Close-up Photography in Nature

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9781554070220: Close-up Photography in Nature

Revised and updated to include digital photography techniques.

In Close-Up Photography in Nature, master photographer Tim Fitzharris shares his proven techniques for capturing once-in-a-lifetime images. This inspiring reference is perfect for both amateur and professionals who want to improve the quality and beauty of their work.

Photographic equipment for close-up photography is thoroughly covered:

  • Traditional and digital cameras
  • Lenses, filters and specialized close-up accessories
  • Flashes, reflectors and tripods
  • Digital imaging software such as PhotoShop.

Fitzharris covers a wide variety of field techniques ranging from close-up focusing and exposure tips to choosing the best lens. Technical aspects of close-up photography are covered in easy-to-understand terms.

The creative side of close-up photography is also explained in detail, including useful tips for discovering and capturing artistic insights, along with color, composition, lighting, themes, center of interest, artistic ethics and digital imaging.

The final chapter covers the practical aspects of photographing wildlife with a special section on how to anticipate and set up where wildlife is likely to be found. Specific instructions are given for photographing creatures from spiders and insects to frogs and toads, snakes, turtles and hummingbirds.

Close-Up Photography in Nature is an inspiring, practical guide for photographers who want to capture nature in all its glory.

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About the Author:

Tim Fitzharris is known to many from his nature column in Popular Photography. He is the author of twenty-five books including Nature Photography, Nature Photography Hot Spots and Rocky Mountains. His nature photographs have appeared on the covers of Life, Audubon, Nature's Best and Terrre Sauvage among others. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction: Nature's Studio

The tiny frogs were all around me, yet I could not find even one. I turned off the flashlight and moved cautiously into the darkness and deeper water. The swamp's bottom, partially glazed with left-over winter ice, was hard and slippery in some places, sucking muck in others. Half-submerged deadfalls added to the precarious footing. The atmosphere was saturated with the sound of my quarry -- spring peepers. The steady, electronic jingle of their mating chorus was mesmerizing and soon, just as the night had left me blind, the frogs' song stole my hearing.

Handicapped in this way, I soon stumbled, gasping as murky water poured into my chest waders. With one hand holding the camera out of the soup, I struggled upright and switched on the flashlight to regain my bearings, waiting for my body to take the icy edge off the water that sloshed inside my waders.

The commotion had momentarily silenced the peepers. The flashlight's yellow beam played weakly over the cattails as my eyes groped for one of the camouflaged amphibians. The peeping started some distance away but was quickly drowned by a single voice that began to reverberate all around me. At length, I spotted the frog right beside my boot, sitting just above the water on a cattail stem. A small, glistening jewel, it was about the size of the end of a finger. As it sang, its translucent throat pouch bubbled out, showing a thin network of veins stretched over its surface. Excitedly, I got the camera ready.

Unlike the photographs that resulted from this experience (see page 103), the close-up images that you see of frogs and other small creatures are often made under controlled studio conditions indoors -- usually with excellent results. There are fine guidebooks available to show you how to do this (see the appendix). This volume deals primarily with how to photograph plants and animals by existing light amidst the beauty of the natural environment. The text is aimed at those who understand basic photographic principles and who have experience shooting nature subjects. Current techniques of close-up photography based on the use of modern auto-focus, auto-exposure, dedicated TTL-flash cameras are explained.

Also provided is introductory information on computer imaging, a technique which replaces conventional darkroom procedures such as dodging, burning, and creating special effects and composite images. These skills are applicable whether your computer creations are generated from scans of conventional film or directly from images captured with digital cameras.

It will not be as easy for you to photograph frogs today as it was for me to shoot the spring peepers 20 years ago. In North America most of the frog's habitat of swamps and marshes has been drained and replaced by cities, suburban sprawl, and industrial and agricultural development. A sinister decline of frog populations, even in protected areas, is being charted by scientists worldwide. Frogs, of course, aren't the only small critters that are losing their battle for survival.

The spring woods are not yet silent but they are headed in that direction. Due to habitat destruction, forest fragmentation, and pesticide use, song bird numbers have declined 50 percent in the last two decades. Never to be seen again over the prairies and foothills of Texas, Colorado, or Alberta are the 400,000 migratory Swainson's hawks killed in their winter home in Argentina by pesticides in part developed and marketed by American chemical companies with the aid of the U.S. government. Such examples abound.

These declines in wildlife populations will persist as long as we permit politicians to measure human success in terms of their shortsighted, self-serving policies of relentless economic growth, ever increasing GNP, and a refusal to deal with the basic issue of human overpopulation; as long as we allow their greedy patrons, big industry and its perverted stepson, big media, to seduce us and inoculate our children with the empty ideals of materialism. Unless this self-destructive agenda can be rewritten, it seems more than likely that the quality of our lives will continue to deteriorate while frogs, song birds, and other creatures are added to the list of endangered and extinct species.

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