet.  The first one was getting together with a couple of people in my photo club and the second (yesterday) was partly because the weather was incredibly gorgeous and also because there were some subjects I had spotted on my last visit that I needed to reshoot.

Here's the highlight from the first trip.  Right as we entered the Bird Sanctuary, I heard a woodpecker tapping away.  Looking around I spotted this little guy.  I shot 50-100 images, moving around a bit, getting different angles.  This is pretty much the only one that is decent.

Downy WoodpeckerDowny WoodpeckerClick to Purchase

The rest of these images are from yesterday.

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I had spotted this dead tree on the last visit, but didn't get any good shots.  I really like the shapes and textures.

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This one was basically next to the the previous shot.  Maybe I'll say it's inspired by Georgia O'Keefe.

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What I like in this image is the different layers and types of decaying tree/stumps.  It really shows the theme of death and rebirth that I find inherent in the subject.


Next are a couple of wildlife rareties.  The first is an albino squirrel (it ran away just as I got to where it is, so this is the best I managed to capture) and the other is a very red gray squirrel (a color variant I haven't come across before).

Red Gray SquirrelRed Gray SquirrelClick to Purchase

And finally, due to the end of daylight savings, it was getting dark as I left, so I snapped several shots and merged them into this final panorama.

Lake Harriet SunsetLake Harriet SunsetContact me about prints

]]> (Pavelle Photo) Lake Harriet bird minnesota photography tree stumps wildlife Mon, 07 Nov 2016 22:04:31 GMT
Photos of the Week - Light show I could use some advice.

Every year, the Arboretum Photographers Society has a juried show and sale at the Arboretum starting in January.  The submission deadline is in October, so I need to figure out what would be good submissions.  That's where you come in.  I'm going to show a bunch of photos below and I'd really appreciate feedback on which ones you think are worth submitting.

The title of the show is "Seasons of Light", so interpret that however you wish when judging.


1) Click to Purchase

This first one I'm just going to submit since I already have a framed print sitting at home, so it is essentially a freebie for me.

These next images show how light is bent by heat during a controlled burn [For those of you who are not familiar with those, there used to be massive wildfires on prairies that would burn off all the growing plants, leaving prime soil and helping native plants propagate.  These are now done in very controlled circumstances to make sure they don't spread  to unwanted areas, like houses.]

2) Click to Purchase

3) Click to Purchase

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My personal preference is for the first one showing the Fireman, but I'm curious what you people think of the others; especially the last two.

This next set are more abstract, showing light more as color:

6) RipplesRipplesClick to Purchase

7) Click to Purchase

8) Spring RunoffSpring RunoffClick to Purchase

Finally, some landscapes taken at dawn, when the quality of light shows itself.

9) Sunrise SilhouetteSunrise SilhouetteClick to Purchase

10) Click to Purchase

So, thoughts?

]]> (Pavelle Photo) arboretum minnesota photography Mon, 26 Sep 2016 15:28:53 GMT