Polka dot Wasp moth - Latest in backyard project

I think it's pretty cool that I just shot the caterpillar of this species and recently found the moth that it turns into. He was truly beautiful and gentle. The biggest challenge though was that he wouldn't settle down until he was upside down. So what you are seeing are images taken from underneath the table then rotated.

I got Manduca Quinquemaculata in my tomatoes

Recently I built an above ground garden in my backyard. Not so much a "Crisis Garden" yet, but it sure is practice and a good form of relaxation and zen for me.
Recently I was in my tomato plant when I found this happy little critter. He was nearly invisible, but he wasn't prepared for me. Or was he waiting for me?

There's an image of my fingertip to show reference to size. I was really happy to capture the one of him reaching up in the air. Getting a moment like this is not easy because there are so many elements involved. First is the fact that the thing is moving all over the place. This means I can't necessarily have the camera on tripod. So this means I have to hand hold and maintain a focus. And shooting something at hearly 1:1 ratio means that a fraction of a centimeter puts me out of focus. Somehow I manage to get something most every time.

To see more from this project, go to my website at www.ansarov.com

Polka-Dot Wasp Moth caterpillar

Now that the dust is setting a bit in my personal life, I am starting to notice new backyard models for my project.
These are always fun and inspirational and I have been putting them off for too long.
Now that I am in a new home an new location I have a new crop of backyard treasures to populate my photo collection. The overall theme is to show the beauty in the creatures that live their lives right under our noses. I use either black or white backdrops so not to take away from the subject and always treat every creature with respect. Every one is unharmed and released back to the wild after the photos. You can see more from this project in the backyard treasures gallery at www.ansarov.com

BREAKING NEWS Photographer sets up witty family portrait. Baby floats away!

I recently took this photo of my family in front of our new home and posted it on my facebook as well as emailed to family to announce the great news that we are expecting a new baby. What I fund to be pretty hilarious was the fact that every time I showed the image to someone, the first response was "How did you do that" or you are crazy to hang your baby by balloons like that. So after a few times of having to explain how I did the shot, I started playing around and making up stories. Like, "Yeah, we found it took exactly 135 balloons to keep her level. We had made the mistake of putting 140, and thank God she floated into a tree limb and some balloons popped or else we would have been in big trouble..."

Other stories went like, "Yeah, the tough part was the wind. We would position her there, but the wind would push her back and by the time we noticed she would be floating towards the neighbors house."

But before anybody starts calling child protective services I would explain that maybe (just maybe) I might actually be good at Photoshop as well.

To me, it isn't like it's a huge secret. In fact, I think it is safe to now make the same statement that has stood true for photography in general, It's not the camera (or computer software) that makes a great picture, but rather the photographer (or operator) using it.

I had this idea in my head for a while, but never saw an opportunity (or was probably too lazy) to buy a ton of balloons to do it. But we were recently at a relative's baby shower and they had all these balloons there. After the party they were going to just let the balloons go away. Knowing what would happen if I didn't take advantage of the opportunity I asked to take them instead.
Because (over the many years of doing this) I have gotten pretty good at being able to reverse engineer an idea which is pretty important when dealing with the nature of a 10-month old daughter in the hot sun.

So as you can see, NO I did not hang my baby from a bunch of balloons. What kind of idiot does that??? I took this photo as is on a tripod. The important part is to make sure your tripod, lens, exposure, etc does not change. This can make life a ton easier.

Then I took the shot of us without the baby in the background. Notice that with this picture I now have a clean background to work with for later.

Other shots are filler balloons.

I then opened them all in photoshop, placed them all onto one canvas as layers then made working masks for each.
After that it is simply choosing one layer at a time and erasing what you don't want in that layer and keeping what you want.
Of course this makes it sound easy and please remember I've been using photoshop since it was version 2.0, but honestly it is a simple concept that (with a little bit of practice) can provide great results.
The final touch was selecting the green balloons and replacing colors to pink.

I hope this helps. And maybe hopefully I will start to have more time for blogging soon. That is until the new baby is born...