Happy Birthday, Ansel Adams!

Ansel Adams, Monolith: The Face of Half Dome, 1927. Photographed in his home Dec. 2, 1980.

Ansel Adams in front of “Monolith: The Face of Half Dome, 1927”. Photographed in his home Dec. 2, 1980.

Ansel Adams was born February 20, 1902. He is “the” icon of American landscape photography. Trained as a concert pianist, his love of photography and time spent in Yosemite National Park led him to a career change.

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A Beautiful NASA Image of Saturn, Mars, Venus, and Earth that You Can Download and Print

Saturn and the inner rings backlit by the Sun. Click for a larger version.

When the Cassini spacecraft was on the back side of Saturn, with Saturn’s shadow  protecting the sensitive instruments from the harsh and potentially harmful rays of the Sun, the wide-angle and narrow-angle cameras captured a panoramic series of 323 images. 141 of those images were used to create this beautiful, natural color image of Saturn, the inner rings, seven of the Saturn’s moons and the planets Mars, Venus, and Earth. NASA named this image “The Day the Earth Smiled”.

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This is What Climate Change Looks Like

Starving polar bear photographed by Paul Nicklen

National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen photographed this starving polar bear on Canada’s Somerset Island. Polar bears need ice pack to hunt and survive. The length of the ice pack hunting season has dropped dramatically over the last 25 years and polar bears are starving during the ever longer “fasting season” when there is no ice pack. Video of this bear follows.

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When is the Best Time of Year to Photograph Each of Our National Parks?

Denali, Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Parks

Denali, Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Parks

Planning a trip to photograph some of our national parks? You will get better images if you visit a national park at its prime season of the year. But when is each park at its very best? And how about great locations that aren’t in the national parks? This article has answers.

Originally posted January 18, 2017. Re-posted February 8, 2018. Most recent update: February 10, 2018.

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On A Really Tight Budget? How About a DSLR and Two Lenses for $389.99?

Some of the refurbished camera gear at the Canon web site.

It was early December when I received a Facebook message from a friend whose granddaughter in college wanted to take a digital photography class starting in January. My friend wanted to give her a camera and lens as a Christmas gift. His budget was around $400 and he had no idea what to get her. After pricing camera gear he was in sticker shock and asked for my advice. He found a point and shoot camera in his price range and wondered if that would work.

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The Chinese Lens Rip Off! Part Twelve. Lens Comparison Test Three: “Shoot the Moon”

 

Side by side comparison test: Chinese lens vs telephoto lens and teleconverter on a DSLR.

Almost every day I see ads for the same plastic, cheaply made Chinese lens, and the ad often uses the same faked photo of an impressive picture of the moon (see examples below). I decided to do a “shoot the moon” comparison test. As you will see in the results that follow, it is impossible for this Chinese lens to take the moon shot used in these ads.

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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.

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The Chinese Lens Rip Off Series, Part Eleven. The Same Lousy Lens With Many Different Names

HD Zoom Pro Lens Ad

Don’t get ripped off. The quality of this lens is so bad and the reputation of the company is so awful that the people who market this lens have to keep coming up with new names for the lens and new web sites to sell it. So far I have found 16 different names for this lens and it is sold with the same fake information on dozens of web sites. Continue reading

The Chinese Lens Rip Off Series, Part Ten. Good Luck Trying to Get a Refund

HD Pixel Pro ad on Facebook

Don’t get ripped off on an overpriced, lousy quality lens from an unscrupulous company that has an “F” rating at the BBB. Good luck trying to get a refund as you will read in Annie’s story below. I see ads like this on Facebook almost every day. These ads are costly so they must be making a lot of money. These companies change names and addresses all the time to keep ahead of the bad reviews, so be careful out there.

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Books Banned in Texas Prisons

Some of the photography books banned by the Texas prison system.

When I heard about the list of over 10,000 books banned by the Texas prison system, I did a really quick scan of the list for photography books that I own. I found five books (photo above) and I am sure I missed some. And there are photography books on the banned list that I don’t have, including several National Geographic books and two more books by John Hedgecoe.

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Get the Shot!

Just in case you missed this viral screen capture from the national championship football game, this is the 42 yard touchdown pass that gave Alabama the victory over Georgia. In other words this is the biggest play of the biggest game of the year. Whoever grabbed this screen capture off their TV circled the sideline photographers. I call this “shock and awe”. Their editors are probably calling this “missed photo”. It is hard to get the shot if your camera isn’t at your face, or even pointed at the play.

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Winter Photography Safety Essentials

Some of the winter travel items I carry in the trunk of my car.

Some of the winter travel items I carry in the trunk of my car. This is the “kitchen” and “furnace”.

I grew up in Colorado where strange weather can strand you in any month of the year. Even though it is rare, I’ve seen blizzards in the Colorado high country in July. So I learned to carry some safety essentials when doing winter photography in remote locations. You never know when you might be stranded for several hours, a whole day, or longer, until the blizzard abates and someone can come find you. This is what I carry in my car pretty much year around and especially in the winter. I include a few winter travel tips, too.

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How To Work With A Model When The Windchill is 4°

Selina

Selina, Downtown Columbus Ohio

You would think a windchill of 4° Fahrenheit (-16°C) would be too cold for a photo shoot, but not with some models. We booked this January shoot weeks in advance so we knew it would be cold, but we had no idea how cold until the day arrived. Here’s the story behind this image and how to work with a model when it is so cold.

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Testing Your Camera’s Snow Exposure Latitude

Cascade, Barry, and Coxe Glaciers

Cascade, Barry, and Coxe Glaciers, Prince William Sound, Alaska

The “snow exposure latitude” for every camera is different. You won’t find it in your camera’s manual but it is easy to determine with a do-it-yourself test. Why does it matter? If you don’t know the snow exposure latitude for your camera and how to apply apply it to your images, the color and quality of your winter photos will suffer.

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Protect Your Camera Gear in the Cold and Snow

Bruce Canyon After An Overnight Snow

Bryce Canyon After An Overnight Snowstorm

Cold and snow can cause a lot of damage to your camera gear. Something as simple as shooting outside and taking your camera inside can cause hidden damage that won’t show up until days or weeks later. The simple steps in this article could save you hundreds of dollars in repair bills.

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Metering Nighttime Winter Scenes

Twilight, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Twilight, Rocky Mountain National Park. Sirius, Canis Major, Orion, Taurus, the Hyades star cluster, and the Pleiades star cluster are all visible in the fading light. Click for a larger version.

You can photograph the night sky year around, but winter brings an added bonus: SNOW! When you don’t have the benefit of moonlight, most of the year land forms a dark to black silhouetted skyline against the night sky. In winter you have the possibility of including the highly reflective snow. You can see both in this photo. Any place not covered with snow is very dark to black. Having reflective snow is why winter is the favorite time of year for a lot of photographers to go out and photograph the night sky.

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Metering Wildlife in the Snow, Part Two

Cougar

Cougar

Most wildlife are medium to dark in tone, making them a challenge to meter properly in the bright, white tones of winter. If you trust one of your camera’s automatic exposure modes, the odds are good you won’t get the best exposure. If you switch over to manual exposure and make the right decisions, you can get great exposures and better quality photos (more about that later).

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Metering Wildlife in the Snow, Part One

Elk in the Snow, Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk in the Snow, Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Metering dark toned wildlife in the snow is a major exposure challenge. It is usually best to avoid large “burned out” areas (washed out, featureless white) in a nature or landscape photograph, but with properly exposed snow, the wildlife can be so dark as to lose all texture. On other hand, metering for the wildlife can burn out the snow. So what do you do?

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“How To” Series: Winter Photography

Last Light on El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

Last Light on El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

In addition to all of the usual photographic challenges, winter provides some extra complications, especially in terms of metering. So I began my series of articles on winter photography. Check out the links below. The articles will help you meet the unique challenges of winter photography. So get out there, have fun, and create some great winter images!

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