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.

Read more...

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.



Read more...

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!

    July 13, 2017

    Photographing the Solar Eclipse 2017

    As you may know by now, on August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse will occur whose path of totality spans the entire United States. Even if you are not in the complete shadow of the moon hiding the sun, you can still get interesting photos of this astronomical event.

    May 1993
    Partial Solar Eclipse
    Las Vegas, NV

    Read more...

    June 28, 2017

    Preparing a Custom Print Size for Photo Lab Printing

    Recently one of my photography students wanted to have a stitched panoramic image printed at a local photo lab. This lab did not offer the print size she wanted in a panoramic proportion. When she got her print back, it was not as large as she wished.

    Panorama of the Yellowstone River and Absaroka Mountains, Montana

    If you ever crop a photo to a custom proportion such as a panorama, you can prepare the image so that it can be printed on a larger piece of photo paper and then you can trim it to size afterwards.

    Read more...

    June 19, 2017

    Calling Women Photographers


    Are you feeling stuck in a photographic rut? Are you looking for a different workshop experience than just how to operate your camera or Lightroom? Are you seeking more of a retreat and less of an adventure atmosphere? Then consider joining Eileen Rafferty and Elizabeth Stone in Montana this fall for Creativity for Women.

    Read more....

    May 24, 2017

    Summer Photography Classes Filling Fast!

    My summer photography classes at the Lifelong Learning Center in Missoula, MT, are filling fast. There is still space in Hands-on People Photography as well as Night & Low Light Photography at the Fair. 

    Want to make better pictures of your family and friends? Join me and co-teacher Bret Tate for Hands-on People Photography, June 6 & 10. We'll have a classroom session to help you with the best camera settings for proper exposure and how to make those blurred backgrounds. along with information about the best light. Then we will practice during a Saturday field shoot and critique. Come join us!



    Expand what you can do at the fair by learning how to photograph carnival lights as well as presenters and fair goers in the dim light of exhibit halls in Night & Low Light Photography at the Fair, August 8-10 & 15. We'll meet in the classroom to get tips on both subjects and then practice two nights at the Western Montana Fair. The following week we'll share our images back in the classroom. It will be great fun!



    Photography in the Field, June 1-22, is full, but you can add your name to the waiting list in case someone drops.

    See you this summer!

    May 17, 2017

    Beyond What the Camera Captured

    Many of my photography students have no experience with developing and printing their photos in the black and white darkroom. So it is difficult for them to imagine how an image that they like as it came from the camera could be improved or even transformed by using photo editing tools. If you are like them, then you may find this video illuminating.


    Brooks Jensen, editor of Lenswork Publishing, illustrates the range of changes it's possible to make using Lightroom. Some images have very few edits and others have extensive work applied. The point is not how to use Lightroom (such adjustments could be accomplished with a wide variety of photo editing programs), but to illustrate the creative potential that comes after we click the shutter button. I hope you enjoy it.

    Beyond What the Camera Captured by Brooks Jensen

    May 15, 2017

    Discovering Projects in Your Photo Library

    After we've become competent with shutter speeds, apertures and ISO settings on our cameras, one of our challenges is how to maintain our interest and passion for photography. One option is to move beyond making the "trophy" image and begin to work with photographic projects. A project results in a collection of related images (usually somewhere between 5 and 30 pictures) that tell a story, illustrate a concept or explore a technique. But how do you come up with a group of photos?

    Dreams of Blue

    In his podcast Brooks Jensen, editor of Lenswork Publishing, shares a technique he learned many years ago in a workshop with David Bayles (co-author of Art & Fear). It is so effective that Brooks has used it ever since to find the gems hidden in his photographic library.

    The Bayles Exercise podcast

    I had a similar experience from looking through my photos when I discovered a design that I'd been using without realizing it. I have frequently photographed a series of vertical lines in a horizontal frame. I have applied to a variety of natural and man-made objects.

    Rhythm of Vertical Lines

    If you are searching for a way to make projects out of the work you have already completed, take time to listen to Brooks' suggestion. I'm sure it will help you.

    April 3, 2017

    Summer Photography Classes Begin May 12

    My summer photography classes through the Lifelong Learning Center in Missoula, Montana, are now open for registration.

    On May 12 you can spend a day Getting to Know Your Digital SLR Camera. Learn about different exposure modes and when to use them for better focus and exposure in your pictures. Understand the various autofocus settings available and when to use them or switch to manual focus. Find out about megapixels, histograms and JPEG versus raw file formats. You’ll walk away with the skills to make the most of your digital SLR camera.

    Late Light on the Mission Mountains
    Ninepipe Wildlife Refuge, Montana
    See more classes...

    March 27, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #43

    The Grace of Trees #43
    Missoula, Montana

    This is the final image from my first book of photos The Grace of Trees. I hope you have enjoyed this preview. There are still copies available for purchase. See my web site for details.

    March 26, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #42

    The Grace of Trees #42
    Alberton, Montana

    March 25, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #41

    The Grace of Trees #41
    Missoula, Montana

    March 24, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #40

    The Grace of Trees #40
    Missoula, Montana

    March 23, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #39

    The Grace of Trees #39
    Missoula, Montana

    March 22, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #38

    The Grace of Trees #38
    Missoula, Montana

    March 21, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #37

    The Grace of Trees #37
    Frenchtown, Montana

    March 20, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #36

    The Grace of Trees #36
    Missoula, Montana

    March 19, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #35

    The Grace of Trees #35
    Missoula, Montana

    March 18, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #34

    The Grace of Trees #34
    Frenchtown, Montana

    March 17, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #33

    The Grace of Trees #33
    Missoula, Montana

    March 16, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #32

    The Grace of Trees #32
    Ovando, Montana

    March 15, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #31

    The Grace of Trees #31
    Frenchtown, Montana

    March 14, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #30

    The Grace of Trees #30
    Missoula, Montana

    March 13, 2017

    Putting Pictures on Paper: A Printing Workshop

    I'm pleased to announce my first printing workshop, Putting Pictures on Paper, to be held in Missoula, Montana, May 19-21, 2017.


    This workshop is for anyone who wants to know how to get the best prints from a print lab or a home inkjet printer using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. You practice with your own images, using your laptop computer and our Epson desktop printers. You should already be comfortable with Lightroom's Library and Develop modules because they will not be explained in detail in this course.


    We'll cover the following topics and more:
    • Ensuring the colors you see on screen are the colors in your prints
    • Setting resolution and dimensions for the best quality
    • Sharpening for crisp prints
    • Selecting the best paper for your subject
    • Making color and black & white prints
    We will meet at the Center for Creative & Healing Arts, 2935 Stockyard Road, Unit #K-5, Missoula, Montana 59808.

    Class begins at 7pm on Friday evening for introductions and orientation. The workshop concludes by 5pm on Sunday evening.

    Tuition costs $150/person, including ink and paper samples. A minimum of 4 participants is needed to hold the class with a maximum of 10 students to ensure everyone gets individual help.

    I have been printing and teaching others how to print for more than 15 years. I use a clear, practical approach to help you get great prints with a minimum of effort.

    To enroll, please complete the registration form here. I hope you can join me!

    The Grace of Trees #29

    The Grace of Trees #29
    Missoula, Montana

    March 12, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #28

    The Grace of Trees #28
    Cushing, Maine

    March 11, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #27

    The Grace of Trees #27
    Cushing, Maine

    March 10, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #26

    The Grace of Trees #26
    Cushing, Maine

    March 9, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #25

    The Grace of Trees #25
    Cushing, Maine

    March 8, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #24

    The Grace of Trees #24
    Cushing, Maine

    March 7, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #23

    The Grace of Trees #23
    Rockford, Illinois

    Another view of the same old oak.

    March 6, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #22

    The Grace of Trees #22
    Rockford, Illinois

    This old oak tree (200+ years old) is on the land where I grew up.

    March 5, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #21

    The Grace of Trees #21
    Asheville, North Carolina

    March 4, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #20

    The Grace of Trees #20
    Hendersonville, North Carolina

    March 3, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #19

    The Grace of Trees #19
    Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

    March 2, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #18

    The Grace of Trees #18
    Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

    March 1, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #17

    The Grace of Trees #17
    Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

    February 28, 2017

    The Grace of Trees #16

    The Grace of Trees #16
    Huson, Montana