The photographic art of thinking small yet big

Article and photos by Steve Carlisle

It’s been a long hot summer, but fall is almost here! What a great time to take pictures of nature in North Georgia. Colors abound and flora and fauna are still active. For observers equipped with cameras capable capturing a buck with impressive antlers or a wild turkey fanning puffed tail feathers to attract the ladies, these memorable scenes can be preserved as Kodak moments.

The well-equipped Big Canoe nature photographer may not have the professional glass Mark Green or David Akoubian use to capture the magic they do day after day with precision and accuracy, but if I carried my Nikon in my daily routine, instead of the iPhone X I always end up using, I’d have a lot better pictures.

I’m one of those part-timers, I guess. Taking pictures always seems to be a planned trip to Gibbs Gardens or to the butterfly garden at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. My iPhone pictures are okay for social media since I won’t be making large prints for display at the Georgia Nature Photography Association show at the Art Center in Alpharetta.

When I want to try my best to bring home the artistic bacon, I arm myself with a Nikon D850 and 28mm – 300mm zoom lens. With the zoom ring set to a 28 mm wide-angle setting, I can capture a field of sunflowers at Fausett Farms with the Appalachian Mountains in the background and bright blue sky above. If I see a Monarch butterfly approaching a flower, I can zoom in on him.

I might hold the shutter button down and let the camera’s motor drive take a series of shots, allowing me to pick the one I like best as I edit the day’s session. Like many shooters I prefer Adobe LightRoom to help sort and rate my favorites from the myriad of images captured in a typical shoot. I can then “develop” my digital files and bring out the best in each file before I share it with the world.

I have always been drawn to close-ups and the exciting world of macro photography. I love to get up close and personal with my subjects and use my special macro lens to record textures and the unique designs of nature. Mine is a 55mm Micro-Nikkor and it can focus much closer than a typical lens. It opens another world only the camera can help me explore and I can’t seem to get enough of it!

It’s always fun to end up with one or two outstanding shots, even though I might take dozens, maybe hundreds of pictures. You learn to love those odds because that’s just the way it is; the more you shoot the better you get. It’s a sport and an art at the same time. The best part is it’s really fun!

Members of the Big Canoe Photography Club love to share their work and get both praise and criticism, which is how you learn and grow as an artist. These days the group’s Facebook page is where this happens, but regular meetings will resume one of these days.

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