Andromeda, Three Years Ago Tonight

Andromeda and two other galaxies.

My plan was simple. Drive 5 minutes to the lake. Spend 5-10 minutes photographing photo gear for a photo blog article. Drive 5 minutes back home. Total time 15-20 minutes. Melissa (my wife) was thinking about getting dinner ready. I told her I wouldn’t be gone long. After a few minutes doing what I intended, the lure of planets, stars, and the Milky Way sucked me in. 2 1/2 hours later I was still totally immersed in photography of the sky. 3 hours after I left home I called to tell Melissa I was on the way home.

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Radio Controlled Speedlites: Yongnuo YN600EX-RT vs Canon 600EX-RT

Yongnuo 600 EX-RT Speedlite and Yonghuo YN-E3-RT Transmitter.

Yongnuo 600EX-RT Speedlite and Yongnuo YN-E3-RT Transmitter. Click to see a larger version.

Should you spend $549 on a Canon 600EX-RT speedlite, or $138 on Yongnuo’s nearly identical clone, the YN600EX-RT? And what about the radio transmitters? Canon’s is $299 and the Yongnuo copy is $95. So you can buy three Yongnuo speedlites plus the radio transmitter for a total of $509, less than the price of one Canon speedlite. The price advantage is clear, but what about quality, reliability, and service issues? Continue reading

A High Quality, Compact RØDE VideoMic for Your DSLR and Smartphone

RØDE VideoMicro in use at Acadia National Park.

Let’s face it. While many recent DLSRs, ILCs and smartphones can give you excellent visual quality in the videos, the sound quality of the built in microphone leaves a lot to be desired. For a modest amount of money you can bring the sound quality up to par with the visual quality. That is why video mic sales have exploded.

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Ansel Adams: Books by (and About) the Master

Ansel Adams - Half done, Merced River, Winter

Ansel Adams: Half Dome, Merced River, Winter. © Ansel Adams Publishing rights Trust

I have no idea when I was first entranced by the photos of Ansel Adams. There is a wonderful, luminous quality to his work. Small wonder he is America’s best known landscape photographer. Collections of his work would make a worthy addition to any photographer’s library. This is also the time of year that Ansel Adams calendars pop up like snowstorms.

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GoPro: Amazing, Small, Inexpensive, HD Video Cameras

GoPro HERO12 Black. Click image for a larger version.

Looking for a small, mountable, “ideal for sports and action”, inexpensive, high definition video and still camera with a waterproof housing and image quality that Lucasfilm (the Star Wars people) calls “amazing”? This camera will go anywhere and mount just about anywhere. Prices range from $279 to $399 (which is a lot less than your typical DSLR with HiDef video).

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The Best Night, Astronomy, and Astrophotography Books

Orion's Belt and Sword Scabbard and the Orion Nebula

Orion’s Belt and Sword Scabbard and the Orion Nebula

There is a whole world of things to photograph after the sun goes down. Cityscapes at twilight and after dark. Landscapes in the late evening light. Thunderstorms. Fireworks. And then of course, there is astrophotography. The simple stuff is simple to do (once you have learned how to do them) and all you need are a camera, lens, and tripod. For some astrophotography you will need specialized but not very expensive equipment like the $300 sky tracker used for the photo above. The challenging stuff is hard, complicated, and expensive to do if you want the kind of eye popping photos that you see in Astronomy and Sky and Telescope magazines (you should subscribe to one or the other or both if this is your thing). No matter what you want to do, the books below will get you started. And if you just like to look at the night sky, I recommend some books for that too.

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Some of the Best Digital Photography Books

Some of the Best Digital Photography Books

Some of the Best Digital Photography Books

Some well chosen books can make a world of difference in your digital photography. Some of the best books are about the camera side of digital photography, some are about the digital darkroom side, and some are about both. Out of hundreds of books in my photo library, I picked out the best.

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The Best Scenic Photo Location Guides

Some of my favorite photo location guides.

Some of my favorite photo location guides.

“If you want to be a better photographer stand in front of more interesting stuff!” – Jim Richardson, National Geographic photographer.

A good scenic location guide can save you hours of precious time searching for the best spots at a new location. The best scenic locations guides are written by and for photographers. Photographers are much more in tune with what other photographers want to photograph. And for each location, photographers will tell you the best season of the year and the best time of day to get the best images. Some will give you additional photography advice for each location.

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The Best “How To” Nature Photography Books

Nature photography books

Some of my favorite nature photography books.

Want to be a better nature photographer? Read anything by John Shaw, Galen Rowell, Art Wolfe, Freeman Patterson, Tim Fitzharris, George Lepp, Larry West, Arthur Morris, Allen Rokach, John Netherton, Leonard Lee Rue III, Brenda Tharp, Tony Sweet, and the Stackpole (publisher) nature series. Now for some of the “best of the best” books to look for. These are my favorites out of hundreds of photography books in my library.

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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.)

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Some of the Best All Purpose Photography Books

photography books

Some of my favorite all purpose photography books.

Out of hundreds of books in my photography library, these are my favorite all purpose photography books. This is a list of the 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 bogged down in digital technical information that the heart and soul of photography can get lost. The best film photography books are about the heart and soul of photography. They are light and shadow, subjects, form, texture, line and shape, and visual impact – all of which applies to digital photography.

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Thanksgiving in Haxtun

Grandpa, Grandma, and their six children.
Grandpa, Grandma, and their six children.

When I was growing up, we spent many a Thanksgiving at grandpa’s house in Haxtun Colorado. Thanksgiving was a much anticipated and happy time. We would leave home on Wednesday afternoon after dad got home from work. It was a long 7 hour drive to Grandpa’s house in those pre-interstate highway days, so it would be really late by the time we arrived.

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The Best Panorama Gear: Living in Panorama Heaven

180° Panorama: Yosemite Valley at Night. Eagle Peak, Yosemite Point, and North Dome. Yosemite National Park. Right click to see a larger version.
Really Right Stuff makes an excellent, simple to use panorama set up that won’t take up a lot of room in your camera bag. After using bigger, more awkward panorama gear, switching to Really Right Stuff’s set up was like being in panorama heaven. It is compatible with the Arca-Swiss-System. Continue reading