Selected pics from our trips, hikes and photography impulses

Archive for May, 2012

McWay Waterfall, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Beautiful ocean on one side, Mcway Waterfall on the other

Mcway Waterfall is also referred to as “tidefall”, since it empties directly into the ocean.

..and a flock of birds in the middle…stopping by for a cool summer drink..


Bridge over Big Sur River in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park


Bridge over Big Sur River


Lassen National Park, May 2012

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Glimpses of the turquoise blue water of Butte lake

Atop Cinder Cone and the snow covered path to the crater bottom

View of the Snag Lake and Painted Dunes from Cinder Cone

Layers in the sand atop Cinder Cone

Panoramic view of the Butte Lake, Snag Lake and Cinder Cone

Lily Pond near Lake Manzanita

Beautiful valley surrounded by mountain peaks and overhead clouds

Sunset and the lava rocks

Butte Lake-Cinder Cone- Snag Lake Hiking Information

Things to do in Lassen National Park (and other information at the official website)


Shoreline Park Birds 1- Canada Geese

Shoreline Park Birds 1- Canada Geese

During an evening hike at Shoreline Park, I saw these two geese looking in the same direction in the same pose and fortunately clicked just an instant before one of them turned away..


At Half Moon Bay

The tree, the fence and the road amidst green and yellow

Highway 1 near Big Sur



San Francisco- Golden Gate Bridge on a Foggy Evening

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Truckee, near Tahoe

The road from Truckee to Tahoe

Skilifts at a Tahoe Ski Resort

Macro photography – Background is important

Macro photography is a tricky topic and we’ll deal with it in another post as well. The subject of this post is the background. Take this photo by Holger Magnussen, for example, the flowers have a good contrast to the background and the background doesn’t distract from the subject. Remember, the background in any photo is as important as the subject itself. A busy background can lead the eye away from the subject and is a big distraction.

The great contrast between the pink flower and the black background makes this photo POP.


Here’s an example of of a photo with a busy background

Example of a Photo with a Busy Background. The 2 colors in the background (blue and green) distract the viewer and draw attention away from the subject.



A similar photo with a much cleaner background

A single colored background distracts less from the flower and bees.


Here are some tips on how to make the background cleaner


Hang a cloth behind the subject

While photographing flowers, I often place my camera on a tripod and hold a black cloth or even my camera bag behind the flower. This helps me get a nice black background and makes the subject pop. You could also rig up a home made stand to hold up an old T-shirt or any cloth of your choice.

Wild Flowers shot with a black camera bag held up behind them. The black background brings the contrast to the white flowers making the photo pop


Choose your background

You do have options in choosing your background in a macro shot. Don’t get stuck as one spot and one angle. Try moving around a little to find the background of the right color and at the right distance. If you want a green background, move the camera to an angle where there’s a leaf behind your subject. You can also increase the amount of blur that the background has by moving the camera to an angle from where the background is farther away from the subject.


Use a lower depth of field

Open up the aperture to reduce the depth of field. A lower depth of field means less busy backgrounds, but it also means less sharp subjects, so whenever possible try and follow options 1 and 2 instead.


Crop the photo to remove the background

Even if you can’t get a clean background in the original shot, you can always do some post processing. Here’s an example of a crop to remove the distracting background. Notice how it brings attention to the flower and bee. It was further enhanced using some airbrushing in Gimp/Photoshop