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Finding Subjects to Photograph at Home

Connie Cassinetto (Via the Lens)

Keywords: d500, z7, wildlife, animals, z_24_70, 500mmpf

While I would really like to travel right now, as I would normally be doing to some degree, I am not yet comfortable taking that step (but I’m definitely giving it some thought).  Covid-19 has all of us locked in place to some degree, depending on a variety of businesses that are affected, our geographic location and/or our health status. I’m not too worried about my health, even though I am 67, I have no underlying illnesses and my overall health is good, but I don’t want to get sick either! But, like most of us, I really want to photograph something, preferably some wildlife in a scenic setting but it looks like I won’t be doing that anytime soon.

Recently, I’ve taken to my porch to harass (theoretically speaking) the birds. A couple of weeks ago I finally received a telephoto lens that had been on back order for months so I’m using the time to learn the lens.  I did not mind it being on back order since I was not sure I wanted to spend the money on it and I had actually forgotten about it, since B&H had told me so many times that it was not available.  Then, it showed up at my door and now, after having used it to photograph from my porch, I guess I’m keeping it!  Prior to taking to my porch I was able to get around in the county I live in to photograph wildflowers and it was nice to get out and photograph anything at that point.  Having the opportunity to photograph both subjects let me use the Nikon D500 with the new Nikon 500mm PF lens as well as the Nikon Z7 with the Z-24-70 lens and the Nikon 24-170 lens with the Z converter.  I don’t want to forget how to use my gear!

Poppy with Sky
Nikon Z7, Z 24-70 lens, f/5.6, 1/2000 second (hand-held), ISO 400
Click for an enlargement


As someone who likes to photograph many different types of subjects I’ve learned that each type of subject requires a very different approach, although there are always settings and techniques that overlap.  There was a beautiful super-bloom of field poppies in a canyon about half an hour from my house in April that I was able to visit twice, but prior to that I was able to find other varieties of wildflowers on local hiking trails. As I love nature in general I can almost always find a flower or some other subject in nature to photograph in the hopes of turning the image into something even more beautiful that what I originally saw. I actually like to play around with software to process images as I enjoy attempting to create an image the way I want it to be seen.  The image below is an Indian Paintbrush wildflower, this flower is indigenous to California and can be a challenge to shoot due to the difficulty that can be a part of photographing images that are red.  If I were going to print this I’d probably have to use the Soft Proofing feature in LrC and proof it with different types of paper, carefully checking the gamut range for each paper.  My intent with this image was to create something a little more mystical in nature than simply a red flower in nature.  I toned down the blacks in the Basic panel and used the Brush tool to work on exposure in various parts of the image as well as to add texture on the flower. I went over the background of the image multiple times with the brush tool to further block out the black areas.


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Rich Volkerding (Cluse) on August 2, 2020

I enjoyed you photos. I noticed when photographing in my yard, it seems I see a world I just walked by and didn't notice the details as mush a before. Birds and close up is another world. The idea mentioned about adding flash really does open up new images too. Thank you for your posts.

Dave Hayford (Patriot Dave) on July 2, 2020

Connie, nice shots. I particularly like the Hummer shots. I have spent years shooting these little jewels and know first hand how difficult it is photographing them. It for sure will test your skills. I have actually planted a Garden specifically for them we call Hummer Haven. Their attendance at the garden and feeders will get better as the summer progresses. Have fun shooting them.

Connie Cassinetto (Via the Lens) on July 1, 2020

Ribbon awarded for her valuable contributions to the Articles Section.

Hi David, Thanks for your comment. I'll have to look up wildlife flash photography and do some experimenting, it's good to keep learning. I think our "lock-downs" are going to continue for some time as the virus seems to be gaining speed. It's turning out to be a good opportunity to use the time constructively by learning new things.

David Gibbs (GibbsAsia) on June 30, 2020

Hi Connie, I enjoyed your article and looking at the nice pictures. The high shutter speed bird pics especially so. It takes some patience and some skill to get those kind of shots. You may want to consider playing around with adding some flash light just to make your photography time more interesting. Using a speed flash on your camera's hot shoe can produce some pretty amazing images even when you have natural ambient light and it's fun to play with. I am doing basically the same thing. I am on curfew where I live and have been at my home for 105 days now. Photography, my pets and my garden have kept me going.

Connie Cassinetto (Via the Lens) on June 25, 2020

Ribbon awarded for her valuable contributions to the Articles Section.

Hi Doris, you are welcome. It is amazing what does frequent our yard without us even knowing. I really wish I would have gotten the fox shot! I'm hoping I get one yet. If we just look around we can continue our photography in a different way until we can get back to doing it the way we'd like to.

Doris Johnson (DcamZ) on June 25, 2020

Great article. I’ve been searching the backyard for things to photograph for a while. I started with the flowers in the back yard. Then I purchased a bird feeder and that’s when I realized there were other than black crows that frequent the yard. I photographed dragonflies and bees. I hope the pandemic ends soon, because I’m getting very short on variety now. Thanks for letting people know there is beauty right outside our doors.