Photo of the Week - December 30, 2015

December 30, 2015
Budd Inlet
Olympia, WA

Sending out the old year with a good day shooting on Olympia's Budd Inlet. The water birds were in full regalia, with much foraging going on. The diving Buffleheads were particularly wonderful to watch, as they repeated dove into the cold winter waters of Puget Sound. The Hooded mergansers swam by several times (and a large brace of Common mergansers could be seen further out in the bay). It was quite a sight when the cormorant popped up about 40 feet away with a freshly caught fish lunch in its beak - together they twisted for at least two complete turns before the fish was devoured. 

There are several more sunny days ahead and I hope to bring in the new year with some outdoor adventures. Happy 2016 to you!

Hooded MergansersLophodytes cucullatus
Males have the black head; Females are brown
 Common GoldeneyeBucephala clangula
Taking flight on Budd Inlet 

 Double-crested CormorantPhalacrocorax auritus
eating a fish

BuffleheadBucephala albeola
diving for food

Fine Art Postcard Exhibit at SPSCC - January 4 - February 12, 2016

The Fine Art Postcard Exhibition, Solving for X

opens January 4, 2016

 2011 Mottman Rd SW, Olympia, WA 98512

Opening reception Friday January 8, 2016 6-8 PM
silent auction supports programing at SPSCC

Exhibit runs January 4 - February 12, 2016
Marilyn's Mergansers (2015)
4x6 postcard

So go the Crows (2015)
4x6 postcard

Two - plus one (2015)
4x6 postcard

Photo of the Week - December 27, 2015

Snow-covered trees towering over cross country skiers

White Pass Nordic Center
White Pass, WA

December 27, 2015

Photo of the Week - December 21, 2015

Pigeons celebrating the Solstice
Capitol Hill

Seattle, WA
December 21, 2015

Photo of the Week - December 15, 2015

Christmas decorations

Eastside Big Tom's Drive-In
Olympia, WA

December 15, 2015

Photo of the Week - December 14, 2015

Rush hour traffic - festive for the Christmas Season
Denny Way and Stewart Street

Seattle, WA
December 14, 2015

Photo of the Week - November 9, 2015

Dusk along the East Duwamish Waterway
Seattle, WA

November 9, 2015

Halloween around Olympia

Halloween in Olympia 2015

Intricately Carved 'Day of the Dead'
Jack O'Lantern

at Olympia's Pumpkin House

Noose Pumpkin
Perched in a Tree

Donald Trump and the Other Ghoulsat Olympia's Pumpkin House

Pumpkin Decorative Lights
along 18th Avenue

Agatha Smith's Grave
Olympia, WA

Olympia's Pumpkin House
Water Street and 18th Ave SW

Agatha Smith Graveyard
18th Ave SW and Capitol Way
Olympia, WA

Photo of the Week - October 23, 2015

Washington State Capitol Building
Reflected in Capitol Lake

Olympia, WA
October 23, 2015

The Effects of f-stop on Depth of Field

Click on any photo to enlarge

Photographer focused on blocks in the foreground, about 4 feet away
2nd row of blocks about 7 feet
third row of blocks and box about 15 feet

all photos taken with a 70mm Canon lens

Cropped view of the above photo
information in this photo is about 15 feet from photographer
focus was set to about 4 feet

ISO 400   f/2.8   1/320 sec.
70mm lens
ISO 400   f/5.6  1/80 sec.70mm lens

ISO 400   f/11   1/20 sec.70mm lens

ISO 400   f/22   1/5 sec.70mm lens

ISO 400   f/32   0.3 sec.70mm lens

October 2nd - Michele Burton at Olympia Fall Arts Walk

Birds in and around Olympia
Photography by Michele Burton

Friday October 2, 2015
5 - 8 PM
Saturday October 3, 2015
10 - 4 PM

500 Adams Street Northeast
Olympia, WA 98501

Fall 2015 photography classes at Bellevue College

Practice and sharpen your photography skills. Problem solve and practice topics such as white balance, capturing motion, night photography, and depth of field. Classroom sessions will be spent learning techniques and shooting strategies as well as critiquing student photos. Weekly homework assignments require at least 2 hours practice between sessions. Digital camera with aperture and shutter speed required; advanced compact cameras acceptable.

7 Mondays
September 21, 2015 - November 2, 2015

Learn the foundations and history of the art of photography. Explores technical evolution and milestones, while you develop a connection between artistic explorations, and important photographers and movements. Explore styles, methods and themes which connect to your own work.

4 Mondays
November 9, 2015 - November 30, 2015

Photo of the Week - August 8, 2015

A busy day at the University of Washington
Seattle, WA
August 8, 2015

Photo of the Week - August 7, 2015

Ready for an August evening on the Bay
Swantown Marina

Olympia, WA
August 7, 2015

Exploring Composition - Nineteen Views of the Same Subject

I visited downtown Shelton, Washington on a recent sunny Saturday afternoon. As we parked the car, I noticed a brightly painted building across the street. Although the paint job appeared recent and well done, the awning for the building was missing. In the intense sunlight, the missing awning's frame created an interesting shadow on the building. As I got out of the car, I grabbed my point and shoot camera. 

Below are the nineteen photos I took in a period of nine minutes. The first 5 photos show the building reflected in a warped window on the opposite side of the street. The remaining fourteen photos were taken of the building itself. All the photos except for one use the awning frame as a design element in the image. 

None of the photos are cropped. All images are essentially as shot in camera.

Click on any image to go to a gallery where you can see the individual images. 
 Gallery of Individual Images

My three favorite images:

Photo of the Week - July 24, 2015

Three juvenile Purple martins poke their heads out
of the nesting box while an adult male keeps watch

Port of Olympia
Olympia, WA
July 24, 2015

Breeding season is beginning to wind down on Budd Inlet in downtown Olympia. Many of the juvenile Purple martins have fledged in the last week. The air is rich with birds flying and foraging for insects. 

At least one box has 3 unfledged juveniles. They take turns poking their heads through the opening of the nest box. As soon as they spy an adult heading their way, their mouths gape open in anticipation.

Female adult Purple martin flies in with a dragonfly
to feed a waiting juvenile

With luck, their parent brings a large, freshly caught dragonfly. The insect is consumed within one second of its arrival at the nesting box. Adults arrive every few minutes with more food for their ravenous youngsters.

Male adult Purple martins approach the nest box while
juvenile begs to be fed

Male adult Purple martin flies towards the nest box
while two juveniles wait for food

Photo of the Week - July 14, 2015

"zebra" car in supermarket parking lot

July 14, 2015

Photo of the Week - July 12, 2015

Purple martin dive bombing a Belted kingfisher
while defending its nest

Budd Inlet
Olympia, WA
July 12, 2015

During breeding season, birds are very vigilant when it comes to protecting their nest. While observing the Purple martins nesting on Budd Inlet in Olympia, I was able to see several instances of the small birds warning off much larger birds, including crows and gulls. 

In this sequence, a male Purple martin swoops down and frightens a Belted kingfisher who has perched on a piling near the martin's nest box. The kingfisher took flight and did not return again that morning. 

Crow being dive bombed by a Purple martin

Photographing Fireworks

Photographing fireworks

Here are some tips for photographing professional fireworks shows on the Fourth of July.
You can also use them as a starting point for home fireworks, but you will probably need to adjust your shutter speed.

General Tips:
  • Support - Use a tripod, counter top, tree, or other solid surface to support the camera. Handheld fireworks photographs are usually blurry due to camera movement.
  • Focus - If you have a camera that has manual focus, turn off the auto focus and set the focus to infinity manually. An easy way to do this is to autofocus on something very far away and then turn the autofocus off.

    For Canon and many newer Nikon SLR lenses the manual focus switch is on the lens. For older Nikon and many other SLR lenses, the manual focus switch is on the camera body; look for it on the front of Nikon cameras on the lower left hand side.  Set the lens to MF while taking firework shots. Be sure to return it to AF when you are finished. On most point and shoot cameras, your focus is set to infinity automatically when in the fireworks scene mode. If you are shooting your point and shoot camera using manual exposure instead of the Fireworks scene mode, look for manual focus (MF) under the function menu, on a MF button, or under the same button used to set the camera to close focus (macro)

Photographing fireworks with a point and shoot camera

  1. Scene Mode - Find the scene mode dial or button on your camera. Set your camera to the fireworks mode, which can usually be found under the SCN, Scene, or Function buttons or under the regular menu.
  2. Support your camera while depressing the shutter button to take photos. If you are using a tripod consider using a remote for less camera shake.
What your point and shoot camera does in the fireworks mode:
  • sets the focus to infinity
  • sets the ISO automatically
  • sets the shutter speed to one or 2 seconds
  • sets the aperture automatically
  • sets the white balance automatically

Photographing fireworks with a digital SLR or advanced point and shoot
  1. Focus - Set your focus to manual and set your focus to infinity.
  2. Mode - Set your exposure dial to M.
  3. Shutter Speed - Change your shutter speed to 2 second (2"). This is normally the number which appears in the left of your viewfinder and lcd display.
  4. Aperture - Set your aperture to f/ 5.6 or f/8
  5. ISO - Set your ISO to 200 or 400
  6. (Optional) set your white balance to daylight.
  7. Take photos with support. Support your camera while depressing the shutter button to take photos. If you are using a tripod consider using a remote for less camera shake.
  8. TEST - Take a test shot. If your photo is too bright, change your shutter speed to 1 second. If you need more light or longer fireworks trails, set your shutter speed to 4 seconds.
Once you are finished, reset your camera back to autofocus, auto white balance and your normal shooting mode.

© Michele A. Burton

Photo of the Week - May 30, 2015

Green Heron foraging in the mud 
Budd Inlet

Port of Olympia, Washington
May 30, 2015

Photo of the Week - May 28, 2015

Backlit Leaf Detail

Washington Park Arboretum
Seattle, WA

May 29, 2015

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