Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Alaska - The Last Frontier

This is one of the most spectacular views in all of Alaska, and is in Denali National Park. It is Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) and part of the Alaska Range reflected in the aptly named Reflection Pond. It was taken pre-dawn, before the sun broke the horizon. At over 20,000 feet, it is the tallest mountain in all of North America.

When shooting in pre-dawn conditions, it is best to arrive about an hour early when it is still dark. That gives you time to set up your equipment and be prepared for the show that Mother Nature provides. I always recommend going to the location the day before to get the lay of the land, and to determine the approximate spot where you want to set up your camera and tripod.

Because you arrive in the dark, it helps to have a headlamp to light your way, and to make sure that  you are properly placing the camera on the tripod. To make it easy on yourself, set the ISO,  f/stop and shutter speed the night before when you can see what you are doing, and have one less thing to do when you arrive in the morning. Of course these settings will change quickly as the sky lightens, but at least it will get you in the ballpark at the beginning.

With your camera on Aperture Priority, set the ISO at 400 or 800, and the aperture at around f/8. The shutter speed will set itself. That will give you decent depth of field at the beginning. As the sky lightens, you can go with a smaller f/stop (f/16 and smaller) and/or a faster shutter speed. You want enough depth of field to render the scene as sharp as possible.

Also it is best to use a cable release or remote trigger to minimize camera shake. Yes, even on a tripod you can introduce vibration when pressing the shutter button. If you do not have a separate shutter release, you can set your camera's timer to a 2-second delay. That will give the camera 2 seconds to stop vibrating after you have pressed the shutter button.

If you want to put yourself in this scene, come join me in Denali National Park September 2 - 8. We stay in a lovely lodge only about a mile from this location, and we pass it nearly every day. It doesn't get much better than that! There is only 1 opening left so let me know right away if you are interested. Details are on the website   http://awakethelight.com/denali-national-park/ 

In addition to incredible mountain scenery and sweeping vistas, we will see grizzly bear, caribou, and moose. We will be there at the time of peak fall color, and the tundra will be ablaze in reds, golds, and yellows.

We have our own large vehicle with an experienced naturalist driver. Everyone has a window seat and plenty of room to spread out. Only a select few are allowed this deep into the park. Awake The Light is fortunate to be one of only two photo tour companies allowed this type of access. We will have incredible photographic opportunities each and every day.

1/30 sec at f/8, ISO 400.  Canon 5D Mark III body with Canon 17-40mm f/4L lens set at 24mm. Gitzo tripod with ballhead.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied. It speaks in silence to the very core of your being."  --Ansel Adams

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. 


Details on the website here    

and in the Special Announcement here   

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

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!

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.

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



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.

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