Sarah Sakamoto blog »

Best of… scenic (wide) photography

Some old, some new. I don’t usually like wide lenses unless I’m trying to take scenery shots… so this kind of just worked out in itself, being a nature photography course. Of the three (macro, telephoto and wide), this was definitely the hardest on me in terms of being able to create the exact image that I wanted.

The two that seem really, very small are actually panoramas. I took anywhere from 4-8 photographs and “stitched” them together in Adobe Photoshop. The one with clouds was taken in Memphis, Tennessee and the bottom-most one is up on Figueroa Mountain.

Quick tips for panoramas: for the lens, it’s actually better if you don’t use a WIDE lens because wide lenses cause distortion at the edges; it’s better to use a lens that is longer than 50mm (probably longer than that) and take a series of photographs. Shoot vertically if the panorama is horizontal and vice versa.

If you’re wondering about the “star trails”, that was a series of exposures as well, also stitched together in Adobe Photoshop. I took a flash (580EX II) and lit the telephone pole. This might also be a film scan… but I can’t quite remember at the moment, and I’m working off of my laptop with smaller jpgs (and the original file is on my iMac).

And, if you’re wondering, the close-up of the plant was also taken with a wide lens. I used the fact that the wider lenses can focus closer and used it to emphasize the natural pattern that the leaves unfolded in.

Wide lenses can be used in many different ways! I hope this entry helped you think of a few new ways to look at the world and how to utilize the lenses that are available.

Best of… telephoto photography

I would like to make the distinction between “telephoto” lens and “zoom” lens.

A “telephoto” lens is a lens that’s longer than 135mm.
A “zoom” lens… zooms.

Not all telephoto lenses are zoom lenses. Not all zoom lenses are telephoto lenses. They’re really not interchangeable terms, though some people tend to use them interchangeably. Zoom lenses can reach into the telephoto range though, like a 70-200mm (called a “telephoto zoom” lens). Not technically a telephoto lens since it goes down to 70mm, but it zooms into the telephoto range. There’s also a 200-400mm, which is in the telephoto range outright but it also zooms.

Basically, mind your P’s and Q’s! Hope this helps.

A yellow-billed magpie sitting on a fence. I almost drove past it but I slammed on my brakes, whipped out my camera, and got this shot… right before it flew away. Don’t worry, there were no cars within eyesight (and this area was flaaaat and straaaaight!) so slamming on my brakes did no harm except for, perhaps, to my tires.

Not exactly sure what kind of bird this is, but I posted this photo earlier. My teacher really liked the shot, so into my final portfolio it went!

A yucca plant growing on Figueroa Mountain in Los Olivos, California. Very cool looking!

The stinger of an Emperor Scorpion. It doesn’t look very nice, does it? But it’s apparently one of the most exported scorpions due to its size and the low toxicity of its poison; it’s exported so much that it’s almost extinct!

The very same Leopard Gecko. It’s not very large, probably only about 3-4 inches long.

A mother Broad-Tailed hummingbird. Doesn’t she look very patient, kind and caring? This was actually taken with a 100mm lens, but we were allowed one shot that was less than 180mm. So this is neither telephoto OR zoom!

Sun setting… it was a beautiful sunset, something you see in safari pictures almost.

Hope you enjoyed (visually) and learned something new about photography! Remember, wide and zoom… mind your p’s and q’s!

Best of… macro photography

Macro photography… taken with either a 100mm or 180mm lens.

For those of you who are wondering how the heck I got so close to such strange animals.. most of them are captive, owned by an animal wrangler who came by to visit and let the class photograph his animals. Some animals have actually received awards for being in films! How crazy is that?

Anyway… here you go. Enjoy!

A young jumping spider hiding in the stamen of a California poppy flower. I found the spider completely on accident… I was really trying to photograph some bees pollinating but they were being stubborn and didn’t like my presence, I suppose. It didn’t help that any bee that came around frightened me, since I was trying to photograph them with a 15mm lens (fisheye!) and that required me to get waaaaay too close for comfort. Hence, spider (which also made me nervous, but it was small enough..).

A Giant Asian Mantis gripping onto a Bird of Paradise flower. This mantis was quite large, as the name suggests! Isn’t it cute though?

The eye of a Leopard Gecko. This guy became my buddy a few moments after this shot; the day we were shooting was overcast and he was moving around, when I happened to block him with my hand (as to keep him from escaping) and he crawled onto my hand… and kept going up, and ended up around my neck, which I suppose was the warmest area on my body. Definitely felt cool, and I’m pretty sure someone in my class has a photo of me with this guy on my shoulder.

This is definitely NOT a sight you want to see. This was one laaaaarge yellow anaconda and it liked to reach out and “smell” our cameras and lenses, which made mostly all of us a just a little bit nervous. I had this guy around my neck for a little bit and quickly got it off when it started constricting (though perhaps just for the warmth? but I wasn’t about to stick around and find out).

The eye of an Argentine Horned Frog. Yes, I have pictures of its full body but this shot I thought was much cooler. Look at its eye! And that vein? Anyway, once he started burrowing under the lawn, he (why am I calling all of these animals male?) stayed put, though we got him out a few times and rewet him and he seemed content enough to sit there for a few minutes.

Scales of the yellow anaconda… one of the requirements of the assignment was to get an “edge to edge”, which basically means to photograph something and make sure every pixel of it was sharp. I didn’t totally nail it, but either way… snakeskin is pretty awesome looking in my opinion.

Something that is pretty scary looking, no? A Blood Python, curled up and just staring at me with its strange eyes. The animal wrangler actually transports all of his creatures in semi-opaque plastic containers, and I was a little anxious and decided to photograph it while it was still in its box.. luckily I got a few shots in where the white towel wasn’t in the way. I have others after the wrangler came by (asked me if I was communicating telepathically with the snake) and put it on a nearby rock, but, again, I thought this was a much more interesting shot. The snake itself is very interesting looking; its head is definitely a different shape than most but what gets me the most are the eyes.

I may have posted this shot already… but I still love it. A Red-eared Slider found in Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden (yes, her name was actually Alice Keck Park, and it is a memorial garden).

Camera and lens information is located in the tags listed below the post; any other questions, feel free to leave a comment or otherwise send me an e-mail! Thanks for looking.

Coming soon!

Final week of class! This means… my final portfolio has already been turned in, so you get to see the “best of…” series of images that I turned in. The “kinds” of photography will be macro, telephoto and scenic/wide shots. Then I’ll have an “editorial” post where we were supposed to choose a magazine to “submit” to, choose a story accordingly, then go out and shoot it.

The first post, macro, will be up on June 21st at midnight!

Anyway, I did a little work customizing the blog layout itself. If any of you use WordPress and are a photographer, I suggest purchasing the ProPhoto blog theme pack; the customization options are pretty much endless, and the photo uploading is incredibly easy. The header is new and simplified, and I added a new background.

Also, I received a question about what kind of gear I use… so I added tags (located at the bottom of every entry) that not only specify the camera model and what lense/s I used, but also include a few other keywords for search optimization. Other than that if you have any more specific questions, feel free to leave me a comment or send me an e-mail through the designated form (located in the “Contact” section up top).

I appreciate you taking the time to read through my entries and hope that this blog is constantly bringing a different and interesting visual approach to your day. Remember, June 21st is when my next post will be up!

Backyard Nature

The best part about taking this nature photography course is… quite honestly, sometimes I don’t enjoy taking the class. It’s not the teacher or the assignments, but it’s usually the class overall. Either I have senioritis (haha, don’t we all?) or I’ll schedule 4 models and they’ll all flake on me, one after the other, up until it’s the day before the assignment is due (to be turned in in the morning, mind you!) and then the teacher tells me I’m just making excuses…. *mutters*

Either way… what I’m trying to say is that I absolutely LOVE nature photography. I understand that there’s really not that much work out there to solely base my career on nature photography, but I still love doing it, and there’s always the option to turn to stock photography (check out: GettyImages, Corbis, iStock, etc), which is a great option because it will sell without me having to do anything. Stock isn’t a hands-on sort of money source.

So, this is what I captured in my own backyard. Simple but effective.

The inside of an Echeveria plant (not a cactus!)

Anthophila (Apoidea)… also known as a bee.

In flight. Please excuse the motion blur… it’s hard know exactly where these are headed.

Why hello there! Do you see it? It’s a Western Fence Lizard… making sure I don’t get too close.
And my favorite shot of the day… Cabbage White Butterfly. Yes, I really did get THAT close!

Michelle @ Glisters & Blisters - these are stunning shots !
u mind sharing what lens + camera do u use to take all of ur lovely pics ?
i tried finding an FAQ page, but i couldnt find it ๐Ÿ˜

i wish i could have that 50mm f/1.2 but that’s just too out of budget for me..ahhah

Michelle @ Glisters & Blisters - these are stunning shots !
u mind sharing what lens + camera do u use to take all of ur lovely pics ?
i tried finding an FAQ page, but i couldnt find it ๐Ÿ˜

i wish i could have that 50mm f/1.2 but that’s just too out of budget for me..ahhah