MICHAEL STOY PHOTOGRAPHY SUNRISE - MT. ERIE MORE OF MY WORK MICHAEL STOY PHOTOGRAPHY WINDFLOWER MORE OF MY WORK MICHAEL STOY PHOTOGRAPHY MARBLES MORE OF MY WORK MICHAEL STOY PHOTOGRAPHY HOT ROD MORE OF MY WORK MICHAEL STOY PHOTOGRAPHY SHADOW STUDY MORE OF MY WORK MICHAEL STOY PHOTOGRAPHY SUNSET - WHITE SANDS MORE OF MY WORK
GALLERIES ABOUT CONTACT
LANDSCAPES

LANDSCAPES

North American Lanscapes

FLOWERS

FLOWERS

Flowers of All Kinds

ARCHITECTURE

ARCHITECTURE

Buildings & Landmarks

ABSTRACTS & PATTERNS

ABSTRACTS & PATTERNS

Colorful Abstracts & Patterns

BENDING LIGHT

BENDING LIGHT

Reflection & Refraction

ANIMALS

ANIMALS

Animals of All Types

INFRARED

INFRARED

Infrared Images

PLANTS

PLANTS

All Kinds of Plants

VEHICLES

VEHICLES

All Kinds of Vehicles

STUDIO SHOTS

STUDIO SHOTS

Images Shot in the Studio

RUST & DECAY

RUST & DECAY

Rusty & Decaying Objects

PHOTOSHOP ART

PHOTOSHOP ART

Art Created with Potoshop

BLACK & WHITE

BLACK & WHITE

Black & White Images

MACHINERY

MACHINERY

Machinery of All Kinds

ODDS & ENDS

ODDS & ENDS

Images of Various Subjects

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Hi, my name is Mike Stoy. I am a photographer living in Placitas, New Mexico. This is my photography website, where I post my photos and comments about photography. You can contact me at: stoyfineart@gmail.com

I am also a studio potter and you can see my work on my pottery website at www.stoypottery.com

Once again this year I participated in a portfolio group with the Enchanted Lens Camera Club. The portfolio groups meet from the fall until the following spring. Members work on their individual portfolios with input and suggestions from the rest of their group. Portfolios are twelve or fewer images with an accompanying artist statement. At the end of the club year (usually in June) all of the individual groups get together and each participating photographer shows their portfolio to the entire club membership.

This was my second year in a portfolio group. This time I chose Bending Light as my theme. I love images with full dynamic range and rich, saturated colors. I also like subjects that have a little bit of unpredictability in the results. So, this year I explored the reflection of light from waves, the refraction of light through glass and the interference of light from bubbles.

The images in the final portfolio are shown below. I hope you enjoy them. I am already thinking about possible subjects for next year’s portfolio.

Cheers,

Mike

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White Sands National Park is one of my favorite places on earth. I have been there numerous times since my first visit when I was in grad school at UNM in 1979. The park is a little less than a four hour drive from our current house in Placitas. When my wife and I got our second COVID shot I talked to some of my photography buddies about a short trip down there. A couple weeks later we went down for three days (two nights) in mid-May 2021.

The first afternoon the sky had some clouds which is usually good since most of the time it is just clear blue skies down there. We got some pretty nice images in the late afternoon. Just before the sun dipped below the horizon we saw a huge dust storm coming north up the valley so we started back to the car. The same time as we got to the car the temperature dropped about twenty degrees and the wind hit. Visibility dropped quickly to about a quarter mile or so. Needless to say, we headed back to the motel.

The next morning dawned clear but because we hadn’t called two weeks in advance, we were not able to get into the park before sunrise. The wind storm the night before had wiped away all the footprints on the sand so we got some nice dune shots in the early morning.

After a late breakfast we headed up to the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site which is run by the BLM. The site is about forty miles north of our motel in Alamogordo. Since we were there at mid-day the photography was mediocre but it is a very interesting place to visit. There are over 21,000 petroglyphs at the site and nice views of the valley as well. After shooting there for a while we drove back to White Sands but the clouds had rolled in by mid-afternoon and it was overcast, windy and eventually raining. We adjourned for the day and got an early dinner.

The final morning was clear but the rain from the night before had flattened all the ripples in the dunes pretty much whipping out the photographic opportunities. So we had a fun trip but didn’t get the beautiful sunset shots we were hoping for. I guess that gives me a reason to go back again.

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I’ve always liked abstract, graphic images. Several years ago I did some studio studies of bent and folded paper. While they were OK, the lights I had available to me at the time we simply too large to accomplish the vision I had for the images. The other problem I faced back then was the smallest lights I had were Nikon macro flash units. With any flash units in the studio, you have to position them and select the power levels based on your best guess. Then you fire the flashes and see what you got. That allows you to make any corrections and take another shot. This process can take quite a while to get the image dialed in where you want it.

Fast forward more than ten years to now and I have very small LED continuous lights made by LumiCube. These allow the position of the power level to be adjusted in real time. You can see what you are going to get without having to go through a lot of rounds of adjustments. This is a huge advantage in the studio. With these lights in hand, I decided to have another go at paper studies. This time I was able to get the images I had envisioned years ago.

I still have some additional ideas for arrangements of paper and lights that I will try in the future but for now I am very happy with the images I got.

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Dark Eyed Junco in the snow on a Juniper

One of my goals for the winter of 2020-2021 was to get some good winter shots of birds. I was hoping for some snow on the trees and as a background. We got two nice snowfalls in early December when the wind wasn’t blowing hard. I went out with my camera and my 150-600mm Sigma zoom lens and shot for a couple hours each time. I didn’t see a large range of species coming to the feeders but they did seem to be less shy than they normally are so I was able to get some pretty nice shots of several sparrow-sized species.

Female House Finch in the snow on a Juniper
White-crowned Sparrow in the snow on a Juniper

I also went out a few times around sunrise or sunset on calm days and got some nice high contrast shots of some of the birds that frequent our feeders.

Pine Siskin at sunrise

Next winter I am going to try heading up into the mountains with my camera looking for some different species to shoot.

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As a kid when I first saw some photographs taken by Harold “Doc” Edgerton and stop motion shots by other photographers I was blown away. I first did some similar photography using a high-powered strobe when I was shooting an article on a world record setting model airplane developed by my older brother and me. Those shots were taken on film and although I got the images we needed the success rate as low and we used up a lot of film. Because of that I never did any more stop motion shots with film cameras.

Fast forward thirty years to 2010 and I now had a decent DSLR. Since the “film” was now free I decided to try some stop motion water drop shots similar to what Doc Edgerton had done. There are two big problems I had to deal with: getting enough light so the shutter speed would be high enough to stop the drops in motion and timing the shutter release to capture the drop at a good location. Edgerton and others who are really serious about this kind of photography use high powered flash to solve the first problem and some kind of electronic detector/trigger to solve the second. At the time, in 2010, there were a few photographers who had developed kits specifically to trigger the flash and shutter on digital cameras for water drop shots. There are actually several enthusiast groups who are really serious about water drop art. I didn’t want to spend several hundred dollars on the gear so I decided to use the brightest continuous lights I had and try to time the shutter. Unfortunately, my lights weren’t bright enough to get shots that weren’t grainy. Timing the shutter worked but the success rate was really low. I did manage to get a few shots that I kept however.

Fast forward another ten years to now and I have recently purchased some nice LED lights for studio use. I decided to give the water dop shots another try with those new lights. I was still using eyeball timing to decide when to trip the shutter so the success rate is still low. However, the amount of light (and a newer, better Nikon D850 DSLR) was now sufficient to get some really nice shots.

 I have always liked subjects that have something of an unpredictable nature to them and water drop shots certainly qualify on that count. Perhaps some day I will spend a couple hundred dollars and buy a water drop kit to do some really spectacular water drop art but for now I am happy with the shots I got.

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Mourning Dove

With the COVID pandemic widespread across the country, my wife and I have been staying at home this summer. My photography has been limited mostly to shooting in our yard. That has meant mostly shooting flowers and birds. Since we live in the upper Sonoran desert our yard doesn’t have any tall trees in it except for a couple we planted in the front garden that are still pretty short. There aren’t as many bird species in our yard as there are in many other areas. Even a few miles away as you go up into the Sandia mountains the number of species is greater.

We have eight bird feeders, a quail block and a birdbath next to the patio in the backyard. These attract several kinds of birds that I like to take pictures of. The most interesting in the summer are the hummingbirds. We get Rufous, Calliope, Broad Tailed and Black Chinned hummingbirds here in Placitas. We do have quite a few plants that flower in the summer that the hummingbirds like. The Red Yuccas are the ones that attract the most hummingbirds. Unfortunately, there are so many red yuccas in our yard the hummingbirds never seem to feed on the one I am set up next to. So almost all of my hummingbird photos have been taken around our hummingbird feeders. I either shoot the bird flying next to the feeders or sitting on branches close by. Hummingbirds are a particular challenge since it is always as trade off between high shutter speed to stop the wings from blurring which results in grainier pictures from high ISO and shallow depth of field or slower shutter speed which leaves some wing blur. I usually go with slower shutter speed and accept a little wing blur. Fortunately the hummingbirds are not very skittish and you can get pretty close to them with a camera. I have a 150mm – 600mm Sigma zoom which I use for all my bird shots except occasionally hummingbirds.

Rufous Hummingbird Flying

Of the other birds that come to the garden in the summer the other ones that I like photographing are the larger species. We get both Gambel’s Quail and Scaled Quail as well as Roadrunners, Mourning Doves and Rock Doves on a pretty regular basis. On rare occasions a raptor will show up but they usually just fly over and don’t land. I did have a Cooper’s Hawk land twice this summer when I was out with a camera.

Cooper’s Hawk flying

Most of the other birds are fairly small, what birders refer to as LBJs – Little Brown Jobs. They are harder to get good photos of since they tend to be skittish making it hard to get close enough for a good photo. Most of the photos end up being pretty heavily cropped which reduces the image quality. They are still fun to go out and shoot.

Sage Thrasher

I’m looking forward to the end of COVID so I can get out more. In the mean time the winter birds are starting to show up in the yard in the last couple weeks so I will at least have them to take photos of.

Cheers,

Mike

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I belong to a large photography club in Albuquerque called the Enchanted Lens Camera Club. The club has several hundred people and has a lot of speakers, trips and other activities. One of the things the club does is encourage individual members to form smaller groups for the purpose of developing individual portfolios each year. The portfolio groups meet from the fall until the following spring. Members work on their individual portfolios with input and suggestions from the rest of their group. Portfolios are twelve or fewer images with an accompanying artist statement. At the end of the club year (usually in June) all of the individual groups get together and each participating photographer shows their portfolio to the entire club membership.

 

This year was the first time I participated in a portfolio group. The experience was a lot more fun than I originally thought it would be. I wanted to do a portfolio on something that would stretch my normal artistic range. I chose to do my portfolio on Ethereal Flowers. I have on occasion done high key and soft focus flowers but that is not my normal style. Usually I rely on full dynamic range and rich, saturated colors. For this portfolio I used a mix of older images that I completely reworked with different post processing techniques and new images taken specifically with the portfolio project in mind.

 

The images in the final portfolio is are shown below. I hope you enjoy them. I am already thinking about possible subjects for next year’s portfolio.

 

Cheers,

 

Mike

 

 

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Soap Bubbles

I have been photographing soap bubbles in my studio on many occasions for more than ten years now.  Like some other types of photography, such as refractographs and wave reflections, there is a bit of a treasure hunt quality to photographing them. Their geometry is continually changing as they mature and finally pop. The interference patterns on their surface change even more quickly. With the COVID restrictions this year I have done some more soap bubble shots in the last couple of months.

It is the geometry and the interference patterns that make bubbles so interesting.  Soap bubbles always assume the shape with the smallest possible surface area for a given volume. This means single bubbles form spheres. In a plane two bubbles meet as circles intersecting at a line. For more than two bubbles in a plane the bubbles will meet in groups of three with all angles at the intersections being  120 degrees. This means they form hexagons (just like honey combs).

In three dimensions the same principle of minimum surface area for a given volume applies. Two bubbles will meet at a common circle with the angle being 120 degrees. As with the planer case we can see from experiment that bubbles always meet as triples of lines with all angles being 120 degrees. Interestingly, while the geometry has been know for thousands of years, even the simplest planer case was not proved mathematically until 1993 and the proof for three or more bubbles in space is still open.

Thin-film interference is a natural phenomenon in which light waves reflected by the upper and lower surfaces of a thin transparent film will interfere with each other. Certain wavelengths (colors) are intensified while others are reduced depending on the thickness and index of refraction of the film. This constructive or destructive interference produces narrow reflection or transmission bandwidths. The observed colors are rarely separate wavelengths but a mixture of various wavelengths. Thus, the colors observed are rarely those of the rainbow, but rather browns, golds, turquoises, teals, bright blues, purples, and magentas.

I have shot bubbles using many different  set-ups in the studio. My favorite set-up uses four sheets of translucent Plexiglas about 2 ft. x 2 ft. to form a shooting tunnel. The rear of the tunnel was closed off with a sheet of black mat board. A spray can lid is placed in the tunnel and filled with bubble solution. The camera with a macro lens was placed in front of the tunnel and focused on the front edge of the spray can top. I have used various combinations of flash units underneath, above and to the sides of the tunnel along with gels and colored mat board to get different effects. This type of set-up gives the largest possible range of results.

I have tried many other set-ups shooting either a single bubble, multiple bubbles or a bubble film. The images created can be very striking. The whole process is fascinating to me since you never can tell what kind of pattern you will get or how it will change with time.

Cheers,

Mike Stoy

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Silverleaf Nightshade

We live in the village of Placitas, New Mexico which is about twenty minutes north of Albuquerque. Our house is on the north side of the Sandia Mountains at 5,400 ft. in the upper Sonoran ecosystem. Although most people think of the desert as being sand dunes and cactus very few of the desert regions of the world are actually like that. The area we live in has lots of low Juniper, and Pinion trees along with many other desert plants including some cactus and yucca species and quite a few wildflowers.

Palmer Penstemon

Tulip Prickly Pear Cactus

Trumpet Gilia

Desert Willow

 

 

 

 

 

 

The development our house is in has a nice walking path along side the roads and in the springtime, if there is some rainfall, there are an amazing number of wildflowers that bloom here. I always like taking wildflower photos but this year with the COVID-19 stay-at-home order here in New Mexico I have spent a lot more time around the neighborhood and taking flower photos than in most years.

Broom Dalea

Red-whisker Clammyweed

Yellowspine Thistle

Devil’s Club Cactus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

None of the flowers around here are particularly large. Certainly nothing like the Rhododenrons that we had in Seattle. The largest ones are some of the cactus flowers which can be several inches across. A lot of the photos I take of flowers here end up being pretty tight macro shots. I have a 150mm Sigma macro lens that I really love. It has a larger stand-off distance than the more common 90mm or 105mm macro lenses. That doesn’t make any particular difference with wildflower photos but it is really helpful when taking photos of butterflies, lizards ad the like. I use extension tubes on the lens a lot for the wildflowers around here to get enough magnification to fill the frame on the smaller ones.

Common Beehive Cactus

Wooly Prairie Clover

Threadleaf Groundsel

Tamarisk

Spider on James’ Holdback

Blanket Flower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately the most of the wildflowers are fading now that the warmer and drier weather of June is here so I’ll have to find other things to take photos of.

Mike

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A type of photography that I have become fond of in the last few years is refractographs. These images are created using a camera without a lens on the front of it. First you need a really dark room since any stray light can muddy up the image. Next you need a piece of glass or some other transparent material. In my experience thin, high quality glass works best. I have been using the bottom of crystal wine glasses. The glass is fixed in place with a light stand and clamp or something similar. Then a small bright point of light is set up about  ten feet away from the glass with the light shining on the glass at about a forty five degree angle. I am using a bright LED flashlight with a piece of aluminum foil over the front of the light. I poke a very small hole in the foil with a needle. Do not use a laser since it could damage the camera sensor.  Finally the camera is placed on a tripod very close to the glass.

 

If you turn off all the lights except the flashlight and turn on live view on the camera you will see a pattern of light appear on the image sensor. The light from the flashlight is refracted through the front of the glass, part of the light is then reflected off the rear surface of the glass then refracted again as it bounces toward the camera. It takes a lot of experimentation with position of the glass and the camera to find interesting patterns. Since there is not very much light the exposure will typically be fairly long. Most of the time I end up between two and six seconds. These patterns will initially be white. In order to get color into the images I take small pieces of colored plastic, called gel filters, from my macro flash heads and hold them in front of the camera between the glass and the sensor.

The images created can be very striking. There is also a bit of a treasure hunt quality to the process since you never can tell what kind of pattern any given piece of glass will create.

Cheers,

 

Mike Stoy

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