April Week 1 – What’s in the Background?

Lambs“What’s in the background and how will it be recorded?” is often the question I ask before creating an image.  The background has as much importance as the main subject.  If it is too busy or too bright in comparison to the subject your image is likely to have little impact on your viewers.

I was reminded again today that “life imitates art.”  So we hope the artists and poets, dancers and musicians will be filled with a social consciousness of compassion which will bring about change.  Mostly my images are about beauty, form and the emotions that are teased out of or into nature images based on my vision and camera techniques.

Choice of depth-of-field and exposure makes a world of difference in how a subject is presented.  In the case of both these images for the first week in April the background made a difference.  The little plump lamb stood tall and sassy as she walked towards me in a friendly gesture.  The mother sheep kept a close eye yet held her distance.

CemChildBy making the mother out of focus I wanted to say she was deliberately fading into the background so her youngster could have both the lime light and her independence.  Although, sometimes those that fade into the background are forced there by silence, submission and subjugation. (But for me this is more a subject for social action sermonizing rather than my photography).

I used a long 400 mm lens at f/9, ISO 400 and 1/640 of a second to freeze the slight motion of the lamb and blur the background.  With animals, I confess, I often hand hold because it is easier for me to track them.  When you can’t get close enough to wild animals to fill your frame there are likely to be a few barn yard pals near by.  Lots of sheep pasture in Marin and Sonoma Counties along Highway #1. Most of the lambs are born in December or January.  (Try Dillon Beach Road).

I wanted to create images this week that said “Easter” or “Love Rises Up” but I wasn’t successful at that.  The closest I came to a moment of peaceful contemplation in pixels was with an image of lichen on a cemetery cherub.  Producing a “peaceful” background was important.

SunRiseIt was an over cast day which was nice for the lighting of the statue but made for a gray dull sky.  So I positioned myself at the only angle possible to use the muted colors of the distant budding trees.  Again I used my telephoto lens at 170mm at  f/9 and ISO 400 at 1/160.  I added fill flash (Canon 7D pop up flash) so that the texture of the statue and lichen would be slightly high lighted.

However you celebrate resurrection and/or rebirth, may these words recorded by “The Incredible String Band” in the 60’s bring you hope and peace:  “May the long time sun shine upon you.  All love surround you.  And the pure light within you guide your way home.”

Bonus image this week is from Sausalito.  At the moment of sunrise a rower made her way into the sun rays reflected on the water.  I will be leading a Photo Class and Trek: Wildflower Techniques, April 20-22.  Email me for details at sboorn@aol.com ALSO drop by A Woman’s Eye Gallery for our special April exhibit: “Colors and Contrasts: Morocco” – Images by Chris Kibre, Maureen McGettigan and myself.  See announcement

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