POTD: Bull Elk, Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk, Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park

Cars stopped in both directions as the big bull elk crossed the two lane paved road at the west end of Horseshoe Park. Their cars still sitting on the road, motors running, everyone was out of their cars and snapping photos with phones, small point and shoot cameras, and serious camera gear. It would have been hard not to get a great photo, even with a smart phone.

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Don’t get ripped off! Part Nine. Comparison Test Two: 8-18X Telephoto Phone Lens vs 12X Telephoto Phone Lens.

8-18X telephoto lens on an iPhone SE.

If you haven’t done so already, read this article first: Don’t get ripped off! Part Seven. Comparison Test One: Telephoto Phone Lens vs DLSR and Zoom Lens. It will explain the background and methodology behind this comparison test.

I purchased the 8-18X telephoto lens to check it out. Like the lens in Part One, it is another Chinese lens for smart phones. The ads for this lens say this lens is amazingly sharp and it is being sold for $59.99. That is an outrageous price of course. I found one on Amazon for less than $12. I knew when I bought it that it would not be worth $12. Other online reviews for this lens point out how bad it is but I wanted to see for myself.

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Buying a Headlamp for Night Photography: The Essential Feature

Photographers with red headlamps. Field Trip, Sprague Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

A red headlamp is an essential tool for night photography. Before you rush out and buy one, make sure it has the most essential feature (other than the red LED). Some inexpensive headlamps have this feature and some very expensive ones don’t, so cost is not the issue.

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How to Choose the Best iPhone Lenses

iPhone photography has become a huge thing. According to Flickr, their millions of users take more pictures with an iPhone (47%) than any other camera. A lot of iPhone photographers are looking for add on lenses for their phone, and that may include you. So which lenses are the best?

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Don’t get ripped off! Part Seven. Comparison Test One: Telephoto Phone Lens vs DLSR and Zoom Lens.

12X telephoto camera phone lens vs DSLR and zoom lens. Click for a larger version.

I see the ads for smart phone lenses on Facebook almost every day. You click on the link and you read an article that says their telephoto smart phone lens has “been tested, and found to equal or exceed the photos produced by such top makers as Zeiss, Leica, Nikon, Canon and Sony.” It is all utter nonsense of course, meant to fool clueless people into spending $56 or more on a poor quality lens that they could buy for as little as $4.00. So I decided to buy one of these lenses on the cheap and do my own comparison test.

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Two Photographers and Eleven Outdoor/Travel Writers Pick the Best National Parks for Fall

Long’s Peak and Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Fall is a fabulous time of year to visit the national parks. Crowds are usually smaller than in the summer, temperatures are cooler, and some of our national parks have glorious fall colors. With so many to choose from, where should you go? Which national parks will provide the best photographic opportunities in the fall?

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Colorado Fall Color Travel Guide – 2017

Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake. Mid-morning. September 24, 2015.

Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake. Mid-morning. September 24, 2015.

Welcome to my Colorado fall color travel guide with over 100 pages of information (if you print it all out), 114 photos, and 17 maps. I cover some of the best known fall color locations in Colorado, and one real gem of a road that is mostly unknown to photographers and leaf peepers. Spend anywhere from a few days to three weeks exploring the beautiful Colorado Rockies at a gorgeous time of year.

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The “Don’t Get Ripped Off” Series – Overpriced Camera Phone Lenses

The ads show up on FaceBook all the time. They talk about wonderful lenses that will turn your smart phone into a camera that is better than a DSLR costing thousands of dollars. They brag about German engineering, a NASA optical formula, or the testing that proves their lenses are better than expensive lenses from Nikon, Zeiss, Leica, or Canon. The names of the companies change on a regular basis, but the scam is the same. Sad to say, a lot of people actually fall for this nonsense.

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Chip East Reflects on the Last Photos of His Friend, Bill Biggart, Taken on 9/11

Photographer Chip East was staring intensely at his laptop screen.

It was two weeks after two jetliners had plowed into the towers of the World Trade Center. His good friend, photojournalist Bill Biggart’s body had been recovered from the rubble. His personal effects, including his cameras had been released by authorities to his widow, Wendy.

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Remembering 9/11


Photo by James Nachtwey for TIME magazine.

I will never forget staring at the screen. I was stunned. It was just a few moments after I got the phone call to turn on the TV. Then the second plane hit.

On this date, sixteen years ago, we experienced a great national tragedy in the United States. Not only in the lives that were lost in the terrorist attacks, the families torn asunder, and the emergency responders who suffered and continue to suffer terrible health problems as a result of working at the scene – but also in the way we view ourselves and our world. Over the last 12 months since 9/11/2016, 33 more first responders died of health issues related to 9/11.

In remembrance of that day, and to honor the lives that were lost, I am posting some tributes.

Sunspots as the Solar Eclipse Ended

Sunspots at the end of the solar eclipse. Click for a larger version.

One of the treats of the Great American Eclipse was the abundance of sunspots. They slowly disappeared as the moon moved in front of the sun, and reappeared as the moon continued on its journey.

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Solar Flares During the Total Eclipse

Solar flares on the sun’s western and southwestern limb. Click for a larger version.

It was my goal to capture the sun’s corona during totality of the solar eclipse, but I was not expecting solar flares. That was a happy accident because there just happened to be giant solar eruptions on the sun’s western limb during the eclipse. Continue reading

The Sun’s Corona During Eclipse Totality

The Sun’s Corona during a total eclipse. The star Regulus is to the left. Click for a larger version.

Totality of an eclipse is an extraordinary and never to be forgotten experience. It is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. The eclipse glasses come off and people are rapt in wonder. Where I was, everyone and everything went silent. When totality ended as the sun emerged a cheer went up and there was spontaneous applause. It is no small wonder people get eclipse fever and are already planning for the next eclipse in 2024.

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The Great American Eclipse Series

Solar flares at the beginning of totality. Click for a larger version.

The Great American Eclipse will cross the United States August 21, 2017. This is the best total solar eclipse in the U.S. in 38 years. This series of articles is your guide to the best information about the eclipse.

Originally posted June 26, 2017. Updated periodically and re-posted July 25 and August 20. Most recent update: September 5, 2017. There are now 42 articles in this series. The most important articles are indicated below.

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