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.



Clamp It!

August 20, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

During my recent 32 day road trip, I used a tripod for the vast majority of my shots. But, there were times when using a tripod wasn't possible. In some locations, tripods aren't permitted. In other situations, the positioning required of the camera made a tripod impractical.

Fortunately, the RRS Multi-Clamp enabled me to secure my camera and capture shots in certain situations where the use of a tripod wasn't possible. I carry this small piece of equipment in my camera bag at all times.

I just started processing photographs from my journey. During just the first day of shooting (in St. Paul, MN), the clamp allowed me to capture two pictures that would otherwise not have been possible.


This image of the Minnesota House of Representatives required the clamp. Access was restricted to the chamber floor by a tall gate. This gate was about 7 feet tall. I clamped the camera to the top of the gate in a position that allowed me capture a symmetrical image of the chamber. The camera was so high that I couldn't see through the viewfinder, so I used the Live View feature on the D800 to align the lens. Here's how the set up looked:

And, here's the processed photograph:

Lady MinnesotaLady MinnesotaMinnesota House of Representatives chamber in the State Capitol at 75 Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 16, 2017 So, why was stabilizing the camera so important?

  • The chamber is dark. My base exposure was 1.3 seconds at f/9 at ISO 100. Nobody can hold the camera steady for 1.3 seconds. And, I try not to boost the ISO settings as that compromises image quality.
  • This photograph required bracketed exposures to retain detail in the highlights. I captured the same image with a shutter speed of 1/8 second to tame the highlights.

To illustrate the benefit of bracketed exposures, take a look at the very best exposure that I could generate with a single click. If this is all I could capture, I wouldn't bother taking the picture:

Lady MinnesotaLady MinnesotaMinnesota House of Representatives chamber in the State Capitol at 75 Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 16, 2017 PHOTO #2

Later that day, I visited the Sunken Garden at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. As with the above situation, I wanted to bracket my exposures inside this greenhouse. I also needed a rather wide depth of field for this picture.

Sunken GardenSunken GardenSunken garden at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at 1225 Estabrook Drive in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 16, 2017

The Conservatory prohibits the use of a tripod. So, out came my RRS Multi-Clamp!

It wasn't long before I was approached by a staff member of the Conservatory. She told me that tripods weren't allowed. I pointed to my tripod...which was laying on the ground next to me...and said that I read the policy and was using the clamp so as to avoid getting in the way of other visitors. After a short hesitation, she acknowledged that I was in compliance of the rules as written. I was permitted to continue shooting!

Later in the trip, I captured some of my favorite photographs by using the clamp. It helped me position the camera over the edge of railings to capture pictures of interesting staircases. Now, the clamp isn't cheap. But, it's worth the extra money to me to secure my camera and lens while it's hanging over a railing!

The clamp also lets me shoot in such a way as to not attract the attention of security as quickly as when I am using a tripod. I stand very close to the clamp and camera so that it appears as though I am just standing against the railing while looking over a scene.

I'm Back

August 15, 2017  •  3 Comments

After 32 days on the road, I'm back home! 

This long road trip covered more than 7,500 miles (7,634 to be exact) and 16 states (IL, WI, MN, ND, MT, ID, WA, CA, NV, AZ, TX, NM, OK, KS, MO, IA).

At one point, I was just miles from the Canadian border. Later in trip, I was only yards from the Mexican border. At one point, waves from the Pacific Ocean rolled over my feet while I was photographing a sunset.

The Prius burned 146 gallons of gas over the entire trip (52.4 mpg). The cost of fuel was $356. The price per gallon of gas varied from as low as $1.87 in some of the Midwestern states to nearly $4.00 per gallon in Los Angeles.

CLICK HERE to view my daily itinerary.

Now comes the task of processing all of the images. I will likely be editing pictures into the Winter months.

Extreme Symmetry

August 07, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Many of my photographs feature symmetry. Several of my images also feature a vanishing point--such as the door at the end of the corridor in the first picture or the painting on the back wall of the House of Representatives chamber in the second picture. Of course, symmetry is common with architecture. Here are a few symmetrical images from an earlier photography trip:

Capitol hallway House of Representatives chamber Supreme Court Chamber Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Senate Chamber I am seeing symmetry everywhere I look--even with these doors at the Ohio Statehouse!
Door handles

With all of this focus on symmetry, I began to wonder why it is that viewers generally find symmetry to be an attractive element within a photograph. Certainly, it brings a sense of order to the image. Could it be that human beings find beauty in symmetry because our own bodies are symmetrical?


Barred from Pumping My Own Gas

July 28, 2017  •  1 Comment

Since my Prius gets such good gas mileage, I was several hundreds of miles into the state of Oregon before I realized that the process of pumping gas was different from other states.

After a long drive, I pulled into an Oregon gas station and got out of the car to stretch my legs and pump the gas. As I approached the pump, an attendant ran up to me and asked for my credit card. He informed me that I was not allowed to pump my own gas. I told him that I didn't realize I had pulled up to a full service pump--and that I would move my car. He replied that there wasn't a self-service gas station in the entire state!

So, as I stood right next to him, he swiped my credit card and then handed it back to me. He then filled my tank while I stood right there. When I asked him why this was necessary, he told me that it was all about job creation. I don't intend for this photography blog to contain political posts, but I can't understand how putting people to work providing a service that I don't want or need (with the resulting higher price of gas) can be a good thing in the long run.

Later, I learned through Wikepedia that a "1951 Oregon statue banning self-service gasoline lists 17 different justifications, including the flammability of gas, the risk of crime from customers leaving their car, the toxic fumes emitted by gasoline, and the jobs created by requiring mini service."

Vintage Shell Gas PumpVintage Shell Gas PumpVintage Shell gas station pump on US 101 (Olympic Highway) in downtown Aberdeen, Washington on August 6, 2013

Another thing I learned while traveling through Oregon is that the state doesn't have any sales taxes. The total charge for a large Diet Coke off the $1 Menu at McDonald's was exactly $1.

My aunt and uncle happened to be attending a conference in Eugene, Oregon while I was in Oregon. So, I drove to Eugene to meet them for breakfast. When my uncle picked up the check after breakfast, I told him that I would gladly pick up the sales tax!

Microstock Earnings through June

July 21, 2017  •  7 Comments

My monthly microstock earnings came in at $807 for June. Overall, earnings are on a downward spiral. My Shutterstock earnings, in particular, are taking a big hit.

Following is a summary of my monthly earnings:

Big Waves

July 15, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Years ago, I was shooting the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach. The waves from the Pacific Ocean were washing up along the shore. I was keeping an eye on the waves and thought I had plenty of time at the location because the sand was still dry for at least a couple hundred feet from me. So, I placed my camera bag on the sand and started changing the lens on my camera. With my camera bag wide open, and my camera and four lenses sitting exposed, I suddenly felt a wave crash into me at about knee high. As quickly as I could, I lifted the camera bag and dumped the salt water from it. Fortunately, the lens caps were in place and none of the water touched any of my glass. I rushed back to my hotel and spent the next few hours cleaning my gear with canned air and a vacuum! I was very lucky not to lose all of my equipment on the very first day of a two week photography trip. This experience taught me a valuable lesson about waves. Here's a picture from Baker Beach from that day:

Golden Gate BridgeGolden Gate BridgeWave from the Pacific Ocean in front of the Golden Gate Bridge as viewed from Baker Beach in San Francisco, California on January 30, 2011

This lesson came in handy during my recent trip to Hawaii. One night I was photographing the sunset from Waimiea Beach on the North Shore of Oahu. I, along with about ten other people, walked a bit past a "no swimming" sign to set up for the sunset. As a result of my experience at Baker Beach, I no longer lay my backpack on the sand. My backpack was on my back.

During my time at Waimiea Beach, I was fascinated with the big waves. Until then, I never saw waves that high. I'm sure they get higher there, but these waves exceeded 30 feet. After a while, I started concentrating on getting photographs of the sunset--which was taking place to my far left. Apparently I wasn't paying enough attention to the ocean.

Suddenly, I heard a lifeguard shouting over a speaker system that everyone better move back because a big wave was approaching. I looked to my right toward the ocean and was stunned to see what appeared to be a wave of about 30 feet quickly approaching the area where all of us were standing. I grabbed my tripod and sprinted away from the sea. The wave came crashing down and then fizzled out several feet behind me. If I hadn't moved so quickly, my equipment would have been soaked with sandy saltwater for sure. Most likely, I would have lost my camera and tripod. Worse yet, I could easily have been swept out to sea.

The lifeguard then told everyone that it wasn't safe to walk in areas where the sand is smooth. He said to stay in areas with a lot of footprints. He also told me that if I get swept out to sea that I shouldn't fight the wave...just go with it and it would be possible to return to the shore later. Given the power of the waves and the cold temperature of the water, this advice wan't overly comforting. It only reinforced why I should stay well away from the water!

Then, the lifeguard announced that he was leaving for the night. The sun had set and his shift was over. He said that if anyone got pulled into the sea by a wave, someone on the beach should call 911.

I don't think my photograph of the big waves of Waimiea Beach do the waves justice, but here's one that I captured some time before the big one made me sprint away from the scene:

Waimea Bay Beach ParkWaimea Bay Beach ParkWaimea Bay Beach Park at 61-31 Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa, Hawaii on January 25, 2017

It's a Triple Play!

July 10, 2017  •  2 Comments

On June 7th, my photograph of a mural in Austin, Texas sold three times within a five minute time period. It's a triple play!

Since I uploaded it, this image has sold more than 60 times through Dreamstime alone. Obviously, receiving 35 cents for a download isn't all that exciting. But, the image has generated more than $400 to date.

To view more of my favorite Wall Art photographs, please CLICK HERE.

"Green Leaf" Wins Photo of the Day!

July 03, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

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

I found this leaf right outside my front door. I wasn't expecting it to be a very interesting subject, but it suddenly became more interesting when viewing it through my macro lens. I recently posted a blog entry about this photo shoot. I captured this picture inside my mini studio in the kitchen.

This marks the 43rd 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.

Green LeafGreen LeafImaging Resource's Photo of the Day for July 3, 2017

In the Eye of the Beholder

June 26, 2017  •  5 Comments

You never can tell which pictures will sell. Yesterday, a buyer paid $120 for a digital download of one of my photographs. This is a picture that I captured many years ago in Traverse City, Michigan. I'm a little baffled about why it sold. Honestly, I'm not quite sure why I even took the picture!

Microstock Earnings through May

June 22, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

My monthly microstock earnings came in at $921 for May. Fotolia earnings exceeded $100 for the fourth consecutive month. iStock earnings fell to half the level of the previous month. Shutterstock earnings continue in a downward trend.

Following is a summary of my monthly earnings: