Wednesday, February 21, 2018


I study trees a lot when I walk in the forest...these two images are a couple of trees after a brief snow storm before all the snow was blown off them. To me, trees are some of the most difficult subjects to photograph because of their unusual shapes, size and because, often, in groups they can appear chaotic.  It is worth practicing on learn to organize from the chaos which can help with other types of compositions...they are pattern, texture, and difficulty all at once...the image below is one of my more successful attempts with trees.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Photograph what you love!

There is something important for you to know: you do not have forever, all you have is time.  Life is finite, do not waste it photographing things that don't appeal to you.  Of course, there will be times that you have to do that: at events, or family gatherings. But on the whole, if you are out photographing alone or on a tour or workshop, don't go crazy snapping shots of everything you see...wait until something moves you emotionally, those will be your best images.  It is important to practice and know your camera even in the dark; know the settings you will need to achieve your result...nothing is worse than messing around with settings while the light fades and disappears. I have a friend who shoots with me often; one night the sun was fading fast, we had gotten to our spot later than expected, but I had already set up my camera with 3 programmed settings and got the shots. He was struggling with his aperture, ISO and shutter speed, by the time he was ready, the sunset was over...this has happened numerous times to him.
Know what you need to get the shot, have your ND grads and polarizer ready if needed..if you don't have time, bracket your can layer them in Photoshop...
The image today is one I took at a small brook nearby...I may have taken 50 different shots of the brook, but this was the only one that appealed to me when I was looking for compositions...I loved the translucence of the water as it rushed over the leaves...don't expect every image to be wonderful...I am happy if I get one great shot out of 100 or 200 exposures...

Friday, January 26, 2018

Aging and photography

   Recently I have aged beyond 70 still is a shock to me;  sometimes it seems to me that I am still young but when I look in the mirror the reality hits really hard. My photography is still one of the most important things in my life: my creative outlet producing true moments of happiness, when I can focus on taking images of something that is beautiful or that is in some way moving emotionally. Last July there was a week aboard a steel sailboat in Disko Bay, Greenland.  It was absolutely amazing when our boat first sailed into Disko bay from Ilullisat harbor and those massive icebergs were all around us. It was night. The time to photograph icebergs in Greenland is in summer at night, during the time of the midnight sun: the light can be amazing and the color of the icebergs striking. The nights are cold when sailing from dusk to dawn, and the glacial winds are freezing...but it was all worth it. Here are a few images from that voyage; I hope you enjoy them. There are more on my website...keep photographing and don't lose your joy for life and photography ever...

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

After 12 years of using a digital camera

I first began using a digital camera in 2005: it was a 2 megapixel camera...I was psyched!  Wow...two megapixels.  Today that camera would be junk, but it was my introduction to digital photography and I still keep it as a memory to those early days. The Canon Mark III is my choice today, with a Sony a6000 backup...I did own the Canon Mark IV for almost a month before returning it for a refund..why?  Because the LCD, no matter what settings I used, never gave me the rich images I could see on my Mark III may sound stupid and ridiculous, but I am a visual photographer; if the image on the LCD doesn't give me the tones and depth of color I need to give me an idea of how an image needs to be edited, I don't want that camera...sometimes, you have to realize, that technology and the latest model of camera aren't going to always be better for you my suggestion is:  if you love the camera in your hand, don't upgrade just to have the newest technology, sometimes a camera you are accustomed to using that is giving you what you want is all you need.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Personal Projects

This is for you and for me.  It is about the importance of finding interesting things to shoot during a normal day...not on a tour or a workshop, but at home or at work or out walking. Why is it important to have a personal project? Is it important or a waste of time?
Personal projects are one of the most important things you can do with a phone or point and shoot camera. You carry a phone around because it is small and relatively obscure; easily put in a pocket or pocketbook, but it is your link to better photography if you know how to think creatively. You will develop a better eye for composition if you use it regularly.
I often give myself little projects for the day or week when I am out walking my dog or driving around doing errands. Last week, even though I hate to compose with trees because they are so darn chaotic and difficult to make into a composition, the idea was to photograph trees for one week whenever I was out in the woods. Therefore, whenever I was walking the dog, I had my point and shoot or phone with me: looking, getting cranky, pulling ticks off, then looking for compositions again.
Attached are a few images from my week, they are not great shots that will win competitions, but who cares?
They are my practice images, forcing me to try harder to make sense of the forest and maybe learning a little more about graphic elements. You can photograph anything for a day or week..forks with different lighting, light bulbs, doorknobs, light fixtures; I have even stooped to photographing an old toilet discarded near a shed.
Don't be lazy; make the effort.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Creating Images with Impact

 All of us have seen photographs that move us emotionally. Images with impact or mood that have an elusive "something" that makes us go wow. It might be the color, light, composition or subject, but how it is presented to the viewer is what makes that image special. The Canadian Rockies are amazing in the right light, but pretty dull when cloud or fog covered. The ocean can be beautiful but it can be boring if the composition and light are bad. 
  Since I am primarily a landscape photographer, the light is critical to my images.  In the wrong light or bad light, images can really fall flat...I speak from experience. 
  There is a learning curve to photography, it takes time to develop an eye for good composition and a feel for has taken me years of practice (and looking at photographs and paintings by masters of photography and art) to get somewhat proficient. But there are many days when my images fall flat and must be deleted: don't be afraid to delete the junk! Some people never delete images until they see them on the computer, however, I will delete in camera if the composition fails when I review them on the LCD. You must be cutthroat about your images, because as good as you may be in Photoshop or Lightroom, if your shots are bad, admit it..why waste time editing something that should be deleted. Some people don't like to shoot at the same places; that's ridiculous...I keep going back to Beavertail or other areas on the coast because weather is always changing; even my attitude changes day to day..I might be cranky one night, but in a good mood the next: it will have an impact on how I photograph.
   Here are a few examples of what I am discussing.  The first one is taken at Ponagansett Falls in Scituate. Be patient!  This night the sky looked like a dud, but as the sun set some clouds appeared on the horizon and things began to change..These three images were all taken within a half hour of each other.
The next image is a wide angle taken at Castle Hill in Newport. I was moving around on the rocks looking for a good composition about an hour before sunset. Always try to get to your location at least an hour prior to sunset; it gives you time to scout for the best spot and do test shots. The second shot was taken as the sun was setting and the clouds and rocks formed diagonals leading to the lighthouse.
The next image is in the Canadian Rockies...the first shot was taken without sun. It was cloudy and foggy but it was worth waiting for the sun to break through the clouds, because it burned off a lot of the cloud cover revealing the mountains in the background.
The last one is the combined use of twilight and slow shutter speed. The first ferris wheel shot was taken when it was not moving but was somewhat lit near twilight. The second, which is obviously better, was taken at twilight when there were passengers and the wheel was turning.

   I know a lot of photographers will tell you they shoot only at F8, the sweet spot on their lenses..that is nonsense. I shoot at F16, 18, 22...the diffraction is minimal with the newer lenses; I need to shoot at those apertures to allow light to hit the sensor a long time to get the effect I am seeking; F8 doesn't work for me unless there is wind, then I will use it on the foreground to stop movement..also, I use every filter imaginable on my lenses: soft edge grads, hard edge grads, NDs, polarizers, reverse NDs: whatever it takes to give me what I want... 
To me, the most important thing about getting an image with impact is looking at the world with awe. Nothing is jaded to me. Think of everything you see as if it were for the first time.