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Flower Photography As Art: Pleasing Blurs

I began my entry into serious wildflower photography about 10 years ago. Then, my focus was on capturing all of the identifiable parts of the flower so that I could properly identify and classify the plant.

Field of Sunflowers pan blur: ISO 100, f5.0, 1/160, 165mm

Thistle pan blur; ISO 800, 2.0, f22, 57mm

Sunflower macro blur: ISO 400, 1/60, f3.2, 60mm

Quickly, I learned I needed to also photograph leaves, seeds, stems, the environment and so on if I wanted to identify some of the trickier species; leading me on quests to learn more about wildflowers and plants than I ever could have anticipated. Much to my dismay, there is no one definitive resource which includes all wildflowers. Luckily I live near one of the largest universities in Texas with experts who are usually ready to lend assistance when I can provide them with proper photos.

Today, I still place high importance on the ability to identify any flower that is the subject of one of my photographs. However, I have relaxed and begun to explore the application of different techniques to flower photography. This has produced some results which serve to satisfy my need for creativity.

Pink pelargonium pan blur: ISO 250, 1/6, f32, 70mm

Fields of flowers provide me with options. First, I can work on a tripod using a very small aperture to create an image that is sharp throughout (remember to focus 1/3 of the way into the frame). These images may contain buildings or fences and sky as well as flowers.

Second, I can use a tripod or handhold the camera and pan to create pleasing blurs.  I have found that shutter priority mode with shutter speeds in the 1/15 to 1/2 second range work well but other times, such as in the sunflower image, 1/160 second exposure produced a pleasing blur. Note that not all blurs are pleasing. Design elements are still at play in blurs. Color, form, and balance are especially important. Look for color combinations or patterns. Pay attention to background, envisioning how the blur will render elements found there. Flower photography can be great fun and creative! I’d like to hear from you about your panning experiences.

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Camera Presets for the Birds!

Why do many nature photographers find bird photography so challenging? I think the ever changing situation (light, shadow, movement) challenges a photographer’s knowledge and ability to effectively and efficiently get the best shot at the optimum exposure. I address the challenge by developing my understanding and knowledge related to my equipment. That includes understanding equipment features as well as limitations.

You must accept that your camera/lens has limitations. Once you understand these, you can recognize when the limits of your equipment will not allow you to capture the photo you see in your mind. Then, you can determine what photo your equipment can capture. All in all, this is just a way of setting realistic expectations–something I see as beneficial for all photographers.

Choosing camera settings is often about compromise. For example, in selecting an exposure mode, you are looking for the best compromise between control and automation. Manual mode provides the maximum control but may be slower to use in the field, which could mean missed shots. In Program mode, all control over the combination of aperture and shutter speed is done by the camera and taken away from the photographer, which may not provide enough control.

In bird photography, I often feel as though I am battling against low light levels, especially during the golden hour! Birds normally move constantly, so I want a fast shutter speed to freeze the motion. Also, long lenses magnify the movement (‘shake’) in my gear, which also calls for a fast shutter speed. However, long lenses also tend to be ‘slow’, having a maximum aperture of f/4 or smaller. Adding teleconverters makes them even slower and further magnifies any movement. Because of these issues, I always want to use the fastest shutter speed available for the given light level. Therefore, I  want to keep my aperture at its widest usable setting. I find aperture-priority mode to be the best setting for almost all bird photography because it lets me choose a wide aperture and have the camera set the shutter speed accordingly. As a side note, I also use this mode when shoot wildflowers as it gives me the most control over depth-of-field.

Digital SLR cameras have a bewildering array of settings. Getting them right can make a big difference to your bird photographs and can make producing them much easier. The following are starting points or settings you might have preset when heading out on a bird photography shoot–knowing that you will modify them as the situation demands.

DSLR Settings for General Bird Photography
Exposure Mode: aperture priority

  • Aperture: widest
  • Shutter Speed: controlled by exposure mode
  • ISO: 100 if possible
  • Metering mode: Evaluative, spot for extreme situations
  • Autofocus mode: AI servo or Continuous
  • AF point selection: center point
  • Drive mode: Continuous

 

DLSR Settings for Birds in Flight

  • Exposure Mode: manual
  • Aperture: widest
  • Shutter Speed: 1/1000th for birds moving slowly through the viewfinder; 1/4000th of a second for those moving quickly
  • ISO: high, 1600, tradeoff is digital noise
  • Metering mode: Evaluative, spot for extreme situations
  • Autofocus mode: AI servo or Continuous
  • AF point selection: center point
  • Drive mode: Continuous
  • Lens setting: Image stabilization – mode II or off

 

GOOD BIRDS!

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How to Configure Domains for WordPress Multisite on Bluehost: Part 2 of 2

Once you have established your  WordPress Multisite domain  as an Addon Domain through the BlueWordpress logohost cPanel, you can begin adding the domains for each of your network sites. This is the second post of a two-part series. If you need instructions for completing the first phase, see Part 1.

The steps that follow contain instructions for setting up the domain for one of the network sites in a WordPress Multisite network, where the network site has its own domain name.  For example, the site carolfoxhenrichs.com is part of the photography.io WordPress Multisite network.

Let’s begin! My domain, carolfoxhenrichs.com was not registered through Bluehost but I want to use it as part of my multisite that is hosted on Bluehost. What follows are the steps you will need to take, if your situation is like mine.

 

  1. Change the DNS nameserviers for the network site domain to those recommended by Bluehost (currently ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com). Consult your domain registrar for assistance if needed.
  2. Sign in to cPanel.cpanel
  3. Scroll to the Domains section.
  4. Select Addon Domains.addon
  5. You will see “Step 1: Enter Domain.” There are two options:
    • If you registered your  domain through Bluehost or have already associated it with your acount, you should select  Use a domain that is already associated with your account.  Then select the domain to be used for the multisite from the dropdown list. OR
    • If your multisite domain was registered through another entity, (such as GoDaddy, Name.com or any one of several others), then you will select Use a domain that is not already associated with your account.
  6. Follow the instructions shown for Step 2 Verify Ownership making sure to update the nameservers if you have not already done so.
  7. Next, you must choose how you would like to assign the domain. This step and the next are critical and making the wrong choices kept my multisite network domain from correctly resolving. Where you see Step 3: Choose Addon vs. Parked,  you should select Addon Domain. Note: other sites instruct you to select parked domain, which did not work for the type of installation where the multisite domain is not the Bluehost primary domain. 
  8. For Step 4: Choose Addon Directory and Sub-domain, select the directory where you installed WP Multisite. This should be associated with the domain we set up in Part 1. Then enter a subdomain name in the text field at the bottom.  Here I chose something very close or identical to my domain name.
  9. Sub-domain: is pre-populated . If you don’t like what is there, feel free to change it.  The subdomain is require by cPanel but you won’t need it for the Multisite setup.
  10. Select Assign this domain. assign

I recommend installing the WordPress MU Domain Mapping plugin as the next step. There are excellent instructions!

[ratings]

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How to Configure Domains for WordPress Multisite on Bluehost: Part 1 of 2

wordpress-logo-hoz-rgbI am in the process of migrating all of my websites to Bluehost and after many frustrating hours of hit and miss attempts to get my WordPress Multisite working, I finally found the correct configuration! I am sharing my configuration to perhaps, save you some time.

My configuration may differ from many others. My multisite is not associated with the primary domain of my Bluehost user account, which may be why I couldn’t follow the directions found in support forums. My Bluehost primary domain is isitemgr.com but my multisite domain is photography.io. This post is on carolfoxhenrichs.com, a site that is part of the photography.io network.

The following steps describe the process for setting this up using domains that were not registered through Bluehost and how I finally got it to work.

Adding your multisite domain to Bluehost:

  1. Sign in to cPanel.cpanel
  2. Scroll to the Domains section.
  3. Select Addon Domains.addon
  4. You will see “Step 1: Enter Domain.” There are two options:
    • If you registered your multisite domain through Bluehost, then  it will already be associated with your account.  You should select  Use a domain that is already associated with your account.  Then select the domain to be used for the multisite from the dropdown list. OR
    • If your multisite domain was registered through another entity, (such as GoDaddy, Name.com or any one of several others), then you will select Use a domain that is not already associated with your account.
  5. Follow the instructions shown for Step 2 Verify Ownership making sure to update the nameservers.
  6. Next, you must choose how you would like to assign the domain. Select Addon Domain. The Addon Domain option creates a subdirectory in the public_html directory (in a linux installation) and will still allow you to use a unique url to look like a different website.
  7. For Step 4: Choose Addon Directory and Sub-domain, select Create a new directory and you may type in the name you would like for the directory. I tend to use the name that is pre-populated here as it looks very much like my domain name.
  8. Sub-domain: is pre-populated as well. If you don’t like what is there, feel free to change it.  The subdomain is require by cPanel but you won’t need it for the multisite setup.
  9. Select Assign this domain.assign

If you followed all of the previous steps, the first phase for configuring your domains to work with WordPress multisite on bluehost is now complete.  Allow time for the nameserver settings to propogate or be distributed across the Internet.  Propogation can take up to 48 hours. You can perform a DNS look up, to check the current state of the distribution across name servers from around the world by going to www.whatsmydns.net.

Continue to Part 2

[ratings]

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Flagging Keepers vs. Star Rating

One of the biggest challenges in organizing image files is that of rating their quality.  The ultimate goal is to be able to find your best image when you need it and perhaps to delete the really bad ones. Personally, I use Lightroom’s flags in my workflow to select the best shots as Picks and the mess-ups as Rejects. Lightroom does offer another way for you to rate your images, with a star rating system. Frankly, I have trouble deciding whether an image deserves 2 or 3 stars. And, as Scott Kelby points out, you probably won’t use these images anyway, so why waste time rating them?
I can quickly go through the images just imported into my Library and flag the ones I am interested in looking at again as Picks by pressing the P key. This  adds a white flag icon above the image preview in Grid View. I can unflag a photo by pressing U.
For shots that I know I will never need, such as blurry or out of focus, then I flag these as Rejects by pressing the X key.I can tell Lightroom to delete all of these by selecting Photo>Delete Rejected Photos.
For those pictures somewhere in between the best and worst, I give them a 1 star rating, by pressing the 1 key, to indicate that I have reviewed the image. I am reluctant to delete anything but the absolutely unusable images. I’m hoping future technology innovations might make it possible to save them or use them in some fashion!