Sun star

Call ’em what you will – sun star, sunburst, starburst, sunray, or just plain fun.

I love doing sunstars. A sunburst adds a dimension to any photograph and point of interest.

Sun bursts through the trees to reflect through the Aspen Trees

I am often complemented at my use of adding sunrays with a a star filter, program, or app. The truth is, sun bursts are very easy to do in camera. No apps required.

All one needs is a wide angle focal point and small aperture. I love my Canon 16mm, set at f/11 for these great results. Sometimes you have to take a number of photos to get the sun poking through the trees just right.

You may have to split a tree to showcase the sunburst, rather than just looking directly at it with full intensity.

But, it’s an easy thing to do, at sunrise, sunset, or even mid day.

As with any photograph – look ahead, look behind, look all around, and look up. Sometimes the best things are just ahead of us.

Fossil Creek ND

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As I continue to strive to get better pix I find that if I stop to think about the photos before just clicking away at the shutter, my photos come out better.

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Case in point when I went out to get smoke pix, just because the smoke makes for more moody pix (see my post here… https://kritterspix.com/2019/10/19/mood-lighting/ ).

So continuing my current pursuit of Fall Colors, we planned a trip to Fossil Creek.  When I think of water pix, I think smooth silky water cascading over rocks, which means to me, a long exposure.

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So considering the outcome I wanted, I had to think about how to achieve my desired result.  Do I go first thing in the morning, dawn… or dusk?  With little light to be had, that could work… OR I could go in full daylight and sun and use a tool I carry in my bag – a Neutral Density (ND) Filter.

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I actually use a variable ND filter so I can control how much light I cut anywhere between 3 stops to 10 stops.  The ND filter allows me to stop down my exposure so I can take a 2 second exposure to get that super silky water.  Tripod required!

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Hmmm… it works!  Thinking through our actions does make a difference.  Who’da thunk it?  Ha!

 

Oak Creek Fall

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It’s Fall, so we are on our mission to collect Fall Colors pix.  When we think of Fall Colors in AZ one of the first places we think of is Oak Creek in Sedona.

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Anytime you can mix fall colors with water it always makes for magical scenery.  The reflections, glow, and leaves littering the ground are all tell tale signs of winter coming.

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Of course, all I have to do is look at my thermometer to know that winter is coming, as it was 3F this am.waterwash_IR.jpg

Check out more pix here … https://kritterspaw.com/2019/10/31/sunshine-gorgeous-scenery/

Change the Vision

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I love Fall.  The colors are stunning.  Though I do find it difficult to capture.

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This season, I decided to challenge myself and shoot ‘out of the box’.   It appears experts are always looking for something new and different.  It doesn’t even matter what the field.  Something edgy that hasn’t been done before often ‘wins’ over tried-and-true.

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I’m happy to learn techniques, composition, and style that I can apply and repeat.  But I suppose that one could argue that such a philosophy can yield predictability and common-place results.

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I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.  That’s for the eye of the beholder… and the end user to decide.

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Blue Ridge Shine

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If you’ve been following my blog you’ve noticed I’ve been on a somewhat futile quest to build a collection of photos of obscure lakes around Arizona.  It was Blue Ridge Reservoir that started the whole mission.

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We did an overnight trip to Blue Ridge and got some cool shots which got me to thinking about those awesome sunset / sunrise reflections in the water.

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So we visited a lot of dry water holes… and encountered a bit of smoke from prescribed burns along the way.  So why not combine the smoke and the lake photos by a re-visit to Blue Ridge Reservoir.

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I love it when a plan comes together!

Thanks to my friend Sue for sharing in this amazing experience.  It was a lot of fun!

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Best of 2018

I did a Best of…. back in 2016.  Not sure what happened in 2017, but thought I’d provide a couple series of Best of’s for this years photos to share.

flames_comp_IR-2.jpg1.  Tinder Fire    Of course, the most memorable (and terrifying) event of the year was the fire that stormed up our hill on April 29, 2018.  We were fortunate enough to be spared… many weren’t so lucky.

burnmist_IR_IR.jpg2.  Post Fire     The post fire made for some surreal photos and devastating landscape, which I’m happy to report is starting to come back.

raybeamstar_IR.jpg3.  Renewal    Trips to the Mogollon Rim brought new light, old growth, and peaceful respites.

_40A5228-HDR_IR.jpg4.  Sublime Point   The North Rim Sublime Point offered an awesome vantage point for nature’s wonder.

rocktreesplit_IR.jpg5.  Bright Angel Point    The popular Bright Angel Point along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon makes for magical scenery.

Maple Blanket_IR.jpg6.  Maple Blanket    An early October snowfall chased the fall colors off the trees creating a blank of fall color on the new fallen snow.

Aspenleaffall_IR.jpg7.  Sedona Fall    Oak Creek Canyon burst with yellows and reds along the serene creek.

maplestream_PS_IR.jpg8.  SnowMelt    Snow melt creates run off among the woods of Mogollon Rim.

_40A3974-Pano-Edit-Edit_LR-Edit_IR.jpg9.  Ruins Doors    This magical place overlooks the valley below as it has for centuries, seemingly untouched.

Ramrelease_IR.jpg10.  Ram Release  While this is more an animal highlight than a photographic one… it was a special moment for us this year, to be a part of re-locating big horn sheep to their natural habitat only a few miles from us.

For more Best of 2018 check out post ….kritterspaw.com/2018/12/27/more-best-of-2018/

Sedona, AZ

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We did an overnight in Sedona and enjoyed this amazing overlook from our campsite.

We ooh’d and aah’d along oak creek (https://kritterspix.com/2018/10/30/oak-creek-sedona-az/)  and saw our first ring tail cat in the wild (see post ….https://kritterspaw.com/2018/10/30/ring-tale/).

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Words just don’t do it justice.  Hard to top this trip.  Where will we head next?

 

Oak Creek, Sedona AZ

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It’s fall in Northern AZ.  With all the snow (all 10″ between 2 storms) and wind we have had, most of the leaves have fallen to the ground on the Rim… so time to explore fall colors in other parts.

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Sedona along Oak Creek makes for a fine diversion.  The aspens were in full yellows and the ferns varying shades of reddish brown.  It was the kind of scenery that gives you pause as it takes your breath away.

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The cascading waters just added to it’s peaceful serenity.  It’s hard to beat scenery like this.  Arizona is truly a magical place.

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One that we are fortunate enough to call home.

 

Mind the Shade

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There are so many things to remember when trying to make a good photograph.  I recently talked about Keep It Clean, and reducing clutter in a photo.  Another important consideration is Shade and Light.

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In the photo above, it’s easy to see the large disparity between exposures – intense shade and shadows in the water, and blown highlights in the sky and trees.  To make the photo successful, I could have done an HDR to take multiple photos with the proper exposure for each separate condition (Shadow & Highlights), and them merged them later.

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Or, using the light that I had, I could cut out the blown highlights in camera, and turned my attention to where the light was more even and exposed for the shadows just by looking down.  Cutting out the highlights yielded a more interesting and focused composition.

Remember… mind the Shade & Light, when composing that pic.

 

Keep it Clean

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Fall colors had me ga-ga like a little kid with a new toy, wandering around snapping shots of all the beauty everywhere I looked.  But when I got home and looked at my photos, I got a lot of ‘scraggle’, like that below.

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While I tried to be aware of all my photography rules: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify,  I pulled out contrasting yellow leaf color against dark trunks and green backgrounds.  But what I got was ‘scraggle’… busy, busy, busy.  Somehow when running around snapping the photos I didn’t see the little twigs that added clutter and distraction.

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Instead, I should have been keeping it CLEAN, by pulling out singular subjects and isolating them for a more interesting and uncluttered shot.

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The shots I took that CUT THE CLUTTER, took the prize and won my favor and the viewer’s eye.