Gary P Carter: Blog en-us (C) Gary P Carter (Gary P Carter) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:36:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:36:00 GMT Gary P Carter: Blog 120 96 Beginner's Photo Tip #1 - Why Is the Duck Out of Focus?  


Snowy LandingSnowy LandingSnowy Egret Landing Nearby Blue Angle FlybyBlue Angle FlybyLittle Blue Heron Flying Close Modern digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras are loaded with features. Though this is definitely a blessing, it is sometimes a lot to take in for the beginning photographer. The cameras will take a lot of great shots right out of the box on full automatic, but some photo situations call for adjusting the default settings. One such example is when the subject is moving. It can be a swimming duck, your dog playing with a new toy or a child's soccer game. The default focus drive setting anticipates your subject is stationary. You press the shutter half way down, probably hear an audible tone indicating the subject is in focus. You continue pressing until the shutter releases and you have a sharply focused shot. This is not the case if you are shooting that swimming duck. You press the shutter. It beeps as you take the photo, but the subject is out of focus because it moved out of the zone of focus before the shutter fired. The solution is to set the camera so that the focus continually changes as the subject moves.

The Bad News: When shooting Canon's green square or Nikon's Auto and Flash-Off Auto settings, the camera does not allow the needed adjustments. But it is not all bad news. You can still use the Program (P) mode. The settings described below also work in the Aperture Priority (Av and A), Shutter Priority (Tv and S), and Manual (M) modes. Let's look at two settings that are important for shooting at moving targets.

Auto Focus Setting: Canon users would change the Auto Focus Mode from Single Shot to AI Servo. Nikon users would change the camera from the Single-Servo Auto Focus to Continuous-Servo Auto Focus. (These names vary slightly from model to model and year to year, and there are some hybrid modes. For other brands, see the manual for correct names and operation.) With Canon or Nikon, once set, the camera then focuses continuously while the shutter-release button is depressed half-way and the shot is taken when fully depressed. The focusing system even predicts where the subject will be in the near future, increasing the chances of an in-focus shot.

Drive Mode (Canon), or Release Mode (Nikon): Successfully shooting moving subjects typically involves using a combination of the above mentioned Auto Focus Setting and setting the camera to take multiple shots when the shutter is pressed. DSLRs will give you the option for taking one shot at a time, or taking many shots continuously while the shutter is held down. Relying upon a single shot in an action situation will too often result in a flying bird with a wing obscuring its head, or your daughters soccer shot hidden by another player. Setting the camera to fire at its fastest rate betters your chances of capturing a shot that has that perfect pose or action. Not all shots will be keepers. Keep the good ones; delete really bad ones.

Also: Entry- and Mid-level DSLRs normally offer "canned" settings for various shooting situations like Landscape, Portraits, Macro and Sports. This Sports setting will typically set the Focusing Mode to AI Servo (Continuous-Servo), and also change the Drive (Release) Mode to continuous. This allows you to make only one quick and easy change in your settings to take action shots. There is a catch. In photography there is always a catch. The Sports Mode makes certain assumptions about your shooting conditions. It sets a lot of features in addition to these two. If you are shooting outdoors with good lighting, it will probably work fine for you.  As you progress in your ability to modify the camera settings in Tv (S), Av (A), M and P modes you will be able to shoot action shots even when the lighting is less than ideal. But for now, if you are mostly shooting in Full Automatic Mode, and getting blurred action shots, give the Sports Mode a try.

And remember, sometimes only portions of your photos will be in focus. For people and other animals, the eyes will often determine whether or not the photo is perceived to be "in focus". Try to keep that focus point on the eyes, or at least the head. Sometimes it helps to try shooting with both eyes open, following the action with the non-camera eye until you can find the subject in he view-finder. Happy shooting.

]]> (Gary P Carter) Beginner's Photography Tip Camera Settings for Action Shots Tue, 10 Dec 2013 13:58:58 GMT
Why Nature It Began on a Creek

I am interested in most types of photography, but am consistently drawn to nature photography. My earliest recollection of an encounter with nature was during the early part of my elementary school years. It was a slight encounter, but one that stuck. I remember lying in the grass at a playground in late spring playing with a bug. Then I noticed it – the warmth of the sun and the cool breeze. I rolled over and stared at the clouds looking for shapes I had been told would appear. The warmth and coolness – too cool without the sun – too warm without the breeze – balanced just right – I did not want to get up. My memory of that experience is vivid. But my attraction to nature truly began a few years later, when my parents rented a cabin on a creek. Though it was Spartan and lacked running water, it was paradise for me. We sat many nights within the screened porch playing board games while listening as the frogs and insects competed in the sounds of the night. We fished and swam in the creek and I wandered in the yard and woods. It was always quiet and peaceful, and our favorite place on earth. Perhaps my ventures into the outdoors are an attempt to duplicate those times, or just a new interest sparked by happy times, but I know I am drawn to be there – outdoors – in the peace and quiet with the warm sun and cool breeze on my skin.

]]> (Gary P Carter) Wed, 25 Sep 2013 14:44:26 GMT
Discover Life in America - a noble cause Cove Hardwood Nature Trail, GSMNPCove Hardwood Nature Trail

Blogging – Not something I ever saw myself doing. The rest will likely be about photography or locations for taking photos. But this one is a bit more serious, and is about something that nature photographers are interested in – nature. It is about those people who dedicate their life, or a portion of it to learn more about nature, and strive to preserve it for all of us. The more we know about the natural world around us, the better equipped we are to preserve it.

Back in the … well let’s say decades ago, I graduated with a major in biology with plans to teach. Often life has other plans for us, and it did for me. At the risk of giving away the decade mentioned above, I will say that Ecology was a big thing at that time, and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was still resonating in the classrooms. The EPA was formed shortly after my graduation and actually took EPA-like actions to protect the environment. Though I never got to teach Biology, I have always maintained an interest in the natural world around me.

In late 2012 I learned of Discover Life in America (DLIA) and I was amazed by what I learned. But first a brief explanation of the organization - very simply put, the organization began around 15 years ago and joined with the National Park Service in a joint effort to identify and record all species that exist in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This part of their mission involved a project called the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI). That project strives to identify all species and to examine their inter-relationships, habitats, and many other aspects of the populations in order to better understand the organisms and eco-system they occupy. I encourage you to review the brief and informative explanations on their website, which will provide a more on-the-point explanation of their missions.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature TrailRoaring Fork, Great Smoky Mountains NP


Now the part that amazed me: not only have they found numerous species living in the Smokies that were not previously known to be there, they have also identified a lot of species that are new to science. In fact an August 31 review of their website showed their current Species Count – new to the park 7,736, and new to Science – 923. I would never have guessed that these numbers would have occurred. I would have been impressed with dozens of new species. My hats off to all of those dedicated employees and volunteers. Visit the website, and if you are also into their work, review their donation page and give that some thought.

DLIA – Discover Life in America (

]]> (Gary P Carter) Cove Hardwood Nature Trail DLIA Discover Life in America Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail Wed, 04 Sep 2013 17:31:59 GMT