Northern Lights – May 10, 2024

Northern Lights, Home Lake, Lamoni Iowa.

The Northern Lights were spectacular last night in south central Iowa. The above image was my first click of the shutter. I was at Home Lake near Lamoni Iowa. When I arrived shortly after 10 pm, there were already a half dozen cars at the lake with people looking at the Northern Lights and many of them were taking pictures with every from smart phones and tablets to tripod mounted cameras. Tonight is predicted to be another great night. If you want to take pictures and need some advice, see the first link below. The other links are helpful too. Click any image in this article to see a larger version.

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A Day in Southern Utah

Bryce Canyon at Sunrise

Bryce Canyon at Sunrise

I was on my way from Colorado to California and decided to drive across southern Utah. I had never been to the National Parks in Utah and wanted to see them. They are spectacular.  If you love landscape photography and haven’t been to southern Utah, put a trip there high on your priority list.  These photos were taken April 25, 2011.

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Happy Birthday, John Muir!

John Muir

John Muir

Today is John Muir’s birthday! He was born April 21, 1838. He had a profound influence on how Americans viewed our wild lands and his influence led to the establishment of many of our National Parks and other protected lands. He was nicknamed “The Father of our National Parks”. Tomorrow, April 22, is also Earth Day, so I am combining the two in this article.

Here are photos from some of my favorite national and state parks along with quotes from John Muir.

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The First Click of the Shutter


The first thing I do when I do a natural light portrait shoot is to do a custom white balance using an 18% gray card. Setting a custom white balance gives you more accurate and beautiful skin tones (details at the links below). After that, I do some simple portraits to get rid of the “first shoot jitters”.  The person I am working with might be a little nervous. As for me, I am a perfectionist and I am nervous before every photo shoot and I am especially nervous the first time I work with someone. So I start off with something simple. This was my first portrait shoot with Soleece and I was super nervous.

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Do NOT Look at the Eclipse Through a High Density Solar Eclipse Filter! You Could Go Blind!

Left: Safe eclipse glasses. Right: Solar filter

Don’t worry. My model’s eyes were closed for the illustration photo on the right.

With the eclipse just around the corner, I am re-posting and updating this article from February 23. Do not look at the sun on eclipse day (or any other day) through a high density solar eclipse filter. Even though you are looking through a solar eclipse filter (i.e. solar filter) you can still go blind. And this is especially true looking through a camera and lens, even with a solar filter on the lens. Why? I am glad you asked.

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How to Photograph the “Great American Eclipse” – April 8, 2024

Partial phase of the eclipse.

This is updated from the February 22, 2024 article. If you have your solar filter ready to go, this is what you need to do to photograph the eclipse.  If you don’t have a solar filter, you might still be able to get one. Check out the White Light solar filters (my first choice) from Thousand Oaks Optical or the Lee high density solar filters.

This is your guide to photographing the Second “Great American Eclipse”, April 8, 2024.  The path of totality will cross the entire country from Oregon to South Carolina. This handy guide will help you photograph the eclipse. Planning ahead is key.

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Using PeakFinder To Find the Names of the Mountains in Your Photos

Colorado Rockies (Front Range) from Keenesburg Colorado.

I have always loved the view of the Colorado Front Range as I approach the mountains from the eastern plains. I was going to stop in Keenesburg Colorado to get gas, so on that stop I found this county highway northwest of town to take a picture of the mountains.  Back home at my computer I decided to figure out the names of some of these mountains.

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The Best National Parks to Photograph in Spring

 Ocotillo. Big Bend National Park. Texas.

Ocotillo. Big Bend National Park, Texas.

Which national parks are at their very best in the spring? If I could go on a fabulous spring photography trip to the national parks of my choice, all expenses paid, which ones would I pick? Here are my choices, grouped by state from west to east. This list includes the favorites I have been to and want to go back to again, plus the ones I haven’t seen and most want to photograph.

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Things That Don’t Work: The Advice on Removing GPS Information from the Photos on Your iPhone

Big G Lake

As the prior article points out, you should not post photos online that were taken at your home, the homes of your relatives, or your place of work until you remove the GPS location information from those photos. There are some other places where you probably won’t want to share the GPS location of your photos. The prior article also tells you how to remove the GPS locations using your computer.  For this article I was going to show you how to remove GPS data from photos while they are still in your iPhone. I followed the advice online and discovered that advice did not work, at least on my iPhone 11.

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How to Remove GPS Information From Your Photos Using Your Computer

Greater Prairie Chickens fighting.  The GPS information is still in this digital file.

When you click the shutter to create a photo, almost all smart phones and many other cameras add your GPS location to the photo you just created. The good thing about that is you can go back to your photos later and look up the GPS locations of your photos.

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How to “Rate” Photos in Your Camera

Camera LCD zoomed in on a Grackle photo. iPhone photo.

It is simple to rate photos in your camera, provided you have a rate button. (Later on I will tell you what to do if you don’t have a rate button.)  If you take a photo you want to find quickly when you download the memory card, just push the rate button.  When you download the photos on your memory card you can use Adobe Bridge (more about Bridge later) to quickly find your rated photos.

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The Human Web

The Human Web.

I created this image for a photography class I was teaching at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA) in Michigan. It was so popular that Jim Riegel, the head of the photography department, asked if he could exhibit it at the KIA faculty exhibit at the annual Kalamazoo Art Fair in Bronson Park in June. Jim was in charge of the faculty exhibit. When June 2 rolled around, he used it as the centerpiece work of art for the KIA exhibit. At the end of the day he told me it was the most talked about work of art in the faculty exhibit. All kinds of people stopped by to ask questions about it and how it was created.  This article explains how I did it.

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Testing Photo Labs, Part 3

Test Prints. iPhone photo. Click for a larger version.

One of my two favorite photo labs was bought out and no longer exists, so I am searching for another favorite photo lab. I sent the same 10 digital files to three of the highest high rated photo labs in the country and had them make 8×12 and 8×10 prints. My third batch of prints arrived and I am like a kid in a candy store!

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Testing Photo Labs, Part 2

Test prints from two labs.

My #1 favorite photo lab was bought out and no longer exists so I am testing photo labs. I sent the same set of digital photo files to several photo labs and ordered 8×10 or 8×12 prints.  At each lab I chose the “No Color Correction” option.  I create my digital files on a color calibrated monitor and I don’t want some person or machine to change the final color rendition of the prints.

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Testing Photo Labs, Part 1

10 prints from MPIX

UPS dropped off a package of 10 prints this morning!  They arrived in a stiff, cardboard envelope. Inside were two plastic bags, one for the 8×10 inch prints and one for the  8×12 inch prints. Each plastic bag also had a thin piece of cardboard to protect the prints. The packaging was good.

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