"Macro Art In Nature"

Explorations in the artistic world of macro photography.

Michael Brown, Inventor Of The “Cram It” Method In Photography.

I can’t help but to get a good laugh out of all this!

I was looking at my WordPress stats the other week, and noticed quite a few hits coming from a forum over in France.
Not a large forum, as it looked like it might have been a forum for a camera club.
I noticed the link to “Macro Art In Nature”, so my curiosity got the best of me as I went to my translator to translate for me what was being said.
The whole thread was about the “Cram It” method, a technique that Michael Brown had created to create the images that can be found on his site.
Another forum that I have seen recently also had a long thread about the cram it method, a method that Michael Brown came up with.
And just yesterday, I came across another small forum where a guy asks in a thread, “Will someone kindly point me to the information on Michael Brown’s “cram it” method?” “I want to give this a try.”
Then in the same thread, someone else asked, … “I have seen the results and really like it.” “When will he start shipping out the software?”

I admit, … I get a bit tickled over this and usually start laughing!
I did not create this method, a method that has been around for ages now.
It may have been lost in the mix for awhile, when everyone in nature photography seemed to be focusing in on “details, details, details”, while seemingly ignoring anything that involved soft or soft focus images.

So again, ….. “I did not create this method!”
I may be known for giving it a name, and for all that I know, it just may already have a name that I don’t know about.
So “Michael Brown” gave it “this name”. I’ll be happy with that!

“Macro Art In Nature” – Website

April 13, 2007 Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, daylily, Digital, dragonflies, dragonfly, DSLR, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, hemerocallis, horticulture, insects, landscapes, lapidary, life, macro, Macro Photographer, minerals, nature, Nature Photographer, odonata, outdoors, paintings, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop, rock hound, rocks, slabs, Wildlife | , , , , , | 23 Comments

Continuing This Blog, … Black & White Macros, … Some Photoshop, … And Kids In Nature.

Well, you guys talked me into it!
I will continue this blog, but maybe on a limited basis only.
It will probably amount to a couple of posts per month, and posts that I hope will have some substance to it, … something that maybe one can learn from.
I still have something to say!

© 2006 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.
This is a image of some leaves from a Bradford Pear tree. I decided to use this image as a black and white, as it seems we simply do not have enough macro type images in black and white and I have been working on a whole series similar to this one.
I picked up about a dozen or so of these brilliant red leaves that had fallen to the ground and took them inside the house.
I then placed them on top of a old lightbox that gives off some strong backlight, then added some white reflectors on two sides which bounced some lighting into the subject area from the available light coming in from the window.
I took a series of shots with different depth/details/exposures, and giving some different arrangements while shooting.
The images I got were very appealing, but still, I wanted something a bit different from the norm.
So, the select few images that I came up with were then duplicated, and the duplicates were painted over using Studio Artist 3.0 along with a touch of Photoshop CS.
Then I will take the original, take the blurred/painted version, use the Orton method and merge the two in Photoshop, and you see the results. Easy to do!
I have also found myself drawn to using the “diffused glow” in photoshop with the bright white background.
Something like this looks outstanding (in my opinion), if it is somewhat “over-sharpened” and printed not much larger than a 8×10. The oversharpening seems to give it a bit more “punch”, … making it stand out even more.
This is something that everyone could try, to experiment with, to learn from, … and to enjoy.

Again, you just do not see that many macro subjects, whether it be flowers or insects, to be done as black and white. Some macros are simply more visually appealing if done this way, as some colors in the world of macro do not translate very well and especially if you are off with your lighting. Black and white tends to save the day, and again, gives you something different from the norm!
So, … open up your Photoshop or whatever image editing tools you prefer, and see what you can do. You just may make your jaw hit the floor!!

For the past year, and especially since I have begun to work with art buyers and various clients, I have been meaning to get into Photoshop a little deeper and to learn some things that will help me along the way.
This is a old and damaged photograph of my grandmother that my mother scanned to see if I could do anything with it. (I do not think I want to try this again for a long time!!)
But, it did give me a chance to experiment and to try some things that I have never done before.
It took some time to see what worked, and just what techniques did not work well.
Working on this image, and always at 100%, it slowly came together.
Using layers, there was a ton of cloning, dodging & burning, color adjustments, blending, and sometimes using some very dirty words!!! :)
Then again, I learned a awful lot from it and at the same time, making my mom a happy mom!

With macro subjects, and especially when in search of the more artistic macros, there are times where some touch-up work or adjustments will be needed to achieve that particular vision that you had when you created that piece. Plus, if working with buyers/clients, they just may demand certain changes to be made.
Therefore, when you have a chance to play/experiment, … then do it! In the long run, it will benefit you in many ways with your photography.
I personally will do every thing I can to capture nature “as is”, and something that is artistic looking and visually appealing to me.
Then again, there are sometimes when I will really “go for it”!
Where ever your dreams and vision leads you, … just make sure to have fun with it!!

Kids in nature?
A very important subject with me!
I don’t think I could ever write here in this blog and get it across to everyone just how important it is to get kids out in nature.
There are kids that really take to nature, and some that do not.
Those that do not, many times you just may find out that the reason is because they never have really been exposed to it that much, … or maybe none at all.
One thing that I have learned about those young kids that have not been exposed to nature much at all, or seem to not have much interests in it, … then put a digital camera in their hands and watch.
Most of the time, you will see magic happening right before your very eyes!
There is something about a digital camera and nature that will bring about the enthusiasm and wonderment with a young child, and even more so it seems when they can take a shot of something that many do not get to see very often.
When you can, teach a child something about nature, something about a digital camera, then let them go to discover on their own.
Watch them come to you after capturing something that is uniquely different to them, and most importantly, “look into their eyes, and listen to them”.
You will soon discover if the magic has made its mark, and often you will learn something from the child that will help you!

I often will have a “Father & Son” weekend with my sons.
Sometimes all of us together on a trip, and sometimes just one son along with me.
I believe it is important for fathers and their sons to get some time together, with no girls! (Sorry moms!!) :)
It is just a bonding thing that men have, … and I believe it is really beneficial for all involved.
I will often choose a trip for us to take, and sometimes I will let them choose what we are to do.
Sometimes it is a hike, … sometimes it might be something like racing some go-carts. (I taught them to well in racing the carts, … now I can’t beat them!)

This is a image of my youngest son Joseph while we were exploring around Poinsette State Park here in South Carolina.
He was searching along a bridge over a waterfall for some macro subjects and I was downstream shooting.
He looked up, I told him to “hold it”, and took a shot.
Joseph is really into macro photography and is quite good at it. He will have his own blog here soon!
And here is a shot of my oldest son Turner.
Although he is not into photography that much, he does enjoy getting out on hikes.
This shot I took while we were on a 7 mile hike in the mountains.
He walks along, enjoying nature, but put a camera in his hand, and he begins to light up a bit while exploring.
This shot was taken right after he tried to get a shot of a red salamander along side this fallen tree.
He was laughing at himself the whole time while trying to get a shot with the older Canon G3.
He got a couple of good ones, got a bit dirty, … but I did see some magic happening that day within him!
So gang, … I guess that is all I will write for now and will make a post or two per month.
I do hope that every time I write something, that it just may benefit someone in some fashion and help them along their way in our world of photography.

Everyone take good care of yourselves, … and have fun shooting!

“Macro Art In Nature” – Website

***

December 26, 2006 Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, Digital, dragonflies, dragonfly, DSLR, fauna, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, gems, hemerocallis, hiking, horticulture, insects, landscapes, lapidary, life, macro, Macro Photographer, minerals, nature, Nature Photographer, odonata, outdoors, paintings, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop, rock hound, rocks, slabs, Wildlife | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Macro Photography, Macro Art – Most Open Of All Creative Styles In Nature Photography!

©  Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.
You know, … the more that I think about it, the more I am convinced that there are far more opportunities to capture something unique, or something that possibly has never been seen before, than in our world of macro photography. A individual seems to have far more avenues that they can take in macro photography to create artwork that appeals to many.
It is just my opinion but personally, it is rare anymore to find a landscape, maybe a bird or a mammal, even the many underwater scenes in nature, and for that image to say to me, … “I’m different”! This is what I always strive for in macro photography.
Sure, there are many wonderful images created in nature photography every day, but in macro it seems to be easily achieved and the chances of capturing something unique are vast, and again, far more than any other type/style of nature photography.

One can take those in close, blurred images in abstract form that appeals to many. One can also back off a bit, bringing in those tiny little flowers that are often overlooked in the late day fall sunlight, … and with a touch of details showing. Include some type of highlight in the backgrouund that is blurred, it becomes similar to a setting sun. Vary the focus, the depth, the light, and all while the numerous compositions keep revealing themselves in such a small area. Very hard to do this with a landscape, birds and mammals, etc. Yes, it can be done to a point maybe, … but not as easily achieved. And yet again, you can shoot macro in a way which is not often done, … or seen in nature, unlike a highly detailed landscape or of a animal.
Thinking about it even more, the vast majority of macro subjects are never seen by the average Joe that is out taking a stroll. Bring it to them, and in a way that has some charm, some style, … and you will have yourself a audience. Hopefully, you will have a audience that wants to learn, … and who wants to see more.

Although yes you can do it and not to easily achieved, you simply do not often see very many landscapes, birds or mammals, or those underwater scenes that you can pusposely throw things out of focus to achieve something that you would be willing to hang on a wall. Again, you can do it, but not as easily as you can in the world of macro.

Always keeping a eye and the mind open will greatly benefit the macro photographer.
In this last image, I found a dead moth that was stuck within a clump of grasses.
Some would not even see this, some would see it but overlook the potential because of the way that they have been taught to shoot, or because they could not figure out a composition, or they were stuck on maximum details in the world of macro in which this case it probably would not work very well because of the moth’s surroundings.
Shooting with the lens set to almost wide open, with just enough depth to get the details in the moth, and letting everything else simply to “fall in place”, gives off something a bit different than anything that I had in my files.

I like to play, ….. it’s the kid in me!
I like to find subjects that are different, …. and just like a little kid, to show you what I found.
I like to create, ….. it’s simply who I am!

I also like Butter Pecan ice cream, ….. so I’m outta here to grab a bowl!!!

“Macro Art In Nature” – Website

October 24, 2006 Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, Digital, dragonflies, dragonfly, DSLR, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, hiking, horticulture, insects, landscapes, life, macro, Macro Photographer, nature, Nature Photographer, odonata, outdoors, paintings, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Blogs vs Dedicated Photography Forums

© 2005 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

This is a bit of a harsh rant maybe!
I will leave it upon the reader to figure out what might be best for them and their photography.

Remember the “poll” that I had some months ago?
Unfortunately, I made a mistake and deleted that poll before I retrieved the final numbers. 106 people took the poll.
The question in that poll was pretty much about what you were seeking as far as critiques while showing your images in a blog.
Choices were:
* Your images are a showcase of your work, therefore no critiques are needed.
* You show your images in a blog in hopes of receiving honest critiques.
* You are just having fun showing your images, and no critiques are really wanted or needed.

My question now is, “how am I to know that you want honest critiques from the images shown in your blog?”
Roughly 60% said that they posted in their blogs in hopes of getting honest feedback, and to get better with their photography.
About 20% stated that they needed no critiques, that they all were showcase images.
The other 20% or so were simply showing their images for fun.
So again, how is anyone to know that you are seriously asking for help unless you “state clearly” what you are looking for in your blog?
Do I give a honest critique for this blog that I am visiting?
If I give a critique, and this is considered a “showcase image” from the one who created the piece, … will they get upset?
Am I wasting time giving a critique to this image when the one who created it could care less if they get better at photography or not?
Lots of questions, thoughts, and ideas have popped into my head over the past few days about this.
Should the individual who is seeking help in hopes to get better put a notice somewhere on their blog about accepting honest critiques?
I don’t have any kind of notice on mine, (and maybe I should) … but I am always open to what people think, and their likes/dislikes with a image of mine.

Blogging is fun, … no doubt about that.
You meet a lot of people from all around the world, learning about their photography, where and how they live, learning about their families, cracking jokes, … but I think that there is less honesty when people leave comments about a image. Again, how are they to know what you want anyway?
If you truly want to get better with your photography, it is my opinion that a dedicated photography forum catering to the area of photography that you would like to persue, is without a doubt the way to go if you truly want to get better.
Wedding Photography? There are forums out there!
Nature/Wildlife Photograhy? Plenty of fourms to choose from!
Street Photography? They are there!
And there are more!!

Think about it!
You just don’t know what type of critiques you are getting in the world of blogging even when you actually get one, … most of the time. There is no “law of the land” with critiques and blogging. The blogging world is usually known as the “say what the hell you want to say” type of place.
In a dedicated forum, and when you posts your images, you automatically are asking for honest critiques/feedback/opinions/help, and normally you are going to get them. How else are you to learn if you do not get honest critiques?
How else are you to learn if you do not learn how to give critiques?
There are many who get a bit intimidated in a forum where there are professionals or advanced amateurs posting also. I most certainly understand that feeling! But, do you think that many of these people came into these forums already highly advanced? I sure didn’t. In fact, I came in to these forums pretty much ignorant on the subject of nature photography! I asked for help right from the start, … and I got it! Boy did I ever get it! LoL!!!
But it was the “honesty” that did the trick for me. It is the dedicated forums that has me where I am today in my photography.
Not a single person ever wanted to launch rockets to my house after I posted a certain picture, or come kick my door in and punch me out, or had any negative words in the forums.
Sure, they might have told me that the composition was terrible, but then they told me why they thought it was terrible and what they thought a good solution would be.
They might tell me that my usage of Photoshop was horrible, but then follow up with how to do it properly.
Then, I would get opinions on what I did very well with a particular image, and maybe how to enhance upon it.
Some wonderful people in these forums, and I have developed a long lasting relationship with many.
Blogging just might be the ticket for you, … then again it might not.
Do you truly want to advance your photography, to get better, maybe even someday to develop a style of your own as some dream of doing?
I have no doubt that a true dedicated photography forum is the way to go for the vast majority of people.
When it comes to dedicated photography forums, it is best to find a place where critiques received are offered in words, and not a point system.
Points can “never” take the place of spoken words!

There are some who have visited this blog before, then decided to take the plunge and go to a dedicated forum, only to go crazy in those dedicated forums! LoL!!
I have seen some to go into these dedicated forums and simply to have a blast.
They decided to jump in with both feet and finally start to learn something, … and “my o’ my” have they ever. No regrets!
I have seen some come over to NatureScapes and have really jumped in with vigor, … and I do mean “vigor!”
It’s fun, … and it’s fun to learn. Just do it!
My youngest son Joseph did, who is now 13 years old, has around 1500 posts in less than a year, and he loves it. Plus, he is learning from some individuals in those forums who are well known around the world!
So one more time, in my opinion, dedicated photography forums is the way to go!

*** With all that has been said, and with the image posted here, … tell me what you think.
I will tell you, that there is something that really bugs me about the image and I am trying to correct it.
Critique it for me. Tell me the good. Tell me the bad.
Since I have started this blog, I don’t remember one single and very hard critique on any one of my images. Why? I believe it is the “blogging atmosphere” that creates it.
I always get critiques at NatureScapes, both good and bad, … and helpful! All comments help to open one’s eyes!

Blogging is a wonderful portal to use in order to advance, … but still lacks that certain aspect that everyone should seek out in order to reach that peak.
So ask yourself, … “Is now the time to take the next step in my photography, … or maybe not?”
Whatever avenue you choose to take whether it be the use of blogging or a dedicated forum, I do wish you the best in your photography and for many years to come!

“Macro Art In Nature” – Website

*

May 7, 2006 Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, daylily, Digital, dragonflies, dragonfly, DSLR, fauna, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, hemerocallis, hiking, horticulture, insects, landscapes, lapidary, life, macro, Macro Photographer, minerals, nature, Nature Photographer, odonata, outdoors, paintings, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop, rock hound, rocks, slabs, Wildlife | , , , , , | 23 Comments

“Doing It In The Bushes!” – Common Whitetail Dragonfly – “Libellula lydia”

All images © 2005 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

228_2817a1nsnp2blog.jpg

I knew that this little guy would keep coming back to the same perch, (Common Whitetail Dragonfly, (Libellula lydia), so I simply sat down right in the middle of a large clump of bushes and had a wonderful time shooting while trying different lighting techniques and various lens setups.

The vertical shot really appeals to me, although I do wish that the main subject was higher in the frame along with the background foliage. The only problem was the old wooden fence railing a few inches away from him and my limited space to sit in.
Took this shot with the Canon 75-300mm lens.

The horizontal was made a few feet farther away, using the Canon 100mm macro and the 2X teleconverter.
Both shots were made using 1 reflector and the Canon 420EX flash.

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Wonderfully creative and colorful shots can be made, if you have a touch of patience for your subjects to reveal themselves.

So this season, ………. do it in the bushes!!

(This post does not have the original “Blogger” comments, as they would not automatically transfer when the move was made to “WordPress”.) Image was captured at the Clemson Research Center near Columbia, South Carolina.

April 18, 2006 Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, Digital, dragonflies, dragonfly, DSLR, fauna, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, hiking, horticulture, insects, landscapes, life, macro, Macro Photographer, nature, Nature Photographer, odonata, outdoors, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop, Wildlife | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using The “Orton” Method For Artistic Blending

© 2004 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

magbridge1blog.jpgIf you want a bit of fun, a chance to perk up some of those photos and to simply try something different, try this method here for a touch of that “painterly” look. It gives some of the photos you may work on a touch of softness, rich colors in some areas, and maybe something that you have been looking for to add to your bag of tricks.
I have found that this method works extremely well with landscapes, and I have also been experimenting using this method with some of the macro type shots that I have on hand.

The images you see here were created with a digital camera, and worked with in Photoshop CS using the “Orton” method.
Simple and easy to do.

© 2005 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

241_4116c1blog.jpg*Open up Photoshop and select a image you would like to use.
*Then, go to “Image”, then down to “Duplicate”.
*Now delete your original so you will not make any mistakes with your original photo.
*Go to “Image”, then click on “Apply Image”.
*The “Apply Image” box will appear.
*Set the blending to “Screen”, and your opacity to 100%. Click Okay button.
*Go again to “Image”, down to “Duplicate”.
*With the image you have just duplicated, go to “Filter”, down to “Blur-Gaussian Blur”.
*Set the blur anywhere from 20 to 50. Click okay button.
*Using your “move tool”, grab the blurred image and drag it on top of your first image and placing it evenly on top. (the image with details)
*Open your “layers” box by going to “Windows”, down to “Layers”.
*In that layers box, set the blending mode from “normal” to “multiply”.
*You can now make some adjustments with levels/curves/sharpening/etc. while switching back and forth between your background layer and your other layer.
*When happy with what you see, flatten your image by going to “Layer”, then down to “Flatten”.
*Then, ……… save your masterpiece!

© 2004 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

162_6294bcopy13nsnp1.jpgAdmittedly, some images do work better than others. You just have to experiment.With landscapes, it does seem to be easier to do while using this method.
With any type of macros, and having a smooth/clean background, you can see a type of blurred halo around your subject. Less noticeable halos occurr when the background has more details.

It is something that is fun to do, and thought I would share it with you guys.
Back to work for me, … so everyone take good care of yourselves!!

**

(This post does not have the original “Blogger” comments, as they would not automatically transfer when the move was made to “WordPress”.)

*

“Macro Art In Nature” – Website

April 12, 2006 Posted by | abstract, art, blog, Blogroll, botanical, canon, composition, Digital, DSLR, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, gems, hiking, horticulture, insects, landscapes, lapidary, life, macro, Macro Photographer, minerals, nature, Nature Photographer, odonata, outdoors, paintings, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop, rock hound, rocks, slabs, Wildlife | , , , , , | 11 Comments

Nature’s Dragonflies, And Understanding Them!

© 2005 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

First of all, I am certainly no expert with dragonflies! I do read about certain subjects that I would like to persue, and simply try to understand them and how they may act or react out in nature in my presence. Makes getting some appealing images of them that much easier!

There are many subjects in the insect world that do not get around that well when they are wet.
Soon after the sprinklers went off one morning in the garden, coupled with a heavy downpour of rain that the weatherman swore we would not get, I decided to grab the camera and head outside to see what I could find.
Sitting among the beautiful “baptisia” blooms was a Taper-tailed Darner – (Gomphaeschna antilope) dragonfly.
He sat there, never moving as I photographed him using available light.
A couple of hours later after the air dryed, he was off.
There are many insects that will allow you to get extremely close to them because of the morning dew or rain that may be on their bodies, so grab those cameras early in the morning or right after a good soaking rain, … and have yourself some fun.
Easy shooting!

This little guy and other dragonflies often will return to the same perch, time and time again. That is one of the benefits of learning something about them.
Some will return to the same perch after flying off, some will remain low to the ground, some like it in the bushes, some like it over the water on the same perch, and some simply fly all over the place!
This dragonfly is a Blue Dasher Dragonfly – “Pachydiplax longipennis”, sitting on a perch that I had placed at the back porch/patio.
Almost every single day and especially when it was sunny, one of these little beauties would be there.
My youngest son has grown to love them, and often times will sneak a lens that suits his needs just to have a bit of fun with them. He has become quite a accomplished little photographer, and yes, he has studied these little guy’s behavior as well.

They are plentiful every season, so this year, learn something about them and what type of environment they prefer, and have a bit of fun with them!

Thanks for looking gang!

“Macro Art In Nature” – Website

February 20, 2006 Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, Digital, dragonflies, dragonfly, DSLR, fauna, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, hiking, horticulture, insects, landscapes, life, macro, Macro Photographer, nature, Nature Photographer, odonata, outdoors, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop, Wildlife | , , , , , | 22 Comments

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