Kathy Cavallaro is a versatile photographer who is at home with landscapes, cityscapes, wildlife, digital enhanced images and the list goes on with her accomplishments. Better yet Kathy shares her experience and the wonder of her images regularly on Nikonians. It is clear that she enjoys taking on new forms of photography and working until she has achieved a high level of mastery.
“I’m originally from the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania, and have lived in Colorado, Nebraska, and Indiana. I’m currently back home in rural Bucks County, PA. with my husband of 40 years. I purchased my first camera, a D70s, about 11 years ago. In addition to learning from the folks at Nikonians, I’ve taken many photography courses online, in the classroom and in the field.
Bucks County is a beautiful area rich in history, natural beauty and an abundance of old barns and farmhouses. Bucks County is also close to the urban areas of Philadelphia, New York, and the New Jersey coast. That provides me with a wide variety of subjects to shoot.
I enjoy cycling along the Delaware Canal, there’s a scenic trail of about 60 miles that runs along the river and canal. This offers a lot of opportunity to photograph nature, flowers, covered bridges, and the quaint towns along the river.
I also enjoy long-exposure photography. Some of my favorite subjects are landscapes, especially in the early morning and cityscapes during the blue hour. I typically use a low ISO to lengthen the exposure time. There’s something about the quality of light and the movement with long exposures. I always use my tripod when shooting during low light. It slows me down, allowing me to put more thought into the composition and, of course, helps with getting the image sharp.
Another passion of mine is macro photography. The delicate beauty and detail of a flower is magic, the same can be said of butterflies, and certain insects. I find it’s equally interesting to use a shallow depth of field for a beautiful blur, or focus stack images to render the subject in complete focus.
I also enjoy Infrared photography. I was intrigued with the images I saw online. I got started using an infrared filter, an inexpensive way to try infrared. I soon became hooked and had a D200 converted with a super color filter (590nm filter). Taking an online course was invaluable in learning how to shoot and post-process these images. I’ll shoot infrared in midday light, during the times not conducive to regular photography. It’s a great way to fit more photography into a day, and another way to work an interesting subject.
Another favorite photographic pastime is processing images. I enjoy spending hours in front of my computer blending, and adjusting a good image. Shooting with the D700, I find the dynamic range a little limiting. Because of that I’ll often bracket exposures and blend images manually in Photoshop. If I use Photomatix, I’ll finish the image in Photoshop, sometimes blending parts of the original image back into the HDR file. I also enjoy using several of the Topaz programs again making the final edits in Photoshop. I’m not a fan of one button processing, and usually vary the opacity of the filters to attain a more realistic image.
I found Nikonians through a friend. I immediately found the community to be nurturing with a wealth of knowledge. I’ve gained many friendships over the years.
Nikonians is a valuable place to test what works and what doesn’t. Many times members have pointed out things that I didn’t notice in an image. I’ve also found value in reading critiques on other member’s posts. Early on that was an area that helped me the most. Reading the critiques helped me learn to look at my images with a critical eye. Another value I find on Nikonians is members’ willingness to share their knowledge of equipment and offer technical advice.
For me, I think practice has been the best way to improve my shooting skills and photographic vision. Many times, I’ll download an image and realize if I had only moved and shot at a different angle the image would have much more impact. Also, practice has taught me to appreciate the quality of light. If I find a good subject and it’s an area I can visit again, I’ll go back a few times until the light and clouds are what I envisioned for the scene. Once the techniques and mechanics of making images (including post-processing) became second nature through practice, I found I could focus on my artistic vision and attempt to create the image I saw in my mind’s eye.
I’ve found there’s something to be gained from every shoot, whether I end up with any keepers or not.
A most memorable experience for me was when I shot the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart, Florida. It’s a dynamic structure and, as it turned out, even more so at night. I shot images during the day and the blue hour, which had beautiful light, but when the sky turned black there was a striking contrast between the dark sky and the red and yellow lights of the bridge. I was excited when I viewed the images on the camera’s LCD screen and knew I captured the dynamic scene I wanted.”
It is a pleasure, Kathy, to hear from you and to benefit from the breadth of your knowledge in capturing such dynamic images. What you have shared is only a glimpse into your life as a photographer as we have seen the spectrum of images that you have shared on Nikonians with various lenses, settings, subjects and techniques. Thanks for the motivation to delve deeper into the world of photography.
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