Flames and More...

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Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X II TC (hand held at 280mm) with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 200: 1/15 sec. at f/4 in Tv Mode.

Flames and More…

On one of our many trips around the Farm Loop on the recently concluded Bosque IPT, the bright colors of a stand of vegetation caught my eye. When I exited my rental car everyone had a puzzled look on their faces as there were zero birds in sight. “We’re gonna do blurs” I explained. The colors had caught my eye. It was up to each of us to create attractive patterns by choosing a slow shutter speed and moving the camera during the exposure. Within minutes everyone was into it big time. To create the image above, I simply panned the camera vertically during the exposure. We did lots of image sharing right there in the field and there were lots of oohs and ahs. When I showed this one around everyone thought that the image looked like flames.

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Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark III. ISO 160. Evaluative metering +1/3 stops: 1/13 sec. at f/18. Image courtesy of and copyright 2010: James E. Heupel.

Jim Heupel, who was my right-hand man on the Iceland trip a few years back, has been co-leading Bosque IPTs with me for several years. He was the Chief Judge for the United States Air Force for seven years before he retired a while back. He is a fine nature and landscape photographer, and also enjoys photographing World War II re-enactments. On the Bosque IPT Jim did a Lightroom Basics program for the group. As he was scrolling through his images the one above jumped out at me. As I did, most folks asked, “Where did you get that?” While we had enjoyed some nice sunrise color that morning, all agreed that Jim’s image was unique. When I asked him how he created it he said, “I moved the camera vertically while panning with the flock, just as Denise (Ippolito) suggested that we do in last night’s Blurry Day program.” Denise uses that technique often for a variety of natural history subjects but I had never thought of trying it with a flock of Snow Geese in flight in the pre-dawn as Jim did. Looks a lot like flames to me. Thanks to Jim for sharing this wonderful image with us here.

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Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens with the 1.4X II TC (hand held at 215mm) with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 50: 1/8 sec. at f/20 in Manual Mode. I screwed a 77mm stop neutral density filter onto the front of the new 70-200 which is fast becoming one of my very favorite ever lenses. The correct exposure was determined via a histogram check.

If you look at the distant mountains, you can see the vertical pan-blurred background streaks. And if you look at the geese in the lower right corner of the image, you can see that that look like straight white lines. When the flock blasted off I followed their movement by raising the camera vertically thus creating the pan-blurred background and foreground streaks. As Denise and I point out repeatedly in “A Guide to Pleasing Blurs,” digital allows folks to play, experiment, and have lots of fun. And once you have $10,000 to $30,000 worth of cameras, lenses, accessories, computers, compact flash cards, and software, it’s all free!

Moving your camera vertically while creating pleasing blurs can be a great strategy.

Shopper’s Guide

Here is a list of the gear used to create the images above.

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens
Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body

And from the BAA On-line Store:

Gitzo 3530 LS Tripod
Wimberley VII Tripod Head

If you are considering the purchase of a major piece of photographic gear be it a new camera, a long lens, a tripod or a head, or some accessories be sure to check out our complete Shopper’s Guide.

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