Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Even though our fall in southern Wisconsin has been incredibly mild, winter is inevitable, including another frosty, but snow-free, morning.  Here are a few more photos that I got of the frost.

In the first shot, I chose to include a young sprig as a point of interest.

In the second, I was more concerned with the overall compositional balance.

I wound up liking the second shot more, despite the fact that it had no specific focal point of interest.

The elements of the third shot below were more diverse, including both new and old and a variety of colors.


All of these were shot with the aid of a tripod.  I thought it was important to keep as much of the image in good focus, so I chose narrow apertures, running from f/16 to f/22.  As a result, exposure times were from 0.3 to 0.6 seconds, much too long for me to take on a hand-held basis.

Finally, while I was at it, I grabbed a photo of my favorite park bench in Mequon, this on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan in Mequon's Virmond Park.  Colorwise, there wasn't much going on, so I converted the shot to a black & white.


Sunday, November 27, 2016


The Mitchell Park Domes, Milwaukee's indoor botanical gardens, have been a mainstay of mine for getting macro shots of flora.  Unfortunately, last winter it became apparent that the facility was going to need major repair.  The Domes were closed for several months to install netting as a stop-gap measure to prevent chunks of the glass-paneled domes from falling on visitors.  Recently, all three domes were re-opened, and this weekend I paid my first visit since last winter.  Here is what I got.

This first was a more or less traditional shot of a chrysanthemum (or similar) flower from the Show Dome.

The next was of a trio of pincushion cacti in the Desert Dome that I converted to a black and white.

I intended this to be a symmetrical shot that would include the "centers" of all three cacti, but it didn't work out that way, and I decided I was happy with the asymmetrical composition.

This following was of a simple leaf in the Tropical Dome that I also converted to a black and white.

Because the leaf was relatively flat, I could go with a relatively wide open aperture of f/3.5 to eliminate any background distractions.  The conversion to black and white seemed to bring out more of the subtle texture in the leaf's surface.

My preference in these shots has been to crop the composition.  This serves the function of allowing more emphasis on detail and leaves to the viewer the task of completing the overall composition.  That could be said as well for the next shot, also of a leaf in the Tropical Dome.

My goal in the following shot of a detail of a large banana leaf was to bring out the fine pattern in the structure of the leaf, which was being backlit by the late morning sun streaming through the glass dome.

My favorite of the shots from this visit to the Domes was of what appeared to be a chard-like plant in the Show Dome.

In this photo, because it was shot at close range (less than a foot) and because the plant's leaves had quite a bit of depth, I used a very narrow aperture of f/40 to preserve as much depth of field as possible.

John M. Phillips

Saturday, November 12, 2016


This fall weather in Wisconsin has been very kind, and it was only this morning that we had our first real frost in the Milwaukee area.  On my early morning walk in the crisp, calm air, I noticed the heavy frost in the fallen leaves along the quiet streets, so as soon as I got home I grabbed my camera to capture some of the heavy frost before the sun burned it off.

The morning was sunny, but I realized that the colors would be richer in the shade than in the sun.  Moreover, including both sun and shadow in a shot would create distracting contrast.  So I focused on shaded areas.  I wound up taking about 35 shots, but as often happens, I kept only a few.

Generally, I try to stick to "unstaged" scenes, which is what I did here.  I did think to bring my tripod, which was important because I wanted to keep as much of the scene in reasonably good focus.  That meant that I needed to employ narrow apertures for the shots, requiring relatively long exposures.