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Backyard Bokeh

August 20, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

As I've discussed in the past on this blog, the photography term "bokeh" refers to an out-of-focus area of an image. A photo is often considered to have "good bokeh" if those areas have a smooth, silky look, or are generally pleasing to the eye.

I could describe the many ways that the word "bokeh" is pronounced, but that's a whole other discussion that I'd rather not get in to.

I could also discuss the many ways that good bokeh is achieved. But I don't want to make this an instructional post. I'm also no expert on the subject. I just know the way I do it.

It all has to do with depth-of-field - i.e. the in-focus depth of the image. Therefore lens and aperture choice have something to do with it, as does your distance to the subject, since they all affect depth-of-field.

The other day I decided to take advantage of a nice day and grab some images in my backyard. I used my telephoto lens (my favorite), and I was able to frame some shots in such a way as to generate some nice green background...backyard...bokeh.

Here's the best three shots of the day.  (In the first two images, the green background is actually just the grass in my backyard.)

Flower and Green BokehFlower and Green BokehA backyard flower in front of smooth green bokeh.

Golden Rain Tree LeavesGolden Rain Tree LeavesA close-up of leaves from a Golden Rain tree.

Orange FlowerOrange FlowerAn orange flower captured with great background bokeh.

 

Good bokeh makes for a good background, and good backgrounds are necessary for good photos.

That's pretty good - somebody oughta put that on a coffee mug or something.

 

 


Steel Ford

July 22, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I'm a photography fan, obviously. But I'm also a fan of writing. I enjoy "wordsmithing" a message, in an effort to express an opinion or convey a feeling in an engaging and eloquent way.

As a case in point, I rewrote the preceding sentence about 3 times before I got it just right.

Anywho, the reason I bring this up is that my love of writing is the reason this blog often contains so much verbiage to go along with the images.

But I need to remember that, technically, this is a "photoblog".  So, by definition, it is to contain photos, with brief captions, and that's it. There should be no need to babble on and on about some obscure topic that's remotely related to the image in question, or the camera equipment used to create the photo, or the location at which it was taken, or the post-processing that was performed on it, resulting in run-on sentences with multiple clauses and seemingly no end.

Yeah.

So, here's a photo:

Steel FordSteel FordA 1936 Ford sedan, made of stainless steel, on display at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.

It's the front grille and lights of a stainless steel 1936 Ford sedan on display at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, PA. I did not apply a monochrome treatment to it - this is the true coloring, with a little enhancement of the yellow/orange reflections from the overhead lights, which I thought was a nice effect.

'Nuff said.

 

 


Flowers in Vibrant Black and White

June 24, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Flowers are all about color. But I recently saw some flower shots by other photographers that were rendered in monochrome (black and white), and that inspired me to try the same thing.

That's really just a polite way of saying that I ripped off their idea.

Let's say I was inspired.

This first shot is interesting because it's got that "repeated pattern" thing going on -- in other words, the flowers in the background look a lot like the one in the foreground.

 

Monochrome Flower #2Monochrome Flower #2A standard flower shot, rendered in monochrome.

 

Next we have what I think is a hydrangea. It's a big flower with a lot of detail, so I thought it made a good candidate for monochrome.

 

Monochrome Flower #3Monochrome Flower #3A standard flower shot, rendered in monochrome.

 

The last one is my favorite, just because of the detail in the flower petals, the various degrees of light and shadow, and just generally because I think it's a cool shot. I think it's the best of the three shots.

 

Monochrome Flower #1Monochrome Flower #1A standard flower shot, rendered in monochrome.

 

These were all taken at Longwood Gardens, and I've got a ton of flower shots from that day. Most of them are really best seen in vibrant color because, of course, that's how flowers look their best. But I chose the 3 images above for a monochrome treatment because I thought the color(s) of the flower itself weren't as important. There was enough interest in the shape of the petals, the setting of the flower itself, and the light and shadow in the photo.

I swear I'm trying to get away from these flower images, but they seem to keep filling up this blog. I wish I could tell you what's "coming up next", but things are very fluid at this point, so I have no idea what images I'll have available to post next. There's a good chance it'll be more flowers, but you never know.

As I like to say, stay tuned.

 

 


Greenery

May 23, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I shoot a lot of flower images. I know it. I can't help it. They're colorful, they stand still, and let's face it, people love flower shots.

Still, I thought I'd shake things up a bit by posting some plant life shots without big colorful flower petals - images that are instead mostly greenery.

These shots were all taken along a hiking trail at Watkins Glen State Park (NY).

First, we have some greenery that's familiar to most - the classic fern. I saw this little guy where you see most ferns - in the shade of a tree.

 

Watkins Glen FernWatkins Glen FernAn image of a forest fern captured near a trail at Watkins Glen State Park.

 

This next shot is a little abstract. These are lily pads, floating on a pond. It's almost disorienting to look at, because there's no frame of reference - I filled the frame with the lily pads.

 

Lily PadsLily PadsLily pads in a pond at Watkins Glen State Park

 

Finally we have a shot of a wild flower. I know, I said I was getting away from flower shots. But I meant those bright big-petaled flowers. This little fellow has just a touch of yellow, and I was able to get a nice, blurry, greenish-yellow background.

 

Watkins Glen WildflowerWatkins Glen WildflowerA little yellow wildflower near a trail at Watkins Glen State Park.

 

As it turns out, "Greenery" is actually the name of the Pantone "Color of the Year" for 2017. Who knew?

 

 


Spring Has Sprung

April 16, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

All nature photographers love the coming of spring. It's tough getting nature shots - trees, flowers, wildlife, etc. - in the dead of winter.

But things have warmed up, where I live anyway. So it's time to post some springtime shots.

The irony here is that the images below are actually a couple years old. I'm a bit behind in processing my travel photos from the past several years, as you may have noticed if you're a regular reader of mine. (And if you are, thanks for reading. This blog has been less active than usual lately.)

So, as I said, these are older shots. But they still call to mind Spring and the fact that it has, you know, sprung.

They're all flower shots. The first flowers are little white thingies with a bright yellow center:

 

Charleston Flower #1Charleston Flower #1Flowers in a garden outside one of many beautiful Charleston homes.

 

Next, some red thingamajigs:

 

Charleston Flower #2Charleston Flower #2Flowers in a garden outside one of many beautiful Charleston homes.

 

Next we have some white whatchamacallits:

 

Charleston Flower #4Charleston Flower #4Flowers in a garden outside one of many beautiful Charleston homes.

 

Finally, my favorite, a yellow thingamabob that sort of looks like a goldenrod, but I have no idea if that's what it is:

 

Charleston Flower #3Charleston Flower #3Flowers in a garden outside one of many beautiful Charleston homes.

 

I wish I could accurately identify each of these, but I can't. I have a good amount of experience photographing flowers and nature, but my knowledge of what I'm shooting is very limited. (There are apps for that, but they don't always work.)

I was able to get a clean, green, blurry background for all of these, which really makes the flower pop.

All of these images are from the garden of the Nathaniel Russell House in Charleston, SC. If you're in Charleston, I recommend a visit there. Here's a link. It's worth it just to see the staircase. (You'll see what I mean when you get there.)

Enjoy spring. And thanks for reading.

 

 

 


Moody Waters

March 20, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Bodies of water are fun to shoot, whether you're looking at a river, a lake, a waterfall, or just a trickling mountain stream.  And you can achieve a different feel for a water image by varying the light, the time of day, and the surroundings.

Charleston, South Carolina is a city on the water, and while there I created a few images that each have different feels.

This image was taken in the bright sunshine, capturing the meandering patches of grassy sections at the banks of the harbor.  I liked the zigzag pattern that I was able to capture in the frame:

 

Charleston HarborCharleston HarborThe grassy waters of Charleston Harbor.

 

Moving from a harbor to a river, here's a shot that was taken in the shade, with the image framed by over-hanging trees. This, by the way, is the Ashley River, near Drayton Hall Plantation:

 

Drayton Hall and the AshleyDrayton Hall and the AshleyThe Ashley River meanders by at Drayton Hall Plantation near Charleston, SC.

 

Finally, my favorite, a sunset shot taken from Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. I was able to get some rocks in the foreground to anchor the shot, and I got a nice sun reflection on the water.

 

Sundown at Fort SumterSundown at Fort SumterSunset, as seen from Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor.

 

So, we went from happy and sunny, to shady and subdued, to dark and serene - three shots, three moods.

 

 

 


Savannah Statuary

February 26, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

First, let me apologize for, once again, not posting anything here for quite some time. 2017 has been a busy year so far, but unfortunately not for photography. I haven't taken the ol' Nikon out in a long time. (Technically, it's "out" - sitting on my desk - but these days it's being used as more of a paperweight than an image-capturing device.)

But, to keep this blog alive, I didn't want to go quiet for too long. So, since I don't have any recent shots to share, I thought I'd mine some of my older images. These are photos I haven't shared here before.

I actually looked back a couple years, to a great trip my wife and I took to Georgia and South Carolina - Savannah and Charleston to be exact. Savannah was especially photogenic. I noticed, as I looked back over my shots from that trip, that I took several that were nice close-ups of the amazing statuary in that town. Here's a few that turned out well.

First, a shot that I call "Lonely Statue". It's a close-up of a statue of a girl I saw outside one of Savannah's amazing doorways. It was somewhat hidden at the bottom of a staircase, by itself, and I just thought the girl looked lonely. Anyway, I gave the image a black-and-white treatment, because I thought it looked best that way:

 

Lonely StatueLonely StatueA small statue outside a Savannah doorway, hidden in a corner at the base of a staircase.

 

Next we have an image of a lion that's "guarding" one of the many city "squares" in Savannah. I think it's actually guarding a larger statue at the center of the square, but I don't remember which statue, or which square. (I could probably look it up, but I'm betting you probably don't really care.) Anyway, the star of this shot is the nice background - a key element in any photo:

 

Savannah LionSavannah LionA lion "guarding" one of many city squares in Savannah, GA.

 

Finally, we have the image that I think is the best of the bunch. This is a close-up of one of the soldiers depicted in a monument in Franklin Square, honoring Haitian soldiers who fought with the new United States during the Siege of Savannah (1779). I previously published a photo of another soldier from this monument, which I called "Haitian Volunteer". I call this one "Haitian Volunteer #2" (because that's how artsy folks like me name things):

 

Haitian Volunteer #2Haitian Volunteer #2A close-up of a monument in Franklin Square in Savannah, GA, honoring Haitian soldiers who fought with the new United States during the Siege of Savannah (1779).

 

That's all for now. Next week (or maybe the week after - I dunno), I'll either have some new shots for you, or I'll do some more photo mining in my archives. Either way, stay tuned.

 


What's New is Old

January 22, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

It's been a while since I've published a new blog post. What can I say - busy weeks plus busy weekends equals no photography and therefore no blog activity.

But, I don't want the blog to go cold for too long, so I thought I'd post something today. I don't really have any new photography to share. But I thought I could at least share some news about what's been happening here at Mark Ali Photographs.

What's been happening is that there have actually been some sales. That's right - after running this web site for almost 6 years, I finally sold some prints. Four of them, to be exact. A couple late last year, and a couple more just recently.

The sales are new, but the photos are not. My first sales were of the following 2 images, which I made back in 2010 (and were some of the first images I ever posted on the website):

"Golden Rain 1":

Golden Rain 1Golden Rain 1I wanted to get a shot of this tree when the sun was low in the sky. I got a nice sunburst effect on the right.

[Order a Print]

...and "Golden Rain 2":

Golden Rain 2Golden Rain 2I was again trying to get shots of this tree's leaves with a low sun in the background. I like the way the leaves glow here.

[Order a Print]

 

Additional sales this year were prints of shots from my "Architecture" collection.  One was another old shot, "Ohiopyle Bridge", from 2009:

Ohiopyle BridgeOhiopyle BridgeAn old railroad bridge, converted to a pedestrian walkway, at Ohiopyle State Park.

[Order a Print]

The other was a more recent shot, "Red Barn", from 2014:

Red BarnRed BarnThe late day sun illuminates the face of an old red barn in southwestern Pennsylvania.

 

So, at least commercially, good things have been happening around here.

I do need to get back to creating images, though.

Hopefully next weekend I'll have time to actually pick up my camera and use it.