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Taking it Outside

This summer Joe and I went to New Your State for a week long family vacation. It was nice to leave flat, humid Florida in favor of the majesty of green mountains and the revitalizing power of a lakeside retreat.

Of course, I packed my camera. I could do with less clothes. My camera was definitely going. Plus, I took my new, BIG lens to try to get a picture of bald eagles that nest nearby.

I love being outdoors capturing the natural splendors of nature with my camera. Wildlife and landscapes are among my favorite subjects. While in NY, Joe and I enjoy hiking to mountain peaks with expansive lake views. I especially like the trek when we have a dramatic photo destination to ease the burden of carrying my camera, lenses, and tripod. It’s also a real treat to relive my woodland experiences over again through my pictures when I share them with you.

This year we tried something different. We did several hikes to back country locations with waterfalls. It was hot. The trails were rocky and steep. But we were determined to find picturesque settings. I was looking for areas where the streams flowed down rocks like steps. And places where the stream changed direction causing the water to funnel into narrow channels increasing the visual drama of movement.

On every hike we stopped in several places along the way. Each one had its own features and special charm. But, in each location I was aware that one aura remained the same. I’d scramble down the slope, pick my way over the leaf padded forest floor and step over rocks to reach the stream bank. And there I was in awe again and again of the drumming rhythm of nature. It was a thrill to feel the rumble of the rushing water through the wet boulders beneath my boots. I was energized by the gentle touch of the cool mist each time it kissed my flushed cheeks.

The flowing motion of the water added a new, welcome opportunity to take pictures with an emotive aspect. We played around with my camera settings. I have to give Joe credit for my success. He had the patience to research how to create the soft look of the extended exposure I wanted with my specific camera. Me, I just wanted my camera set up to shoot what I envisioned. Kind of like having a pre-programmed kiln, but with a custom program. Or for you non-fusers, like a microwave with a preset defrost button. I’m sure you understand. I didn’t want to be bothered with the tech stuff. Instead, I wanted to focus on being creative with the composition and lighting. You know, be the artist.

I really appreciate Joe’s help and love that he loves to do research. When we reached the first site, we took several test pictures. We tried different camera settings until we found one that I liked. Once we had it, I wanted to make sure I could recreate the same amazing effects in the future. I wrote notes to myself on my phone so I could repeat the steps and then expand from there later.

For those of you who enjoy the technical aspects, I’ll briefly explain how we set up to capture the silky  cascading water that makes these pictures so captivating. I attached my camera to a tripod for stability and crisper focus. For these photo shoots, I set my camera aperture mode to F22. Then I switched to manual mode and set the shutter speed to 1 / 2.5. This worked well in subdued lighting under the canopy of trees. When I took pictures out in the open, without the shade of trees, my images came out a little over exposed, washed out and too light. If I were to take pictures on a sunny beach the F-stop settings would likely have to be adjusted. The shutter speed I used gave me enough movement and still retained the linear details of the falling water I wanted. With a shorter shutter speed the water didn’t have a silky look. With a longer shutter speed the water became a solid white mass, it lost definition. Basically, the camera settings are movement and light sensitive.

What I learned about taking moving water pictures.

My pictures had a crisper focus when I used a tripod. I sat on the ground and propped my camera on my bent knew to take a few spur-of-the-moment pics. Most of them were blurry. The moving water looked fine, but the surrounding landscape was out-of-focus.

Make sure to focus the lens on something stationary like a rock or foliage. The water is moving so you don’t have to focus on it. You want the surrounding subject matter to be as crisp and clear as possible. My solution is simple. I press my shutter button halfway down and focus on a rock near the waterfall. Then without letting it up, I move my camera lens, so the waterfall is the focal point in the frame. Then I press the button down the rest of the way to take the picture. Then the surrounding landscape is in focus and the water has a velvety shimmer.

Take more pictures than you think you need. It’s hard to tell if a shot is in focus or if the color is bright on the small camera screen. You can delete the duplicates after viewing them on a larger screen like a tablet of computer.

Once you have the shot you want, try changing your perspective. Get lower or higher for more dramatic images. Try different compositions. Place the waterfall off to one side. Turn the camera for a vertical layout. 

Have fun! Get carried away. Plan extra time so you can stop and enjoy the treasures that appear unexpectedly around every corner.

Some of these suggestions are my artistic preferences. They’re not hard rules. In fact I’m the one most likely to change them as I get better at this type of photography or if the setting is very different. Like suppose I’m taking pictures of flowing water in a snow covered setting. I imagine that would present its own challenges. But I do love a challenge and thankfully I have Joe to help me.

I hope you enjoyed my pictures and that they brought you a relaxing moment of peace and tranquility. I have several exciting wildlife pictures too. I’ll share those in another post soon.



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Fused Glass Sculptures Webinar October 12, 2021

Fused Glass Sculptures Webinar October 12, 2021

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Fused Glass Sculptures Webinar October 12, 2021

Fused Glass Sculptures Webinar October 12, 2021

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Sculptural Fused Glass, 4-Day, Hands-on Workshop October 19-22, 2021

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This is the turning-point workshop you’ve been waiting for.

This is the turning-point workshop you’ve been waiting for.

It’s hard to describe what it’s like when I’m feeling the creative flow. Time flies. Hours pass in what I thought were minutes. My naturally distracted mind is focused on what my hands are doing, and nothing else. I get lost in my own world. When I return to reality, I feel rejuvenated and spiritually uplifted. That’s why I like sharing my studio space with others. I try to give them that experience and hope they feel the same inspiration and fulfillment I do. -Lisa

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“My favorite thing about the class was the creative freedom – we were not required to make the same thing the same way. I was surprised by the variety and number items we made and the flexibility we had to go our own way with our projects. The glass studio was very comfortable and very clean with plenty of room.” -Ron

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Read more student testimonials on my website.

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