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Friday, April 29, 2011

End of the Rainbow

Although there was no pot of gold, this end of the rainbow provided a strong photo.

Tourist exults as he poses for a photo beneath a rainbow on the big island of Hawaii. (© Michael Maher).

The Photo:
Rainbows are challenging to photograph, not because taking the picture is so difficult, but because it’s tough to find brightly colored rainbows to make a strong photo. It’s hard to predict when a rainbow might occur, so you must be ready quickly when you see one. Driving along a vast open field on the Big Island of Hawaii (in the state of Hawaii), a light rain was falling, the sun came out, and a large rainbow appeared. I stopped the car and took several photos of the rainbow over the horizon, but there was nothing in the photo to illustrate the size of the rainbow. To make the photo stronger, I needed to put a person -- myself -- into the picture. I set my camera’s automatic timer, lined up the photo I wanted, ran into the open area, and posed under the end of the rainbow (where there was no pot of gold to be found), as the camera took the picture. There was no special trick to capturing the rainbow in a photo, for what you see is exactly what you get. However, rainbow colors are not always bright, so you may often need to add a little color enhancement to make the rainbow stand out more prominently in the picture.

3 Tips:
1) Rainbows are easy to photograph but difficult to find.
2) Include an object or person so the picture communicates the size of the rainbow.
3) You may sometimes want to enhance the rainbow colors in the final picture, since rainbows don’t always appear as bright colors.

Friday, April 15, 2011

“I’m SO Big”

Grandparents make especially great photographs when they act like kids while playing with their grandchildren.

Grandmother Catherine Maher plays mimicking game with granddaughter Colleen (© Michael Maher).

The Photo:
Grandparents love almost nothing better than playing with their infant grandchildren. One of the most popular games with infants is asking them “How big are you? You are so big,” and throwing both arms high into the air to demonstrate how big they are getting. Do this often enough, and the child begins to mimic your arm motions, extending their arms overhead, even if the child is too young to say the words. After my mother Catherine (called “Nana” by her grandchildren) found this to be a game that she and her new grandchild could play together, they did so over and over. All Nana had to say was, “How big is Colleen? She’s so big (emphasis on the ‘so’),” and Colleen threw her arms high overhead. After a while, she didn’t even need to look at her grandmother, just hear the words. I took this picture as they played this game multiple times one evening in the kitchen, when I was able to capture both of their faces and body language all at once.

3 Tips:
1) Grandparents playing with their grandkids can make for warm or funny pictures.
2) Include both the grandparent and grandchild’s facial expressions and/or physical body language in a way that shows the enjoyment of their interaction.
3) One photo opportunity is the grandparent and grandchild playing the “So Big” game as they both raise their arms high over their heads.

Friday, April 1, 2011

“Thank My Nine Lives”

Life-saving photo opportunities are extremely rare, and in this case, it was an animal, not a human.

Spectators check on a cat that was revived by receiving oxygen from firefighters after it was overcome by smoke during a Lowell, Ma. house fire (© Michael Maher, The Lowell (Ma.) Sun).

The Photo:
Every photographer dreams of getting a life and death spot news photo, but one of my personal favorites was saving an animal, not a human. It was a slow evening until a fire call came over the police radio. Arriving at the scene, I saw firefighters exiting a house from which smoke was billowing and from which most occupants had been evacuated. One firefighter came out holding a cat, placed it in the corner of the front porch, and raced back into the house looking for additional occupants. There was no one else inside and he came out alone, walking more leisurely because he thought the danger was over. Some spectators alerted him that the cat didn’t seem to be moving, so he picked up the cat, put an oxygen mask on it, and laid it gently on the ground. Children gathered around to watch as the cat began to stir slowly, they touched the cat to feel it breathing, and it quickly recovered in good health. The firefighter’s oxygen saved it from smoke inhalation. (Note: the dark, wet spot on the pavement is condensation from the oxygen mask, not blood.)

3 Tips:
1) Life-and-death photos can be taken of animals as well as humans.
2) When possible, capture the concern expressed by rescuers, onlookers, or loved ones.
3) A photographer should always be ready to offer help before taking the picture.