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Don Komarechka
Works at Georgian College
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Lived in barrie, ontario
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Don Komarechka

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New Levels of Macro: Stereoscopic 3D

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long while, and the proper equipment has just been assembled to make this happen: high magnification stereoscopic images. Why is this exciting? Well you’ll need to see this image in 3D to understand! Thankfully, you don’t need any glasses or special equipment to do so.

I’ve put this honey bee image here almost exactly as it comes out of the camera, with the left and right images side-by-side. You can use cross-view techniques to combine the two images in your own vision, and it’s not that hard! It takes only a tiny bit of practice. As you begin to cross your eyes, you will see four images: one pair from your left eye and one pair of images from your right eye. If you cross your eyes exactly the right amount, the inner images from each eye will overlap, giving you the perception of 3D viewing! Here’s a tutorial that describes it (I will be writing my own soon): http://www.neilcreek.com/2008/02/28/how-to-see-3d-photos/

When I first saw this image in 3D, I couldn’t believe it. I’m thrilled that it works, and I have big plans for the technique. It comes with a unique set of challenges, however; stereoscopic 3D at this scale is much more challenging than simple macro photography!

The lens I’m using has a fixed aperture of F/80 – that’s as wide as it gets for this kind of work. This has two fundamental frustrations that will scare most people away. The first is an incredibly dim viewfinder. Since F/80 is so very small, almost no light makes its way through the lenses and it’s nearly impossible to see your subject. The second additional challenge comes from diffraction.

Diffraction will blur your resulting image and limit the overall resolution of the photograph, and there is no away around it at this scale. It will also make the images in your viewfinder less crisp and very hard to determine when the focus is exactly right. This means that handheld focusing (required to make an image like this) is 2-3 times more difficult than it would be with a regular macro lens at the same magnification, given my experience so far.

Such a small aperture also makes it difficult to get enough light. I’m using a ring flash, and it cannot push out two exposures simultaneously on its own. With the aid of an external battery pack it can keep up for a short while on slow-speed continuous shooting, but with a poor view of the subject and an immense about of light required, it’s all adding up to frustration!

Thankfully, I’ve spent years pushing limits in this area of photography, and these new challenges are tackled on top of thousands of hours of previous experience with similar subjects. With VR taking off and 3D imagery entering into a new renaissance, I think I’ll have fun exploring this through the summer and winter months. :)

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Life on a Leaf

I found some time today to create this fun image, featuring a few key ingredients put together in just the right combination: a purple barberry leaf sprayed with water, a multi-coloured gazania in the background, and a Green Immigrant Leaf Weevil that was very cooperative for this composition! View large!

We have a few of these little weevils hanging around our garden. I suppose they are technically a pest but they are not in sufficient numbers to cause a big problem, and they are delightful to photograph. They don’t move quickly, and eagerly walk onto a piece of straw if it’s placed in their path. It’s pretty easy to move them into position onto a leaf. This little guy (or gal?) climbed into the perfect spot and then stayed put for at least a minute, with only minor movements. This allowed me to focus stack the image with less trouble than an actively moving insect would introduce.

I had noticed an interesting behaviour of the purple barberry plants we have in our yard. More noticeable in the early spring (but still effective now), the edges of the leaves create a nice assortment of spherical water droplets. It would make a perfect “ingredient” in one of these images, but I hadn’t used it before now! I typically spray these things with a spray bottle set to “mist”, but my garden hose as a mist setting as well which worked very nicely here, since the image was taken outside.

I usually use daisy-like flowers with flat, radially symmetric petals. Gazanias fit the bill, with some of them offering up some very vibrant colours. I first saw these flowers in my neighbour’s yard and after inquiring about what they were called, immediately set out to buy some. Got these ones at Lowe’s, though I’m certain that most garden stores would carry them in the spring.

Put all of these ingredients together, and the droplets act like lenses and showcase the flower through each of them with a direct view of the background. Physics dressed up as magic!

For those of you near Central Ontario with a desire to start into these kinds of experiments, check out my Macro Masterclass happening on July 10th, if there are any spots left (it’s almost sold out as I write this): https://bryan-weiss-dl96.squarespace.com/services/master-class-macro-photography-with-don-komarechka

For those of you in near Seekonk, MA, I’ll be an instructor at the Macro Photography Conference put together by Mike Moats, which will also be a ton of fun on October 29 and 30th: http://www.macrostoreonline.com/product.sc?productId=155&categoryId=1

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Peter Kuria's profile photoKathryn Matzov's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photoJim Harrington's profile photo
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+Elizabeth Hahn Yes, I see the wheels.
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Bee Happy

One of the main artistic challenges in photography is understanding how lines, shapes and colours interact. On a macro scale, these fundamental elements are more in your control than any other area of photography. You become the architect of a scene worth photographing at exactly the right moment!

If you’re curious to walk down this creative path with me, the best opportunity is coming up July 10th – I’m running a day-long macro photography workshop jointly with DayTripper Photo: https://bryan-weiss-dl96.squarespace.com/services/master-class-macro-photography-with-don-komarechka - $300 for the day which includes photographic tools for you to take home at the end of the day AND a free lunch! You’ll have access to my studio, our award-winning gardens and all sorts of gear to experiment with.

The day is broken up into segments that will cover water droplet refractions, insect and flower photography, and even dive into the total abstract with pan-blur techniques. Even if you’re not a macro photographer, the experience will forever enhance your creative process. That’s a tall order, but it’ll happen! :)

For this image, I found a beautifully blue flower and decided to build my image around it. Elsewhere in the gardens we currently have a very vibrant daisy-like flower which was selected to be placed in the background. It’s held in place with a flexible clamp that can be quickly repositioned based on the location of the “subject”, which would be the next insect to wander onto the blue flower.

I waited for that insect to arrive. And waited. And waited a little longer. Nothing. You can build a perfect “stage”, but what happens if the actor doesn’t show? Ideally a bee, an ant, hoverfly, wasp, ladybug, ANYTHING would bring a scene like this to life, so I set out to find my actor.

Some nearby flowers were seeing a lot of activity from bees, so I waited until I found an interesting little guy, and they covered the patch of flowers with a light mist. Bees don’t like to fly when their wings are wet, and they would dry in a few quick minutes, but I was able to carefully lift this little bee and move him into position while he waited for his wings to dry. Seconds after this image was taken, the bee took off to continue the hunt for pollen.

The image was lit with two off-camera flashes: one speedlite and one ring flash. The ring flash was taped to a metal post designed to keep plants growing straight, and the speedlite was mounted on my Manfrotto BeFree travel tripod, both flashes attached to wireless receivers. A black umbrella is also attached to the tripod (I love gaffer’s tape) to create the best lighting conditions. Here’s a photo of the setup: http://donkom.ca/bts/bee-happy-bts.jpg

The opportunities in macro photography are truly endless. If you add just a little bit of pre-planning to your images, you can vastly improve your results. The colours in this image are so bright and saturated, it just makes me happy. Hence the name of the image!

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Marie, LMB's profile photoHeidi Anne Morris's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
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Hah, thanks +Heidi Anne Morris! This image is about as vibrant as they come! :)
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It went down to 8 degrees last night, with a low of 6C tonight. It's almost snowflake weather in June!

I suppose it's fitting that today GotScience.org published a four-page article I wrote on the magic, science, and photography of snowflakes. If you're not familiar with the physics or the process behind my snowflake work, you definitely should give this a read!

http://www.gotscience.org/2016/06/photographing-snowflakes/
No two snowflakes are exactly alike. Read about the science and art of photographing snowflakes in this article by author and photographer Don Komarechka.
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Tsutae Nisiguchi's profile photoShafa Azzahra's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
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Thanks for appreciating the images and the words that go along with them, +Shafa Azzahra!
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Toronto Photo Walk Experiment!
If you know me, you know I like to experiment. This image contains a number of first for me:
- First time shooting VERY expired film
- First time shooting a medium-format camera
- First time shooting with a rangefinder-style camera

The camera as a few quirks, but overall it works well! This image was taken with a Linhof Technorama I got from +John Butterill of +Virtual Photo Walks™, and I have a feeling I’ll be using it again at some point soon, shooting infrared film.

The negative was under-exposed, hence a lot of noise in the shadows. I’m not sure if this was due to the expired film or the shutter mechanism on the camera not being accurate, but I can fix both of those in future experiments. I used an app on my phone to figure out the exposure, so that could be the point of failure as well, but with a 6cm x 17cm negative, missing the exposure can be somewhat forgiven by the resolution of the resulting image. The film was a roll of Reala 100 that has gone through massive temperature swings in poor storage and expired five years ago, so I wasn’t expecting much!

I own a few large-format cameras, all the way up to an 11x14 studio camera that I am restoring (thanks +jerry robin!), but I’ve never shot medium format before, and the experience is one I aim to repeat, if only out of novel curiosity. The film loading was an interesting experience on such a panoramic body, and you only get four shots per roll, but falling into the “novel curiosity” category I think I’ll be taking it for a spin more often than my 4x5 cameras.

It’s also the first time I use a rangefinder, so I apologize for cutting off people’s feet. It may take a bit of practice to understand the exact offset from the viewfinder to the film, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever use the camera enough to know it perfectly. The focus is also slightly off, maybe I should take a measuring tape with me next time. :)

The photowalk was a little less than interesting in terms of subject matter (the cherry blossoms decided not to bloom fully this year), but the conversations with fellow photographers was absolutely fantastic. Tons of fun chats with familiar faces and new people! One of the reasons I bring “interesting” cameras to photowalks is not for the resulting images, but the resulting conversations.

Oh, and +Ron Clifford – I can mail film away to be developed and get it back, scan and post it before I see the photos you took of me last year! Putting you on the spot here! :)

Special thanks to +Brandon Luk and +Tisha Montgomery for making this happen! As the camera that took this picture doesn't have a timer, I convincingly yelled a passerby to press the shutter button for us. Tisha snapped a shot of the man, so big thanks to him for being a voice-activated shutter release! He was really scared to press the button: https://plus.google.com/u/0/113395912577264627875/posts/BwtDvoWVQse

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Elizabeth Hahn's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photoJohn Hockridge's profile photo
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+Don Komarechka I hope you can find time for one when I pass thru the land of Maple Leaves later this summer.
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Dandelion Chandelier
This image was a fun experiment, and one I debated sharing with you. It was more a “proof of concept” than anything else, and it has spawned a number of crazy ideas that I’ll keep bottled up for the moment. This is a Dandelion seed that was sprayed with invisible ink as if it was water to create droplets of ink all over the seed’s “sail”. View large!

Lit with ultraviolet light that then reflects back in the visible spectrum, the only light you see here is the light that is effectively glowing from the droplets themselves. The only refraction of light appears to be other lines from the same seed, but the image still holds a magical quality.

The act of spraying this seed with a mist bottle full of invisible ink was quite messy, and specks of ink ended up all over the place, including on top of a Gerbera Daisy that was sitting nearby. As soon as I noticed the glowing dots over that flower, it inspired me to post the image I shared a few days ago titled “A Universe Born”. Those droplets were a complete accident, but from this mistake I discovered a concept that I was very excited about.

Often it’s not my initial idea that I end up sharing, but the final evolution of that idea through a shooting session. I wanted to share this “earlier step” in my creative process to showcase the unknown path that my photography shoots take me on. I get excited because I have an idea to start with, but the real fun comes when that initial idea leads to something new.

This image is a focus stack of a few frames to make sure that the lines of droplets in the foreground were sharp. I had all the frames to bring everything into focus, but it seemed to be too much, too cluttered. I opted to leave the back lines out of focus to add more importance to the dominant lines in the image.

As the name of this image might imply, future ideas will use a droplet-covered dandelion seed as a light source. As soon as a few extra pieces of equipment arrive, this will be further explored. :)
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Michael Schubert's profile photoDavid Smalldon's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
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Thanks very much, +David Smalldon! More experiments in UV fluorescence will be incoming soon!
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Welcome to the world, Danika!

I write this with so much joy and happiness: my wife and I now have our first child in our arms, Danika Diana Komarechka. Born Saturday June 18th, she shares her birthday with her mommy! Arriving a day before Father’s Day means she’s an incredible gift in every possible way.

She’s happy and healthy, born 6lbs 9oz (just a few grams under 3kg), and generally seems to be a quiet and well-mannered baby in the time that we’ve enjoyed so far. This is all new to me and my lovely wife, and our lives are forever changed for the better. :)

My amazing daughter Danika is now four days old. While she has kept us up at night at least twice now, and I’m not sure a full night of sleep is in my future any time soon, she more than makes up for things with her cuteness and newborn beauty. We did a little newborn shoot yesterday, and our adorable baby girl was quite cooperative, but the element of chaos is always in play!

Seeing my daughter in this image, I can’t help but smile from ear to ear. Our role as parents has many facets that constantly change, but unending love is part of this process. Right now, she’s an eating, crying and pooping machine, just figuring out how to interact with this strange new world. Our role as parents with a newborn are simple: keep her comfortable, well fed and clean. We need to tolerate the long nights as she explores the intensity of her voice in the middle of the night, and we need to follow all signs to make sure she stays healthy. It’s a labourious process but one with infinite rewards.

I can’t help but looking forward and trying to figure out what comes next. As she starts to interact with the world and respond to toys, books and all forms of entertainment from silly noises and faces to music and lullabies, she start to have a greater impact on the person she will become. When she starts to learn languages, I’ll be so excited to hear her first words. When she begins to crawl and walk, she’ll start getting into all sorts of trouble, and we will have to be ready for it!

This of course is just the beginning of her adventure, and the beginning of our role as parents. This is a lifelong journey that will see her with broken hearts and as a rebel, but with love and admiration every step of the way. We have no idea what the future will bring, but we’re so excited to give everything we have to raising this girl to be the best person she can be, no matter what that is. :)

This was a fun image to put together, and was made possible with the help of many people! My meme and pepe (grandparents on my mother’s side) gave us the cute beehive bowl, which was the perfect item to place our girl into. Her aunt Karryna made the pillow in the background that is holding up her head, and my colleague and relative Alyson provided us with many newborn props including the shaggy white run and space heater just out of the frame to keep the baby warm. Her grandma Diyana was holding the pillow in place just off camera, and her mommy was holding one of the two flashes lighting the image up and to the left to even out the lights. I can also thank the previous owners of our home, John and Margarita, for planting such amazing gardens – all of the roses in this image from the petals to the one banded to her head are all from our gardens, freshly picked and assembled for just this image.

An image like this requires patience, especially because Danika was not asleep. She was constantly moving, and getting the right pose was luck. There are many images with slight awkward positions as she wiggled about happily, but I landed on this pose that I just adore! The pillow in the background has a grey backing (which faces the camera), but it didn’t match the colour palette of the image so I changed the colour to a purple-pink that matched the same colours as the roses. Her umbilical cord is still attached and the clamp was visible, so that had to be removed from view in a few spots, and there was some work evening out the shadows and highlight to make the image as you see it.

I’ve never before done a staged baby shoot, so this is a fun first! I don’t think I’ll make a habit of it with other babies, but I love the results here. I’m thrilled that I can show off our beautiful daughter! There may be a few more images like this shared over the next few days.

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Your most beautiful snowflake so far ;-)
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Bumbling About

This image was hard to make, shooting handheld while following around various bees entering and exiting flowers. Bumblebees are an interesting challenge; their larger size makes it very hard to fit them inside the frame of my macro lens, which only lets me shoot at a minimum magnification of 1:1 lifesize. This image is not cropped at all, and in fact the top of the frame was slightly extended in post-processing to give a bit more space above the antenna. However, their slower speed compared to honey bees and leaf-cutter bees make them easier to get in the frame and in focus!

This was one of MANY images taken seeking a bee in flight image. I may have gotten 2-3 successful flight images while taking many hundreds of shots. You need to shoot with the idea that no matter how good you are, you’re dealing with the flight of a bumblebee and the chaos that it entails. On average, I get one useful image for every 100 shots I take in the macro world. If you’re not shooting this many frames, you need to shoot more! Dictamnus albus is a beautiful flower in our gardens, I just wish I knew exactly what species of bumblebee this was.

This image was lit with a ring flash on camera, and the background shadows were boosted in post to reveal more than just the very-dark-green/black where the flash did not hit. I often use a ring flash for shots like this, sometimes clipped to the front of the lens but often held off on an interesting angle to explore lighting possibilities. For bees in flight however, clipped to the front of the lens ends up being the best idea from a convenience standpoint.

I think there might be one or two spots left on my upcoming Macro Master Class day-long workshop on July 10th, if anyone wants to give this type of imagery a try! The gas plants will be done flowering by then, but there will be many beautiful flowers in their place. If you’d like to jump into this macro adventure with my guidance, here’s the link! 9:30AM – 5:30PM with lunch and many tools included, it’s definitely a great way to explore the universe at our feet: https://bryan-weiss-dl96.squarespace.com/services/master-class-macro-photography-with-don-komarechka

I’m on a bit of a bee theme at the moment, maybe I’ll keep it going with another image or two! :)

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Geoffrey Wilson's profile photoMarie, LMB's profile photoJan Mercl's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
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Hah, I'll forward your complaint to the bee, +Jan Mercl. :)
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You might see me on The Weather Network today chatting up my weather and snowflake photography! Silly of me to record this the day before my haircut, but there you have it. :)

http://www.theweathernetwork.com/videos/gallery/point-of-viewer-youve-never-seen-snowflakes-quite-like-this/sharevideo/4941106074001
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+Shelia Gammill then be sure to follow me through the winter months! Glad you like my work, and there is much more of it to come! :)
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Welcome to my backyard!

In our award-winning gardens there is plenty to photograph – from the flowers to ornamental grasses and trees to the insects – even when you find them growing on a weed. Your chance to explore these gardens on a full-day macro photography workshop is happening in one month! Check out the details over at Daytripper Photo: https://bryan-weiss-dl96.squarespace.com/services/master-class-macro-photography-with-don-komarechka

The date is July 10th! This will be a fantastic session with two instructors to guide you down the rabbit hole of macro photography. We spend some time in my studio for lessons and hands-on water droplet imagery, and “in the field” combining opportunity and luck with skill, patience and creativity. I’m there every step of the way to help you walk away with images like this one.

Lunch is included in the price ($300 CAD), and you get to take home a number of additional tools to make macro photography even easier. My studio and gardens are located in Barrie, Ontario, not far from the GTA.

So, what are the steps in making an image like this?

Timing and shooting far more images than you think you need. The bee in this image was constantly moving, and this image is one of a few dozen. Most of the other images were slightly out of focus or the angle of the bee in the frame wasn’t as nice. You need to overcome randomness by overshooting, hoping your subject will align with your focal plane as well as your composition goals!

Focusing can be a challenge, but there is a tried and tested technique: don’t. Turn off auto focus, and don’t worry about turning the focus ring on your camera. Keep it set at its closest focusing distance, and physically move the entire camera forward and backward until the subject falls through your focal plane. This is a foreign concept to non-macro photographers, but it becomes quite easy to handle once you’ve had a bit of practice with it.

Lighting for this image was done with a ring flash mounted to the front of the lens. These flashes can be expensive, but they can also be very cheap and effective. I recommend (for Canon users) the Yongnuo YN-14EX which can easily be found on Amazon or eBay for just over $100. Nikon users can grab the YN-14M, but it’s a manual-only flash. Still very good for the price!

Macro photographers also need to pay attention to what’s in the background. In this case, the purple colour in the background adds a nice colour compliment to the overall image. This kind of colour can be done in post-processing, but it’s always easier to do it in camera. In this example, I spent an hour in post shifting colours to make it look realistic. Far less time would be needed in the field, where you could simply place a different coloured flower in behind!

This workshop is scheduled for a time when we will have the largest assortment of flowers available to photograph. The variety will astound you, even though you really only need to sit in one spot and wait for the action to come to you!

Macro equipment is not strictly required; we will have close-up filters for all lenses as well as extension tubes and other equipment that can be testing out for the day. You might be surprised to find out that your regular kit lens can make a great macro lens when placed on your camera backwards! It’ll be a fun day, with many opportunities like this one. There are some spots left, but space is limited!
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Thanks +Elizabeth Hahn! Just hop a plane already! :)

Thanks very much +Marie, LMB, +Dima Z, +Krzysztof Felczak, +RICARDO MARTINEZ, +Linda Jess and +原口隆志! Glad you enjoy this view into the macro world. More of these to come!
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Jewels of Summer

This was a fun shot to put together, and my first successful attempt at including a live “actor” in a water droplet refraction shot. The image was staged next to my peonies in my backyard, which is covered with ants that are hunting aphids. I gently redirect his attention to my staged image, and he explored a few blades of grass before coming to the one I was hoping for.

This is a manual focus-stack of seven frames to get the entire focus across the image. The ant was in this position for only one frame, and its various other positions needed to excluded from the focus stacking process, so extra depth from other focus points was added manually. This process can be time consuming, but with only seven frames it took less time than my average snowflake work!

The flower in the background is a rather small Osteospermum, and the blade of grass is Blue Fescue. I find that the powder coating on ornamental bluegrass works great for creating very spherical water droplets; the more spherical a water droplet, the better it acts like a lens! Place a flower in behind and voila! Flowers inside the droplets.

The flash was angled from underneath, aimed more at the background flower than the foreground so that the droplets glow as bright or brighter than the surface they are hanging off of.

If you’re interested in understanding and overcoming the technical challenges of such an image, I’ve got just the thing! July 10th I’m holding a macro photography workshop in partnership with +Daytripper Photo: https://bryan-weiss-dl96.squarespace.com/services/master-class-macro-photography-with-don-komarechka

This workshop is a “master class” with limited attendance. I give away all my secrets, give you tools to take home, and offer up my own award-winning gardens as the playground for the day. There will be an additional instructor so everyone will always have their questions answered quickly, and there’s likely to be some surprise giveaways too.

Macro photography is the one area of photography that offers easily-to-find creativity in an infinite fashion right at home, even with modest equipment. It all comes down to pre-visualization, experimentation, timing and a bit of luck! More images like this are surely to come. :)
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Photo Mania Global's profile photoGeorge Marquardt's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
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Thanks +George Marquardt! That ant was not standing still, it was only in that position for a fraction of a second. I'm glad I caught it looking like it was standing still though. :)
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For the first time in a one-day workshop, you can learn some post-processing magic from me this coming Thursday May 26 in Toronto! In a 3-hour session where we will be editing your own images as well a few examples from my own portfolio, you’ll walk away knowing what you need to do to translate a mundane, flat image into something that dramatically holds a viewer’s interest. It’s no small task in a short period of time, so come with an open mind! The cost is only $135 CAD - Click through for all the details:

http://www.donkom.ca/product/post-processing/

Lightroom is the basis for most of the edits that we will be focusing on, allowing us incredible control over every aspect of our photographs with an interface that is much friendlier than Photoshop. In Lightroom, we will cover:
– Finding the right balance of highlight, shadows and contrast to make an image “pop”
– Selectively controlling certain parts of an image to guide your eye around the frame
– Understanding colour and perception, and how to control it
– Freeing ourselves from “aspect ratios”
– Bringing out the greatest levels of detail
– Analysing an image to discover the next steps
– Discovering when things have been pushed too far

That said, we will dive into Photoshop to cover a few specific areas of interest:
– Texture overlays
– Focus Stacking
– Star trail combinations
– Combining multiple images together
The purpose for this workshop is to break through the “I don’t know what I don’t know” mentality and put the right tools in your hands. There is only so much that can be learned in a three-hour session, but we will build up a foundation that allows for new knowledge through experimentation.

There are still spots available, but space is limited. Kick off a great photographic season that will improve the results of every image you take this year!
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Thanks for sharing +Don Komarechka 
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    Advertising, 2007 - 2009
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Nature & Landscape Photographer, Teacher, gadget geek. :)
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Eye in the Sky Photography is the best choice for professional aerial work. Not only have I seen the work first-hand, but as a professional photographer myself I can give my complete recommendation to their services. Herman Koeslag and the team have not only accomplished the near-impossible on a number of occasions, but they will happily entertain even the most modest of requests for aerial photography. On the many occasions that our paths have crossed, I have been met with professionalism and enthusiasm beyond my expectations. This is a glowing five-star review, which I do not give lightly. I understand "attention to detail" better than most professionals in any visual industry, and Eye in the Sky Photography hits a home run every time. Give them a call.
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