Monday, May 02, 2016

What happens to the time?

Spring has sprung in Ohio and it's time to start some fieldwork after a busy semester. I'll be starting my work in the southeastern states this year. I've neglected the penstemons east of the Mississippi for far too long. Here are a few glimpses of wildflowers in bloom this week in Ohio (plus a moss sporocarp portrait).  All of these photos were made at Clear Creeks Metro Park.
Fire pink (Silene virginica) - a beautiful red flower that catches one's eye in the forest.

Conopholis americana (squawroot) - a holoparasitic plant in the family Orobanchaceae. This is related to Hyobanche - the holoparrasite I study in South Africa. Conopholis is a root parasite that obtains all of its food, water, and minerals from its host plant - oak.

Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)

Polytrichum ohioense - sporocarps.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Bigger and Better? Perhaps....

I recently acquired a Wisner 4X5 Technical Field Camera. This means I am now experimenting with large format film photography. Oh my!

This is an entirely new set of skills to me. My camera is basically a box where the lens is separated from the film plane by leather bellows. The camera can be adjusted in the front and back: front rise, tilt, swing, and shift; back rise, swing, and tilt. This means that perspective lines can be adjusted before exposing the film.

There are many challenges aside from simply setting up the camera, adjusting the movements, and figuring out the exposure of the film (and reciprocity failure - another topic entirely). The image is composed on a ground glass plate on the back surface of the camera. You can only see the image when the glass is shaded, so I have to attach a dark cloth to cover my head in order to see the it. The image presented is also upside down and backwards.

Here are some of my first images from this wonderful camera.

Slate Run Historical Farm: Wisner 4X5 Technical Field Camera, Ilford HP+ film. Photo by Andi Wolfe ©2015 - all rights reserved

Slate Run Metro Park: Wisner 4X5 Technical Field Camera, Ilford HP+ film. Photo by Andi Wolfe ©2015 - all rights reserved

Slate Run Historical Farm: Wisner 4X5 Technical Field Camera, Ilford HP+ film. Photo by Andi Wolfe ©2015 - all rights reserved

Slate Run Historical Farm: Wisner 4X5 Technical Field Camera, Ilford HP+ film. Photo by Andi Wolfe ©2015 - all rights reserved

Inniswood Metro Park: Wisner 4X5 Technical Field Camera, Ilford FP4 film. Photo by Andi Wolfe ©2015 - all rights reserved

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Phillips 66

I had one of the busiest summers I can remember, beginning in May. The new semester has started and so my travels are done for a few months, which is a huge relief. Most of my travel was for field work - first to Utah, then northern California, and, just last week, to southern Mexico. I've been working on a huge photo project for our Penstemon grant, but during our field work, I was also working with my medium format film camera when the opportunity arose. Here is a series of photos from Utah where we came across an old Phillips 66 station, which appeared to be an outdoor museum. All the photos were done with my Yashica Mat 124G twin lens reflex, and Ilford Delta 100 or 400 film. (©2015 Andi Wolfe - all rights reserved).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

First film venture in Washington, DC

I had a long afternoon of walking in DC last week, which was the perfect opportunity for doing some street photography with my Yashica Mat 124G twin lens reflex camera. Here is a sampler of some of the photos I made. All were with Ilford HP5 film.  All photos ©2015 - Andi Wolfe; all rights reserved.
In the Metro station. Long exposure and aperture open as wide as possible. The shallow depth of field, combined with the long exposure gives this an impressionistic feel.
I love these kinds of opportunities - when a group of tourists are doing a self portrait with a cell phone. The Washington Monument is a dominating landmark of the National Mall.

The Vietnam War Memorial. This monument is always an touching place to visit. Over the years, fewer and fewer visitors have emotional outbursts as they find the names of loved ones, but there is always a touch of the wall as a name is recognized.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Shades of gray (256, not 50)...

Last week we had a bit of snow, and I wanted to take advantage of the sunny day with all the light reflections on the buildings around campus. I took a half hour walk to my favorite places, saw how the light was filtering through the trees onto the side of the building and sidewalk along University Hall, and just waited for a student to walk into my frame. This was during the time between classes when the campus is really hopping with activities as students are rushing to get to their next class.

This photo is a film shot - using my Yashica Mat 124-G twin lens relfex camera with Ilford HP5 film (ASA 400). The bright light situation meant that my aperture was probably f/16 to f/32 - somewhere in that range. I like the wonderful depth of field and range of tones in this image. I was really concentrating on getting the subject into the golden ratio spiral position, and patience was to my advantage here. I really love it when everything works as I have envisioned it. There's no instant feedback for film, so I was doubly delighted when the negative revealed the shot I had in mind as I clicked the shutter.
After the snow - Photo by Andi Wolfe ©2015 - all rights reserved.
If you would like a print of this image, or any of my other fine art film prints, check out my zenfolio site: - sizes for these unsigned prints are 8X8 to 20X20. If you would like to purchase a signed print for a size up to 24X24, please contact me.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Adventures with film

A little less than two months ago, I walked into a used camera store to support Steve in his search for a 35 mm rangefinder film camera. I walked out with a Yashica Mat 124-G Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) camera (Steve did get his camera, too, which he broke on one of its first outings). The TLR is a medium format film camera, and I've been experimenting with different brands and ASA ratings of film.  I think I'm done with the film trials and will settle on just a few favorites: Tri-X 400, Ilford HP5 400, Ilford FP4 125, and Fuji Neopan Across 100.  I also like the TMAX films, but these others edge it out by a slight margin.

I'm really enjoying the challenge of film. There is no instant gratification with this medium. I have twelve shots per roll of film. It takes me a couple of minutes to change a roll.  With the price of film somewhere between $4.50 – $7.00 per roll, each click of the shutter costs some money.  What this translates into is that I really think about each photo before clicking the shutter. I check all my settings: ASA, f-stop, shutter speed, and light meter, plus really spend the time to carefully compose the shot. This process of slowing down and putting real thought into my work has helped me develop my skills as a photographer. I'm spending more time "seeing" the world, as compared to just simply "looking" at the world.

With digital photography, we often get into the habit of "spray and pray." What that means is that the shutter is constantly clicking - sometimes on rapid fire - and one hopes that something in that series will turn into a good photo. After investment in gear, computers, and software, the only real cost of digital is the time invested in sorting through way too many images and having to winnow a shoot down from hundreds of files to dozens of usable images. If one is working accurately in terms of photo exposure, shutter speed, and ISO, processing time is usually minimal. But, in the "spray and pray" mode, one might be spending way too much time to salvage potentially usable photos.

Working with film has made me think more about my digital workflow, too. I'm taking fewer photos, and thinking about them more carefully as well. With digital photography, there is instant feedback in terms of examining the image on an LED screen and having the ability to check histograms as you go. With film photography, the rolls are tucked away (I number each roll in a sequence) until I get home and can develop the film. It takes about half an hour to develop each roll of film, several hours to dry the film after processing, and then another hour or so to scan each roll's worth of negatives. It's not until I see the scanned image that I know whether a shot has worked the way I intended it to, or not. I like the anticipation of waiting to see what gems are there on the roll of film. I don't think film will replace my color digital photography, but it's a path that is well worth traveling. I have been spending most of my energy on urban scenes. Downtown Columbus, Ohio has so many interesting buildings, alleys, and districts that I will be busy with this project for a very long time, I'm sure.

Here are some examples of my film photography (©2014-2015 Andi Wolfe - all rights reserved):

Fire hydrants: Fuji Neopan Across 100 film (©2014-2015 Andi Wolfe - all rights reserved)

Columbus skyline: Ilford HP5 400 film (©2014-2015 Andi Wolfe - all rights reserved)

High Street: Kodak TMAX 400 film (©2014-2015 Andi Wolfe - all rights reserved)

Whetstone Park: Kodak TriX 400 film (©2014-2015 Andi Wolfe - all rights reserved)

Wyandotte Building: Kodak TriX 400 film (©2014-2015 Andi Wolfe - all rights reserved)
Waterman Farm: Kodak TMax 100 film (©2014-2015 Andi Wolfe - all rights reserved)

Leveque Tower: Kodak TriX 400 film (©2014-2015 Andi Wolfe - all rights reserved)

Greenlawn Cemetery: Kodak TriX 400 film (©2014-2015 Andi Wolfe - all rights reserved)

Greenlawn Cemetery: Kodak TriX 400 film (©2014-2015 Andi Wolfe - all rights reserved)

Greenlawn Cemetery: Kodak TriX 400 film (©2014-2015 Andi Wolfe - all rights reserved)

Street photography on the Scioto Mile: Ilford FP4 125 film (©2014-2015 Andi Wolfe - all rights reserved)


Purchasing: If you are interested in purchasing a print or a license for any of my images, please contact me via the information on my profile. Thanks.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Columbus, Ohio is a beautiful city

As Steve and I continue to explore Columbus in the early morning hours, I've come to realize that it is a very interesting city with many beautiful spots that are quite photogenic.  Here's another skyline - this one was from yesterday morning. I have a feeling I will be exploring different angles of the city skyline, especially as the Scioto Mile park continues to progress. The riverfront area is going to be absolutely stunning when all the construction is done. The restoration projects on the Scioto River and the Olentangy River makes a huge difference in how much I love the river areas of the city. Simply by removing the weirs, the rivers are coming back to life with natural beauty, more birds, beavers, muskrats, and fish. It's great to see.

Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Andi Wolfe ©2014 - all rights reserved.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Columbus is festive now....

The weekend here was rainy and cold, which means that, of course, Steve and I had to be downtown for a photo walk. Steve has a project in mind that requires bad weather, so I'm along for the company. However, I find this kind of setting to be interesting, too, and so I took the opportunity to make a photo I've been visualizing for a long time. I wanted a skyline of Columbus when the colors are rich from the saturated air. Right now there are lots of holiday lights on display, so it was a good setting for the photo I wanted to make.  I will likely be getting this made into a nice print for hanging on my wall - I can see this printed on metallic paper, or, possibly on aluminum.

Columbus, Ohio at night. Photo by Andi Wolfe ©2014 - All rights reserved.
The only drawback to doing photography in bad weather is the possibility of raindrops on the lens. I had tried to make this photo before sunrise, but ended up with spots. We returned after sunset, and I was able to make the photo the way I had envisioned the scene.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Nature's love...

We've had a bit of interesting weather the past week or so - snow, really cold temps, lots of rain, more cold.  Despite these challenges, it's been possible to get out and do some photography every once-in-awhile. This is a photo from October, and I'm posting it here to demonstrate what I've been learning in Photoshop. I set a goal for myself to learn how to use this powerful, but very confusing program. This was an exercise in masking a photo to add drama.  I'll post the original below, but my idea was to emphasize just the beautiful geometry of this trio.  The original photo was ok, but the background wasn't all that great. I think the black background works well, though.


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Blood Moon Over Waterman Farm

This morning we were treated to a full lunar eclipse. Steve and I grabbed our gear and headed to Waterman Farm to do some photography. This image is my favorite from the morning

Sunday, October 05, 2014

First light for my Canon MP-E65 mm lens

I met my students from the "Communicating Science Through Photography" seminar at Sharon Woods yesterday morning. It was a cold and blustery Autumn morning with temperatures in the 40's (°F for my non-American readers), and rain and sleet coming down at various intervals. The wind made it challenging for macro photography, but I had something in mind that wouldn't matter if the wind was shaking the subject around.  Steve gave me an early birthday present - a Canon MP-E65 mm lens! This is an extreme macro lens that goes from life size (1X) to five times that magnification (5X). I already had the Canon Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX flash system, which is a must have for this lens, and so I decided to give the new lens first light on a patch of lichen that was growing at the base of a large oak tree.

I thought I was just going to be doing some texture/geometry photos, but I actually saw something I've never seen before - a tiny bark mushroom (Mycena corticola), peeking out from behind a lichen. So, here's one of the first images from the new lens. It's a real challenge to use, as most people who have tried it will agree. First of all, you focus this lens by moving it into position - no autofocus, no manual focus ring - just move into place until the subject is in focus. Easier said than done, and my first images could be much better if I had been using a tripod and focusing rail. That will be the next steps. I think I'm going to love the challenge of exploring the microscopic world, though.

Bark mushroom (Mycena corticola) - Photo by Andi Wolfe ©2014. Please do not use this image without my permission.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Photographers generally need to be up before sunrise

Waterman Farm this morning - pretty spectacular!

Sunrise over Waterman Farm

Sunday, August 31, 2014

More from Whetstone Prairie

I took my "Communicating Science Through Photography" students to Whetstone Prairie yesterday. It was our first fieldtrip of the semester, and the prairie was the perfect place to do nature photography. Late summer is the time for sunflowers, grasses, Queen Anne's Lace, ragweed, a variety of cone flowers, and many other prairie species to be in bloom. The goldfinches and hummingbirds were very active in the prairie, and we saw a huge variety of insects and spiders.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from yesterday:

Chines mantis - a species introduced by accident in 1896 (a Philadelphia nurseryman). This is a female who was at least 5 inches long - and these large individuals can catch and eat a small hummingbird.

A megachilid bee, I think. I love the iridescent appearance of these small bees.

Same bee as bove - foraging on Rudbeckia (black-eyed susan)

Chauliognathus pensylvanicus - Goldenrod Soldier Beetle.
One of the many species of beetles that do "mess and spoil" pollination in the prairie.

Acanalonia bivittata - I love pant hoppers! This one was inside a developing  infructescence of Queen Anne's Lace.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Insects from Whetstone Prairie - 2014

I've been finding mostly the same insects around my garden, so I decided to branch out and visit Whetstone Prairie. The variety of plants there is very good, which means that there should be a good diversity of insects as well. I didn't spend a lot of time since we had a party to go to Saturday evening, but I managed to find some different beetles and bugs, and lots of activity on the flowers. I'll have to spend some quality time there later on this summer.  I also need to get the identifications on most of these insects. I'll post an update when I have some names to go along with the photos.

Here's a sampler of what I saw at Whetstone Prairie:
Bombus on purple coneflower. The pollen load she's carrying is a wonder to behold.
Unidentified beetle - very colorful

Honeybee on beebalm
Carpenter bee on beebalm
 (blister beetle - Epicautus sp.)

Honeybee on purple coneflower

Conopidae flies and  passenger - not sure what was going on here, but it certainly caught my eye.

Another beetle

flesh fly

Some type of bug - in the literal sense of Hemiptera - the true bugs. I like the white stripes along the edges of the carapace and on the legs. Very elegant. (White-margined burrower bug: Sehirus cinctus)

cricket nymph

Asian multicolored lady beetle. Many of our native species are disappearing, so every  time I see a lady beetle, I try to photograph it to see what species it might be. I've not seen a native species in Ohio after a few years of looking. You'll notice some fungus on the wing covers - apparently this doesn't seem to bother the beetle very much.

Another true bug of some sort.

another species of beetle

Yellow-faced bee, I think. (Hylaeus modest us)

A shield bug - not the invasive brown marmorated stinkbug, though.

False Milkweed bug - Lygaeus turcicus

Lightning bug - I saw several of these beetles perches like this - maybe releasing pheromones?

A nymph of some species - looks like an interesting insect. It's on a grey coneflower.

Diabrotica cristata

I was glad to see so many honeybees at work.
A plant hopper of some sort