Winter is Coming

Winter is Coming

Any time I see a little guy like this running around I think about the line from Star Wars Episode IV when Obi-Wan sees R2-D2 for the first time. He looks at the droid hiding among some rocks, takes off his hood, and says “Hello there!” Our little blue robot friend is cautious but curious, and eventually warms to the strange old hermit who is here to help. The same thought goes through my mind when I’m out with my camera and 50mm lens (admittedly not the greatest combination when it comes to wildlife photos) and in this case I literally said it out loud as I was carefully following this squirrel around for a few minutes one morning. I was trying to reassure him that I meant no harm, but since he most likely did not speak English he just kept on running away :)

Longtime readers of Weekly Fifty will note that this is not the first time I have featured a picture of one of these wily little rodents here on the blog, and I don’t mean to keep posting variations on the same picture over and over. But since I’m doing this blog to help me continue to learn photography I figured it wouldn’t hurt to show yet another squirrel since it’s all in the name of education and improvement. When I shot this I didn’t have much time to think about composition and framing since he did not hold still for very long, but I did try to keep a few key elements in mind:

• The squirrel had to be tack sharp

• I intentionally shot at an ultra-wide aperture of f/1.8 in order to get some blurriness to the background, otherwise the squirrel would have blended in too much

• I wanted to get a bit of the tree on the left side to provide a bit of context

• I was really hoping to capture him with his hands out, preferably while munching on an acorn or something similar

Whenever I shoot photos of subjects I have done before I try to improve on past mistakes and make the new batch better, and if I look back at other similar shots of little animals that I have taken I can certainly see a marked improvement here. I did get most of what I was aiming for, even though you can’t quite see what he is holding in his hands. Even though this shot is decent I sure would like to get my hands on a zoom lens someday for some real wildlife photos, but until that happens it looks like I’ll be sticking with squirrels and ducks for now :)

As a side note, I also got this picture that I don’t like as much but figured I would share it anyway. I tried this a few weeks ago and got a lot of opinions from you all regarding which butterfly image you preferred, so I thought it would be fun to try it again :)

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Comments

  1. I like that you stated perpendicular to the branch he is on to keep it in focus and create a clean lines that reach across the frame and lead to him.

    • Thanks William. Using the branch as a leading line was not a conscious choice but I’m pleased with how it turned out nonetheless.

  2. Nice shot, Simon, Lord of the Squirrels!!

  3. Simon —
    Nice picture! The squirrel is tack sharp; complies with the ‘rule of thirds’; and, has a great bokeh behind him/her. I understand that, with a 50mm lens, your zoom is your two legs. However, because of the distance, did that require you to open your aperture to 1.8? That is, could you have achieved the bokeh with a 2.4 aperture? Does distance between the camera and subject affect the aperture opening necessary to achieve bokeh?
    Thank you for your effort in keeping this blog going. Happy New Year!

    • Thank you David, and those are all good questions. I shot this at f/1.8 though a smaller aperture would have been OK too, but would have resulted in less background blur. In terms of bokeh, it’s a couple of factors that cause it:

      • Focal length
      • Distance from your camera to the subject
      • Distance from the subject to the background

      You can get good background blur with wider lenses if you shoot at large apertures and also have a lot of space between the subject and the background.

  4. I like both of the pictures, but especially the first one. Shooting wide open paid off with the nice bokeh. The color is excellent.

    I’m wondering about cropping. Have you tried it with the squirrel off center? I tend to crop a lot, and have to learn to frame my shots with the camera much better. (I’m a newbie.)

    • As soon as I clicked on the “Submit” button, I remembered that squirrels never stay still long, so taking one’s time to frame the picture is impossible. That first picture is a keeper, IMO.

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