Wednesday, 25 March 2020

A Long, Cool Look At Spring

When the walker and author John Hillaby was asked to choose a luxury item on the radio programme Desert Island Discs he very wisely chose to take some binoculars. He reasoned that a few minutes peering at nature close-up always cheered him up when he was a bit down.



I know exactly what he means; it quite literally gives you a different perspective on the world. A long lens on a camera is the same, it changes the world in all sorts of unexpected and delightful ways.



A telephoto lens not only enlarges things, it also has a narrow depth of field. All that really means is that everything in front of or behind the main subject is blurred and sometimes quite attractively



If you point the camera into the sun then things like these newly sprouting reeds suddenly burst into life.



The old photography text books used to tell you not to shoot towards the light, but actually every one of these images, apart from the first one, were taken into the sun. That's not the only rule I found myself contravening. For years I've relied on those three pieces of advice for the photographer "Get closer, get closer, get closer", but if you're using a big lens you sometimes have to back away from the subject - and a very weird feeling it is!



Another thing that happens when the background's out of focus is the appearance of what I grew up calling "circles of confusion" where bright spots transform into a series of coloured discs. Nowadays everyone calls it "bokeh", which has me chanting "OK bokeh" to myself whenever it appears in my viewfinder!



The slightest half-step left or right can change the picture completely. "Up a bit, down a bit, left a bit, a little bit right - click!"



If anyone sees you doing this they'll think you've gone crackers. And if you happen to be on a bird reserve you'll soon collect a group of grumpy bird-watchers with binoculars wanting to know if you've spotted a Cetti's Warbler or a Nightingale in the undergrowth. Well, they will be grumpy when you tell them you're photographing leaves!



I hope you like at least some of these as I foresee a lot of partly-blurred-flower-pictures-with-coloured-discs-floating-around-in-the-background once I'm able to get to the Botanic Gardens again.



The photo above was taken accidentally when I pressed the shutter by mistake! It's turned out better than some of the ones I spent ages over. Such is life!



Most of the others are roughly as I envisaged them, but can anyone out there explain what's happening in the background of this last picture?



It's not a quiz, I'd really like to know. A little magic lurking in the hedgerow, you never know where or when you might find it.


Take care.


25 comments:

  1. Wonderful pictures! I like that 'bokeh'!

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  2. Smiling at okey bokey - which might become my chant too.
    I am clueless about the last background. Reflections from water droplets?

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  3. Lovely photos. Glad you've got the telephoto and know how to use it!

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  4. I think I need to get some binoculars for when I take a hike. I love these close up views (but can't afford a fancy telephoto lens)!

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  5. ah, bokeh! I love it. Seeing these photos is like taking a walk of my own on a sunny day. I appreciate your posting of them. Can't figure out the background of the last image but it reminds me of a prism effect -- the repeating identical images.

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  6. Lovely photos - makes we want to experiment. I just point and shoot.

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  7. Such cheerful photos. We need some spring flowers like that.

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  8. I hate to be pedantic, John, but it should be "if you're using a big lens" not "if your using a big lens." I never do, so the point is moot for me!

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    1. Your pedantry is appreciated; I shall correct it straight away!

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  9. Ilove the photoes they are beautiful!It is very expesive to buy good cameras but I think a normal can do good.If you have only a cellphone and do have Magnifying glass or
    Binoculars you can shoot a photo from them.And creativity is the best!

    I like Your photoes today very good!Feels like spring is coming and you know what..the Geese are flying into Norway now and that surely must be spring coming :)))

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  10. I don’t know what it is but it is gorgeous!

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  11. Your photographs of the emerging leaves make me feel that spring might possibly be on the way here in Canada too. No little baby leaves yet, but the buds are swelling and once we get some warm rain followed by a sunny day,..... WOW we we'll start to that that lovely green haze in the trees.

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  12. I love these photos. Now I want to go out into the world and see if I can photograph it like this. The photos are beautiful, each one a painting of the imagination.

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  13. Makes me want a zoom lens. What detail in these photos, and the backgrounds are pretty cool too.

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  14. These are wonderful pics. I can hardly wait until we get flowers and leaves out here rather than just a few snowdrops etc.

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  15. These photos are beautiful, John. You did a great job, it's good to experiment.
    Thanks for sharing and have a nice evening.

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  16. These are real professional photographs John. Beautiful!

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  17. As always, your photos of spring are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Excellent images! One thing I have been trying to perfect is the 'sunburst' effect from the sun. No luck so far despite setting my camera to what I thought were the correct settings!! Will keep trying.

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    1. Jenn, the only way I can manage a 'sunburst' is to have the aperture (f number) very small, at f16 or F22. That means fiddling about with the ISO and shutter speed to compensate too, but it's the aperture that gives the sunburst effect.

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  19. So much magic! And in response to your comment on my blog, yes, I too am thanking my lucky stars that this didn't happen either when I was freelance or when my mum was ill. Like you, it has not so far markedly impacted my own daily rhythm, apart from the sadness of not being able to see my family.

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  20. Oh, I enjoyed these so much.

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  21. Great shots and use of bokeh . The last one is unusual. It looks a bit like a double exposure in the background. To get different shaped bokeh you can put a cardboard cut out over the lens. So maybe yo had a leaf or something on the lens. Or it could have been a shadow.

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  22. Very different effect from your usual photos. I guess it will be fun to experiment with a variety of backgrounds.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'll try to answer any questions via a comment or e-mail within the next day or two (no hard questions, please!).