Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!


As the sun rises on New Year's Day, 
may 2017 dawn bright and with great promise for you. 

May it provide you with peace, contentment, good health, 
prosperity, love, and a large helping of fun. 

I hope to see you at a photo tour or workshop in the New Year!


1/15 sec at f/22, ISO 100. Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens set at 40mm on Canon 5D Mark III body. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff head.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.  --Oprah Winfrey


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Don't Miss This Trip!

Autumn in Denali National Park in Alaska is the best time to be there. This trip, coming up September 2 - 8, is one of our most popular, and with good reason. The wildlife is in perfect condition, after a productive summer of feeding and bulking up. This male caribou was in prime shape with a full set of antlers and a superb coat.

Autumn is mating season for caribou in Alaska, and this guy was searching for mates. He was sniffing the air, and strutting his stuff. He was in a beautiful location, surrounded by colorful tundra. That's another prime reason to visit Denali in the fall - the autumn colors are spectacular, often even more colorful than the New England leaves.

In addition to the beautiful colors and the abundant wildlife, there is of course the spectacular mountain scenery. Snow-capped mountains, including the lofty Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) are almost constantly in view as we travel around the park.

Only 5 spaces left on this trip, so call or email soon for more details. More information here

TECHNICAL DATA: 1/1250 at f/8, ISO 800. Canon 400mm f/5.6L lens with 1.4x extender for an effective focal length of 560mm on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile."  --William Cullen Bryant

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry, Happy, Enjoy!

At this time of year, regardless of your beliefs, it is nice to wish each other a very happy holiday season.

Another year is coming to a close, and a new year lies ahead. It is a time of looking back and looking ahead.

Looking back, I am grateful for all the wonderful trips of 2016 and all the incredible people who accompanied me. I thank each and every one of you for making the trips and workshops so exciting and so much fun.

Looking ahead, a new year always holds the promise of the unknown. We hope that each passing year will be better than the one before. May we learn more, experience more, and grow more.

With the winter holidays just ahead, I wish for each of you a

Merry Christmas

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Kwanzaa

and a

Happy Whatever You Choose To Celebrate

May your holiday be warm, joyous, filled with friends and family, and maybe even a gift or two!


1/100 sec. at f/10, ISO 200.  Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens set at 25mm on Canon 40D body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE : "Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour."  --John Boswell

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Alaska's Denali National Park - The Last Frontier

Highest mountain in North America. Spectacular fall colors. 6 million acres of wilderness. Moose, caribou, grizzly bear and more roam in the open landscape. Solitude and tranquility greet you. And in the midst of all this, we stay at a lovely lodge with all the amenities, dine on chef-prepared meals,  and have a private vehicle with a naturalist driver at our disposal. It doesn't get any better than this.

For the best photographic opportunities in our country, Denali National Park in Alaska is THE place to go. And this trip is like no other available. Very few people have the opportunity to stay deep inside the park, and fewer still can stay at this superb lodge AND have a private vehicle to take us where the action is.

This view of Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) is spectacular and very close to our lodge. This is our most popular photo tour, and is limited to only 10 photographers.

On this trip you will learn new and creative techniques for photographing sweeping landscapes, various forms of wildlife, macro, and much more. You will also learn some Lightroom tips for optimizing your images.

The 2017 trip will be September 2 - 8, and has only 5 spaces left. Reserve your space for one of the best photo trips of your life. See details here 

If you have questions or would like to register, email me   I hope you can join me in Alaska!

1/640 sec at f/13, ISO 400.  Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens set at 37mm on Canon 5D Mark III body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery."  --John Ruskin

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Throwing You A Curve

Geometric shapes, lines, and curves can help you create strong images. Most images need some sort of flow throughout the picture, something that engages the eye and keeps the viewer interested in what the image portrays.

Diagonal lines can be a simple and effective way to create an image with strong composition. In this image of a Soloman's Seal taken in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the diagonal placement of the leaves creates a flow from upper left to lower right. But that is not the only element that makes this image work. The curving leaves add more visual interest, and add softness to the straight diagonal line of the long, straighter leaves.

Shallow depth of field also adds to the overall softness, creating a mottled background.

Providing this kind of information, plus creative guidance, is just one of the many things you will learn and experience on the WILDFLOWERS & WILDWATER photo workshop in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park coming up on April 17 - 22. Because of the small group size, I can work with you individually to help elevate your photography to a higher level.

We'll spend five glorious days in the Smokies in the springtime, when the wildflowers are at their best and the streams run fast and wild. We will explore many different areas to get the best shots, and will also go to some tucked away places known only to a few.

The beautiful Smokies in the spring is a treat you should give yourself. Register before January 15 and get a $300 Early Bird discount.

See details here.  For more information, email me. I hope you can join me in the Smokies!

1/400 sec at f/2.8, ISO 200.  Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens on Canon 5D Mark III body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw ... for I was seeing the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being."  --Black Elk

Monday, December 12, 2016

Window On The World

When out photographing, always try to look for the little things, the details, the unexpected. While on a recent personal trip to Europe, I visited a lovely French chateau near the Swiss border. I spent a lot of time photographing the "big" picture, taking many typical tourist images and just enjoying the area. Then, after exploring all the traditional possibilities, I happened to notice this snippet of a scene  outside one of the windows. The fall colors were at peak, and the texture of the glass was an added benefit.

There were many different ways to frame this shot, and ultimately I chose this straight-on graphic view. I was looking for balance in the composition, but not symmetry. Balance is achieved by the dark window frame on the right and bottom, matched somewhat by the cropped windows on the left and top. While each of those elements is not the same exact size, they form a frame of sorts around the uncropped window panes, and create the balance I was looking for.

So the first step is to always go for the traditional, the primary images you seek, but then always be open to the unexpected views that present themselves. Being an opportunist when shooting, keeping an open mind to all possibilities will almost always net you some winning images.

1/400 sec at f/5.6, ISO 800.  Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set at 98mm on Canon 7D Mark II body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared." Idowu Koyenikan

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Little Birdie Told Me

Freezing the motion of a bird in flight is not always easy. It takes a fast shutter speed of at least 1/1250 sec, and a steady hand. But there are times when showing some motion gives a feeling of life and movement in an image. This image was taken with a relatively slow shutter speed of 1/15 sec while panning as the bird flew by. I took many many many, and did I say MANY?, shots on this early morning in Bosque del Apache in New Mexico in order to get this one successful image.

It is important to know that everyone, whether a professional photographer or not, needs to take many shots in order to get what they seek.

The camera was mounted on a sturdy tripod with a ballhead and the Wimberley Sidekick attached. If you are not familiar with the Sidekick, check it out on the web. It is inexpensive, lightweight, packs easily, and enables you to easily pan or track birds in flight. In fact, I use it nearly every time I have the camera on a tripod, unless I am shooting with a wide angle lens.

Panning is a skill that just takes practice. Try to pan smoothly from one side to the other, keeping the subject in the same part of the viewfinder throughout the pan. Also, start panning before you trip the shutter, and keep panning even after you release the shutter button. That helps you to get a good panning shot.

1/15 sec at f/36, ISO 100. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Gitzo tripod with ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is practice."  --Vladimir Horowitz

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Smokies Update

After the previous blog was published, I heard from some of you asking for more information on the status of the park and surroundings in light of the fires. I spoke to my contacts who live near the park, and was told that the recent heavy rains have cleared the air of smoke and the fires are essentially out.

If you have seen the news reports, you have seen some of the devastation around Gatlinburg, and to a lesser extent, Pigeon Forge. To help those who have suffered the loss of their property, the Great Smoky Mountains Association (GSMA), a non-profit organization that supports the preservation of the national park by promoting education and research, has established a Relief Fund to help some of those who have been impacted by the fires. Their website   says that through the relief fund "100% of donated funds will be divided among NPS and park partner fire victims to help them rebuild their lives."

Thanks to great friend and great client Cindy M for alerting me to this.

Also, for your peace of mind, none of the areas of the park and surrounding areas that my Smoky Mountains photo tours explore have been damaged at all. The Great Smoky Mountains WILDFLOWERS AND WILDWATER photo tour coming up April 17 - 22 will be just as spectacular as ever. 

Among the many incredible wildflowers we will see are these crested dwarf iris. These beautiful and delicate flowers bloom in profusion during April.

We will also see many species of trillium, lady slippers, a wide variety of violets,  and dozens of other species. We will also have some spectacular sunrises, and with any luck we will see black bear, deer, possibly coyote, and much more.

For more information, see the website here

Don't forget the special $300 Early Bird discount if you register by January 15. If you  have questions, or are ready to register, please email me at

1/640 sec at f/2.8, ISO 800.  Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens on Canon 5D Mark III camera.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "I get by with a little help from my friends."  -- John Lennon, The Beatles

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Smokies In Springtime

Spring is my favorite time of year to be in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hundreds of species of wildflowers are in bloom, and we go to where the best of the best are.

It is also the time of year when the streams are fast-flowing and at their best. The trees sport their fresh spring-green leaves, and the entire park comes to life.

The air is fresh and clean, and you can feel the promise of the earth's renewal.

The upcoming Smokies trip is scheduled for April 17 - 22. Many wildflowers should be at peak including trillium, lady slippers, iris, and so much more. If you love the outdoors in spring, this is the trip for you.

We stay at a fabulous private lodge with great views overlooking the park. It is on the "quiet side" of the Smokies, away from the hubub of nearby towns, and yet only a short drive into the park. It is the perfect location for an exciting and rewarding photo trip.

There is a $300 Early Bird discount if you register before Jan. 15. This trip is limited to only 12 photographers, and only 9 spaces are left. So don't delay - contact me right away with questions or to reserve your space. More details here

1/2 sec at f/32, ISO 100.  Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set at 150mm, on Canon 5D Mark III body. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "...winter will be forced to relent, once again, to the new beginnings of soft greens, longer light, and the sweet air of spring."  --Madeleine M. Kunin 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Shop 'Til You Drop!

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it is time to think about gift giving for the upcoming holidays. While the holidays are about so much more than just buying stuff, it is a nice time of year to remember those who are dear to you, and find a little something you think they will like.

As a special favor to me and Awake The Light, Gary at Hunt's Photo and Video has volunteered to reduce prices on some items that I have recommended in the past. So if you are looking for photo-related gifts for those you know, or if family and friends have been asking you for hints of what you might want to have, check out these specials.

Canon mount  -

Nikon mount  -


All special prices expire at the end of the day Monday. So now's the time to act!

1/2000 sec at f/4, ISO 200.  Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS on Canon 40D body (an oldie but a goodie!).  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The law of giving is very simple: If you want JOY, give joy. If LOVE is what you seek, offer love. If you crave MATERIAL AFFLUENCE, help others become prosperoous."  --Deepak Chopra

Thursday, November 24, 2016



Wishing you a wonderful, warm, holiday filled with love and laughter. 
May it be one of your best ever. 

At this time of giving thanks, I want you to know how much I appreciate your support, your friendship, and your always welcome comments. 
It is a pleasure to forge friendships with people who love 
photography as much as I do. 

I hope that by sharing my knowledge and my passion 
it has helped you to enjoy photography even more. 
And I hope to see you soon at a photo workshop or tour.

With warmest appreciation,



1/125 sec. at f/5.6, ISO 3200.   Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set at 98mm, on Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."  --John F. Kennedy 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Plan Ahead

As the poet said, "If winter comes, can spring be far behind?" Even though winter is not quite here yet, it is time to think ahead to spring. Spring means flowers, and flowers mean the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Smokies has more species of wildflowers than any other North American park. Over 1500 different species bloom in the Smokies including trillium, lady slippers, dwarf iris, and columbine shown in the image above. It is the most incredible array of wildflowers you can imagine, and a sight not to be missed.

I'm looking forward to once again returning to the Smokies in April with a small group of photographers. We'll photograph the profusion of wildflowers, as well as the beautiful fast-running streams that flow throughout the park. The WILDFLOWERS AND WILDWATER Photo Tour is scheduled for April 17 - 22, 2017.

This is an incredible trip with great photo ops at every turn. Plus, we will have opportunities to photograph the spectacular sunrises that the Smokies is also known for. Limited to only 11 photographers, you will get personalized attention every day. We will stay in a well-appointed private lodge overlooking the mountains, and only a few minutes from the park entrance. We stay on the "quiet side" of the Smokies and avoid all the over-crowded tourist areas.

There is an Early Bird discount available if you register by December 15. The regular price of the tour is $2195, but if you register and pay your $500 deposit by the deadline, your fee is only $1895.

Details here

For more information or to register, email me at
I hope you can make it!

1/250 sec at f/3.5, ISO 400. Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lens on Canon 7D Mark II. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change."  --Buddha    

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Here's Lookin' At You, Kid

Icelandic horses. Adorable, calm, friendly, and sturdy steeds. And they are always having a great hair day!

When photographing wildlife of any kind, it is important to look for the right moments. Body position, facial expression (yes, animals DO have expressions), behavior, and interactions are just some of the things to watch for.

You also want to be careful with exposure. Make sure that light tones are not overexposed, and dark tones are not underexposed.

Use rapid burst so that you can take several shots in quick succession to improve your chances of capturing just the right moment. It is amazing how quickly a slight change in position can make or break the shot.

But most of all be sure to enjoy the moment. Enjoy the privilege of being able to capture images of a variety of animals on their own turf.

1/125 sec. at f/10, ISO 400.  Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set at 124 mm on Canon 5D Mark III, handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "One reason why ... horses are happy is because they are not trying to impress other horses."  --Dale Carnegie

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Autumn In Alaska

Autumn in Alaska is the best time to be there for photography. The wildlife is in great shape with full, thick coats of fur, fully developed antlers, and well-fed healthy bodies after a short but productive summer. And the scenery is beyond compare with spectacular fall colors in the trees and on the tundra. The reds, oranges, and yellows surpass even the well-known New England fall colors.

Now's the time to plan for next year's highly popular Denali photo tour. It will be September 2 -8, 2017. We meet in Anchorage and then depart for the great adventure! The fee includes a private guide and private vehicle in Denali just for our group, all meals and lodging (except pre- and post days in Anchorage), all ground transportation in Alaska, individualized instruction, image critiques, and tips. The meals are great, the lodging is lovely and comfortable, the wildlife is everywhere, and the scenery will thrill you. There might even be a chance to see the Aurora Borealis! Note that information is not yet on the website, so now is the time to register before the announcement goes public. For pricing and details, email me at  Don't miss this trip, limited to only 10 photographers.

On another note, with the holidays coming, now is the time to make a list of the photo gear you want. Make a list, check it twice, and then give it to all your friends and family members for easy gift-giving! If you are not familiar with Hunt's Photo and Video, or even if you are, I highly recommend them for all your photo gear needs. They have a huge inventory and can get you virtually anything you want. Their prices are competitive, and their customer service is unsurpassed.  I used to use the REALLY big guys (and you know who I mean), but now I use Hunt's because of their fast and personal service, great prices, and free shipping. It is a family-owned company which means they really care about you, and they want to gain your trust and your business.  Here is the link to their weekend specials    If you don't see what you want, email the co-owner Gary here and he will do his best to get you the item at the best price.

1/640 sec. at f/7.1, ISO 400.  Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set at 70mm on Canon 5D Mark III body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them."  -- Walt Disney

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

From Drab To Dynamite



Take a long hard look at these two images. These are exactly the same picture. The top BEFORE image is as it came out of the camera with no tweaking or image optimization. The bottom AFTER image is what Lightroom did to restore the image to what the scene actually looked like.

Every image that you take has lots of color and contrast information that often is not apparent when you initially download your images after a day of shooting. ALL images need optimization, some more than others. While our digital cameras (when shooting RAW) record a wide range of color and contrast information, that information often does not appear when we first download the image. We need Lightroom to coax that information out of it and help us create an image with all the impact of the original scene that we shot.

Look carefully at the background of this image shot in Iceland near sunset. There is a huge glacier coming down to the water line.

The BEFORE image looks gray with very little color and minimal contrast. In the AFTER image, Lightroom brought out the warm color and quality of light that was actually there. The steps used were:
-  Whites and Blacks sliders were moved to expand the contrast (I rarely use the Contrast slider)
-  Clarity was increased to 30 (going beyond 30 is often way too much)
-  Vibrance was increased
-  Orange and Blue Saturation were individually increased in the HSL box
-  Dehaze was used to cut through some of the mist in the background

So after a few simple steps, a gray unexciting image was brought back to life.

1/400 sec at f/5.6, ISO 400.  Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set to 98mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."  --Crowfoot

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fire and Ice

Iceland is a unique and magical place for photographers. This is just one example, taken on Ice Beach in the southern part of the country. Iceland's several glaciers deposit icebergs into nearby glacial lagoons. One of the lagoons then tosses up ice chunks, both large and small, onto a nearby black sand beach. This is one of the small ice chunks, reflecting light from the bright blue sky and the warm tones of the rising sun.

What a thrill to see the many different shapes of the ice, and to see some tossed around in the waves crashing on shore. A unique scene to say the least.

When photographing in new and unusual places it helps to first slow down and just enjoy what you are seeing, and then to determine how best to shoot it. Try a variety of camera positions, some close in and some farther away. Use the histogram to make sure your exposures are good. And then use image optimization software to enhance contrast and color.

1/125 sec. at f/8, ISO 800.  Canon 17-40mm f/4L set at 40mm, on Canon 7D Mark II. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The greatness of art is not to find what is common but what is unique."  --Isaac Bashevis Singer

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Moody Iceland

Moody just barely begins to describe this scene. It was a blustery wet day with strong winds and pelting rain. But even so, we were out there taking some wonderfully unique images along the southern coast of Iceland.

When on a photo trip, a little rain, or in this case a lot of rain, does not stop us from shooting. We gear up in our rain jackets and rain pants, plus rain protection for our cameras, and bravely step out of the van.

Everyone had been supplied with microfiber cloths to use periodically to help dry off lens shades and water droplets that kept hitting our lenses. To get this shot, I kneeled down next to a parked car (we were at a public overlook) in hopes of blocking the wind and some of the rain. That worked briefly, long enough to get this shot and several others.

The sky was so overcast and gray that this black-and-white conversion, done in Lightroom, barely looks any different from the original color version. I chose to go with black and white since there was a slight brownish tone in the water that I thought detracted from the image.

I took several shots, trying to get one in which the waves spilling onto the beach were rounded in shape. I felt that would soften the harshness of the sky and the ominous rock in the foreground.

Iceland is an incredible place filled with many dramatic and photogenic subjects. It is a compelling location, and I plan to return there July 21 - 30, 2017 for another exciting photo tour. If you have ever wanted to see this wonderful island nation with its dramatic scenery, or wanted to enjoy its endless beautiful light from morning to night, or photograph its large puffin colonies, then plan to join me. It will be a fantastic trip! Email me for more information.

1/320 sec., f/9, ISO 800.  Canon 17-40mm f/4L, set at 27mm, on Canon 7D MarkII body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."  --John Ruskin

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Water World

Water is everywhere in Iceland. There are hundreds or thousands of waterfalls, many of which do not even have names because there are so many. There are also innumerable streams, glacial lagoons, and lakes.

This is a small portion of a wide row of many waterfalls cascading over ancient lava flows. The way the water flows down and around the rocks made for a unique composition. The fall colors created a lovely counterpoint of reds, oranges, and yellows.

When photographing traditional subjects like waterfalls, do the basic shots and then allow yourself to seek other views. Look for line, shape, form and color. Those elements will help you find a variety of creative images in almost any scene.

Iceland is a truly unique and compelling country, and one that I plan to return to many times. Stay tuned for information on the next trip, coming up in July 2017.

2 seconds, f/45, ISO 100. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens on Canon 7D Mark II. Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ball head.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing."  --John Muir

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Incredible Iceland

Iceland is truly an incredible place. More waterfalls than you can image, huge sweeping landscapes, tiny towns tucked away in the shadow of craggy imposing mountains, glaciers, icebergs....  Well, the list goes on and on.

One appealing subject is the number of small churches in the countryside, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. This church, which is hard to see and looks even smaller against its rock backdrop, is just one example.

As you drive around the country, about the size of Kentucky and with a population of only a little over 300,000 people, you feel like you are in a magical fairyland. The volcanic base of the island has created a wide variety of compelling scenes, different from almost anywhere in the world.

Our group of 12 skilled photographers is creating incredibly beautiful images. It is quite a treat to be traveling with them, and to be in this wonderfully welcoming country.

1/2000 sec., f/10, ISO 800. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens on Canon 5D Mark III body, handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "In Iceland you can see the contours of the mountains wherever you go, and the swell of the hills. You are never hidden. You always feel exposed in that landscape."  --Hannah Kent

Monday, October 3, 2016

Flying High

Landed in Iceland late last night to prepare for the upcoming "Iceland - Fire and Ice" photo tour. It was a short and pleasant flight from the east coast of the US. This is going to be a very exciting and exhilarating trip with dozens of waterfalls, glaciers, an ice beach, black sand beaches, Icelandic horses, and sweeping vistas of mountains and geothermal areas.

The tour officially begins on Saturday, and with a dozen motivated and excited photographers we will explore many areas of this beautiful country. In the meantime I am cruising around the city of Reykjavik and some of the surrounding countryside. Everyone I have met has been charming, easy-going, helpful, and very welcoming. This is a country of warm people who welcome tourists.

So why this photo? It is a kittiwake, a fairly common seagull-like bird native to northern climates. But this is not a literal bird photo. The color and the shapes make it more of an interpretive art piece rather than a basic shot of a bird. When photographing any subject anywhere, it is important to capture not only the scene or the object, but the essence of the subject as well. It is your interpretation of the subject that makes your work stand out. At the end of the day, we all want our images to be well-received, and the more artistic ones seem to have more impact and more interest.

So do the literal approaches, but then push yourself further and look for more creative, artistic views. With nature and wildlife subjects, it is usually best to not compromise the appearance of the subject too much. You generally want the subject to still be recognizable, but you also want to reveal its nuances and essence in unique and interesting ways.

1/1000 sec at f/8, ISO 800. 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens on Canon 7D Mark II body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."  --Andre Gide

Friday, September 23, 2016

He Said, She Said

These two kittiwakes were having a screaming fit over something. Lots of squawking and wing flapping. Kind of comical really. We were on a boat trip in Glacier Bay National Park in search of whales, puffins, sea otters, and sea lions. But when photographing anywhere, it is important to be alert to any subjects that might be interesting to photograph.

Kittiwakes, similar to sea gulls, are fairly common in coastal Alaska. But they are lovely birds with their pure white feathers, and stand out beautifully against the blue-green glacial waters. The fight was the added element that helped to create an interesting image.

This was a bright sunny day, with strong sunlight on the bright white feathers. Lightroom helped to tone down the whites, and also brought up the shadows. An added touch of Saturation improved the color of the water.

1/640 sec., f/8, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens with Canon 1.4x extender for an effective focal length of 560mm. Canon 7D Mark II handheld on moving boat.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Birds are a miracle because they prove to us there is a finer, simpler state of being which we may strive to attain."  --Douglas Coupland

Sunday, September 18, 2016


The Great One, Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley), played peek-a-boo with us for hours. The low-hanging clouds stubbornly clung to the highest points, but the light played beautifully on the fresh snow. The clouds also created deep, dramatic shadows on the lower ridges.

Determining exposure in this situation can be difficult. With the light changing constantly, there are times when you just have to shoot, check the histogram frequently, and hope for the best. Since the dark areas in the foreground did not require much detail, and I wanted the snow-covered ridges to be the main subject, I made sure not to over-expose the whites. In addition, in post-production I used the Highlights slider in Lightroom to tone down the brightest whites so that all the texture in the whites showed up well.

I rely heavily on Lightroom, especially in high-contrast situations like this. I know that Lightroom can effectively tone down the bright areas, and bring out detail in dark areas as needed. I never use HDR, and rarely bracket exposures because I know what Lightroom can do. At the same time, I try to be very careful with the original exposure so that neither the lightest tones nor the darkest tones are too under- or over-exposed. The only way to make certain of that is to keep a careful eye on the histogram.

To help improve your photography and the look of your final images, the best gift you can give yourself is an in-depth Lightroom class. While online tutorials are good and can provide some basic information, and some one-day classes can help you get your feet wet, the best way to learn is to take a multi-day Lightroom workshop. It is the best way to learn the most effective and easiest ways to use Lightroom to catapult your images to a much higher level.

Special 2-day classes can be arranged for your camera club or photo group, and can be scheduled at the convenience of the group. Just get a group of at least 6 photographers (15 is the maximum size for Lightroom classes) and we'll get things scheduled. Email for more information.

1/5000, f/5.6, ISO 1600.  Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set at 70mm on Canon 7D Mark II. Handheld, shot from a moving vehicle.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection."  --Kim Collins

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Three Bears

We ventured out at dawn in search of whatever we could find on the recently concluded Brown Bears trip to Alaska. We were treated to this great scene of a mother and two cubs along the beach, with the mountains in the background.

The light level was so low that an ISO of 6400 was needed in order to get a good exposure. Because when shooting wildlife things can change in an instant, I chose to handhold the camera rather than use a tripod, in spite of the very low light.

While this image might give the impression that the three-some were not moving, in fact they were constantly changing positions. That is why rapid burst can enable you to capture some great images when events are occurring quickly.

It is not always appealing to get up before dawn in hopes of finding good light or good images, but when it pays off it always feels good.

This year's Alaska trips are over, but I am already looking forward to returning next year. Join me in Denali in September, or in Glacier Bay in July. Alaska is a prime destination for great photography of wildlife and sweeping scenics.

1/320 sec, f/7.1, ISO 6400. Canon 100-400mm lens set at 280mm on Canon 7D Mark II.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Bears keep me humble. They help me to keep the world in perspective and to understand where I fit on the spectrum of life. We need to preserve the wilderness and its monarchs for ourselves and for the dreams of children. We should fight for these things as if our life depended upon it, because it does."  --Wayne Lynch

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Yup, Still In Alaska

What a fabulous few weeks it has been. After Denali National Park I headed to Glacier Bay National Park with another group of excited and motivated photographers. We saw seals, sea otters, whales, kittwakes, and calving glaciers. And puffins. Beautiful puffins. This tufted puffin put on a show with his long and finally successful take-off.

Puffins basically run on the water in order to build up enough forward momentum to lift off. It is comical to watch, and seems to take a very long time for lift-off to finally occur.

In Alaska, much of the water is a spectacular shade of blue-ish green, reminiscent of tropical waters. But these waters are certainly not tropical. The color comes from the glaciers and the silt they carry with them as they move downstream and melt. 

There is so much wild beauty in Alaska. It has unspoiled wilderness areas, varied wildlife, and friendly helpful people. It is a great place to visit and photograph, which is why I return year after year after year.

Next year's trips are filling fast, so if Denali National Park in September, or Glacier Bay in July interests you, let me know soon before all the available spaces are gone.

1/1600 sec, f/8, ISO 800. Canon 100-400mm lens set at 400mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "For sheer majestic geography and sublime scale, nothing beats Alaska."  --Sam Abell

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Alaska Beauty

Once again Alaska delivered on its superb wildlife. During our spectacular week in Denali National Park we saw many caribou, like this male who was perfectly posed on a tundra-covered hillside, as well as moose, brown bear, and willow ptarmigan.

This is the end of the season, and all the wildlife we saw were in superb condition with healthy coats and strong bodies. This is their last chance to stock up on nutrition for the impending winter season. It is also the mating season for caribou and moose.

The fall colors on the tundra were wonderful as always and created a lovely carpet of color for all the wildlife.

We had a wonderful trip, and now I am moving on to the next leg of my Alaska sojourn with a new group. Tomorrow morning we leave for Glacier Bay National Park for whales, sea otters, puffins, bear, mountain goats and whatever else Mother Nature provides.

1/2000 sec., f/13, ISO 800.  Canon 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS II lens on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "There is harmony in autumn, and a lustre in its sky."  --Percy Bysshe Shelley

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Alaska, The Last Frontier

I am back in Alaska for my annual photo tours here, and happy to be here. Flying in yesterday we were greeted by snow-capped mountains and glaciers down below. The cool 60 degree afternoon was a welcome respite from the 90 degree summer heat back home.

The first of three photo tours over the next several weeks officially begins tomorrow  -  first Denali National Park, then Glacier Bay National Park for whales and glaciers, and finally Lake Clark National Park for brown bears  -  so today we took a short jaunt outside Anchorage along Turnagain Arm. The dramatic clouds were very punchy against the craggy mountains that flank the waterway. This black-and-white conversion was done in Lightroom to accentuate the contrast and texture.

The overall light level was low because of the heavy cloud cover, throwing the closest mountains into shadow. The brighter areas in the background stand out, and the large dark cloud adds drama to the scene.

Soon we will leave the coastal areas and head deep into the beautiful mountain country of Denali National Park. Stay tuned for photos and stories of adventure over the next few weeks.

1/640 sec., f/18, ISO 400. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set at 70mm on Canon 7D Mark II body, handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It is only in adventure that some people succeed in finding themselves."  --Andre Gide

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Bring Out The Beauty

In Lightroom you can go from yucky to yummy in a few easy steps. This gorgeous Lady's Slipper was on display at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. Lightroom helped to make this a more pleasing image. Compare the image below to the one above. 

Yes it is the same image. But the power of Lightroom helped to bring out the latent beauty and color, and also helped to darken a too-light background. This sort of improvement is easy to do and does not take much time. Usually an image can be optimized in Lightroom in 5 minutes or less. And of course you do not have to optimize each and every image, just the ones you like the best.

The main differences were created using three main aspects of Lightroom:
1. The Shadows and Highlights sliders;
2. Increasing saturation of the flower in the HSL (Hue Saturation Luminance) box; and
3. Darkening the green background in the HSL (Hue Saturation Luminance) box.

That's all there was to it. Quick and easy. 

1/125 sec at f/4.  ISO 1600.  Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Strive for continuous improvement instead of perfection."  -- Kim Collins

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

August Newsletter Is Here!

The August newsletter is out and ready for viewing. If you are not a subscriber you can see it here

As always, it has important information on photography and photo tours and workshops. 

Don't miss a single issue. If  you did not receive your free copy via email, send an email to us at, place YES in the subject line, and we will begin your free subscription right away. Easy. We never share or sell your email address, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.

But we hope you will find it helpful and will enjoy reading it.

This month's image is from Denali National Park in Alaska. I will be heading there in a few days to lead a group of excited photographers. We will see the sweeping Alaska mountain range, caribou, moose, grizzly bear and more. The 2017 trip has been announced and there are only 6 spaces left. Join me September 4 - 9, 2017 for the trip of a lifetime!

1/640 sec at f/13. ISO 400. Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens set at 37mm, on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world."  --John Muir

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Birds of a Feather

Generally we see egrets standing alone, searching for fish in shallow waters. But occasionally we see groups of them, either roosting in a tree or enjoying the same fishing hole. On this bright sunny July day in Bombay Hook, Delaware, the egrets were everywhere. Lots of Snowy Egrets, the smaller ones with yellow-orange feet, as well as Great Egrets, the largest of the species. All are beautiful long legged birds, graceful both on the ground and in the air.

Because I wanted to capture the feel of this group of birds, but wanted to single out one as the focal point, I waited until the one in front of the grasses was in a good position and not blocked by anything else. As always, I took a lot of images in hopes of getting just the right one. When photographing birds or wildlife, it is important to take a great many images. Even though the main subject might be relatively stationary, subtle changes in head position, eyes open or closed, and other variables happen imperceptibly, and it is better to have a lot of rejects than to miss that perfect moment. Shoot like crazy and delete later.

The best camera settings for birds or wildlife are:
-  set the shutter on High Speed burst, and
-  the autofocus on Continuous (Nikon) or AI Servo (Canon).

Use High Speed burst (if your camera gives you options) because the shutter will fire more rapidly, helping to assure that you capture that perfect moment. BUT it is not necessary to fire off more than 3 to 5 shots in a row. Take a small number of shots, and then stop for a few seconds to allow your camera to catch up with you. If you take too many in a row, your camera's buffer will fill and then will not allow you to take more images until it has processed all the shots you just took.

Use Continuous or AI Servo autofocus so that your camera will focus continuously as long as you have the focus button depressed. This is especially important when shooting moving subjects.

TECHNICAL DATA:  1/1250 at f/8.  ISO 400.  Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens with Canon 1.4x extender for a focal length of 560mm, on Canon 7D Mark II body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before."  --Robert Lynd

Monday, July 18, 2016

Now's The Time

Now's the time to decide. Is Denali National Park in Alaska on your bucket list? This is your chance to be there in 2017. Spend your days and nights deep inside the park where very few people ever get to go. Enjoy the unique wilderness of Denali in luxury in a comfortable lodge with chef-prepared meals. And best of all, have photographic opportunities of a lifetime. We have our own vehicle with naturalist driver to take us where the wildlife and the scenery are best. Day after day. It doesn't get any better than this.

The trip runs from September 2 - 8, 2017 when the fall colors of the tundra should be at peak. We meet in Anchorage and then head into Denali. Each day we are transported in our private vehicle to photograph wildlife like caribou, moose, brown bear, willow ptarmigan, pika, and migrating birds. And each day we are surrounded by spectacular scenery. The incredible snow-capped Alaska Range spreads out before us, punctuated by the warm colors of autumn.

Access to all shooting locations is relatively easy. There are no long hikes, and all your gear is transported on our vehicle. Except for the first and last nights in Anchorage, the trip includes all lodging and meals, all ground transportation and guide service, personal photographic instruction, image critiques, and tips. 

This trip is limited to 10 photographers and there are only 6 spaces left. So call or email now for rates and more details. Join me in Alaska next year for one of the best and most spectacular photography trips imaginable.

1/160 sec.,  f/18,  ISO 800.  Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens set at 70mm on Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open."  --Jawaharlal Nehru

Friday, July 8, 2016

Super Curvy

Anthurium plants are very difficult to photograph successfully. This particular one had a beautiful curving leaf with beautiful light on it. It was just a matter of finding the best angle to show off the curve, and at the same time incorporate the warm tones. I took dozens of images from different angles and this is the only one that worked.

When photographing flowers and plants, it can take some effort to find the best angle. Often you do not know whether you were successful until you get home and download. It is not always easy to judge the success of an image by viewing it on your camera's view screen. For some reason it often takes the "big screen" to show you what you really have.

For that reason, I always recommend taking a lot of shots from many different camera angles and heights. Give yourself every opportunity to get great shots. Stalk the plant. Look at it, REALLY look at it, to determine what will give you what you are looking for. Look for complementary colors, leading lines, and pleasing shapes. Explore every angle. Leave no stone unturned and you will be rewarded for your efforts.

1/3200 sec.,  f/3.2,  ISO 400. Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro lens on Canon 7D Mark II, handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Winners are ordinary people with extraordinary determination."  --unknown

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Beach Blues

For many people this is a beach weekend. If you are not on a beach somewhere, you might wish you were. Holiday weekends in the summer conjure up visions of lazy days and relaxation. And that is what this image is all about. No hurry, no worries. All is calm.

This simple still life was made late in the day when the beach was already in shadow. That, plus the darkening blue sky, created the blue tones on the sand. I chose to compose this so that the lines went diagonally across the image, and the shell was about on the 1/3rd line. The warmth of the shell against the cool blue of the sand combined to create a cohesive image that says sum-sum-summertime.

1/640 sec.,  f/7.1,  ISO 200.  Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens on Canon 7D Mark II body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."  --Jacques Cousteau

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Birds Of A Feather

Photographing birds is great fun, and can be very exciting. Of course it can also be pretty darned difficult to get sharp images when they flit past you at lightning speed. So there are times when photographing calm, stationary birds is a nice change of pace.

A flock of captive flamingos was enjoying their water hole and generally moving fairly slowly. It gave me time to study their feathers and look for shapes and swirls that would translate well to an abstract image.

There was nice light on this bird, creating highlights and shadows, and providing a three-dimensional look to the feathers. As photographers we live and die by the light. Great light helps us make great images.

Regarding composition, the swirling feathers comprising the bottom half of the image create a curving base that brings the eye up into the flatter feathers along the bird's back. There is a slight variation of color in the feathers, and hidden under a few of them are lovely patches of strong pink tones.

Shutter Speed 1/1000 sec.  Aperture 7.1.  ISO 400.  Canon 400mm f/5.6L lens on Canon 5D Mark III body.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality."  --Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Rose By Any Other Name

Roses are beautiful both in color and shape. When you look carefully at a bed of rose bushes, you will find many different variations of shapes. This one had a lovely spiral at the center, and sweeping petals surrounding it.

The color was a lovely soft peach, and that was going to be the version for today's blog. But when I looked at it more carefully, I thought that perhaps it would look softer and more dimensional in black and white. So I began experimenting with it in Lightroom.

Sure enough, this black and white version really appealed to me. It was a quick and easy transition from color to black and white in Lightroom. I used the B&W controls in the "HSL / Color / B&W " section in the Develop module. When you click on B&W in the heading, the image is converted to black and white. But that is just the beginning. By moving the color sliders in that box, you can control the lightness or darkness of any colors in the original image. Lightroom still "sees" the image in color, even though we see it in black and white.

I wanted a very light, ethereal look and because the predominant color was peach, moving the red slider lightened the rose nicely. I also reduced Clarity to -30 to create a softer look. A few finishing touches with the Whites, Blacks, Highlights, and Shadows sliders, and the final image was created.

Shutter Speed 1/1250 sec.  Aperture f/2.8.  ISO 200.  Lens: Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS macro.  Camera: Canon 7D Mark II.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."  --William Shakespeare

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Mellow Yellow

The Creative and Impressionist Flowers photo workshop ended today, and what a workshop it was! We saw some exquisite flowers at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, including gorgeous roses. The participants created some beautiful images and quickly got the hang of new techniques like shallow depth of field and back button focus.

This yellow rose sported some water droplets left over from a morning rain, which added to the beauty of the undulating petals. Shooting straight down on the center of the flower created a circular main subject, while the curving outer petals provided support and added interest.

When doing macro photography of flowers, shallow depth of field enhances the feeling of softness and dimensionality. Not all parts of the image have to be razor sharp, but it helps to have something important sharp, like the small round center in this case.

I use autofocus, and set only one focus point visible in the center of the viewfinder. That enables me to quickly focus on the area I want sharp, knowing that the autofocus will lock onto that exact area. It is quick, easy, and almost foolproof.

Shutter Speed 1/1250.  Aperture f/4.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 100mm macro f/2.8L IS.  Camera: Canon 7D Mark II.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change."  --Buddha

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Power at Your Fingertips



It's time once again to demonstrate the power of image optimization software. If you are not using some sort of software to extract the latent beauty in your images, you are missing out on a very important element of your photography.

My software of choice is Lightroom, probably the most popular and easiest to use of anything out there. I teach Lightroom workshops several times a year, and it is always so gratifying to help someone FINALLY see how nice their photography really is. Often people are frustrated because their images lack punch or rich colors. Well, you can improve most images in just a matter of minutes, and the software is VERY easy to learn and to use. You do not have to be a computer expert, and you do not even have to like using your computer very much.

This image was brought from being gray and dull to being colorful and detailed in just a matter of minutes. It took only 7 quick changes in Lightroom to get from the Before image to the After image. Click on each image to see it larger, and you will see all the detail brought out in the head, and the color in the wings and the water.

Lightroom uses sliders to increase or decrease different aspects of an image. For this image, I did the following:

1. Cropped the image.
2. Moved the Shadows slider to the right to lighten the shadows.
3. Moved the Whites slider to the right to brighten them.
4. Moved the Clarity slider to the right 30 points.
5. Used the Brush Tool to pinpoint areas on the head and lighten them.
6. Moved the Saturation Slider to the right to intensify colors.
7. Moved the Noise Reduction "Luminance" slider to the right to +30.

So in under 5 minutes a disappointing image, colorless and lacking in contrast, was made much more interesting and is a more realistic representation of what I actually saw.

If you or your camera club is interested in an In-Depth Lightroom workshop, contact me at  to discuss a small workshop for just your group. These workshops are hands-on, detailed, and filled with a great deal of personalized instruction. Lightroom workshops are generally scheduled from December through March.

Shutter Speed 1/1250 sec.  Aperture f/10.  ISO 400.  Lens: Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS with built-in 1.4x extender. Camera: Canon 7D Mark II.  Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere."  --Chinese Proverb

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Misty Mood

Adding emotion or mood to an image can be a powerful tool. And mist or fog seems to appeal to nearly everyone. It provides a sense of quiet calm and a bit of mystery. Knowing when to expect misty conditions will help you find good shooting spots.

In general, spring and fall provide the ideal weather conditions for misty mornings. When it is quite cool overnight, but warm during the day, mist or fog will often form in the early morning in low-lying areas and along waterways. But it can burn off quickly once the sun comes up, so you have to make your best guess as to where to be before sunrise.

This shot in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies was made at sunrise along a small lake. There was a slight breeze which moved the mist quickly along the lake surface and the scene was constantly changing. I shot many images as the scene morphed in front of my eyes, and this is my favorite. There is plenty of mist to provide that sense of mystery I mentioned, with a bit of an opening to allow the strong autumn colors to blaze through brilliantly.

To pick the mornings with the best chances of mist or fog, check the long-range weather forecast. Find the days that are predicted to have the coolest nights followed by warm days. Those conditions will set things up for you. The cool air overnight will drop below the warm air layer above, and will sit close to the ground. Then as the day begins, the air temperature will start to warm and the mist formed will rise. It will be a pleasant, quiet time to be out photographing, and with any luck Mother Nature will cooperate to provide a wonderful scene before your eyes.

Shutter Speed 1/125 sec.  Aperture f/5.6.  ISO 3200.  Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS, set at 100mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Gitzo tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead and Wimberley Sidekick.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Every morning is a fresh beginning. Every day is a world made new. This moment - this day - is as good as any moment in all eternity. This is my day of opportunity."  --Dan Custer

Thursday, June 2, 2016


Summer is coming, and while we have started seeing ads for getting our beach bodies in shape for those itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikinis, things are a bit different from a photographer's perspective. For us, it means getting our gear ready so we can stroll the beaches or wander through gardens or roam the highways for some wonderful and unique images.

This is a great time of year to be outside in search of fun in the sun. This image was made while walking on the beach on a sunny afternoon. Don't let bright sunlight deter you from shooting. We hear about the magic light of early morning or late afternoon / evening, and it is indeed beautiful light. But there are great shots to be had when the sun is high in the sky as well.

The main thing to be aware of in mid-day sunshine is shadows. They can be very hard-edged, and also can be quite dark. Look for areas where the darkest shadows are not going to interfere with the main subject OR where they become part of the composition. In this shot, because of my position relative to the sun, there are no serious shadows. There is a slight shadow under the bird's wing but it is a tiny part of the image and does not grab your attention.

Two primary elements make this image work. First, it is an example of a decisive moment. It was taken a split second before the water reached the bird. You know that in the next instant the water will move forward and the bird will either walk or fly away. Second, the strong diagonal line created by the white foam creates a leading line and brings your eye directly to the main subject, the bird.

Supporting elements are the bird's reflection, and the combination of the warm-toned sand against the cool-toned water.

Shutter Speed 1/800 sec.  Aperture f/7.1.  ISO 200.  Lens: Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS, set at 200mm.  Camera: Canon 30D (an oldie but a goodie!).  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "And so with the sunshine ... I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer."  --F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Wild and Wooly

Wildlife is exciting to photograph. But capturing good images can be an elusive target. Often the animals are not where you expect them to be, or they are too far away even for a long lens, or they are hidden in the trees or brush.

So when a good opportunity presents itself, you and your camera HAVE to be ready. This pronghorn antelope in Yellowstone National Park was slowly walking through a large field, not far from the road. It was the perfect opportunity to get some lovely portrait shots of this handsome animal.

Here are some basic pointers to help you get good wildlife images.

--  Shutter Priority (Nikon) or Tv (Canon)
--  Auto Focus
--  ISO 400 for starters (increase as needed for recommended shutter speeds below)
--  Shutter Speed no slower than 1/800 sec. for wildlife, or 1/1250 sec. for birds in flight
--  Aperture will set itself
--  Rapid Burst (the fastest your camera will allow, but fire off only 3 or 4 shots in succession)
--  Continuous Focus (Nikon) or AI Servo (Canon)
--  Back Button Focus (find info on how to set this for your camera body on YouTube or Google)
--  Viewfinder set for only ONE focus point (multiple focus points cause auto focus to be less accurate)

--  Eyes open (catchlights are nice but not mandatory)
--  good body position
--  good head position
--  predict direction of movement (for this image, it helped to be prepared to continue moving to my left since he was walking in that direction)
--  keep your distance (most national parks and other areas have stated minimum distances one must be from any wild animal, which varies based on the animal's running speed / size / aggressiveness;  remember, you cannot outrun a charging animal no matter how fit you are)
--  if you have a choice, focus your attention on the healthiest-looking individuals
--  if you have a choice, find a position that will provide the best background (not cluttered or too bright compared to the lighting on the animal)

--  Once you set your camera for Back Button Focus, use it all the time regardless of subject. It is how all cameras should be set out of the factory, and why they are not is a mystery to me.
--  When using Rapid Burst, do NOT shoot the entire burst before removing your finger from the shutter button. Shoot only 3 or 4 shots and then remove your finger from the shutter button. Wait a second or two, and then begin shooting again. This will prevent you from filling the Buffer (which can cause your camera to stop functioning until all the images have been processed by the camera and sensor).
-- Learn exactly what ISO is, and how to use it to your best advantage.
-- Learn and get comfortable with Continuous Focus (AI Servo), and understand how it works.

Using and understanding all this information will catapult your photography to a much higher level very quickly. None of it is hard to learn or to use. Try it, you'll like it!

Shutter Speed 1/1600 sec.  Aperture f/8.  ISO 1600.  Lens: Canon 400mm f/5.6L + 1.4x Canon extender for an effective focal length of 560mm.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE:  "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."  - Ghandi

Saturday, May 21, 2016

This Month's Newsletter Is Out!

The May newsletter is out. Each month the free newsletter is sent to thousands of subscribers. It is filled with educational information, tips, news on upcoming photo workshops and tours, and more.

If you are not already a subscriber, it is easy to become one. Just send an email to and put YES in the subject line. That's all there is to it.

To see this month's newsletter, click on this link

We hope you will enjoy it and will start your subscription today. Learn some things that you didn't know you did not know.

Shutter Speed 1/200 sec.  Aperture f/4.  ISO 800.  Lens: Canon 100mm macri f/2.8L IS.  Camera: Canon 5D Mark III.  Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know."  --Daniel J. Boorstin