I'll be posting some random thoughts here about my photography: my travel plans, technical information behind some images, stories about how certain pictures were captured, etc.  The timing of the postings will also be random as my priority is capturing new images rather than writing about existing ones.  I hope you will feel free to comment on any of my postings and I appreciate you taking time to read my entries.

 

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"Orangutan" Wins Photo of the Day!

May 18, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

This morning, my "Orangutan" picture won Imaging Resource's "Photo of the Day". CLICK HERE to view Imaging Resource's Photo of the Day page.

This image was captured during my last trip to the Brookfield Zoo. I recently posted a blog entry about this particular photograph.

This marks the 41st time that one of my photographs was recognized by Imaging Resource as its "Photo of the Day". Click here to view all of the winning entries over the past few years.

OrangutanOrangutanImaging Resource's Photo of the Day for May 18, 2017


A Single Dandelion

May 12, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Last week, I created a number of photographs using different perspectives of a single dandelion clock. All of these pictures were created with my Nikon D800 and Nikon 200 f4 Micro lens.

Dandelion clockDandelion clockDandelion clock in Orland Park, Illinois on April 28, 2017 Dandelion clockDandelion clockDandelion clock in Orland Park, Illinois on April 28, 2017 Dandelion clockDandelion clockDandelion clock in Orland Park, Illinois on April 28, 2017 Dandelion clockDandelion clockDandelion clock in Orland Park, Illinois on April 28, 2017 Dandelion clockDandelion clockDandelion clock in Orland Park, Illinois on April 28, 2017 Macro photography allows a photographer to capture images of ordinary things in a way that is not ordinarily seen.


Welcome To My 200,000th Visitor!

May 07, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

This morning, my website welcomed its 200,000th visitor! This number counts only unique visitors--in other words, repeat visits are not counted in this total.

These visitors originate from 157 countries and represent all 7 continents (including Antarctica).

The internet makes it possible to share my photographs with so many people from around the World. I hope you enjoy the images half as much as I enjoy creating them.


"Sandy Beach" Photo Wins Third Place for March

May 03, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

On March 24th, my "Sandy Beach" photograph won Imaging Resource's Photo of the Day. At the end of each month, the judges at Imaging Resource review the daily winners and select the top five photographs for the month. The top three photos are awarded prizes (Adorama gift cards) and the other two are recognized as runner-ups.

My "Sandy Beach" photograph was awarded Third Place for the month of March, 2017. CLICK HERE to view the winning entries as well as all the daily winners for the month.


Dome Day

April 30, 2017  •  2 Comments

Yesterday, all of my Shutterstock sales were photographs of domes! It must have been Dome Day...or more precisely, State Capitol Dome Day!


Really Tiny Flowers!

April 27, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Last week, I captured some photographs of some very tiny flowers that I discovered while taking a walk around my neighborhood. First, I created pictures of pear tree blossoms--which are plentiful right now in our area.

Pear Tree BlossomPear Tree BlossomPear tree blossom in Orland Park, Illinois on April 19, 2017 Pear Tree BlossomPear Tree BlossomPear tree blossom in Orland Park, Illinois on April 19, 2017 Later in the week, I came across these small purple and white flowers. I'm told that these are called Indian hawthornes. These flowers are the same size as the pear blossoms.

Purple and white flowerPurple and white flowerTiny purple and white Indian hawthorne flower in Orland Park, Illinois on April 23, 2017 Purple and white flowerPurple and white flowerTiny purple and white Indian hawthorne flower in Orland Park, Illinois on April 23, 2017 So, are you wondering how tiny these flowers really are?

To provide a sense of scale, I took the next picture with my iPhone. And, no...I don't have a giant hand!

Really Tiny FlowerReally Tiny FlowerI captured this image of an Indian hawthorne flower in my hand with my iPhone. This photo gives a sense of scale to the other images of these tiny flowers in my collection. To view more of my images of these tiny flowers, please CLICK HERE.

To create these images, I used my Nikon D800 and Nikon 200 f4 Micro lens. I also used extension tubes for many of the photographs. A solid tripod also came in handy as there's no way that I can hold the camera steady enough at such a high magnification.


"Ko Olina Beach" Wins Photo of the Day!

April 21, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

My "Ko Olina Beach" picture won Imaging Resource's "Photo of the Day". CLICK HERE to view Imaging Resource's Photo of the Day page.

This image was captured during my trip earlier this year to Oahu. This is the second photograph to win a photo contest from my trip to the island.

This marks the 40th time that one of my photographs was recognized by Imaging Resource as its "Photo of the Day". Click here to view all of the winning entries over the past few years.

Ko Olina Beach ParkKo Olina Beach ParkImaging Resource's Photo of the Day for April 21, 2017


Orangutan Portrait

April 18, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Last month, I visited the Tropic World exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo to capture some pictures of the orangutans.

Below is a portrait of Sophia, a female orangutan that often poses for me during my visits:

OrangutanOrangutanFemale orangutan, Sophia, at the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Illinois on February 27, 2017

One challenge with zoo photography is controlling the backgrounds. Fortunately, many of the exhibits at the Brookfield Zoo feature backgrounds that more closely match a natural environment. One approach that I use is to wait until an animal enters an area of the exhibit with an acceptable background before taking any pictures.

When the distance between the subject and the background increases, it's far easier to create background blur. Background blur places more emphasis on the subject--which is a good thing. Using a wide aperture also helps blur the background. I used my Nikon 300 2.8 VR lens for this image. I opened the lens all the way (f/2.8) to create this look for the background. At f/2.8, the Nikon 300 2.8 lens is an ideal "background eraser"!

Another challenge with zoo photography in indoor exhibits is the lighting. I try to use the lowest ISO setting possible to maximize image quality. However, it's also important to select a fast enough shutter speed to create a sharp photograph. For this image, I pushed the limit by selecting an ISO of 500--which resulted in a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second at f/2.8. 1/60th is pushing it. Many photographers don't like to use shutter speeds slower than 1 over the focal length of the lens--which in this case would be 1/300th.

By using a slow shutter speed of 1/60th rather than let's say 1/500th, I'm able to use an ISO of 500 rather than an ISO of 4,000. Additionally, by using an aperture of f/2.8 instead of let's say f/4 (which is still fast), I'm able to save another stop of light. At f/4 and 1/500th, my ISO would have been 8,000 (hardly worth bothering to take the picture with my D800).

Creating a sharp picture would be nearly impossible at 1/60th with a 300mm lens without incorporating further tools. Of course, a tripod is essential. Having my camera locked down on a solid tripod allows me to shoot at lower shutter speeds for maximum image quality. I also used a Nikon SB-900 flash unit. That short burst of light helps freeze any movement at this lower shutter speed.

CLICK HERE if you wish to view more images from my photo shoot.


Backlighting at Polynesian Cultural Center

April 11, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

During my recent trip to Hawaii, I enjoyed capturing photographs at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). The PCC is very photographer friendly. They permitted me to carry all kinds of gear--including my massive 500mm lens. They also allowed me to shoot from a tripod at all locations, including the various shows. The only event that was off limits was the "Ha: Breath of Life" live performance evening show.

My only problem while shooting at the PCC was the sun! I visited the Center on three separate days, and each day the sky was clear. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. This might sound ideal for the ordinary visitor. But, this direct sun is a photographer's nightmare. The lighting is very harsh. Shadows go black and highlights get blown out. It's particularly unappealing when taking pictures of people--and people were my primary subjects at that location.

During my first visit, I selected a location where I could capture pictures of the Canoe Pageant with a clean background. However, the sunlight was so harsh and the shadows so dark that most of my pictures weren't worth the time to process them. I returned for a second time in hope of some cloud cover. Earlier that day, the sky was cloudy and the light was soft and diffused. But about 15 minutes before the Canoe Pageant started (it starts at 2:30 PM every day), the clouds cleared and the sun once again made the light impossible to manage. My approach was to only take photographs during the brief time that a canoe entered some shade cover. This severely limited my photo opportunities.

Following is one of the images that was captured in this unappealing light:

Polynesian Cultural CenterPolynesian Cultural CenterPolynesian Cultural Center at 55-370 Kamehameha Highway in Laie, Hawaii on January 26, 2017

On my third visit, I used a very different approach. This is an approach that most portrait photographers would probably have thought of to begin with! My approach was to set up in a location where I was shooting directly into the sun. That way, the light would be even on the faces and people wouldn't be squinting while looking toward the bright light. This approach worked well for me.

Here are a couple of examples of how I used backlighting to create more appealing images in the same conditions that the above picture was taken:

Polynesian Cultural CenterPolynesian Cultural CenterPolynesian Cultural Center at 55-370 Kamehameha Highway in Laie, Hawaii on January 28, 2017 Polynesian Cultural CenterPolynesian Cultural CenterPolynesian Cultural Center at 55-370 Kamehameha Highway in Laie, Hawaii on January 28, 2017

This solution worked for me. I only wish I had thought of it sooner.


My Next Great Adventure

April 06, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Planning is already underway for my next major road trip! This summer trip will cover a wide loop around the western portion of the United States. This journey will take more than a month and over 7,000 miles to complete.

Here's my preliminary itinerary (with just a few of the attractions noted):

1- Minneapolis, MN - revisit MN State Capitol

2- Bismarck, ND - revisit ND State Capitol

3- Billings, MT

4- Helena, MT - revisit MT State Capitol

5- Kalispell, MT - Glacier National Park

6- Kalispell, MT - Triple D Game Ranch

7- Kalispell, MT

8- Kalispell, MT

9- Spokane, WA - Manito Park

10- Colfax, WA - Steptoe Butte

11- Crater Lake, OR

12- Crater Lake, OR

13- Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA

14- Fresno, CA

15- Los Angeles, CA - the Broad, Petersen Automobile Museum

16- Los Angeles, CA

17- Oceanside, CA

18- San Diego, CA

19- San Diego, CA

20- Las Vegas, NV - Neon Museum

21- Las Vegas, NV - Valley of Fire

22- Las Vegas, NV - Fremont Street

23- Tucson, AZ - Mission San Zavier del Bac

24- Tucson, AZ - Saguaro National Park

25- Tucson, AZ - University of Arizona

26- El Paso, TX - Mission Trail

27- El Paso, TX

28- Amarillo, TX

29- Witchita, KS

30- Witchita, KS

31- Hannibal, MO

32- Orland Park, IL

 

 

 

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