Thursday, March 1, 2018

Join me on Madeline Island!


I am excited to be adding a new workshop venue this year, I'll be teaching Fine Art Flower Photography at the Madeline Island School of the Arts (MISA), June 11-15th. Imagine 5 days of flower photography heaven! 

About the school:


Madeline Island School of the Arts (MISA) is ranked among the top five art and craft schools in the country. The school is located in northern Wisconsin, on Madeline Island, the largest of the 22 Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. The Island is celebrated for its magnificent light and colors, creating an unparalleled setting for a week of creativity. Classes are held June through October in spacious studios, with superb on-site accommodations and a dedicated staff that will ensure an unforgettable experience.

About the MISA campus

The beautiful prairie meadow campus is located on the site of the historic Sandstrom Dairy Farm of Madeline Island.  All but one of the existing buildings are new and have been custom-designed to maximize the creative experience offered by the workshops. 

On-campus lodging is steps away from the studios and dining area, and is adjacent to the MISA apple orchard. Students can choose to stay in a shared room with bath en suite, a private room with shared bath en suite, or a private room with a private bath en suite.


A meal package is included with all on-campus lodging options, consisting of breakfast and lunch each day, and two on-campus dinners. Several restaurant options are available on Madeline Island and students are encouraged to explore the local offerings for dinners not provided on-campus. Unlimited healthy snacks and beverages are available at any time. Vegetarian and gluten free options are also available.

Spring flowers should be in abundance, we'll be shooting wild flowers as well as visiting a few local gardens. Each day includes a presentation, group critiques of student photos, and photographing flowers in Madeline Island gardens.The Lupine should be plentiful, one of my favorite Spring flowers to photograph! Join me!

Happy Shooting, 
Kathleen

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lensbaby's Burnside 35!


Introducing the Lensbaby Burnside 35! Many of you know that I had an emotional reaction to my first Velvet 56 photos. I am happy to tell you that looking at this Burnside 35 photograph (see below) on the back of my camera caused a similar reaction. It literally took my breath away, I love this lens!


Let's get the technical stuff covered first. This lens is 35mm f/2.8, with a 6" minimum focusing distanceThough it's not a true macro lens,  the 1:2.25  magnification ratio did allow me to get in as close as I wanted.  What makes this lens extra special is a bronze slider on the side of the lens, sort of like an additional aperture adjustment, and it controls the in camera vignette and swirly blur. You can use it to adjust how soft or how detailed you want the swirly vignette blur to be. I think that's brilliant! Being able to control exactly how much blur, detail and darkening I want in my backgrounds allows me to create just the look I want.



Here is the same subject with different vignette settings, note the change in detail and darkening in the backgrounds:










You don't want to get in super close, because the twisty blur and vignette need some background to be most effective. I've been having a blast shooting with this new lens, and cannot wait for Spring to really see what it can do when I have more subject matter here in Maine. It's tough to find full backgrounds for twisty blur in snowy conditions! I am looking forward to photographing Spring flowers and making outdoor portraits.


You can see the Burnside 35 on Lensbaby's website here, as well as a video on the new features:

https://lensbaby.com/product/burnside-35/

Lensbaby also created a page to show what the effects look like on full frame and crop sensor cameras, as well as a comparison with the Lensbaby Twist 60:

https://lensbaby.com/burnside-comparison-images/.


Happy shooting!
Kathleen




Monday, February 5, 2018

What If?

     I recently wrote an article for Landscape Photography Magazine entitled, "What If"? You can see the article here. It's really about being unafraid to try new things in your photography and to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Here is the text from the article, as well as more of the photos I shot for it.


Earlier this month I attended “Andrew Wyeth at 100”, a fabulous exhibit of his painting and drawings at the Farnsworth Museum. Wyeth’s work always inspires me, and this time was no exception. Many of the paintings were of winter scenes, Wyeth’s favorite season to capture. He said, “I prefer winter and fall, when you can feel the bone structure in the landscape.” I spent some time really looking at how he captured snow in the paintings. It wasn’t just empty areas of white, but an intricate part of the mood and story in the work.

I don’t make photographs as much in the winter as I do the other seasons here in Maine. I love to include natural backgrounds in my work, and a plain white snowy background just doesn’t usually interest me.  It doesn’t provide the blur and distortion that I love. But the more I thought about the exhibit paintings, the more I felt inspired to move beyond my preconceptions and see how I could make the photos I love to make under snowy conditions. I stated asking myself, “What if…?”  This is something that I always teach my students. I tell them to ask themselves, “What would happen if…” and then to go and try it. If there is a secret to the way I make photos, this is probably it. I am always willing to try new things, to be open to possibilities and to embrace the randomness they can provide.

I decided to keep my process simple, and headed out towards the beach with just one lens. I chose my Lensbaby Composer Pro 2 with the Sweet 50 optic, and the +4 macro diopter from the Lensbaby Macro Kit. This way I could shoot from up close to infinity.





Not having my usual subjects and backgrounds made me slow down and really look for things that interested me. I found trees with gorgeous bare branch lines, rose hips, dried blossoms, berries and leaves twisted with age. The leaves fascinated me, and I spend much of my time drawn to them. I paid particular attention to my backgrounds, and tried to include subject matter that I could blur and distort. I also tried to blur as much of my subjects as I could and still tell the story I wanted to tell, this is my favorite way to make photos.



 I also photographed some amazing leaves and dried flowers with just a plain snowy background. I have avoided this is the past, because a plain white background won’t show any detail or Lensbaby effect. But what I learned from this experiment is that if the subject itself has enough depth and interest, blur on just the edges of the subject can be enough, and the way that blur fades into the white background is quite beautiful.



While I was shooting, a phrase kept coming into my head, and that was “What remains”… That was really what I was shooting. I was focused on the things that remained during the winter, the plants, branches and leaves that had hung on through snow and ice storms. Despite their fragility, I saw strength. Putting that into words starting me thinking about a new series of photos along this theme. I plan to make photographs of what remains at each season, what stands the test of time and weather and still perseveres. 

Think about some of the preconceptions you have about your work. Whether it is subject, season or the type of photography you usually do, try something new to challenge yourself. Finding a theme can really energize your photography, and I am excited about the new ideas and directions I want to go with this. Had I not tried something out of my comfort zone, this new project would not be happening. 

Happy Shooting,
Kathleen



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New Lensbaby Sweet 80!




I am so excited to share the announcement of a new Lensbaby, the Composer Pro II with Sweet 80 Optic is available for pre-order today! This new 80mm optic is the third in the Sweet series of tilting selective focus optics, joining the Sweet 35 and Sweet 50 optics with a sweet spot of sharp focus surrounded by beautiful blur. With apertures from f/2.8-16 and a minimum focus distance of 22 inches, the Sweet 80 will be available either with the Composer Pro 2 or as an interchangeable optic for any of the previous optic swap system lenses.

Selective focus is my favorite way to make photos, I love to create a small area in focus and blur the rest of the image, drawing the viewer's attention to just one part of my subject. The first thing I noticed while shooting with this optic was the wonderful fall off to blur created by the compression of the longer focal length.  The blending of colors and shapes is beautiful! 




Here are some photos I made this weekend with the Sweet 80, the 80mm focal length of the optic is awesome!  The weather was very foggy in my area, with lovely diffused light. My son caught a blue lobster last week (one-in-two-million odds!), so I photographed that as well as flowers. I used f/4.






When you want to get closer with the Sweet 80,  you pull out the front of the Optic. This close-focus feature allows you to focus from 22" from the front of the lens to your subject.




Be sure to push that close focus element back in when you want to focus at a longer distance away. Here are some examples with and without using the closer focus feature, all at the minimum focus distance of the optic:












I also tried adding a +2 macro diopter to get even closer to my subjects:





And since I love to shoot wide open with my Lensbabies, I shot some at f/2.8 for max blur too!



This new optic definitely has a place in my camera bag, and I'll be reaching for it when I want more background compression than the other two Sweet optics can provide.  Being able to bring the background in closer will make this optic very useful for the way I like to shoot.

Thank you, Lensbaby, for continuing to produce new and innovative ways that allow me to show the world the way that I see it!


Happy Shooting!

Kathleen


Saturday, August 19, 2017

2018 Workshop Dates


Hi all,

I hope you have all been doing lots of shooting! Here in Maine, flower season is in full swing, and that makes me very happy! Here is my new favorite photo, shot with my Lensbaby Sweet 50 and macro diopters:



I have been getting lots of requests for my 2018 location workshop dates, and I am happy to announce them here.  The April Longwood Gardens workshop is already full, but we are keeping a waiting list:
Flower Dance Workshop with Donna Eaton, Charleston in Bloom, Charleston, SC March 19-22, $995.
Flower Dance Workshop with Donna Eaton, Springtime at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA April 16-19, $995 NOTE: Workshop is full, waiting list available, kathleenclemons@me.com
Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, Santa Fe, NM: Fine Art Flower Photography, May 21-24
Fine Art Flower Photography On Madeline Island, Madeline Island School of the Arts June 11-15, 2018
Flower Dance Workshop with Donna Eaton, September at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA September 4-7, $995.
Flower Dance Workshop with Donna Eaton, Early Autumn on the Coast of Maine, Harpswell, Maine, September 27-30, $995.
E-mail me if you are interested in reserving a space, kathleenclemons@me.com.

Also wanted to mention some new items I have been using.  When I am shooting and want to travel super light, I grab my Lens Flipper and can attach 2 lenses and leave my camera bag at home. It's light and secure and I don't have to worry about losing lens caps. My 10% discount at http://lensflipper.com is kclemons.

I am also enjoying using my custom flash drives from usbmemorydirect.com. I had a bunch printed with my logo, they work well and are large enough not to get lost easily, I definitely recommend them.


Happy Shooting!
Kathleen

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lensbaby Velvet 56 or 85?


                                        Choices, choices...



I've been getting lots of questions about the new Lensbaby Velvet 85, and many of them have to do with the difference between the Velvet 56 and the new model. Some people want to know which to choose, while others who already own the Velvet 56 want to know if there is enough of a difference to add the 85 to their lens collections.

Though you can get in close with both models, and that wonderful Velvet etherial look is produced with both lenses, the main difference I see in my work is to the backgrounds. The longer focal length of the Velvet 85 provides compression. That means it reduces the distance between subjects and backgrounds, pulling the background closer, at the same time providing more blur to it too.  I am really loving this effect when I include a background, and more and more I am reaching for the Velvet 85 when I used to use my 180mm lens.

Here are some sample images, same subject with both lenses:

                                                                    Velvet 56, f/4


                                                                    Velvet 85, f/4

                                                                   Velvet 56, f/4

                                                                    Velvet 85, f/4

As you can see, the Velvet 85 provides more background simplification and blur.  It was also nice not having to get in as close with that longer lens, the bees were loving these Poppies! That extra space also comes in handy when I want more space to use a diffuser or reflector.

                                                                      Velvet 56, f/4

                                                                      Velvet 85, f/4

I tried some indoor shots as well, using a huge Dahlia from my garden and a printed background texture.  I could not capture the whole flower with the Velvet 56 without also including the edges of my 11" x 17" background. The compression provided by the Velvet 85 helped to bring that background forward and I was easily able to fill the frame without issue.

                                                                       Velvet 56, f/5.6

                                                                    Velvet 85, f/5.6

So, which do I recommend?  I see the choice in a similar way to choosing the Lensbaby Sweet 35 or Sweet 50. Lens choice will depend on your subject, what you want to include in the frame, how close you can get to that subject and what you have to work with in the background. As with the Sweet 35 and 50, both the Velvet 56 and 85 have a place in my camera bag.

Happy Shooting!
Kathleen