Glenn Nagel Photography: Blog http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog en-us (C) Glenn Nagel Photography gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) Sun, 30 Apr 2017 19:07:00 GMT Sun, 30 Apr 2017 19:07:00 GMT http://www.nagelphotography.com/img/s1/v5/u676558798-o97441262-50.jpg Glenn Nagel Photography: Blog http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog 86 120 Dome Day http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/4/dome-day Yesterday, all of my Shutterstock sales were photographs of domes! It must have been Dome Day...or more precisely, State Capitol Dome Day!

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) architecture capitol dome downloads microstock sales shutterstock state http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/4/dome-day Sun, 30 Apr 2017 19:06:57 GMT
Really Tiny Flowers! http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/4/really-tiny-flowers 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.

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) flowers indian hawthorne macro pear blossom plant spring tiny http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/4/really-tiny-flowers Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:23:00 GMT
"Ko Olina Beach" Wins Photo of the Day! http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/4/-ko-olina-beach-wins-photo-of-the-day 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

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) award contest hawaii ko olina landscape long exposure oahu photo contest seascape http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/4/-ko-olina-beach-wins-photo-of-the-day Fri, 21 Apr 2017 21:15:00 GMT
Orangutan Portrait http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/4/orangutan-portrait 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.

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) animals aperture backgrounds blur depth of field equipment exposure flash orangutans shutter speed tripod http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/4/orangutan-portrait Tue, 18 Apr 2017 12:17:32 GMT
Backlighting at Polynesian Cultural Center http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/4/backlighting-at-pcc 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.

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) backlighting hawaii oahu pcc people polynesian cultural center portraits sunlight http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/4/backlighting-at-pcc Tue, 11 Apr 2017 15:49:12 GMT
My Next Great Adventure http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/4/my-next-great-adventure 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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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) attractions itinerary planning road trip travel trip http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/4/my-next-great-adventure Thu, 06 Apr 2017 12:26:05 GMT
Brushing in Some Sharpness http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/4/brushing-in-some-sharpness Last month, I attended the Out of Chicago Winter Conference. During this photography conference, a few hours were set aside for the conference participants to shoot various subjects. Several photographers congregated around many of the flowers that were on display.

One of the photography decisions to make when shooting these orchids is to select an aperture. Like many of the photographers, I wanted a narrow depth of field. It's a challenge selecting an aperture in which the front orchid is in sharp focus while the other flowers drop out of focus. If I went with a wide aperture, the front flower wasn't in focus enough for my liking. But if I narrowed the aperture, the background became too sharp.

Here's how I solved this problem. I used two apertures! I used the extremely narrow aperture of f/20 to ensure that the front orchid is entirely in focus. Then, I used a nearly wide open aperture (f/4.2) to allow the background to drop out of focus and become less distracting. This approach involved taking two exposures--one at each aperture:

Then, I layered these two frames in Photoshop:

Note that the f/4.2 layer is my base and that the f/20 exposure is placed on a layer above that. From there, I painted in the f/20 sharpness (white reveals, black conceals) on the mask to the right of the f/20 layer. The end result is that the front orchid is sharp at f/20 while the remainder of the image is soft at f/4.2. In my mind, I ended up with the best of both worlds!

Here's the final photograph:

OrchidsOrchidsPink and yellow orchids at the Out of Chicago Winter Conference at the University Center of the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois on February 18, 2017

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) aperture blending flowers orchid photoshop plants selective focus http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/4/brushing-in-some-sharpness Sun, 02 Apr 2017 14:19:22 GMT
Captivity Galore... http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/captivity-galore Over the years, I have visited the Brookfield Zoo (as well as many other zoos from around the country) countless times. For the most part, the Brookfield Zoo has been a paradise for photographers. Interesting subjects are relatively close by. And, the Brookfield Zoo generally uses moats (rather than more obstructive glass, cages, fencing) to separate visitors from the animals.

In recent years, I feel that the zoo experience has diminished. Perhaps it's that I'm gaining a greater appreciation of the price that's being paid by a wild animal being held in captivity. Most animals yearn to be free. And, animals that know nothing other than captivity (that's even sadder) eventually lose their purpose for being--they no longer practice the productive skills that they utilize in the wild.

Zoos serve a purpose. Zoos are critical for educating people on the necessity of preserving our wild places and our wild animals. But, when I see a majestic lion or bear pacing endlessly in a small loop (as I did today)--I feel sorry for the animal that is paying the price for our education. Also during my visit today, I was saddened to see a giant anteater pacing in a tight circle for nearly 15 consecutive minutes. I feel even sadder for the animal after I've witnessed how much this contrasts with how they behave in the wild.

But, let's make the assumption (a valid one) that zoos play an important role in educating the public and in promoting conservation. Even so, I would like to see our zoos allocate more space to the animals and a bit less to the people. Earlier this week, I visited the Brookfield Zoo--and noticed that many of the recent renovations are all about the people and very little about the animals. For example, the biggest money right now is being spent on expanding the entrance road and stations into the zoo. Other recent initiatives that are evident are the restroom renovations and event spaces.

As I walk around the Zoo, I notice many exhibits that have been closed for quite some time--or have transitioned into something else (not allocated to animals). For example, the old bear exhibits have sat empty for many years. A while back, the Zoo covered these empty exhibits with colorful plywood. The baboon island has been empty for years--and will eventually be replaced with something else I suppose. The jellyfish exhibit disappeared in favor of a peacock statue after thousands of jellyfish died there. The Pachyderm House sits half empty--and there hasn't been an elephant housed in that exhibit for years. The old Reptile House has been converted into administrative offices.

So, as you look at the map of the Brookfield Zoo, you'll notice that most of it is RED...those are areas devoted to people activities: parking lots, a carousel (really?), restrooms, parks, restaurants, concession stands, an event area, playgrounds, fountains, etc. The area where the captive animals are free to roam are colored in YELLOW. WHITE represents areas within box that are not controlled by the Zoo.

So, what percentage of this area is allocated to the animals? Maybe 5-10% of this already relatively small area in the western suburbs of Chicago? How much of the Zoo's property is dedicated to parking? Maybe 20%? I think we can do better than this.

 

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) animals brookfield zoo captivity photography zoo http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/captivity-galore Wed, 29 Mar 2017 20:28:36 GMT
"Sandy Beach Sunrise" Wins Photo of the Day! http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/-sandy-beach-sunrise-wins-photo-of-the-day This morning, my "Sandy Beach Sunrise" 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 photograph was captured early in my trip and was the first beach that I visited on the island during my two week stay.

This marks the 39th 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.

Sandy Beach SunriseSandy Beach SunriseImaging Resource's Photo of the Day for March 24, 2017

Third Place Winner for month of March, 2017

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) contest hawaii honolulu oahu sandy beach seascape winner http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/-sandy-beach-sunrise-wins-photo-of-the-day Fri, 24 Mar 2017 11:00:38 GMT
Microstock Earnings through February http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/microstock-earnings-through-february This morning, iStock reported earnings for February. So, I've updated my earnings report through last month.

My monthly microstock earnings once again exceeded $1,000. For the third month out of the last four months, iStock posted revenues in excess of $200. Fotolia generated $124 during the month--which is the highest monthly revenue from that agency since I started uploading there back in June.

Following is a summary of my monthly earnings:

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) business earnings fotolia istock microstock revenues sales shutterstock trend http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/microstock-earnings-through-february Tue, 21 Mar 2017 12:57:59 GMT
African Wild Dogs Go Wild on Microstock! http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/african-wild-dogs-go-wild-on-microstock Yesterday, one of my African wild dog photographs sold under Shutterstock's "On Demand" category. The photographer usually gets paid $2.85 for an "On Demand" upload. Shortly thereafter, five more pictures of African wild dogs sold.

Unfortunately, $2.85 is a decent amount of revenue these days for a microstock sale. Although I have averaged over $1,000 per month in microstock revenues over the past few years, my average commission per download is around $1.00. That means that it takes a lot of volume to make any money at all in microstock. I have to sell more than 1,000 images a month to generate that revenue stream!

Yesterday, the six African wild dog pictures generated $17.10 of revenue in a time period of just a few minutes.

The African wild dogs went wild on Shutterstock!

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) african wild dogs downloads microstock puppies revenues sales shutterstock http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/african-wild-dogs-go-wild-on-microstock Sat, 18 Mar 2017 12:51:12 GMT
Unexpected Hawaiian Experiences http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/oddities I recently visited the island of Oahu in Hawaii. In my last blog entry, I wrote about several instances of when I experienced the Aloha Spirit.

This was not a typical photography trip for me. I almost always take road trips. It's been years since I boarded a plane. And, this was my first time in Hawaii.

Hawaii was not always what I expected. In many ways, it exceeded my expectations. At times, it fell short of being a paradise for me. Following are some random thoughts about things that surprised me:

  • I expected everything in Hawaii to be very expensive and much higher priced than on the mainland. So, I was surprised that I could order the hotdog and soft drink at Costco for the same $1.50 that its priced here in Chicago. The two taco special at Jack in the Box was just $1.09!
  • Gas was priced a bit higher than where I live in the Chicago suburbs. But, $2.95 per gallon in Honolulu wasn't nearly as expensive as I was expecting at a time when gas in Chicago was priced at $2.49.
  • I didn't expect to see cars with out of state plates in Hawaii! A car parked next to me had California plates.
  • While visiting the Honolulu Zoo, I was shocked to see people of all ages completely ignoring the sideways rain that was coming down (or should I say across). Families with young kids, grandparents and many others were walking through the zoo as if it wasn't even raining. Only a few people carried umbrellas. People were soaked, yet continued to leisurely view the various exhibits.
  • Having worked at the global headquarters of McDonald's Corporation for many years (and several years ago), I was surprised when I entered the restroom of a McDonald's restaurant somewhere just outside of Waikiki. It was a rather large restroom without privacy barriers of any kind. Generally, the toilet is surrounded by some kind of stall. Yet, this wasn't the kind of restroom where one can lock the door for privacy.
  • I was stunned by the traffic. Having lived in Chicago, I thought the reports of bad traffic in a city like Honolulu must be exaggerated. They're not. I experienced the most horrendous traffic imaginable--and that includes my trip to Los Angeles. This heavy traffic was not isolated to Honolulu. I experienced long delays while driving on the far west side of the island as well as on the North Shore. By long delays, I'm referring to 45 minutes to drive 5 or 10 miles. I think the most frustrating drive was the 2.3 mile drive from the State Capitol to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific ("the Punchbowl"). That 2.3 mile drive took 45 minutes due to lane closures! Thankfully, I was on the island long enough to make some adjustments and eventually worked around some of the traffic and parking challenges.
  • Many of the locations that I visited were overrun with crowds. At Pearl Harbor, I took the Navy tour of the USS Arizona Memorial. Every 15 minutes, a boat leaves for the memorial with about 200 people. When the boat arrives at the memorial, 200 people enter the memorial as 200 people exit to board for the return trip. That's a lot of people on a relatively small platform. And, that's not a lot of time to be out there. The USS Arizona Memorial is a national cemetery. I expected it to be a very touching experience--and to a certain extent, it was. But, experiencing it for such a short time with that many other people diminished the experience. It was disturbing to see so many people snapping selfies, laughing and generally having a great time right over the burial site of over 1,100 sailors. The ranger on site shook his head and said that most people are far more interested in getting a selfie than learning anything about the men who died there.
  • During my research, some photographers recommended that I visit the small surfing town of Haleiwa. It was suggested that I enjoy the best shave ice on the island at Matsumoto Shave Ice. I envisioned taking a leisurely walk through a town with a lot of character and capturing photographs of some interesting people. As I approached the town on a Monday afternoon, the traffic came to a halt. There were so many cars heading into Haleiwa that there simply wasn't enough parking to accommodate them. I was determined to try the shave ice, so I circled a parking lot for 10 or 15 minutes until a space freed up. Then there was the long line at Matsumoto's. I didn't bother trying to get any photographs of the town. There were so many people on the sidewalks that it would have been nearly impossible to stand still for a minute to capture a picture. And, the streets were so packed with traffic that it was a challenge just crossing the street!
  • Never before have I seen a parking fee for a scenic overlook on a highway. While driving northeast from Honolulu, I noticed a scenic overlook sign for the Nuuanu Pali Lookout. I decided to pull over to take a look. I parked my car and took the very short walk to the overlook. It was raining, so I didn't spend more than 30 seconds there. As I was walking back to my car, I noticed a kiosk to my left. I was surprised to see that it was a parking fee station. As it turns out, there is a $3 fee to park the car at the scenic overlook! Then, I noticed that a woman was walking by the cars and writing down license plate numbers. So, I'm expecting to get a $75 ticket any day now.
  • I experienced something early in my trip that I never experienced before. While driving on the very wide H1 highway (I believe it was 14 lanes across 15 miles outside of Honolulu), I was stuck in very slow traffic. All lanes were moving at about 5 mph. To my left, I noticed a young boy of about 12 years old trying to get my attention. I wasn't sure why he was waving toward me--perhaps there was an issue with my rental car? As his car moved even with mine, the boy leaned out the window and gave me the finger (his middle finger). In the meantime, what I assume was his father (the driver) was doing the same thing. To this day, I have no idea why they would do that. There was nowhere to go in that traffic, so I couldn't possibly be driving too slow. And, I've never seen a kid at such a young age do something like that--especially along with an adult! And no, it wasn't the shaka sign!
  • Parking can be a challenge in Honolulu. I discovered an inexpensive parking lot near Ala Moana Park. After parking, I attempted to make payment. Credit cards are not accepted. Fortunately, I was carrying enough cash...five singles for the $5 fee. I was surprised to see that the cash box had such a small opening for depositing the payment. The circle was a small fraction of the size of a cigarette butt. So, I started rolling my first dollar bill as tightly as possible, yet it wouldn't fit through the opening. After laying it on a flat surface and rolling it even tighter, I was able to deposit the first dollar. I only had four more to go!
  • I stayed at a Hampton Inn for some nights. The facility was brand new and was very comfortable. Having stayed at well over 100 Hampton Inns over the years, this was the first one that is located inside a mall. It shares its parking lot with mall visitors. This made it challenging at times to find a suitable parking space.
  • I didn't realize that there was such a high rate of vandalism on the island. I was warned by many to leave nothing in my rental car. Some suggested that I leave the windows open so that vandals wouldn't break them. I was told repeatedly that nothing should be left in the trunk. This situation was most inconvenient for photography. Typically, I keep a lot of heavy gear in my trunk. In Hawaii, I had to pick and choose which lenses to bring with me for the day and then leave the rest of them at the hotel. Most of my lenses weigh a couple of pounds each...and one weighs closer to 7 pounds. So, having to carry everything all the time isn't fun. As a result, I lost out on some good photographs because sometimes the lens that I needed was at the hotel.

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) honolulu oahu observations oddities traffic travel http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/oddities Thu, 16 Mar 2017 12:39:21 GMT
Aloha! http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/aloha I knew, of course, that Hawaii is the "Aloha State". But, until I experienced Hawaii, I didn't fully understand what that meant. Following are some examples of situations in which I encountered the Aloha spirit during my short stay on the island:

  • Betsy, a Honolulu resident who sat next to me on the long flight from Chicago to Honolulu, dedicated hours during the flight helping to fine tune my itinerary. She recommended some great photography locations, interesting stops, events and restaurants throughout Oahu. Without her help, I would have never experienced the Chinese New Year Parade in Honolulu's Chinatown or the Hawaii Plantation Village--two of the many highlights of my trip.
  • While visiting the Hawaii Plantation Village, I met one of the long-time volunteers who has conducted tours for more than 40 years. She is in her 80's now. After my tour, she insisted that I sit down inside the visitor center and eat a home-cooked dinner that she prepared. She kept saying how much she enjoys cooking for people. She even packed some desserts in zip lock bags to go--so I would have something for later at the hotel. This worked out perfectly as I enjoy eating food that's prepared by others! The meal was excellent.
  • Gary was my tour guide at the Hawaii Plantation Village. When I arrived at the Village, I was the only one there. So, I received a personal tour. Gary told me that we could do the 2 hour (long) or the 30 minute (short) version of the tour. I told him that maybe we could see how it goes. The tour lasted 3 hours! His goal was to make sure that I gained a better understanding of Hawaii during my stay.
  • While shooting a sunrise at Sandy Beach in Honolulu, I met Chantel, a talented photographer currently working on a 365 project. As part of this project, Chantel is photographing every sunrise of the year! Throughout my time on Oahu, she kept in touch and provided me with recommendations for the best sunrise and sunset locations. She helped me immensely by steering me to locations where I had the best chance of success. Specifically, I learned to stay further south to avoid the cloud covered areas of the northeast portion of Oahu.
  • Many people went out of their way to help me get my pictures throughout my trip. I photographed 5 churches. In some of those churches, someone stayed after hours to allow me to capture photographs without people in the frame. And, they lit the church to my liking. One historic church was closed for renovation, yet I was allowed to enter and shoot alongside the construction workers to get my pictures of the interior.
  • The employees at the Hawaii State Capitol helped me gain access to capture images inside the House chamber. This was particularly challenging due to security surrounding the opening of the legislative sessions that week.
  • A man introduced himself to me while I was taking photographs of the Laie Hawaii Temple. He is living with his wife in Laie for the next several months as part of a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). Specifically, they volunteer their services at the Polynesian Cultural Center. I ran into him again while visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). He showed me around the center, introduced me to some of the performers and joined me for dinner at the PCC's luau. My experience at the Polynesian Cultural Center was enhanced greatly by this.
  • The drivers in Honolulu were courteous. As a tourist, I often needed to make late lane changes to get over to an exit. Never once did I hear a horn blow. Never once did anyone not let me into a lane.

In my next post, I'll share some of the unusual things that I experienced while on Oahu--some good, some not so good and some very trivial.

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) aloha hawaii itinerary oahu shaka sign travel http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/aloha Sat, 11 Mar 2017 20:10:32 GMT
North Shore Surfing http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/surfing While in Hawaii, I planned to photograph surfers on the North Shore of Oahu. During my stay, there were three surfing competitions scheduled--two at the Banzai Pipeline and one at Sunset Beach. Unfortunately, things didn't work out as I hoped.

I arrived at the Banzai Pipeline just after sunrise to view the competition. Not knowing anything about surfing, I was pleased to see that the waves were very high. However, as time passed, I was surprised that nobody was in the water. I asked the lifeguard when the competitive event was going to start. He explained that it was cancelled due to "disorganized" waves. Apparently, the choppiness of the sea made it impossible to surf that day.

The next day, I tried my luck at Sunset Beach. I was pleased to see surfers in the ocean. I was there quite early, so the event organizers were still setting up. One of the announcers for the event told me that the surfers at Sunset Beach were going to be "way out there" and that it would require a large telephoto lens to photograph the event. I thought I came prepared with my Nikon 500mm f/4 lens--but that wasn't nearly enough! So, I attached the Nikon 1.4x teleconverter--which gave me an effective focal length of 700mm. And, that really wasn't enough! I couldn't even see the surfers with my naked eye. If nothing else, the magnification of the 700mm lens permitted me to better view the action. And the action was thrilling.

Fortunately, my Nikon D800 has a high resolution sensor. This allows me to crop the frame somewhat without losing too much image quality. Also, the waves were so massive that I decided to frame the entire wave rather than trying to isolate the surfer. This permitted me to retain more of the original file--which also improved the image quality.

I utilized a few tried and true long lens techniques to create sharp images with such a long focal length. First, I secured the lens to a stable tripod. Next, I rested my left hand on top of the lens to help minimize any vibration. Then, I selected a fast shutter speed. When I view the high resolution version of the image below, I can read the print on the surfboard:

Hawaii surfingHawaii surfingSurfing competition (North Shore Surf Shop Pro Junior) at Sunset Beach at 59-104 Kamehameha Hwy on the North Shore of Oahu in Haleiwa, Hawaii on January 28, 2017

The event's announcer told me that I would have better luck the next day at the Banzai Pipeline. He said that the action was much closer to the beach. So, I once again arrived at the Pipeline at sunrise the next morning. The weather seemed suitable to me, but once again I know nothing about the sport. I didn't see anyone at the beach. After wandering around for a few minutes, I came upon this sign:

And with that, my surfing photography came to an end. I was leaving for the airport later that day. Of the three events that I attended, only one took place--and that was the one with the surfers positioned far out into the sea.

To view more of my surfing photographs from Oahu, please CLICK HERE.

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) banzai pipeline competition hawaii long lens oahu sports sunset beach surfing technique waves http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/surfing Wed, 08 Mar 2017 15:03:28 GMT
Plains, Georgia http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/plains-georgia During my last road trip through "Three Southern Cities", I stopped in Plains, Georgia. While in Plains, I visited several sites that are included within the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site.

My first stop was Plains High School. This building now houses the visitor center for the historic site. While at the school, I stood in one of the classrooms where Jimmy Carter was a student:

ClassroomClassroomClassroom in Plains High School at the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site at 300 N Bond Street in Plains, Georgia on November 12, 2016

From there, I walked down the street and saw Billy Carter's gas station:

Billy Carter Gas StationBilly Carter Gas StationBilly Carter Gas Station Museum at 107 W. Church Street in Plains, Georgia on November 13, 2016

Jimmy Carter's boyhood home and family farm are located just a couple of miles outside of town. This is the boyhood home:

Carter's boyhood homeCarter's boyhood homeJimmy Carter's boyhood home at 402 Old Plains Highway at the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, Georgia on November 12, 2016

And this is the store that the family operated on the farm:

Carter family storeCarter family storeCarter family store on the farm at 402 Old Plains Highway at the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, Georgia on November 12, 2016

On the way back into town, I stopped by the Lebanon Cemetery where members of the Carter family are buried--Jimmy Carter's mother, father and brother:

Carter family plotCarter family plotCarter family plot at the Lebanon Cemetery on Old Plains Highway in Plains, Georgia on November 12, 2016. Jimmy Carter's parents (James Earl and Lillian) and brother (Billy) are buried here.

Downtown Plains looks just like it did more than 100 years ago:

Downtown PlainsDowntown PlainsMain Street (128 Main Street) in downtown Plains, Georgia on November 13, 2016

The Carter Presidential Campaign Headquarters was housed at the Plains Train Depot on Main Street:

Train DepotTrain DepotThe Plains Train Depot at 100 West Main Street in Plains, Georgia on November 13, 2016. The Plains Depot served as the Carter Presidential Campaign headquarters.

I've visited five presidential historic sites over the past couple years--Truman, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and now Carter. What made this last trip so special was that I saw President Carter on consecutive days in his hometown!

While visiting Main Street in downtown Plains, I went into one of the stores for a peanut butter ice cream cone. As I left the store, I heard a familiar voice. It was the former President:

Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterJimmy Carter (age 92) on Main Street in Plains, Georgia on November 12, 2016

He was speaking at a small gathering in honor of local veterans and police officers. His speech was followed by presentations by the major and chief of police. The population of Plains is only about 600. The event reminded me of something from Mayberry on the Andy Griffith Show...in a good way.

Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterJimmy Carter (age 92) on Main Street in Plains, Georgia on November 12, 2016

The next morning, I attended Jimmy Carter's Sunday School class at Maranatha Baptist Church. The former President was most impressive. Jimmy Carter is 92 years old now. He spoke on a complex topic for 45 minutes--never stumbling over a word and never once referring to any notes.

Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterJimmy Carter teaching adult Sunday School at the Maranatha Baptist Church at 148 Georgia 45 North in Plains, Georgia on November 13, 2016

One of the things I enjoy about traveling is that you never know what you'll get to see. Seeing President Carter on consecutive days was a pleasant surprise and a highlight of this road trip.

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) georgia jimmy carter plains road trip travel http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/3/plains-georgia Fri, 03 Mar 2017 13:53:00 GMT
Shutter Count http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/2/shutter-count Did you ever wonder how many times you've clicked the shutter on your digital camera?

Every so often, I check the shutter count on my Nikon D800. I purchased my camera back in 2012. It's five years old now--which is an eternity in this digital age of photography. Yet, the D800 still produces state of the art images today. And, its 36 MP sensor provides excellent resolution compared to cameras introduced far more recently.

The Nikon D800's shutter is rated for 200,000 exposures. By checking the actual shutter count, I get a ballpark idea of how much life is left in my camera's shutter.

To do this, I upload a recent picture to the following website:

https://www.camerashuttercount.com/

I think it's best to upload a RAW file. For Nikon, I upload a NEF file. Sometimes this data is stripped out of certain jpeg files and therefore won't be visible. Here's the result from my camera:

After 5 years, I've clicked my shutter 85,647 times--that's just over 40% of its expected life. At this rate, my shutter should still be clicking well past the year 2023! However, I'm certain that innovations will prompt me to replace my camera far sooner than that.

One other encouraging note...several years ago, the shutter in my Nikon D300 failed. A failed shutter mechanism didn't end my camera's life. Nikon replaced the shutter for about $300 and my camera continued to perform like new for many more years.

 

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) actuations clicks count d800 equipment life maintenance nikon shutter http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/2/shutter-count Tue, 28 Feb 2017 13:19:58 GMT
"Big Four Bridge" Wins Photo of the Day! http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/2/-big-four-bridge-wins-photo-of-the-day This morning, my "Big Four Bridge" 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 road trip through Three Southern Cities. I recently wrote a blog entry about capturing this photograph in the rain in Louisville, Kentucky.

This marks the 38th 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.

Big Four BridgeBig Four BridgeImaging Resource's Photo of the Day for February 24, 2017

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) big four bridge kentucky louisville night rain southern cities travel weather http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/2/-big-four-bridge-wins-photo-of-the-day Fri, 24 Feb 2017 13:21:59 GMT
Microstock Earnings through January, 2017 http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/2/microstock-earnings-through-january-2017 Earlier this month, I posted a blog entry about how the timing of the reporting of microstock earnings has changed. Now that iStock doesn't report monthly earnings until three weeks or so after month-end, I won't be posting my microstock earnings until later in the month.

This morning, iStock finally reported earnings for January. So, I've updated my earnings report.

The good news is my earnings from iStock were stronger in January than they've been in quite some time.

My overall earnings approached $1,200 for the month and surpassed last January's earnings by about $120.

Following is a summary of my monthly earnings. I'll report back again in late February:

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) commissions earnings income istock microstock revenues sales shutterstock stock trends http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/2/microstock-earnings-through-january-2017 Wed, 22 Feb 2017 14:05:02 GMT
Blending Moments in Time http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/2/blending-moments-in-time During my January trip to Oahu, I captured a sunrise at Waimanalo Beach in Honolulu. It rained throughout my hour long drive to the beach in the dark. I arrived at the beach well before sunrise. The chances of getting to see the sun through the thick cloud cover seemed bleak.

About fifteen minutes before sunrise I started taking pictures. For the first picture in the sequence I set the camera for a long exposure. The long exposure helps to smooth out the water.

Just before sunrise, the clouds cleared enough at the horizon to allow the sun to appear. I captured a second exposure right at that moment. For this exposure, I dramatically underexposed the shot so that the sun wouldn't completely blow out that portion of the sky. I also selected an aperture of f/20 for this frame to help reveal the sunburst.

A few minutes later, I was thrilled to see that the sunlight was radiating into the clouds above. The golden reflection in the water also made its appearance. So, I captured a third exposure to include these critical elements into the scene.

Finally, I captured a fourth exposure of the darker clouds in the sky. Here's the final image:

Waimanalo BeachWaimanalo BeachWaimanalo Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii on January 20, 2017

And here's a basic illustration of how the four exposures were used within the frame:

Waimanalo BeachWaimanalo BeachWaimanalo Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii on January 20, 2017

I used Photoshop to blend these four images. Basically, each of the exposures is placed onto its own layer. A black mask is applied to each layer and then a white brush is used to reveal the appropriate segments of each picture. Of course, it's important that all four pictures are aligned. My camera was secured to a solid tripod during the entire photo shoot.

Without using the power of post processing, I would be limited to selecting just one picture to capture the scene. I would probably select the frame when the sun first appeared on the horizon. To help illustrate the power of blending the moments in time, following is the file (straight out of camera) of that one picture. Of course, I would do some basic adjustments (i.e., brightness, contrast, etc.) to this file--but without using multiple exposures I would lose the smooth water and the light rays on the clouds. For me, the light rays on the clouds is the most important element of the photograph!

Waimanalo BeachWaimanalo BeachWaimanalo Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii on January 20, 2017

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) beach blending editing hawaii honolulu oahu photoshop post processing seascape travel waimanalo http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/2/blending-moments-in-time Mon, 20 Feb 2017 13:57:34 GMT
Oahu Photos -- Distribution by Lens http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/2/oahu-photos----distribution-by-lens Nearly every time I return from a trip, I'm asked about which lenses I used to capture the images. At the end of a trip, I like to look at the distribution of shots by lens. Here's how it looked for my January trip to Oahu:

The Nikon 500 VR got more action than usual due to the subject matter. I needed all the focal length that I could get while taking pictures of the surfers at the North Shore. Of the 72 pictures captured with the 500mm lens, 22 of them were taken with the 1.4x teleconverter attached--giving me a focal length of 700mm for those shots. I also used the 500 VR for several of the portraits that I captured at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

The Sigma 15mm fisheye saw very limited use. But, I'm glad I had it for one shot in particular. It is the only lens that I own that provides a wide enough view to include the entire House of Representatives chamber in one frame:

Hawaii House chamberHawaii House chamberHawaii State House of Representatives chamber at 415 S. Beretania Street in Honolulu, Hawaii on January 24, 2017

I used just one camera for the entire trip--the Nikon D800. I've been using this camera for just about 5 years now. That's an eternity in the digital age of photography. Yet, the Nikon D800 is still state of the art. It is as capable as practically any dSLR on the market today. I'm hoping that Nikon introduces a new camera in 2017 that will even better meet my needs. It's Nikon's 100th anniversary, so many people expect to see an innovative product announced sometime this year.

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gnagel60@comcast.net (Glenn Nagel Photography) distribution equipment fisheye focal length hawaii lenses oahu http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2017/2/oahu-photos----distribution-by-lens Thu, 16 Feb 2017 13:47:17 GMT