Saturday, June 30, 2018

Ahhhhhh... Alaska

Summer in Alaska. A special time. A rapid growing season with so many hours of daylight. Time for wildlife to bulk up for the upcoming rough winter.

Alaska is one of my favorite places. I am here for two separate photo tours  -  a boat-based whale-watching week in the Inside Passage, followed by a grizzly bears trip to Lake Clark National Park. What a wildlife bonanza we will have.

I am in Juneau for a few preliminary days before the tours begin. These grasses line the shore with remnants of snowy peaks behind. This is pure Alaska - beautiful, uncomplicated, nature at its finest.

I always love coming back to Alaska each year. Next year's trips are already scheduled  -  Glacier Bay National Park, June 25 - 30, 2019;  and Alaska Brown Bears Bonanza, July 15 - 21, 2019. Complete details are on the website here   AND here

If you have questions, email or call me and we can discuss all the details. Join me in Alaska for some great photo trips.

1/500 sec. at f/11, ISO 400. Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS II lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter."  -- Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Circle In The Square

This is a technique I have talked about before. It is done in Photoshop using the Polar Coordinates filter. It works better with some images than others, and you just have to experiment to determine which images work best for you.

This is a sunflower blooming outside a local restaurant. The technique is fairly simple. Once you have chosen an image, open it in Photoshop. Here are the steps to use:

1. Convert the image to an 8-bit image in Photoshop by going to Image > Mode > 8 bits/channel.
2. Click on Filter > Distort > Polar Coordinates. Click the circle next to Polar to Rectangular and click OK.
3. Then click on Image > Image Rotation > Flip Canvas Vertical.
4. Go back to Filter > Distort >Polar Coordinates. Click the circle next to Rectangular to Polar and click OK.

So go experiment and have fun!

1/200 sec. at f/22, ISO 400. Panasonic 100-400mm Leica f/4-6.3 set at 400mm on Panasonic G9 body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Experimentation is an active science."  -- Claude Bernard

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Never Say Never

When digital cameras were first introduced, I said I would NEVER go down that road. I was a film purist and liked it that way! But a few years later I got a digital camera “just for fun” and was immediately hooked.

Then when the mirrorless revolution began, I said the same thing. (I guess I never learn!) I had concerns about such small sensors, and the early entries in the mirrorless market had their share of technical and image quality issues.  But now that mirrorless cameras have been around for awhile, and many of the bugs and shortcomings have been resolved, I was invited to try it.

Thanks to Panasonic for loaning me a G9 body and several Leica lenses to test while I am in Alaska. And thanks to Gary at Hunts Photo and Video for introducing me to Panasonic and helping to make this happen.

Before continuing, you should know that I NEVER recommend equipment or software that I have not used myself AND that I like. And I do not receive any sort of compensation for making recommendations. I always try to give honest, unbiased information that you can then use to make the decisions that are best for you.

So with that said, here are my early impressions. So far I have done only one quick test, but frankly I was blown away. In all honesty, I was not expecting such great quality, ease of use, and such a quick learning curve. I will be doing much more testing once I get to Alaska next week, but if early results are any indication, the Panasonic G9 far exceeds my expectations.

The image above was shot with the Leica 100-400mm lens, set at 400mm (equivalent to 200-800mm on a full frame body). It is razor sharp, AND this image is significantly cropped. Here is the uncropped, unoptimized version.
RAW uncropped and unoptimized image
So at essentially 800mm and cropped significantly, the final image above is still sharp with very little noise.

The camera feels much like a normal  DSLR in your hands, but is somewhat smaller and much lighter. It is not a tiny mirrorless body like some others out there, but I like that because the controls on the top and the back are not so jammed together that you accidentally hit a button and change something unintentionally.

The menu is one of the easiest to navigate, and is much more intuitive than others I have seen. Adjustments are easy to make.

So far I have not found any shortcomings with the G9. I still need to test it on birds in flight, wildlife, and scenics, plus I want to give the 45mm Leica macro lens a spin around the block. So stay tuned for more info over the next few weeks.

If you have read other reviews online (and I have yet to find a bad review of the G9), and are ready to get one, Hunt’s Photo and Video is offering a special price to my clients. Click on this link (which shows the list price)     Then email Gary at Hunt’s to find out what their special price is. Gary’s email is
Be sure to mention you are a client of mine and he will provide you with the special price.    

FYI, there are many photo retailers to choose from, and I have tried many of them. They all sell pretty much the same things at similar prices. What sets Hunt’s apart is that they take a personal interest in their clients. They are small enough to provide individual attention, yet big enough to have access to nearly everything you might want.  Their prices are competitive, they offer free shipping, and they usually have most things in stock.

1/2500 sec at f/6.3, ISO 400. Panasonic Leica 100-400mm f/4-6.3 set at 400mm on Panasonic G9 body. Handheld.

TODAY’S QUOTE: “Never say never. Never is a long, undependable time, and life is too full of rich possibilities to have restrictions placed upon it.”  --Gloria Swanson

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Line, Color, Texture, and Light

This simple image has appeal, but why? Because it has several elements that speak loudly in spite of  the simplicity  -  the lines of the cactus plant, the monochromatic greens, the texture of the edges, and the light that shows roundness and almost glows.

Often images that have only one or two colors have powerful appeal. There are fewer elements to deal with, and overall there can be a calming effect. And because there are very few elements, it is important that the quality of the light be a beneficial supporting player.

So try this. Set an assignment for yourself. Go in search of subjects that have only one or two colors. Walk around the subject if possible. Look for the best light direction and the best quality of light. I recommend shooting on overcast days since the light will be softer, exposure will be easier, and there will not be hard shadows or bright highlights to become a distraction.

If you get some images you like, email them to me at
I always enjoy seeing what can be created!

1/640 sec. at f/3.2, ISO 400. Canon 100mm macro f/2.8L IS lens on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new."  --Albert Einstein

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Alaska Grizzly Bears July 2019

I'm excited that in a few short weeks I'll be back in Alaska, running the grizzly bear photo tour at the most incredible bear location anywhere. I've already reserved the lodge for next year, and the trip will be July 15 -21, 2019. This is the best place to photography grizzlies in the wild. The bears are everywhere, but calm, photogenic, playful, and easy to photograph.

We see mom's and cubs, teenagers mock fighting, and males calmly striding through their domain. We see them in the water, clamming, nursing, fishing, and frolicking in the fields. The variety of behaviors we observe keeps us clicking all day long. And all this with two incredible backdrops - the mountains of Lake Clark National Park on one side, and the rich waters of the Cook Inlet on the other.

About a one-hour flight out of Anchorage, we stay in a lovely pure Alaska lodge that is reserved for just our group. That means that everything moves at our schedule. We have our own guide and ATV vehicle to take us and all our gear each day to where the bear action is best. The lodge has its own superb chef who prepares all our meals. So we are in the wild with bears, yet are able to enjoy the luxury of a comfortable and beautiful lodge, great food, and our own transportation. It doesn't get any better than that!

Plus there is an added bonus! One day we'll take a short boat ride to a nearby puffin breeding island. We'll spend part of a day photographing these beautiful and entertaining birds. It is an experience not to be missed!

Detailed information is on the website here


Email or call for more information, or to register. 

For your security, we accept all registrations

and payments by phone at 757-773-0194.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

JUST ANNOUNCED - Alaska Photo Trips 2019

The 2019 photo tours and workshops calendar is being rolled out. 

The first ones to be announced are two Alaska trips for next summer:

Glacier Bay National Park,  June 25 - 30, 2019


Brown Bears Bonanza,  July 15 - 21, 2019

Details are in our June newsletter at this link

Each trip is a photographer's dream with great wildlife 

and breathtaking scenery. 


For more details, questions, or to register, 


or call 757-773-0194 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Drama Queen

Black & White conversions can result in very dramatic images. Once the color is stripped away, we can see the form, shapes, and tones much more clearly.

This image was taken in the Grand Canyon between snow storms. The dark cloudy sky looks much more ominous in black and white than it did in color. I find the best ways to convert images to black and white is to use either Silver Efex Pro or Lightroom.

For dramatic scenes, don't hesitate to go a little over the top to deepen the blacks. But be careful to not block them up totally; you want to maintain a bit of detail in most of the darkest tones.

1/400 sec at f/8, ISO 200. Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Drama is very important in life. Everything can have drama if it's done right. Even a pancake."  --Julia Child

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Welcome The Wind

Sometimes the wind is a benefit when photographing flowers. Normally we want sharp images with no sign of motion, but when the wind is blowing it can be a benefit. Use it to your best advantage.

On this very windy day at a botanical gardens I gave up trying to get sharp images. The wind was just too strong. So I took another direction, and made images USING the wind rather than fighting it.

In addition to using a slow shutter speed of 1/3rd of a second, I also moved the camera diagonally during exposure from upper left to lower right.

So when the wind is strong, go with a slow shutter speed and see what you can get!

1/3rd sec. at f/32, ISO 100. Canon 100mm macro f/2.8 lens on Canon 5D Mark III body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts his sails."  --William Arthur Ward