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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The Sunny f16 Rule: Basic Daylight Exposure (BDE)

Red Rock Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

A Quick “Sunny f16” Summary

As long as the sun is high in the sky and not obscured by clouds, haze, smoke, dust, or other particulates in the air, it is a constant light source. That is why the Sunny f16 rule usually works in spring, summer, fall, and also winter as long as there isn’t any snow on the ground. (If there is snow on the ground, read this article.) The Sunny f16 rule, also known as Basic Daylight Exposure (BDE), (or the “fig” rule because f16 hand written looks like the word fig), is pretty simple.

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Where was this Photo taken? How to Use an EXIF Viewer to Find the Location of an Online Photo.

Greater Prairie Chickens fighting. February 25, 8:34 am.

Most smart phones and some digital cameras record the GPS coordinates of a photo every time the shutter button is pressed, provided you have that feature turned on. If you find a photo on the internet, you can use an EXIF Viewer to see if the GPS coordinates are embedded in the online photo. Not all cameras have this capability, and some photographers strip that information out of their photos before they post them online. I really appreciate landscape photographers that leave the GPS data in their online photos.

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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.

Do not look at the sun on eclipse day (or any other day) through a 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 your guide to photograph the Second “Great American Eclipse”, April 8, 20124.  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.

Originally posted Jun 26, 2017. Revised and updated February 22, 2024.

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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 122 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. Continue reading

Greater Prairie Chicken Excitement!

Greater Prairie Chicken near Elk Chapel Road, Decatur County Iowa.  February 15, 2024. 5:24 pm.

A male Greater Prairie Chicken has taken up residence on the edge of a cornfield about 30-40 feet from a county highway, much to the delight of bird watchers. I got a call from a friend, so I grabbed my camera gear and drove out to the location.  This image (above) was taken with the sun low in the west so this prairie chicken has wonderful, warm backlighting. Compare this light to the next photo.

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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 Protect Your Camera Gear in the Cold and Snow

Bruce Canyon After An Overnight Snow

Bryce Canyon After An Overnight Snowstorm

It is still really cold out there so be careful to protect your camera gear. Cold and snow can cause a lot of damage to your camera gear. Something as simple as shooting outside and taking your camera inside your house or car can cause hidden damage that won’t show up until days or weeks later. The simple steps in this article could save you hundreds of dollars in repair bills.

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“Black and White”

“Black and White”, Giulietta Luna, Columbus Ohio. Click image to see a larger version.

These images were created 14 hours apart, the first at night against a black backdrop and the second in the afternoon against a bright, window shade. In the second she is entirely backlit. It did not occur to me until this week that these two images could be combined. It is a happy accident that they are facing each other.

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Beth in the Snow

Beth playing her violin in the snow.

February 12 is a red letter day!  It started when Beth and I did a photo shoot in a snow storm in January 2020.  We had so much fun we wanted to do it again. I was working in my office four years ago today and I looked out the window. Big, beautiful snowflakes were falling. I said to myself, “This would be a great day for another photo shoot in the snow.”

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60 Years Ago Today!

The Beatles, February 9, 1964.

60 years ago today I was watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. It was huge. I was in junior high school. I thought they were fun. My girlfriend thought they were fabulous. I quickly figured out that I should go along with her assessment.


Sunset Collage by Ciro Russo

12 Sunsets by Ciro Russo

I love this collage. It has gone viral. 12 photos of sunset from the same location, January through December. I found the site that says the photographer is Ciro Russo (he signed the collage twice), but gives no additional information about him. As nearly as I can tell, he is Italian, but I have been unable to find a web site with more details about this set of images.

The Best National Parks to Photograph in Winter

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

There is still some winter left and some national parks look much better than others in winter. I am sharing this post again for those of you who might be planning a trip.

Winter provides some wonderful photo opportunities in our national parks. But some national parks look much better in the winter than others. So if you haven’t gone into hibernation for the winter, here are the best national parks to go photograph this winter, grouped by state from the west to the east. There are a few bonus locations thrown in too. At the end I give you my “best of the best” list.

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Who is this woman? Why does it matter?

“NT” on Facebook, October 25, 2020.

This all started when I learned that an older acquaintance on Facebook was being taken in by a fake account. He really believed he had a special friendship with a beautiful young woman half way across the country. I was not able to convince him he was being scammed until I showed him the photo and the account of the real person whose photo had been stolen to create the fake account. “But she is so nice,” he said. In his head he got it, but in his heart he still wanted to believe it was a real woman that really liked him.

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Selina, Downtown Columbus Ohio. January 29, 2010.

Selina, Downtown Columbus Ohio. January 29, 2010.

Selina and I created this image 14 years ago this evening. Some models are a dream to work with and Selina is one of them, which is why we did more than one photo shoot. The windchill when I took this photo was 4°F. We scheduled this photo shoot weeks ahead of time and we knew it would be cold in January, but not THIS bone chillingly cold. I contacted her before she left home and asked if she wanted to re-schedule. She wanted to go ahead with the shoot despite the forecast and she drove up from Kentucky.

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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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