Protect Your Camera Gear in the Rain

Photographers keeping thier cameras dry in a drizzle.

Photographers in a drizzle using coats, jackets, sweaters, hoodies, and anything else to keep their cameras and lenses dry. Rocky Mountain National Park.

Rain is not good for your camera. Some professional level cameras are “weather sealed”. So are some professional level lenses. They even have gaskets for where the lens contacts the camera. But weather sealed is not waterproof. My rule of thumb is weather sealed gear can easily handle a bit of drizzle or a light rain for a short period of time, but it will not handle a light rain for a long period of time, or a heavy downpour. A few drops of rain on weather sealed gear is ok. Much more than that and you need to protect your gear. In this article I provide you with some simple to professional suggestions to protect your gear.

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How to See and Photograph The Lyrid Meteor Shower This Week

Perseid Meteor photographed from Rose Hill Cemetery west of Lamoni, Iowa. 4:55 am CDT, August 13, 2018.

This is the best week to see the Lyrid Meteor Shower. The peak is Tuesday night through early Wednesday, April 21-22, but you can see meteors through the 25th. This article will tell you what you need to know to see and photograph this popular spring meteor shower. Best of all, this will be a mostly dark sky week without much interference from the moon.

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Using the Histogram to Check Studio Flash Exposures

Sarah, Professional Fitness Trainer

Sarah, Professional Fitness Trainer

When using studio flash units, usually the best way to check your exposures is to use an incident light meter which is capable of metering flash exposures. But what if you don’t have an incident flash meter? Or what if you have a subject that absorbs a lot of light? Or a subject that reflects a lot more light than your typical photographic subject? You can double check your exposure settings by using the histogram on your camera. FYI: Do not trust the LCD image on the back of your camera to judge your exposures.

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Prairie Chickens at 400 Yards

Prairie chickens, Kellerton Grasslands Bird Conservation Area

I figured it was pretty much an exercise in futility to try and photograph prairie chickens that were over 400 yards away, but I did it anyway. Why not? You have nothing to lose. If the photos don’t come out, no one needs to see them. Or they might end up being an illustration for a blog article (wink).

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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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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 2016

Snowy Owl Sightings, January 2016

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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“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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How To Work With A Model 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 when it is so cold.

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Total Immersion Nature Photography Weekend in Beautiful Northern Michigan

Michigan Photography Workshop

Are 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 12-15, 2020.

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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 this 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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How to Safely Watch and Photograph Mercury’s Transit of the Sun, Monday November 11

Sunspots at the end of the solar eclipse, August 21, 2017.

Mercury will transit the sun, Monday, November 11, 2019 from 7:35 am EST (1235 GMT) to 1:04 pm EST (1804 GMT). Don’t miss it! There will not be another transit for 13 years. If you have solar eclipse glasses or solar safe binoculars from 2017’s solar eclipse, you have everything you need to watch the transit.

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How To Get Critical Focus in “Live View” Mode with a Magnified Image

Tripod mpounted camera in live view mode.

Tripod mounted camera in live view mode. The image is visible on the LCD along with the RGB histogram.

“Live View” mode is a huge boon to digital photographers and magnified focus is one of the reasons why. Focusing this way is more accurate than the camera’s autofocus modes, at least with non-moving subjects, and you will have sharper images. Landscape photography is the usual time to use this technique but sometimes it works for wildlife.

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How To Focus Your Lens at Infinity for Night Photography

Photography workshop out at night. Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Photography workshop at night. Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park.

The most important and difficult step in night photography is to focus your lens at infinity. If you have tried to focus on the stars at night you have already learned that it is an impossible task for the autofocus system and just about impossible for you to do manually. You just can’t see clearly enough through the viewfinder in the dark of night to manually focus on the stars. Fortunately, there are some ways to get the job done.

Originally posted Jan. 8, 2017. Revised and re-posted Sep. 5, 2019.

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How to Photograph the Northern Lights

Northern Lights over Lake Michigan

Northern Lights over Lake Michigan. Click to see a larger image.

As we head into fall the Northern Lights activity will pick up. The best time to view Northern Lights is from September to late March (although things may start up in August and extend into April). This article will tell you how to capture the Northern Lights with your camera. The Northern Lights come and go in an erratic fashion so this article will also show you how to know which nights are likely to be the best to go out and look.

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How to See and Photograph the Perseid Meteor Shower

Perseid Meteor photographed from Rose Hill Cemetery west of Lamoni, Iowa. 4:55 am CDT, August 13, 2018. Cropped from the original image.

The night of August 12-13 is the predicted peak night of the Peresid Meteor Shower. But you can look for the next few nights after the peak night. This article will tell you what you need to know to see and photograph the most popular meteor shower of the year.

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Total Immersion Nature Photography Weekend in Beautiful Northern Michigan

Michigan Photography Workshop

Are 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 7-10, 2019.

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Favorite Photo, March 10

Orion's Belt, Sword, and the Orion Nebula in the middle of the sword.
Orion’s Belt, Sword, and the Orion Nebula in the middle of the sword. 300mm lens and camera mounted on an iOptron SkyTracker

I had recently acquired an iOptron SkyTracker but cloudy night skies in Columbus Ohio had prevented me from trying it out. My first clear night came during a visit to Lamoni Iowa, a location that is also blessed with dark skies far from big city lights.

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Why and When To Set A Custom White Balance

piano reflection portrait
Piano Reflection Portrait

Why set a custom white balance? The answer is simple. To get the best, most accurate colors your camera is capable of producing. It is especially important when photographing people if you want beautiful, accurate skin tones. In this article I give you some shooting tips, answer common questions, and I cover the situations when it is preferable not do a custom white balance.

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How To Set A Custom White Balance on Your Digital Camera

 

Before and after setting a custom white balance.

Before and after setting a custom white balance.

To get the most accurate colors your camera is capable of creating you need to set a custom white balance. Every camera does this a little differently, but it involves taking a picture of an 18% gray card (or something pure white) and using that photo as a standard to create a custom white balance setting. I will show you the process with a Canon camera, but other brands should be somewhat similar. Check your camera’s manual for specific instructions.

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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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