Sunshine Through the Leaves

With most of my visit last weekend to the JC Raulston Arboretum being in the shade (because it was 95 degrees!), I was exploring different angles and perspectives.

It’s surprising what you can find if you just look up, or sit down.   The sun was high in the sky, so when I looked up while standing under this beautiful shade tree, the sun was bursting through the leaves.  This provided an excellent opportunity to fuddle with the manual settings of my new camera.

The trick to capturing a photo while facing the sun, is retaining some detail of your subject. The sun is so bright that it tends to silhouette everything in the foreground.  Perfect opportunity to play with ISO and Exposure compensation.

Here was my first attempt. I didn’t get as much detail as I wanted on the leaves. I took a step to the left and adjusted the settings a bit.

Sun Through the Trees
Sunburst Through the Leaves (first attempt)

This is the end result, nice color and detail on the leaves with a beautiful sunburst coming through. No flash fired on this shot, btw.

Sun Through the Trees
Sunburst Through the Leaves

And that is how I enjoyed the shade on a scorching day in NC. 🙂

Snapping Beauty


Rose-Lined Paths and Secluded Shade

When visiting the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC, I am usually taking macro photos of flower and butterflies, but on this trip, I wanted to take my new wide-angle lens out for a spin.  I’m still getting used to the [awesome] 1.8 f-stop on this lens, thus my goal was to compose landscape photos that showcased the depth of field capabilities of a 1.8 f-stop prime lens.   With the sun being high in the sky (coupled with my aversion to heavy shadows), it did prove a little difficult, but here are some gems.

Shady Spot
A perfect shady spot
Roses on the Path
Rose-lined path

More photos to come…

Snapping Beauty


JC Raulston Arboretum in May

Visiting my mom in Raleigh, NC, last weekend. I had a chance to take my new camera to the JC Raulston Arboretum. I spent many hours there when I first started out in photography.  They always have a fantastic array of colors and textures to capture – at any time of year.

On this visit, my timing wasn’t perfect, however.  I was too late for the blooming apricot trees and tulips, but too early for the roses, daisies and black-eyed susans (and subsequently the pollinators that frequent them). No matter, the gardens didn’t disappoint.

The bromelaids weren’t blooming yet, but their foliage have such interesting patterns.


The lavender was in full bloom throughout the gardens. The aroma was wafting around every corner.


And this cool thing. These spires are supposed to grow straight up, but this one got a little jiggy.

Cool Flower Bud

It was fun revisiting an old favorite.  More photos to come…

Snapping Beauty




Meadowlark Gardens – Landscapes

This visit to the Meadowlark Gardens was the maiden voyage for my new lens.  I’m so impressed with the 28mm f 1/8 wide-angle lens. The depth of focus and the clarity of this lens on the D850 are just exquisite. Below are some of my favorite landscapes from the gardens.

Overgrown Fence
Depth of Field on a cute fence lined path
Garden Path
Depth of Field on garden path in low light
Garden Path
Garden path framed by trees

Snapping Beauty

Meadowlark Gardens – Macro Flowers

Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, VA was one of the locations on my new camera’s bucket list (see the list here).  It was a nice open space with spatterings of interesting garden art, flowers, walking trails lined with old hickory trees, and water features with a gazebo and waterfowl. Plenty of photographic subjects!

They open at 10, so I wasn’t able to catch the first light, but 10am light isn’t bad either. 🙂   In fact, the best shots were taken before the sun got high in the sky.  Took about 150 photos with my new camera with 2 separate lenses (See the whole collection here).

Below are my personal favorite macro shots from the day.  Tomorrow I’ll post some beauties taken with the wide-angle lens.

Red Tulips with Macro Lens
Red Tulips with Macro Lens 1/400sec at f/5.0
White Tulips
White Tulips with Macro Lens 1/100 sec at f/2.8
Red Tulip Macro
Red Tulip with Macro Lens 1/1600 sec at f/3.0

Snapping Beauty

Exploring Adobe Lightroom Presets

Adobe has us all figured out. As photographers, we need a tool to fine-tune exposure, adjust saturation, add some contrast, share our favorites, sell the best of the day, and sync the highest ranked of our personal collection to all of our devices.  I mean, what else could a photographer want?

Oh, right … presets that bring out the emotion and mood of the photo you didn’t even know where there.  Presets that make an artful masterpiece out of a regular photo.  How did they know I would get hooked on this feature?? I love playing around with the presets on the photos that I had “rejected”. First, let me be clear, I don’t really reject any of my photos, I love them all – they’re like my children.  But, to bring out emotion in the image that I hadn’t seen, or maybe I had seen *something* in the scene that the camera settings didn’t bring out – until I lightroom’ed it (yes, I’m coining that term).

Lightroom is just … insanely awesome when it comes to playing around with my photos. I typically love the photo as it was taken, with maybe a few adjustments here and there, but to take a photo that was so-so in my opinion and add some vignetting, or aged photo effects can really change the mood of the photo.   Here’s an example: this one really grabbed me.

Before Lightroom Preset
After Lightroom Preset

This transformation from meh to YES! happened with one click. Amazing. Thank you Adobe. Now on to building my Stock portfolio….

Snapping Beauty

P.S. the preset used on this photo was called “Turn down the color” from the free trial from Loaded Landscapes. I haven’t purchased the full shebang (yet).