Wandering Landscapes: Blog https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog en-us (C) 2021 Ruth M. Mosher [email protected] (Wandering Landscapes) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:39:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:39:00 GMT https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/img/s/v-12/u128915472-o1058824833-50.jpg Wandering Landscapes: Blog https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog 116 120 Are Backgrounds Important? https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/6/the-background-is-important Until I started macro photography, I never considered backgrounds, because the landscape photos I took were pretty much one dimensional,  everything was in focus.      But I now realize, backgrounds are the key to interesting and artistic photos. 


As I analyzed other photographers’ work, I really liked the artistic blurred backgrounds in macro photos, where the subject is the focus, and the rest of the photo is blurred.   There is much more emphasis on the primary object. The correct term describing the blurred background is bokah, so I also added a new word to my vocabulary. 


Example of BokahBlurred background makes subject standout


While taking the macro class I had my aperture set to f/14, which is a good overall standard setting and with my macro lens I was getting some blurring of the background.   I started to experimenting with opening the aperture by adjusting the f-stop to f/5.6 and comparing the same photo taken at f/14.  I really liked the results particularly for photos of small items and flowers.  


The depth of field became shorter as the aperture opening increases by moving the setting to f/5.6. So what does that mean?  There is a smaller area of focus, which has some implications.  If an object is complex or multidimensional or if there are a number of objects in the photo, what should be the area of focus?  Should the focus be in the front-most object or part of an object or should it be in the middle or the background?  In most cases, I like to make the front-most object or portion of the object,  the focus.  But that can change depending on the effect you want to achieve.   When shooting macro photography, I always use manual focus so I control precisely where the focus will be. 


Focus On The Middle Object More complex photo with flower the obvious subject


You really need to consider the background, so the angle you shoot the photo is important.  A pleasing background enhances a photo, a not so pleasing background definitely detracts from a photo. 


This example shows a great shot of a peony, but the blurred peony that is in the background is a white blob, which definitely detracts from the beauty of the photo. 


Blurred BackgroundCreates distracting object


This example shows how the background can enhance the shot. While the focus is in the foreground, the blurred background is recognizable and completes the shot. 


Background is blurred but recognizableCompletes and enhances photo


One more example of a little more complex macro shot with the f-stop at f/5.6 that produces focus on the subject and the blurred background. Here two of the flowers and the bee are in focus and the blurred green background makes the flowers and bee stand out. 


Complex PhotoOne flowers and bee in focus, creating almost a 3 dimensional look.


Have fun experimenting with bokah and the point of focus.   I have!

[email protected] (Wandering Landscapes) Bokah macro photography photo backgrounds https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/6/the-background-is-important Sat, 28 Jun 2014 03:32:39 GMT
Seeing The World Through A New Perspective https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/6/seeing-the-world-through-a-new-perspective  

A friend of mine said I would never use my macro lens after I finished last semester’s macro photography class.  That bothered me a bit because the purchase of the Tamron lens was a bit of a stretch for a retiree.   But now I am finding I can’t stop using it!  It’s allowing me to look at the world through a new perspective.   I am now seeing things that I have never seen before and being almost 62 years old, that’s pretty surprising.  There is beauty in this world, that I have never noticed.  


I started photographing wild flowers this spring.  As I was driving on Sunday,  I noticed some little yellow flowers along the side of the road  with some flowering clover.  I was excited that there was a new wild flower to add to the collection.  When I looked at the photo results, I was amazed at the shapes and detail of both the yellow flowers and the clover. 




When I went to shoot peony photos at Boerner Botanical this week, I noticed some small star-shaped flowers.  I went in for the macro shot and this is what I saw.  Amazing detail on such a small scale. 



Also these little triangular flowers with the furry centers. 



Saw these interesting flowers on a hike at Paradise Springs in Eagle.  Details  that you don’t really notice unless you are looking at them closely. 



I love seeing the world through a new perspective.  



[email protected] (Wandering Landscapes) Macro Photography https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/6/seeing-the-world-through-a-new-perspective Thu, 12 Jun 2014 00:06:59 GMT
Managing The Sun https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/5/managing-the-sun  

In my last blog, I discussed why shooting on cloudy days isn’t always bad.  That’s really  trying to make the best out of a bad situation.   Fortunately, the sun has finally decided to make its appearance on a regular basis, so it’s time to manage the sun. 


Light is the key to good photography.  Anyone can take an OK picture no matter what the weather is.  But the difference between a good photo and a great photo is how you manage the light. 


The absolute best times to take dramatic photos is the hour or so after sunrise or the hour or so before sunset.  But does that mean all the rest of the day, you can’t take dramatic shots?  No, but you have to manage the sun and use it to your advantage. 


I think most everyone knows you can’t be too successful taking pictures into the sun.  So make sure the sun is always to your back or side.  The means you need to plan your shots.  I often survey a potential location by the route of the sun and that determines the time of day you will be most successful for that particular shot.  


A sunny, blue-sky day always works for your sweeping landscape shots.  Landscape shots can always be improved by taking the shots during the two “golden” hours I discussed above when there is potential for dramatic colors and lighting in the sky. 

Sunny Days Improve Any Landscape ShotA dramatic sunrise or sunset could improve this shot.


But on any sunny day you can use the sun to illuminate, highlight or create translucency, which also results in drama.  But harsh sunlight also creates some challenges, shadows and the potential over lighting that reduces both color and detail.


In a recent photo trip to Chicago Botanic Gardens, I have some great examples: 


Illuminating by direct sunlight: 

Direct sunlight to illuminateCreates great detail, but shadows have to be managed.

   Direct sunlight to illuminateBrings out detail and color.

Creating transparency: 
Using Sun To Create TransparencySun in the center with the shot from the side makes the flower glow
Sunlight Behind The Flower to Create TransparencyCreates a soft view and highlights soft detail, almost a watercolor effect
Highlighting to create interest: 
Direct Sunlight Highlights Just The FlowersProvides a three dimensional feel that makes the flowers standout
Direct Sunlight Highlights Leaves and BackgroundCreates interest and drama with a three dimensional illusion
Using filtered light: 
Filtered Light Highlights And Creates InterestSoftens the view vs. direct illumination
Filtered Light In BackgroundCreates surreal, artistic feel. Leaves seem to glow. Consistent soft lighting on foreground flowers make them standout.
There are many more examples of effectively using sunlight in my Spring at Chicago Botantic Gardens gallery.  Enjoy!
[email protected] (Wandering Landscapes) Chicago Botanic Photography Tutorial Sunlight https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/5/managing-the-sun Sun, 25 May 2014 04:31:21 GMT
Cloudy Isn't Always Bad https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/5/cloudy-isnt-always-bad  

This spring has been plagued with cool and cloudy days.  We’ve had to wait so long for the spring flowers. But I couldn’t wait any longer for a sunny day to go take pictures, because the spring flowers are blooming.  So off to Boerner Botanical I went on a cloudy Wednesday.  


I decided to use my macro lens during this photo shoot and hand-hold my camera rather than deal with the tripod. So my first challenge was to get focused shots at ISO 100. That proved pretty much impossible.  I increased ISO to 200 in well-lit areas and increased ISO to 400 in darker areas.   My f-stop was at 14-16. 


Much to my surprise cloudy actually turned out to be advantageous.  When I started taking macro shots, I noticed I was getting amazing detail and true vivid colors.  There were no blow-out of color or detail and no shadows that you would normally get on a sunny day. 


Some examples:  


In The PinkFine detail and beautiful colors


TulipsVivid colors and minute detail


Cream TulipsFine detail and interesting color tones


Landscape shot taken with macro lensGood detail but I miss the blue sky

So macro shots on a cloudy day turn out great.  Look for the sun and blue skies when you are taking those scenic landscape shots. 


Want to see more of my photos from that cloudy day?  Check out Spring at Boerner.

[email protected] (Wandering Landscapes) Boerner Botanical Gardens https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/5/cloudy-isnt-always-bad Sat, 17 May 2014 01:31:05 GMT
Take Time To Smell The Wildflowers https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/5/take-time-to-smell-the-wildflowers  

When my kids were young,  our family looked forward to the wildflowers of spring,  Our large yard in Racine County had wild violets, lily of the valley and some trilliums that made their appearance every year.  We would also walk out to some wooded areas near our home or went up to Whitnall Park to enjoy the wild flowers. 

This was definitely one thing I missed when I moved to my condo in Franklin.  But much to my surprise,  a walk down the Oak Leaf bike trail between Drexel Ave. and Puetz, I came across a wooded area that was filled with wild flowers, which brought back many good memories.  

This past week, I found Wood Violets, Trilliums, Blood Root, May Apples, Marsh Marigolds,  Trout Lilies, Wood Anemone, Spring Beauty and  Hepatica.    The Lily of the Valley will be blooming soon. 


Wood VioletViola sororia

White TrilliumTrillium graniflorum

Prairie Trillium Trillium recurvatum

BloodrootSanguianaria canadensis

May Apple and Trillum Podophyllum peltatum

Marsh MarigoldsCaltha palustris


Trout LilyErythronium umbilicatum

Trout LilyErythronium americanum

Wood AnemoneAnemone nemorosa

Spring BeautyClaytonia virginica

HepaticaHepatica nobilis


Enjoy my whole wildflower collection, which is currently on display on my home page and will be in the featured section throughout the summer, as I add new wild flowers.  Hurry up, go out and smell the wildflowers, it’s a beautiful time of year.  You don’t want to miss them!


[email protected] (Wandering Landscapes) Hepatica Marsh Marigold May Apple Spring Beauty Trillium Trout Lily Wisconsin Spring Wildflowers Wood Anemone Wood Violet https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/5/take-time-to-smell-the-wildflowers Tue, 13 May 2014 01:05:38 GMT
I'm Getting Impatient! https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/3/im-getting-impatient  

Is Spring ever going to get here?   I drove to Chicago Botanic Gardens to see if I could see any hints of Spring.   The ponds are still frozen over and there is still some snow on the ground, but flower bed are being uncovered.   

Chicago Botanic GardensJapanese Gardens

I was able to find a few hints of Spring!


I had a lot more luck when I went into the pavilion.  While the orchid show is over, there were still some orchids out and about. But there were also many varieties of beautiful flowers. 


These photos I shot on the way out...way cool poppies.  I’ve never seen them in these colors.  Next to the yellow flowers they were stunning.


Want to see more?  Check out the Chicago Botanic gallery

[email protected] (Wandering Landscapes) Chicago Botanic Poppies Spring https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/3/im-getting-impatient Mon, 24 Mar 2014 23:25:42 GMT
Chicago's River of Green https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/3/chicagos-river-of-green  

A friend and I drove down to Chicago on Saturday to check out the St. Patrick’s Day festivities.   The city colors the river green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.   By the time we got there, it was already bright green.  A fun time for lots of lively colored kayaks and paddle boarders. 


A River of Green


We took an architectural tour on the Chicago River.  Interesting info about the many Chicago buildings.  



Dwellings along the river ranged from high-priced townhomes/condos to some unfortunate folks that camp along the river in tents.   Can't imagine how cold that might have been this winter. 


 Lighting was perfect for some incredible skyline shots.  


As we walked toward the parade, the crowds got more dense and "active", so we gave up on the parade idea and walked to Greek Town for lunch.   

 We passed a number of interesting sites as we walked.

St. Peter's Catholic Church


Fun day in Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day Weekend.  


Want to see more, check out the gallery.

[email protected] (Wandering Landscapes) Chicago Chicago Skyline St. Patrick's Day Willis Tower https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/3/chicagos-river-of-green Mon, 17 Mar 2014 15:13:27 GMT
Holy Macro - Part 3 https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/3/holy-macro---part-3  

I’ve come to the end of the macro photography class at WCTC.   Our last field trip was to the Milwaukee Public Museum Butterfly exhibit.    It was a fun assignment.  Some of the challenges were lighting and, of course, shooting butterflies that are moving objects. 



I addressed lighting by increasing ISO to 400 and, at times, 800.  I had a lot of difficulty holding my camera, with the heavier macro lens, steady enough to get focused shots.  A monopod would have been very helpful.   


I tried to shoot in areas where they had added additional flood lights.   It started out sunny but quickly became cloudy, so sun didn't help me out. 



I experimented with using the sports mode feature to see what I would get as the butterflies moved their wings and flitted about.   While I got some unique shots, in some cases, the automatic settings moved the ISO much higher so the shots have more noise or granularity.  



Here are the two posters that I created utilizing some of the best shots.   





I look forward to the portrait photography class that will be offered during the summer semester. 




[email protected] (Wandering Landscapes) Butterfly Milwaukee Public Museum https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/3/holy-macro---part-3 Tue, 11 Mar 2014 13:33:30 GMT
Lost Photos of Switzerland https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/3/lost-photos-of-switzerland

Of all the wanderings, my 2003 hiking trip to southwestern Switzerland is one of my favorites.  It was my second trip using my beloved 3.3 Megapixel brick, the Canon G1 point and shoot.  


Somehow, over the years, the original files from this trip have gotten lost.   At that time, I backed up files using CD/DVDs, so I’m not sure if there are CDs that just became unreadable, the files may have been lost with a hard drive failure that occurred a few years later or just bad management of files.   The only evidence of the trip are these photos that were downsized to make a DVD. 


Since the files can’t be used for anything but a blog, I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and provide a flashback blog.


A friend and I flew into Geneva, Switzerland late May 2003.  We found Geneva rather unremarkable and spent little time there, but it was in world focus that year because the G8 Summit  was scheduled to commence right before we left.  More on that at the end. 

Geneva, SwitzerlandIconic fountain in the harbor

Geneva Harbor


Some views of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) from Vevey. 

Vevey Promenade


Lac Leman

We took a small train from Vevey to Les Pleiades.  In May, the countryside is in bloom.  We reach the top and the whole hillside was cover with blooming Narcissus.  It was beautiful. 

Les PleidesHillside of Narcissus Narcissus

Next stop was Gstaad, a small Alpine village known for skiing and winter sports.   I think we did an overnight there.  As we were preparing to leave, we heard bells and looked down the street.  A farmer was moving his cattle to graze at the higher elevations.  They paraded right down main street. You can see you would not  want to be the lead cattle as their bells were massive. 

Gruyeres, famous for its cheese, also has a castle, a medieval city center and an interesting church. 

Gruyere's CastleOverlooks the village below

Gruyere's CheeseCures for 6 months or longer

St. Theodul ParishGruyere's Church

Switzerland is made up of cantons influenced by the countries that surround it.  The Valais canton is primarily French and the towns are quaint.  Hiking opportunities in this canton are plentiful.   We decided to explore the Val D' Herens staying in Les Haudres.  We took the bus to Arrolla and hiked out to Mt. Collon to see the glacier. 

La SageHike from Les Haudres

Les HaudresQuaint Village in Valais

Mt. Collon Hike to the glacier

The last area we explored before returning to Geneva was Zermatt.  Zermatt has wonderful hiking trails passing through many small villages where you could stop for a beer, apple strudel or lunch. Curly-horned sheep grazed the countryside.  The Matterhorn was in view from almost any direction.   One of the most beautiful places on earth. 

Hiking around ZermattSheep graze the countryside

Curly-horned sheep

The Matterhorn

Zermatt Countryside

Alpine Flowers

In Zermatt, you can go to the top of the world. We took the rack rail up to the Gornergrat observatory.  Magnificent views of the glacier, mountain lakes, and the Matterhorn.  We hiked half way down and then took the railway the remainder of the way down to Zermatt. 

GornergratRack Railway to Observatory

Gornergrat Glacier

Mountain LakeMatterhorn is in the background

On our return to Geneva, we found the city had been prepared for the G8 Summit.  Glass storefronts were boarded up in anticipation of riots.  We left early for the airport which was under a tremendous amount of security.   On the tarmac we waved to President Bush on Air Force One and our plane was finally approved to take off for home.   


[email protected] (Wandering Landscapes) Arrolla Gornergrat Gruyeres Gstaad La Sage Les Haudres Matterhorn Mt. Collon Narcissus Switzerland Valais Zermatt https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/3/lost-photos-of-switzerland Tue, 04 Mar 2014 18:39:26 GMT
Orchid Overload https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/2/orchid-overload  



I searched for a photo trip near home to hone my macro skills.  I found the Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show.  It was amazing!  I have never seen so many varieties orchids in one place.  The park is in Glencoe, Illinois so it was an hour drive from Milwaukee.  If you are not a member, the cost of parking is steep, $25.  The show itself was $10 which was definitely worth the price of admission.  After seeing the potential for photography I opted for a membership and they applied my parking fee toward the $85 membership fee.  I will be back for many more visits in the next year.  


Now there were a few photographic challenges.  No tripods were allowed.  Lighting was an issue in some areas, so I had to use a flash and increased my ISO to 400 for handheld shots in the well lit areas. I did use my reflector when I could catch some light.  I see a monopod in my near future.   Apparently they did not have an issue with using a monopod. 


My favorite orchids were the lady slipper variety.  


Lady Slipper Orchids




There were two large greenhouses with beautifully landscaped displays as well as several other rooms with huge displays. 



Beautifully Landscaped Displays


Check out my Chicago Botanic Gallery for all my best shots.   Can’t wait to go back for the spring flowers, as well as the Japanese gardens. 



[email protected] (Wandering Landscapes) Chicago Botanic Orchid Show monopod https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/2/orchid-overload Mon, 24 Feb 2014 14:42:11 GMT
Holy Macro - Part 2 https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/2/holy-macro-part-2  

Our WCTC Macro Photography class took a field trip to the Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee.  It is an interesting place for plant photography with its Tropical, Desert and Floral Show Dome.  Currently the desert dome is closed for renovation. 




The domes are like large greenhouses where on a sunny day there could be harsh lighting with many areas of shaded lighting.  A reflector came in very handy.  I had never used one before this class.  You can get one on Amazon fairly cheaply.  I bought a 22” reflector just because the smaller one is easier to handle and works well for macro photography.  They have 5 options to provide different lighting effects and  it folds down into a small round case.


5-in-1 Reflector

Reflector Options




 I used the silver side to reflect sunlight onto the shadier plants.     It worked great.  You can see the difference in detail and iridescence of the flower. The lighting fills in the shady spots.  It can make the difference between a good and great picture. 



Without ReflectorInconsistent lighting

Lighting Example - ReflectorBrings out detail and beauty of flower



Camera Settings 

I started out using my camera’s AV mode with ISO100 and f14.   Handheld shots were more difficult so the instructor suggested increasing the ISO to 400. 



Whenever possible I used a tripod.  It was difficult to hand-hold the camera steady enough for focused shots.  But there were areas where a tripod wasn’t practical. 

I found I needed a small tripod  to get  close to plants near the floor where a normal tripod typically couldn’t be used.   So off to Amazon.  We’ll see how the new little tripod works out. 


Table-top TripodWe'll see how it works out!



Selection of Shots and Post-Processing

The beauty of of digital photography is you can take many, many shots of each item.  I look through the shots and select the best, and then from those I refine the selection further. On my final selections,  I then do post-processing in Photoshop.  I try not to alter the photos too much from their original appearance, but I usually adjust Levels and Saturation.  I find using Curves is very helpful to bring back washed out details.  



Before Post-ProcessingColor slightly washed out and photo lacks contrast



Post-Processing CompleteIncreased contrast and minor pop in color



The final step is displaying the photos in a pleasing format.  The class syllabus directs us to create a collage. Here are the two collages that I put together.


Collage 1Created in Photoshop Collage 2Created in Photoshop

[email protected] (Wandering Landscapes) 5-in-1 Reflector Mitchell Park Domes Tripod https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/2/holy-macro-part-2 Fri, 21 Feb 2014 14:51:02 GMT
Holy Macro - Part 1 https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/2/holy-macro

I’ve always had an interest in taking close-ups of flowers, but had never really gotten into macro photography.   Macro photography requires more planning and setup than my other photography.  It demands that you seek the fine details.  It is more creative. The result is art rather than just a pretty picture.  


In February, I started a non-credit class at Waukesha County Technical College in macro photography. Taking a class is one of the best ways to learn as it forces you to try new techniques, practice, as well as review and learn from class photo critiques.


So I set out to purchase my first macro lens, the Tamron SP 90MM F/2.8 DI MACRO 1:1 VC.  It has Vibration Control which should assist in maintaining focus in some handheld shots. 


I’m finding the biggies in macro photography are depth of field, focus and lighting.   Focus is important in any photography but in macro photography it is imperative because of the details.  Depth of field is the amount of area that is in focus.  In extreme close-ups, there is a very shallow depth of field or area of focus.  The lighting you choose “makes” or “breaks” the photo.  A poorly lit photo is uninteresting.   I will provide examples of each of these concepts. 


Focus - A minimum requirement for all photography 



Out of FocusOops! Just a little too breezy

Focused CorrectlyAll detail is visible




Depth of Field - Choosing area of focus.  The closer you are to an object the narrower the depth of field or the smaller the area of focus.  Now this can be adjusted in a variety of ways which I'm not getting into at this point. 


Focus on the paper money



Focus on the coins




Lighting - The same picture with different lighting looks much different.  I experimented using an LED flashlight to change the lighting effect. 


Lighting Effect 1 This is the light treatment I preferred.



Lighting Effect 2 Lighting slightly higher made the photo much less dramatic




We also used the flashlights to do light painting on an item we brought to class. 


Light Painting Marbles




This is just the beginning as there is so much to learn.  Stay tuned for Holy Macro - Part 2. 




[email protected] (Wandering Landscapes) Depth of Field Macro Photography Tamron Macro Lens WCTC https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/2/holy-macro Thu, 13 Feb 2014 22:01:52 GMT
Dawn's Early Light https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/2/dawns-early-light  

It was an extremely cold Sunday morning yesterday. I decided to check out the dawn along Lake Michigan.   My favorite spot is Windpoint, just north of Racine, Wisconsin.  I woke when it was still dark, checked the skies were clear, grabbed my gear and headed out.  I arrived just before dawn and noticed I didn’t have an SD card in my camera!  Oh, darn!  Found a Walgreens nearby so all was not lost.  By the time I got back the sun had made its appearance, but it wasn’t too late to catch a few good shots.    Stopped first by the lighthouse and the light was still very red. 


Red Sky Windpoint Lighthouse


Taking a shot directly into the sun, gave the appearance of a very red sky.  The water was warmer than the air so there was a lot of lake fog coming off the lake.   It was a surreal view. 


Surreal SunriseLake Michigan on a very cold February morning


I headed down the road a little bit to the Shoop Golf Course parking lot, which has wonderful views out to the lake. 


Golden DawnOpen water just offshore


Warm Glow


Backtracking a bit, I took a quick shot across the little golf course.  


SilhouettesNo golf for a few more months


It was a beautiful morning with a light hoarfrost covering the weeds and bushes .  With a little wind there was a silvery glow in the air.  It almost looked like a snow globe. 


Frosty FurHoarfrost covers the weeds and bushes.


It was a great Sunday morning!


[email protected] (Wandering Landscapes) Lake Michigan Photograpy Racine Windpoint Wisconsin https://www.wanderinglandscapes.com/blog/2014/2/dawns-early-light Tue, 11 Feb 2014 00:29:49 GMT