Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Join Me On THE Best Iceland Photo Tour!


Iceland is a photographer's paradise. Waterfalls everywhere, rugged volcanic mountains, craggy coastlines, some of Europe's largest glaciers, famous Icelandic horses, puffins, and so much more.

This is THE best Iceland trip available! 
Best guide.
Best locations.
Best photographic opportunities.

And best of all, EVERYTHING is included except your round-trip airfare to and from Iceland. Only a 5-hour flight from the east coast of the U.S.

The trip is limited to only 8 photographers, 
and there are only 4 spaces left. 

EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT UNTIL APRIL 3


Details on the website here    

and in the Special Announcement here   

For more information, an itinerary, or to register, email us at 


TECHNICAL DATA
1/2 sec, f/22, ISO 100. Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens set at 17mm on Canon 7D Mark II. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it."  --Norman Maclean

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Matter Of Scale


Iceland is a small island, but the sense of scale is huge. With its sweeping landscapes and seemingly endless rocky coastlines, it is a photographer's paradise. I confess I have fallen in love with the place. That's why I'm going back this August 4 - 14. I just can't get enough of its rugged beauty, ancient old world feel, soaring waterfalls everywhere, picturesque villages, sweet horses, and welcoming and charming people. It just doesn't get any better than Iceland for exciting travel and wonderful photographic opportunities.

Today's image is a good example of the sweeping scale of the place. In the middle of this wide angle scene with sun rays, dramatic clouds, and high mountains is a tiny church tucked up against the nearest mountainside. It is barely visible and almost camouflaged by the wide open landscape.

Part of the excitement of being in Iceland is the limitless skies and the limitless photographs that appear around almost every curve in the road. And at almost every turn is a gorgeous waterfall or geothermal activity or a huge glacier. This is a very magical place, and there are so many scenes that feel like you are in the middle of a Lord of the Rings movie. Beauty is everywhere.

So join me in Iceland in August. Dubbed the "Endless Light" photo tour, we will have about 18 hours of daylight, and because of its far north position near the Arctic Circle we will have great sweet light for much of the day. The tour is all-inclusive, except for your round-trip airfare. Just get yourself to Iceland and the rest will be taken care of!

More details and more photos are on the website here   http://awakethelight.com/iceland-summer/

AND the Early Bird discount is in effect until April 3. So call me at 757-773-0194 or email me at awakethelight@charter.net with questions or to register. Just a few spaces left!

TECHNICAL DATA
1/1250 at f/16, ISO 800.  Canon 17-40 f/4L lens set at 40mm on Canon 7D Mark II body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don't be sorry."  --Jack Kerouac

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Brand New Workshop Just Announced!


Best butterfly location anywhere on the east coast! The BUTTERFLIES & FLOWERS Photo Workshop is coming May 10 and 11.  Housed in the world class Lewis Ginter Botancial Gardens in Richmond, Virginia, this Butterfly House is a fabulous place to get spectacular images of these lovely creatures. The butterflies are indoors, in a climate-controlled special section of the European-styled Conservatory.

You will see many species, and have plenty of room to spread out.

Because this is one of the Top Four botanical gardens in North America, you will also have opportunities to stroll the grounds for extensive flower and macro photography.

If you love butterflies, and love flowers, this is the workshop for you! Spend two full days in beautiful surroundings with superb photographic opportunities. Plus there will be a Bonus Teaching Session the evening before the workshop begins to help get you primed with the finer points of butterfly and flower photography.

Detailed information is on the website here  http://awakethelight.com/butterflies-and-flowers/

Limited to only 10 photographers, the workshop includes personalized instruction, critiques, a few Lightroom tips, all garden entry fees and parking.

Call me at 757-773-0194, or email me at awakethelight@charter.net for more information or to register.

TECHNICAL DATA
1/200 sec, f/5, ISO 800.  Canon 100mm macro f/2.8L IS lens on Canon 5D Mark III body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."  --Nathaniel Hawthorne

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Just For Fun

BEFORE

AFTER

Sometimes you just wanna have fun. If you have Photoshop or Photoshop Elements you can create unusual images easily. Today's image is just one example of what you can do. I learned this technique from a superb photographer and good friend DL (am using just her initials to keep her ego in check!).

Here are the basic steps used to create this image:

1. Select an image. The original image is a close-up of a sea scene taken in Iceland. Flowers work well, and many other subjects, too. Make sure it is an 8-bit file by going to Image > Mode. Click on 8-bit if it is not already checked. The original BEFORE image is above.

2. Select the entire canvas. The go to Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates. Click the Polar To Rectangular button, and click OK.

3. Then flip the image by going to Image > Image Rotation > Flip Canvas Vertical.

4. Again, go to Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates. This time click the Rectangular To Polar button and click OK.

5. Now you have the basic distorted image. You can crop it if you wish, and change the color as I did, using Photoshop's color balance options, in the AFTER image above.

This is just one of many fun things you can do with image software. When it's rainy, snowy, or you are just plain bored, try something different to invigorate your creativity.

TECHNICAL DATA
0.8 sec at f/45, ISO 100. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set at 98mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun."  -- Randy Pausch

 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Lightroom - The Magic Elixir

BEFORE

AFTER

Lightroom is truly amazing software. It is far and away my favorite way to optimize images. These BEFORE and AFTER images are good examples of what Lightroom can do.

It can enhance contrast, color, and so much more. And it is very fast. You do not have to spend half your life being chained to your computer in order to improve the look of your images. Most of us would rather be out shooting and not have to spend hours sitting at the computer, and for me this is definitely the way to go.

The BEFORE image, a close-up of ice formations on a beach in Iceland, shows very little color. The AFTER image shows all the color that is really there. Nothing has been artificially added. The colors you see in the AFTER image were there, but were not apparent before optimization in Lightroom.

In addition to bringing out the colors, Lightroom also was able to punch up the contrast, and bring out detail in the highlights, resulting in a much more pleasing image.

No matter where or what you photograph, every image needs image optimization of some sort. Some need more, and some need less, but there is no question that image optimization makes each and every image much more beautiful.

And speaking of travel, I am excited to be heading back to Iceland August 4 -14. The trip is limited to only 8 participants, and there are are still a few spaces left. This will be one of the best Iceland trips available. We will spend 10 full days there and will travel to some of its most iconic locations. We will photograph incredible waterfalls, spectacular rocky coastlines, lots of puffins and other birds, huge glaciers, beautiful horses, quaint villages, charming churches, and more. We will have our own large state-of-the-art vehicle with a charming native Icelandic guide, and will have lots of fun and great images. The trip is all-inclusive (except your airfare to and from Iceland). Just get yourself there and the rest will be taken care of! 

Call 757-773-0194 or email me at awakethelight@charter.net and 
I can give you all the details.

And see images of Iceland on the website at www.awakethelight.com

TECHNICAL DATA
1/125 sec. at f/8, ISO 800.  Canon 17-40mm f/4L set at 40mm on Canon 5D MarkII. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."  --Mark Twain

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Balancing Act


One aspect of making a successful image is balance. Balancing the elements is not difficult but it can take a little thought. Balance is not necessarily symmetry. An asymmetrical image, like this one, can have good balance depending on the composition.

All the details in the window and the surrounding stonework are balanced by the large off-white blank wall. I deliberately off-set the window far to the right so that the blank wall would balance all the details.

Also notice that the empty space at the top is about the same size as the area of stones below the window. 

There were several different ways to compose this image, including centering the window. But that would have been a less exciting image in my opinion.

TECHNICAL DATA
1/100 sec. at f/8, ISO 1600.  Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set at 98mm on Canon 7D Mark II body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "What I dream of is an art of balance."  --Henri Matisse

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Why THIS Iceland Trip?


If you have been following my Blog, you know that Iceland has become one of my favorite places to go. Its incredible waterfalls, sweeping scenery, huge glaciers, beautiful horses, and charming villages have captivated me. That is why I am going back August 4 - 14.

Today's image is the famous Kirkjufellsfoss triple waterfall with Kirkjufell Mountain behind.  

There is a lot of interest in photographing in Iceland, and I field many questions. Along with other questions, I am asked why the trip is priced as it is. There are several reasons, and today's blog has answers to this and other questions.

Q  -  Why is this Iceland trip more expensive than others I see offered?
A  -  There are several reasons.
            1. All lodging is included, and each person will have their own room with private bath. No one will have to share a room with a roommate (except couples traveling together of course).
           
            2. All meals are included, and all snacks. Food is amazingly expensive in Iceland, and many other trips offered do not include all meals. Read each trip offering carefully. Food generally costs at least 2 to 3 times more than anything comparable in the US.

            3. All tips are included. It has been a hallmark of Awake The Light photo tours to set fees that are all inclusive. There will never be any hidden fees. Since I hate to be "nickled and dimed" regarding any purchases or when traveling, I do not ever want to do that to anyone else either.

            4. All ground transportation is included.

            5. All guide services are included. We travel with a highly knowledgeable native Icelander who  knows every inch of the country. He also has many contacts all over Iceland who keep us informed on weather conditions, and lighting conditions. We can make spur of the moment decisions and be in the right places at the right times. This is an invaluable element of any photo trip.

Q  -  Are there any pricing specials?
A  -  Yes, there is an Early Bird special price if you register by March 1.  Pricing information is on the website HERE

Q  -  Why is the trip planned for August?
A  -  Summer is when the puffins and other bird life are still nesting there, and the weather is generally more benign. And August is just after the busiest tourist season, so the crowds will be a bit smaller. In addition, we will have nearly 18 hours of daylight, so there will be that beautiful "sweet light" for much of the day.

Q  -  Where will we go?
A  -  Our 10-day adventure begins in Reykjavik. We then travel to many parts of the country including the southern, western, and northern areas. We will also have forays into the central heart of the country. In our travels we will see many iconic waterfalls, impressive glaciers, puffins, famous Icelandic horses, rocky coastlines, quaint villages and farms, and much more.

Q  -  Why do you love Iceland so much?
A  -  Iceland is a captivating and mesmerizing place. The rugged scenery, the welcoming and charming people, the extreme cleanliness of the entire country, and its European charm combine to create a wonderful place to experience. And you will return home with impressive world-class images that you will cherish forever.

You can view images from Iceland and get more details HERE  

Only 5 spaces left, 
so call 757-773-0194 
or email me with questions. 


TECHNICAL DATA
1/2 sec., f/22, ISO 100.  Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens set at 17mm, on Canon 7D Mark II body. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead. Black-and-white conversion done in Lightroom.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "In Iceland you can see the contours of the mountains wherever you go, and the swell of the hills. And always beyond that, the horizon."  --Hannah Kent


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Horse Of A Different Color


Icelandic horses are world renown. They have lived on the protected island of Iceland for centuries. They are beautiful, friendly, and enjoy the attention of photographers. And they are extremely photogenic.

Their manes blow artfully in the breezes. Their color combinations are unique and fascinating. And they are very graceful in their movements.

We will have several opportunities to photograph these lovely creatures on the ICELAND - ENDLESS LIGHT photo tour coming up August 4 - 14. We will also visit many of Iceland's spectacular waterfalls, its rugged coastline, and its huge summer puffin population.

If the magic of Iceland appeals to you, this is the trip to do this year. You can read more details here

There is an attractive Early Bird special if you register by March 1. So give me a call at 757-773-0194, or drop me an email for more information. 

TECHNICAL DATA
1/250 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 400. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens with Canon 1.4x extender for a focal length of 241mm on Canon 7D Mark II camera.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Horses are the dolphins of the plains, the spirits of the wind...."  -- Lauren Salerno 

Monday, January 30, 2017

Dominance


Successful wildlife images require a healthy dose of timing and luck. Plus a bit of knowledge and experience. This image of two sparring male moose, taken in DENALI NATIONAL PARK, was a combination of both. When photographing in Denali, it helps to know prime wildlife locations, and the best time of day to find animals where you hope they will be.

Moose, caribou, and other mammals engage in dominance battles each fall in order to claim breeding rights. While these battles sometimes are fierce, more often they are like a slow dance of butting antlers and careful footwork. It is exciting to watch this behavior in action. We were fortunate that this particular battle took place close to the road and was relatively easy to photograph. 

On my annual photo tour to Denali, we always travel with an experienced naturalist driver. Naturalists know the area like their own backyards, and have extensive knowledge of where animals are likely to be and when. I trust them to help us find the best shots possible, and most of the time that pays off with great images. It was our naturalist who helped get us in position to capture this dominance display.

It is best to travel to Denali in the autumn when the animals look their best, and the fall colors are at peak. The great colors provide strong backgrounds for wildlife photography.

So I am excited to be taking a group once again to DENALI NATIONAL PARK this fall. The trip is September 2 - 8, and has 2 spaces left. Group size is kept to 10 so that everyone can get individual attention and personalized guidance.

On this trip you will learn how to best photograph wildlife, sweeping scenery, macro, and more. We are out everyday from morning 'til evening shooting, sharing, and learning. And after a full day of capturing exciting images, we return to our comfortable lodge for a chef-prepared dinner, image reviews, Q and A sessions, and great conversation.

Alaska is truly the Last Frontier, and now is the time to explore it with me and a small group of like-minded photographers. Reserve one of the last remaining spaces while you still can. Call me with questions at 757-773-0194. Details here   http://awakethelight.com/denali-national-park/

TECHNICAL DATA
1/400 sec at f/5.6, ISO 1600. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set to 200mm on Canon 5D Mark III body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Never stop exploring. With Mother Nature by your side, the possibilities are endless."  --Cheryl Aguiar

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Going, Going, Almost Gone


The Denali photo trip, coming up September 2 - 8, is going fast. Only 2 spaces left. If you have been thinking about an Alaska photo trip, now's the time to snag one of these last 2 spots.

Why do I lead trips to Denali each year? Because it is a stupendous, spectacular, exciting, unique place to be and to photograph. I absolutely LOVE Alaska. I lead three different trips to Alaska each year, and one of those is always to Denali.

This scene is one of my favorites. On calm days Denali (formerly called Mt. McKinley) and the beautiful sweep of the Alaska Range reflect in the appropriately named Reflection Pond. Autumn is the best time to be in Denali, when the colors of the tundra and trees rival those of New England. Rich reds, yellows, oranges, and golds are everywhere across the expansive landscape. It is also the best time to photograph the wildlife since they sport their full winter coats and mature antlers.

This was shot just before sunrise. The cool mist was rising from the water, rich warm fall colors lined the pond, and the cool blues of the snow-capped mountains combined to create a spectacular scene.

This is a scene that very few photographers ever get to experience. Located only a few minutes drive from our lodge deep inside Denali National Park, we will pass this location several times during our stay and will have the unique opportunity to photograph it at different times of day and in different types of light.

Of course we will also have many other photographic opportunities including grizzly bear, caribou, moose, Dall sheep, and much more.

Each day you will capture wonderful images of wildlife, scenery, and macro of tundra and other plants.  So if Alaska interests you, if you have always wanted to go, or even if you have been before, this trip is truly the Trip of a Lifetime. Call or email me with questions. I would be happy to fill you in on the details. Read more about the trip HERE 

TECHNICAL DATA
1/60 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400.  Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens set at 24mm, on Canon 5D Mark III.  Gitzo tripod with ballhead.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere, the dew is never all dried at once. Eternal sunrise ... each in its turn, as the round earth rolls."  --John Muir