Channeling My Inner Tim Fitzharris

California Poppies
California Golden Poppies, Fremont California. April 3, 2001.

Quite by chance I spotted some California Golden Poppies on the campus of Ohlone College in Fremont California. This was an unexpected treasure. I stopped in a nearby parking lot, put a 15mm semi-fisheye lens on my camera, put my camera almost on the ground and started shooting up at the flowers with the sun in the background. The side of my head was in the dirt as I looked up through the camera’s viewfinder to get things lined up. Tim Fitzharris gets some credit for inspiring images like this.

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The Best Colors Come From the Best Exposures

Gretag-Macbeth ColorChecker

Gretag-Macbeth ColorChecker

This has to be one of the best kept photographic secrets: The more accurate your exposures are, the better your colors will be. Why? If your exposures are off, the colors in your photograph will shift in different directions. You can correct the exposure in post processing, but you can’t correct the color shifts. Since the colors shift in different directions, if you try to correct one color (as you will see below), the other colors will get even worse.

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Your Camera Does NOT Capture Reality! – And What To Do About It.

O'Haver Lake, Mt. Ouray, Colorado

O’Haver Lake, Mt. Ouray, Colorado.

You have heard it said a lot, and maybe said it yourself: “This picture doesn’t do the scene justice.” That is often true and for several reasons. One is that digital cameras do not capture reality. No matter how fancy or expensive, digital cameras simply do not capture what your eyes see. That is also true with film cameras. All color photographic films have different color characteristics. Some have better reds, others have better greens or blues. Some are more saturated and others less saturated. But none of them are totally color realistic. So why don’t digital cameras give you realistic images and what can you do about it?

Originally posted December 16, 2015. Revised and re-posted January 18, 2022.

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MARTIN LUTHER KING – “I have a dream” – text

Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King Day in the United States. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born January 15, 1929. He was a Baptist minister and a prominent civil rights advocate. King was the youngest person to receive a Nobel Peace Prize when it awarded to him in 1964. He was assassinated April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.

One of his most famous speeches was delivered at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 1963. Often referred to as the “I have a dream” speech, it is one of the most significant and powerful speeches of the 20th century. A portion of the speech follows. Links to the full speech and an audio file are at the end of this post.

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Photos That Move Me: Sudan by Ami Vitale

Sudan by Ami Vitale, National Geographic

Joseph Wachira, a keeper at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, says goodbye to Sudan before he died in 2018. Sudan was the last male Northern White Rhino in existence. He became, for a while, one of the most beloved animals on the planet. Weighing 2,000 pounds, he was as docile as a Golden Retriever. People came from all over the word to see him, to touch him. Then they would return to their cars and cry. He is survived by Najin and Fatu, his daughter and granddaughter, the last female Northern White Rhinos.

Bobcat: Fast and Simple Tonality Adjustments with Adobe Camera Raw

Bobcat, Before and After a Tonality Adjustment

Bobcat, Before and After a Tonality Adjustment

With the right software, you can make quick improvements in your images. There are some lighting situations where it is almost impossible, and certainly not practical, to get the correct white balance setting in the camera. This bobcat photo is an example. The best, fastest, and simplest solution is to get the right while balance setting after the fact using software like Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). A few minutes work with ACR can make a big difference in the look of your photos.

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“Vincent” (Starry, Starry Night) by Don McClean

Vincent van Gogh lived a tortured life. He suffered from poor health and struggled with depression. He spent occasional periods of time in psychiatric hospitals. In an angry confrontation that ended his friendship with artist Paul Guaguin, he famously severed part of his own left ear with a razor. He ultimately took his own life with a gun shot wound to the chest at the age of 37. During his life he was considered a madman and a failure. Appreciation for his art did not happen until after his death. He is one of my favorite artists. Don McLean wrote this beautiful and haunting reflection on his life. Paintings by Van Gogh were added by “wysty67”, the creator this video.

“How To” Series: Snowy Owl Photography

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl looking for prey.

If there are cold enough temperatures and plenty of snow cover on the ground, the northern United States has a winter invasion of Snowy Owls. These are magnificent creatures and well worth your photographic time and attention. This series is filled with tips on how to find and photograph snowy owls.

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Snowy Owl Photography: Solving A Photo Problem (And the Right Way to Exit Your Vehicle)

Snowy Owl, Photo Location 1

Snowy Owl, Photo Location P1

When I am traveling with my highly trained and high paid photographic assistant it is his job to remove trash barrels when they are in the way, cut down trees that spoil my view, run out into the meadow and scare off the cow elk that are in front of the bull elk I want to photograph, rip boards off of old barns that don’t look quite distressed enough, pull on the whiskers of a sleeping cougar to wake it up, and cut down utility lines that are obstructing a clear view of my subject. But he wasn’t with me on this trip due to sitting in jail over a minor incident in Yosemite. So I had a challenge on my hands that I had to solve myself.

I am kidding, of course. The prior paragraph was inspired by really crazy things a few photographers do but shouldn’t be doing.

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Snowy Owl Photography: Control the Background for Better Images

Snowy Owl, Photo Location 1

Snowy Owl, Photo Location P1

A simple change of background can turn a disappointing wildlife photo into a great one. Professional wildlife photographers think about backgrounds all the time and do everything they can to improve the background. Less experienced wildlife photographers are so excited to find an interesting creature that they give the background precious little thought.

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A Snowy Owl Photo Expedition

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

What is a Snowy Owl expedition really like? This article is your chance to find out. Join me for a two day photo safari! I give you tips and photo suggestions along the way, and you get to see how I prepare, plan, and adapt on a photo trip. I tell you what went right and what went wrong so this is also about what to do when things don’t go according to plan.

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How to Find and Photograph Snowy Owls

Snowy Owl Sightings, January 2022

 

Winter is your opportunity to photograph Snowy Owls. When it is cold enough and there is enough snow cover, snowy owls move down into the northern U.S. The colder it is the farther south they move. If conditions are right, don’t delay. If the winter turns warmer the snowy owls will head back north.

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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 when I hit the road in the winter and pretty much any time I am going to be in the High Rockies. I include a few winter travel tips, too.

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How To Work With A Model (or Anybody Else) When The Windchill is 4°

Selina

Selina, Downtown Columbus Ohio. Windchill 4°.

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 (or anybody else) 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 it to your images, the color and quality of your winter photos will suffer.

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