Waterfalls and Artistic Shutter Speed Choices

Three different exposure combinations at Brandywine Falls, all of them cropped from larger images. Click for a larger version.

Another photographer and I were shooting together yesterday at Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga National Park. During the time we were there we saw dozens of people taking pictures of the waterfall. Most of them were in full auto-exposure mode, making no personal changes in their exposure settings whether they were photographing the waterfall, each other, or the leaves in the trees. I bet most of them had no idea that they had turned important artistic decisions over to a computer chip.

Continue reading

Advanced Photographic Composition: The Best Books


Is composition something that can be taught, or is it innate? Probably a bit of both. It is hard to look at photographs by Frans Lanting, Art Wolfe, Galen Rowell, and Dewitt Jones without coming to the conclusion that they were born with some kind of innate sense of composition. On the the other hand, it is clear that photographers can improve dramatically with the right kind of guidance.

Continue reading

Photographic Composition: The Essential Book

The Art of Photograhy, Art Wolfe and Rob Sheppard.

The Art of Photograph, Art Wolfe and Rob Sheppard.

Art Wolfe is a world class photographer, and it shows in The Art of the Photograph. There are a lot of books on photographic composition (I own several, and I’ve looked through a lot more in various libraries), but this is far and away the best introduction to photographic composition I have come across. If you aren’t an experienced professional photographer, this book is an absolute must read. (I am assuming professionals already know this stuff.)

Continue reading

How Long Will Your Photo Lab Prints Last Without Fading?

Estimated Print Life from Wilhelm Imaging Research

Estimated Print Life from Wilhelm Imaging Research

Would you rather pay $3 – $4 for a poor quality 8×10 inch print that will fade in 18 years, 9 years or less, or would you prefer paying $2 – $3 for a very high quality 8×10 print that will last up to 50 years? People pay more money for prints with a short life expectancy all the time. Why? Because they don’t have the right information, and they may have no idea that prints have such widely different life spans.

Continue reading

How to Get the Best Results from the Best Online Photo Labs

Online Labs Rated

The lab you choose and the kind of file you send to your lab can make a big difference in the quality of print you get back. How do you pick a good online photo lab? How do you get the best results from your lab? What color space should you use for your digital files and how do you convert your files to the right color space? How big a print can you make from your digital files?

Continue reading

Buyer’s Guide: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More

I get lots of photo questions and many of them begin with “What is the best . . . .” They usually come from photographers or someone shopping for a photographer.

Here is my list of “best of the best” of articles recommending the best photo gear, software, books, DVDs, calendars, online photo labs, and a whole lot more.

Originally posted Nov. 1, 2017. Most recent update: Dec. 11, 2017.

Continue reading

Some of the Best All Purpose Photography Books

photography books

This is a list of books that were the most helpful to me when I took a serious interest in photography, and I continue to refer to them. These books were written back when film was king, but that makes them all the more valuable to today’s digital photographers. Some digital photography books get so lost in technical information that the heart and soul of photography can get lost. The best film photography books are about light and shadow, subjects, form, texture, line and shape – all of which applies to digital photography.

Continue reading

Total Immersion Nature Photography Weekend in Beautiful Northern Michigan

Michigan Photography WorkshopAre you ready to take your nature and wildlife photography to the next level? Are you ready to learn the professional secrets that make the difference between good images and great images? Are you ready for a high intensity, action packed, total immersion photography weekend? Come to Park of the Pines on beautiful Lake Charlevoix June 8-10, 2018.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

The Chinese Lens Rip 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 Comparison Test 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.

Posted Sep. 22, 2017. Revised and expanded Dec. 2, 2017.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

The Chinese Lens Rip 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.

Posted Sep 8, 2017. Expanded Dec. 2, 2017.

Continue reading

The Best National Parks for Fall Photography

Our National Parks

What are the best national parks to photograph in the fall? Here are my choices, grouped by state and province from west to east. This list includes the favorites I have been to, plus the ones I most want to see based on the recommendations of the photographers I trust, like Tim Fitzharris and QT Luong.

Originally posted September 14, 2017. Updated October 31, 2017.

Continue reading

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?

Continue reading