August 17, 2017

Practicing Photography for the Solar Eclipse

You've no doubt realized by now that a total solar eclipse will dash across the continental United States next Monday, August 21, 2017.  If you plan to photograph the show, you should already have your solar filter for your camera and a pair of solar glasses for viewing the eclipse directly. Now is a perfect time to test your equipment and accessories to be sure you know where to point your lens and what settings to use before the excitement begins.

First Test Exposure of the Sun
2 seconds, f/11, ISO 100

Evaluative metering
168mm equivalent focal length

Check NASA's web site for when you can see the eclipse. Where I live in western Montana, the sun will be about 92% eclipsed. The eclipse begins at 10:15am with the maximum effect at 11:31am and ends by 12:52pm MT.

Best Test Exposure of the Sun
1/25 second, f/11, ISO 100

Spot metering
448mm equivalent focal length

I took my equipment out to a local park where I have a clear view of the eastern sky and tested for exposure and framing at the time when the eclipse will occur. Here's some of the things I discovered.

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July 31, 2017

Improving Your Photographs

The PBS show Rare: Creatures of the Photo Ark  highlights the efforts of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore to document the world's endangered species with studio style portraits. It is a worthy project and watching the show provides you with insight into what professional photographers do to capture their images.

On the program's website, Joel provides a dozen tips for better photos. Among my favorites are #2 Good photographs have nice light, a clean background and an interesting subject.


#4 To get good nature photographs, you need to shoot before sunrise and after sunset. And #5 you need a tripod and a cable release to ensure a sharp photo under these conditions.

Sunrise, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Las Vegas, Nevada

Check out the complete list at Joel's Photography Tips.

July 24, 2017

Great Photos in the Middle of the Day

If you've read very many articles either online or in books about the best time to photograph outdoors, you have no doubt heard the recommendation to photograph during the "golden hours" around sunrise and sunset. Most of these articles suggest you use the middle of the day to scout or take a nap. But you can make great photos in any kind of light, even that of midday sun.



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July 20, 2017

Understanding Color for Creative Effects

Many photographers make color images without consciously paying attention to the relationship of different hues in their pictures. Understanding the basics of color theory can help you create photographs with more impact. The opposite, or complementary, colors of blue and yellow in the picture below are a large part of its appeal.


Understanding color theory also helps you edit your photos more effectively. Keeping the RGB/CMY color wheel in mind helps you know which color to add to your picture to neutralize an unwanted color cast, for example.


Combining equal amounts of opposite colors creates a neutral color of white, gray or black, depending on the original brightness of the colors. Adding the appropriate amount of magenta to the first photo below removes the green color cast that makes the second photo more appealing.


Color Theory and Photography: A Primer on B&H's Explora web site gives a great introduction to basic color theory along with examples to illustrate the ideas. Well worth the read!


July 17, 2017

Fall 2017 Classes in Missoula Open for Registration

I'm happy to announce my fall camera and photo editing classes at The Lifelong Learning Center in Missoula, Montana, are now available for registration. I have a full schedule of beginning and intermediate courses designed primarily for people with interchangeable lens cameras (DSLR or mirrorless). Read the descriptions below for more information.
  • Getting to Know Your Digital SLR Camera
  • Better Landscape Photos
  • Creative Camera Techniques
  • Photography Challenge
  • Shooting & Processing Digital Camera Raw Files
I hope you can join me!