Category Archives: Uncategorized

Big Bend Landscapes, Light Painting and Starry Night Skies

Boquillas CanyonOver the last weekend in February 2020, Shirley and I led a workshop to the Big Bend area of Texas. Our goal was to specialize in capturing images of the many striking landscapes, and historical spots in the area and to teach some techniques of light painting and star photography.

Eight photographers from across Texas joined us in Study Butte and photographed for four days. We had early mornings most days and late nights for a few. To make a 7:30 AM sunrise photograph at Santa Elena Canyon requires a 6:00 AM departure from the hotel to make the road trip in time to set up properly.

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Looking east just as the sun cracks over the early morning horizon -Ron Grimes

Photographers are very much aware of the vast difference that a few minutes can make in the color of any given scene as evidenced by this image of the sunrise at Santa Elena canyon- just five minutes apart.

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Spectacular sunrise at the same spot -Art Madden

Early morning light within the first hour of the day is the perfect time for Santa Elena Canyon. During this time the 1,000 foot canyon walls are illuminated brightly by the warm morning rays.

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View of the east end of Santa Elena Canyon from the the Rio Grande. -Brian Loflin

During the four days we had a planned itinerary that took us virtually from one end of Big Bend National Park to the other, including Terlingua (TX) Ghost Town and Cemetery and much more.

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Cerro Castellon view with typical desert floor and vegetation.- Art Madden
Big Bend is full of varied wildlife including an extreme number of bird species.
Roadrunner -Art Madden; Whitewing Dove -Alan Lusk.
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Thousands of people flock to Texas to see the amazing spring wildflower displays. Bluebonnets are the most recognized species. In Big Bend, the Blue bonnets are a different variety, tall and lanky, but impressive nonetheless. – Alan Lusk
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No desert photography trip is complete without cacti. This prickly pear, Spiny-fruited Prickly Pear (Opuntia spinosibacca), is one of this author’s favorite. -Art Madden

For most days the weather was nice, the sunlight cooperative, but the only disappointment was cloudy skies each night preventing star photography.

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By the end of the trip everyone had captured thousands of great images of this most interesting countryside.

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Copyright © 2020 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.
Additional copyrights held by the individual image makers.

 

Starry Nights in Texas

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The night skies are bigger in Texas! Join us during the dark of the moon for an afternoon and overnight photography experience that will be unforgettable. DigiNite is an introductory expedition into photographing the night skies. No previous sky photography experience is required. Participants will learn night sky still photography techniques including photography of the stars and the Milky Way, star trails, time lapse star motion and light painting of terrestrial structures with these star techniques.

Milky Way, Inks Lake, TX

This workshop will be held at Historic Seminole Canyon State Park – overnight May 3-4, 2019 in a very remote location without light pollution to take advantage of the best night skies. The workshop begins at 1:00 PM the first day and ends after a group brunch the second. Transportation, meals and lodging are not included. Lodging will be at Comstock Motel in Comstock, TX, nine miles from the state Park. After workshop signup, reservations may be made at 432-292-4484.

For more information see: http://www.thenatureconnection.com/workshopschedule.html  A detailed packet of information will be sent to those who register for this workshop.

Copyright © 2019 Brian Loflin
All rights reserved.

Advanced Macro Photography & Digital Imaging

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This new book was just published in January 2019 and is the ideal volume for everyone seriously interested in close-up and macro photography. Written in simple language for the digital photographer, its 150 glossy pages are cram-packed with over 270 images and diagrams in full color.

Advanced Macro Photography & Digital Imaging begins with the digital camera, basics of digital exposure, close up photography and a easy-to-understand discussion on the tools and techniques required to produce close-up and macro images. Each technique is well-illustrated with color images that enhance the text.

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This book is written with the wildlife scientist and biologist in mind, but every application is useful for any field of study where close focusing and high magnification images are used.

Included in the text are methods to standardize color and to achieve true-to life images in a manner that is accurate and repeatable.  There are sections on how to set up a macro photography studio or lab, as well as photography in the lab and in the field.

Several detailed chapters are dedicated to new digital techniques, including the use of electronic flash, very high magnification, focus stacking of multiple images for enhanced Depth of Field, and post processing software and techniques.

The ample appendix is also filled with lighting tools, techniques and diagrams, information on memory cards, electronic storage devices, file production for publication, archival standards, and much more.

The book is now available in digital format for download and in a soft cover, 8.5 x 11 inch, paper format. Both formats are available through online sales at MagCloud at http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1556203 .

Copyright © 2019 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

 

 

Night stars are bigger in Texas

Milky Way, Inks Lake, TX

Twelve photographers met overnight during the dark of the moon to join me on February 24 and 25 for my first DigiNite photography workshop in the granite mountains north of Mason, Texas. The weather was cool and the skies perfect for a highly successful workshop and night shoot.

The day began with a presentation on the process, tools and techniques of digital star sky photography. Participants learned how to successfully make star trails, pinpoint star images (like the Milky Way above), light painting, and time lapse sequences of star movements.

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During the late afternoon two locations were scouted; one (above) for the Milky Way and star fields with interesting granite boulders as foreground elements, and the second, for star trails facing northward.

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With the help of digital aps, like SkyGuide, positions were selected to take advantage of the foreground structures and the star positions. After selection, cameras were positioned and securely mounted for long exposures.

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After dinner in Mason, the group returned to their locations to begin their photography in earnest. After it became fully dark the group was finally prepared and made various images of the Milky Way, with and without painted foregrounds, and two-hour star trail sequences.

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The next DigiNite workshop will be held overnight on November 17-18. 2017. For more information contact me direct at bkloflin@austin.rr.com.

Copyright © 2017 Brian Loflin
All rights reserved.

Manage the Background – Part two

I have often discussed the importance of assuring the subject stands out in the frame. To do this you must manage the background.

Previously, I discussed the first method in which you can separate the subject from the background by using a very small Depth of Field. Here I will talk about using contrasting tone values.

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Nikon D800, 105mm F2.8 Micro Nikkor lens, daylight.

In the image of the flowering seed head of Bushy bluestem grass, the highlight and mid-tone values of the plant structure contrast very well with the dark, mottled tones of the background. This allows even the finest detail to be visualized quite well. Remember, here I talk about tone values- not colors. This means changes in reflectance from dark to light. Even though monochromatic in characteristic, this subject is very well defined.

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Nikon D800, 200mm F4.0 Micro Nikkor, sun, SB-910 fill flash. Three frame HDR image.

A more colorful Passion flower really snaps out against the darkest of backgrounds. In this case some of the flower’s filamentous petals and the leaves themselves make up the background.

I am frequently asked how do you make the background dark. The answer is simple, don’t put light on it. In other words, find or make the background about two stops darker that the mid-tone exposure value. Find a Point of View that yields a nice underexposed background. Or conversely, shade the brighter background with your hand, body or a piece of cardboard or opaque reflector. If you make a shadow fall behind the subject, that’s it!

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Nikon D800, 105mm F2.8 Micro Nikkor. Two SB-910 Speedlight flashes.

The polar opposite of dark backgrounds is to make a high key, or very light background. In this case, the high key background is useful to better define the edges of medium-to-dark subjects as in the mating stink bugs above. Many times natural lighter surfaces or backgrounds may be found. When that is not possible, placing a light material or lighted surface behind the subject works well. In the case of the stink bugs, the subjects were placed on a sheet of opal acrylic plastic that was illuminated from behind with a flash (speedlight). An additional speedlight provided front illumination from above. With the capabilities found in today’s flashes, it is relatively simple to vary the TTL (Through the Lens) power ratio of each flash independently, producing the desired tone values of the subject and of the background separately.

Regardless of your choice-light or dark- be sure to manage the distractions to produce a subject that pops!

Copyright © 2016 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph South Texas Birds-Only Two Seats Left!

Workshop Dates: October 30 – November 1, 2015

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Image by participant, © Richard Goluch.

Just two months away, only two seats remain in this workshop. Don’t miss an opportunity to Join noted photographer Brian Loflin for a highly instructional, hands-on bird photography workshop in the heart of the South Texas flyway. This workshop features a half-day of full, hands-on instruction and three half-days of shooting in some of the best South Texas birding habitat available where the neotropical South Texas varieties abound. The late-October date takes advantage of cooler temperatures and the opportunity to photograph a large variety of resident and migrant species.

Take a moment to view participant images from previous workshops here:

The workshop will be held at the Laguna Seca Ranch north of Edinburg, Texas in the heart of the lush Rio Grande Valley. Features of this 700-acre ranch are purpose-designed for photography and preserved with all-native plants and animals. It features four constant-level ponds, each with permanent photography blinds oriented for the best use of light. Each location has been hand-crafted, and they all provide outstanding birding and photographing opportunities. Nearly eighty species have been listed on the ranch. Laguna Seca Ranch clearly offers a unique South Texas birding and photography adventure!

At Laguna Seca Ranch we bring the birds to you! We will set up natural perches considering the best photographic light possible. Most photography of the best scenarios is just 12-15 feet from your lens! Birds have water, dripping attractions and are fed year-round so attraction of the best species is stress-free.

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Image by Participant, © Dolph McCranie.

This workshop is designed for serious photographers who are competent in the use of their camera and equipment, yet may not have experienced the thrill of producing bird photographs of the highest quality. Copious instruction will include hands-on demonstrations in bird photography, understanding best exposures and camera settings, and the use of flash. Instruction will also include how to set up in a blind and shooting etiquette, setting up perches, best management of backgrounds and light and much more.

“Brian put so much work into this workshop, it was amazing! He took care of absolutely everything that you could imagine, meals, lodging, bird attracting set up, and always making sure that we were comfortable. At times there were so many birds around us, you didn’t know which shot to take first. We all had a great time, and I am ready to go back again! ” –C.C. – Austin, Texas

For more information see: RGV Bird Workshop
or, Email direct to: bkloflin@austin.rr.com

Copyright © 2015 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

Nature & Macro in the Texas Hill Country

Brian Loflin - Natural Science Photography

Join me at Mo Ranch in the very heart of the magical Texas Hill Country for a three-day nature and macro photography workshop geared to shooting in field settings and indoors. Dates are Friday-Sunday, September 18-20, 2015.

This workshop will be packed with hands-on instruction to help you grow your photographic abilities with new found skills, techniques and proficiency. Two nights lodging and six meals provided.

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The historic, 500 acre Mo Ranch is located in a beautiful setting on the North Fork of the Guadalupe River. Here, habitats include: aquatic, riparian areas, grasslands, oak-juniper woodlands, and limestone hills. We will make use of all of them.

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The workshop will feature classroom instruction, hands-on learning, and computer demonstrations  with native flora and fauna of the area. A computer lab is available for all participants for processing images. The workshop will cover many subjects including discussions on:

•    Equipment for getting…

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Sights and colors of Autum

The last week of September, I took a short trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. In addition to getting some much-needed “away time”, I wanted to photograph Elk in the rut and the colorful Aspens at their peak. I was surprised to discover that I arrived at the best week- for both!

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 Nikon D-800, 600mm F4.0 Nikkor lens, tripod.

The bulls and their hormones were very active and good images were easily found. The color was a bit splotchy as there was a previous beetle kill in the the pines. But a little perseverance paid off with some nice color.

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Nikon D-800, 80-200 mm zoom Nikkor lens, tripod.

Copyright © 2014 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

Don’t miss: Two new South Texas bird photography workshops

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South Texas Bird Photography Workshop •Laguna Seca Ranch Edinburg, Texas
• October 23-26, 2014
• February 27-March 1-2015

This instructional, hands-on bird photography workshop is located in the heart of the South Texas flyway. The October workshop features a half-day of hands-on instruction and a day and two and a half days of shooting (or a day and a half in February ) in some of the best South Texas birding habitat available where neotropical South Texas varieties abound.

The workshop will be held at the Laguna Seca Ranch north of Edinburg, Texas in the heart of the lush Rio Grande Valley. The facilities of the 700-acre ranch are purpose-designed for photography and preserved with all native species. It features four constant-level ponds, each with permanent photography blinds oriented for the best use of light. A fifth blind is set up specifically for raptors.

Each location has been hand-crafted to provide the most outstanding bird photography opportunities. With nearly eighty species found on the property, Laguna Seca Ranch clearly offers a uniquely outstanding South Texas bird photography adventure! Many photographers have added numerous birds to their species life list while at the workshop. Read the website for their testimonials.

For more information, see: http://www.thenatureconnection.com/SoTxBirdPhotoWS.html

New Photography Workshops for Fall and Winter

Three new workshops are slated for the months ahead including one Macro Workshop and two South Texas Bird Photography Workshops.

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Field Macro Photography Workshop • October 10-12, 2014
MO Ranch, Hunt Texas

Join us in the very heart of the magical Texas Hill Country for a three-day macro photography workshop geared to shooting in a field setting. This workshop will be packed with hands-on instruction to help you grow your photographic abilities with new found skills, techniques and proficiency.

The historic, 500 acre Mo Ranch is located in a beautiful setting on the North Fork of the Guadalupe River. Here, habitats include: aquatic, riparian areas, grasslands, oak-juniper woodlands, and limestone hills. We will make use of all of them.

The workshop will feature hands-on learning and demonstrations with native flora and fauna of the area and will cover many subjects including discussions on: Equipment for getting close, Tools to make macro work easier, Wide Angle Close-Ups, Lighting with Flash, High Speed Flash, Focus Stacking, Extreme Macro, and much more.

Don’t miss out on this workshop. Only four slots remain.
(The June workshop sold out in ten days.)

For more information see: http://www.thenatureconnection.com/files/Macro_Photography_Workshop_in_the_Field-Oct_2014.pdf

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South Texas Bird Photography Workshop •Laguna Seca Ranch Edinburg, Texas
• October 23-26, 2014
• February 27-March 1-2015

This instructional, hands-on bird photography workshop is located in the heart of the South Texas flyway. The workshop features a half-day of hands-on instruction and a day and a half shooting (or two and a half days) in some of the best South Texas birding habitat available where neotropical South Texas varieties abound.

The workshop will be held at the Laguna Seca Ranch north of Edinburg, Texas in the heart of the lush Rio Grande Valley. The facilities of the 700-acre ranch are purpose-designed for photography and preserved with all native species. It features four constant-level ponds, each with permanent photography blinds oriented for the best use of light. A fifth blind is set up specifically for raptors.

Each location has been hand-crafted to provide the most outstanding bird photography opportunities. With nearly eighty species found on the property, Laguna Seca Ranch clearly offers a uniquely outstanding South Texas bird photography adventure!

For more information, see: http://www.thenatureconnection.com/SoTxBirdPhotoWS.html