One of the things I like most about living here in Northern California is that we have colorful seasons all year long and if you shoot outdoors, that's a bonus. February is the month when mustard blooms and if the sun is out it's an extremely vibrant yellow. The vineyards are laced with mustard creating a vivid counterpoint to the dormant vines. When I shoot landscapes, I often try to frame a variety of shots by using selective focus.
In the shot on the left I focused on the background. For an alternate view I shifted the focus to the foreground and pulled in tighter for the image on the right. I never know until I'm editing on my desktop which version I'll prefer.
I'm passionate about horses, especially my own. "Armani" is a beautiful 17 hand Oldenburg gelding that my daughter and I share riding. When I saw the farmer next door's field covered in mustard, I had to take him out there for a portrait. Again I used selective focus to frame him with the blurry mustard in the foreground. He's a natural ham and stood perfectly for a few minutes while I clicked away. I photo-shopped the lead rope out for a cleaner look. Remember when you are outdoors shooting, use a polarizing lens to saturate your colors and deepen the blue in the sky. You'll get the best effect by having the sun slightly in front of you to one side.
A field of mustard also makes a great background for environmental portraits. I'm big on back lighting people, which means I have the sun somewhere in front of the camera. You have to be careful of lens flare, so a higher perspective was needed. I often use a piece of black ciné foil suspended above my lens to cut the light. Usually I add one or two third's stop to the exposure and dodge the faces a bit in Adobe Bridge. I knew I only had a short time to get these vintners, so we drove down the road in Dry Creek Valley and found a neighboring vineyard to get the shot. I like a casual friendly look for these outdoor portraits.
To see more of my work go to: www.mjwickham.com