The 30 Second Secret to Great Colors

Paul Davis, Before (top image) and After (bottom image).

30 seconds of your time can make the difference between disappointing colors and great colors. That is the difference between these two photos. The top image is skewed toward yellow and green tones. It is most obvious in the white part of the EXIT sign, the white stripes of the U.S. flag and the white candle next to the speaker’s podium. The speaker has yellow-ish skin and and the blue walls are greenish in the top photo. In the bottom image all of that has been fixed. The flag looks much better, the candle is pure white, and the blue walls are actually blue. Most important, the skin tones (my primary goal) are so much better. The yellow skin is gone.

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In Remembrance: A Brief History of Memorial Day

Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Washington D.C.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Washington D.C.

Richard Duane Klug (the name just above the rose) was born January 26, 1946. He died in Darlac Province, Vietnam, November 14, 1967 at the age of 21. He is one of over 58,000 American soldiers that died in Vietnam, and one of over 1.1 million American soldiers that have died in all American wars (almost half of them in the Civil War).

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Photos: The Super Flower Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse, May 15, 2022

Lunar Eclipse from southern Iowa, May 15, 2022. Click for a somewhat larger image.

It was a beautiful night for photographing the lunar eclipse. This was early in the totality phase at 10:37 pm CDT. I picked this image as my favorite because I like the star background and especially the three stars in a row right below the moon. Not long after I created this image the moon slid in front of the middle star in this trio and, at least to my eye, it was not as pleasing a composition.

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How To Photograph the Super Flower Blood Moon Eclipse, May 15-16, 2022

Lunar Eclipse, Super Blood Moon, Horseshoe Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Total Lunar Eclipse, Super Blood Moon, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, September 27, 2015

Don’t miss it. This is the first of only two total lunar eclipses this year. This total eclipse happens this Sunday-Monday, May 15-16 (depending on our time zone). This article will show you how to photograph it. To see it, just walk outside and look. Continue reading

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Screen capture: geography quiz question.

Last night I got sucked in to doing a U.S. Geography quiz (link below). I got every answer right until I came to this question: “This western state shares a border with west Kansas, and has its highest mountain peak at 6,800 feet, and the lowest valley at 3,317 feet below sea level?” As you can see, I was given four answers to choose from, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, and Arkansas. The question and the answers are all wrong. Note that the quiz used a photo of Colorado mountains as a hint.

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Graceland University Graduation, May 1, 2022

Graceland University Graduation, Lamoni Iowa.

It was my happy privilege to photograph the 125th Commencement at Graceland University in Lamoni Iowa. Graceland is a special place. Both of my parents, my brother, and one of our children went to Graceland. I put together a selection of photos to post here, including all the picture taking after the ceremony. Click on any image to see a somewhat larger version.

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You Can Create High Quality Digital Images of Analog Prints, Even if You are Traveling

Doris. The digitized copy of an original print.

You can create high quality, high resolution digital images of analog prints, and you can do it on the road without having a flatbed scanner and computer with you. You probably have everything you need with the possible exception of a couple of small, inexpensive accessories (less than $10 each). This article will show you what to do, step by step.

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Series: Channeling My Inner . . .

This series of articles is devoted to several photographers and one painter that inspire me. Some of them I have known for decades. Others I have discovered in the last few years. Books by and about them line my bookshelves. Each article has examples of my work and their work. That does not mean I am as good as they are. But I keep trying. Their work has somehow become a part of me. We can all learn from people who do such outstanding work.

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Patrick Demarchelier (21 August 1943 – 31 March 2022)

Patrick Demarchelier

It is with sadness that I note the passing of Patrick Demarchelier. He was one of the best fashion and portrait photographers. He worked with the best of the best fashion models, as well as celebrities. Princess Diana called him “a dream” to work with. When she learned of his death, Cindy Crawford posted an image Demarchelier created of her in India (see below) and wrote: “Thanks for so many great memories and beautiful, timeless images.”

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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 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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Saturday Night Dance Performance at Graceland University

Dance Performance, Living Art Studios and the Graceland Gadets. March 19, 2022.

The dance classes at Living Art Studios in Lamoni Iowa teamed up with the Graceland Gadets for a dance performance Saturday night at Graceland University’s Shaw Auditorium. A large and appreciative crowd thoroughly enjoyed the evening. The Gadets alternated numbers with the dance classes. As the last indoor performance of the year for the Gadets, individuals were given awards for the year, and all of the senior Gadets were recognized.

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Searching for a Photo Location

Western Scrub-Jay
Western Scrub-Jay, Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife, Fremont California. January 9, 2014.

In late February I set out to find the location of my best Western Scrub-Jay photos, taken January 9, 2014. Why? Partly out of curiosity and partly because photo editors are asking for GPS coordinates of the nature and wildlife photos they might publish. 8 years ago my serious cameras did not have built in GPS units.

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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 120 years ago today, 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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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

Jennifer 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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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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