Sunset, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

A Year Ago: Really?

It looks like November is the month of the year, I almost never take photos. May it be because of the gray cold weather we usually face during this time of the year? Scrolling through the camera roll on my flickr account, I had to go back till 2005 [11 years!!!] to find a photo taken in the month November and no surprise, the photo hasn’t been taken in the North but on Isla Mujeres an island close to Cancun, Mexico.

Sunset, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

I like this shot very much which may explain why the file survived all these years in spite of a various laptop crashes and hard disk failures. Taken with a small pocket digital camera, I consider it perfect therefore nothing to comment about what I could have done better. It is one of my favorite landscape photo and I hope to take many more of similar quality.

During the time I lived and worked in Cancun, Mexico, North Beach, Isla Mujeres was my favorite spot to spend a relaxing Sunday. Usually on these Sunday trips, I ended up in the only beach restaurant there, enjoying some fresh sea food plate. The shot has been taken from the beach terrace after dinner, shortly before returning home.

A Year Ago: Painted Turtle

The first time I spotted a Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta). It turned out to be a very common animal and I was able to observe it frequently. Once you know where to look! They love to climb wood trunks or stones reaching out of the water and enjoy some sunshine. When I saw it the first time though, I was excited, though.

Sitting on a trunk, just outside the water, enjoying the sun meanwhile ready to escape back into the water anytime.

Sitting on a trunk, just outside the water, enjoying the sun meanwhile ready to escape back into the water anytime.

I remember that October day in Park Angrignon, Montreal, as a day with perfect light and colors. Nevertheless, the turtle was the only interesting observation I made that day. Unfortunately, the shot is a bit blurry around the head, not as sharp as it could/should be. Taken with my 70-300mm lens, I had to crop a lot. Today, I would switch to the larger lens which may would have allowed me to get a more frontal shot too.

Note: “A Year Ago” is a sidekick, I started a while ago where I return to the same month a year ago and pick the most popular shot from my flicker.com account and review with the purpose to learn from my past errors and improve photography skills.

A Year Ago: The Blood Moon

I noticed that whenever I buy a new lense, about the first thing I aim it to is to the moon and in this particular case it was the Nikon 70-300mm used to document the rarely occurring event of a moon eclipse observed here in Montreal in September 2015.

Blood Moon Eclipse September 2015

Blood Moon, September 2015, Montreal
https://www.flickr.com/photos/khmuller/21797638289

I have taken the shot during a 30 minutes session using different manual settings of apertures and shutter speed [long exposures]. For this purpose, I mounted the camera on a low-weight tripod. Later, I turned to my computer to look at the shots that’s when I noticed that about 99% of them were blurry. The above sample was the least blurry shot.

Taking this photo I learned two essential lectures about photography:

First, preparation is everything! Think about best setup upfront and don’t trust in your abilities to run through different possible settings when the event occurs. Because, after I noticed that most of the shots have been blurry I turned back to take some more photos but in meantime some clouds have been moving in, hiding the moon.

Second, if you need a tripod to keep your camera steady use a heavy tripod! Otherwise, opening and closing the mirror for exposure will lead to vibration. Even if it means that you are carrying around more weight. But why carrying around less weight if your tripod is useless?

I just purchased a more expensive, heavier tripod and I am looking forward to test it.

[A Year Ago: A column, where I re-visit a shot taken the same month a year ago and which turned out to be the most popular photo on my flickr account.]

A Year Ago: Groundhog, Park Mont-Royal

Thrilled about the idea to start a series of posts, published not more than once a month, in which I discuss a photo taken the same month a year ago. I am curious if I can learn something and if will help me to improve my photos today.

For my repeating sidekick column, I thought to select the most popular photo. Flickr provides a view called “Camera Roll” where I can easily browse published photos by date and where they are listed conveniently with the number of views acquired so far.

Well fed, prepared for winter arriving soon.

Groundhog (Marmota manox), August 2015
https://www.flickr.com/photos/khmuller/22033615682

The photo of this well fed groundhog has been taken on Park Mont Royal, Montreal at a late afternoon with my 70-300mm lense. I had to wait a while until it moved out from the shadow into the sunshine, allowing me to take this picture. I am always surprised how the groundhogs in Montreal don’t really fear persons passing by. I am used to the Alpine Marmot in the Swiss Alps. From those the only thing you may notice is their sharp, high pitched alarm call before they disappear into their burrows when you are getting close.

What would I do differently? Although I waited long time until the animal moved into the correct lighting, with a bit more of patience, I should have been able to get a shot of the groundhog looking up and a bit more from the front. I don’t like the impression that the animal seems to feed on a slope [not true; but due to camera holding]. I should have rotated the crop slightly. Further, as I started to use Nik Collection, now, I would reduce saturation of the foliage and lightened up a bit more the shadowy part of the animal.

Let me know what think I could have done better!