Creating Starbursts ____ 2015/07

Starbursts are light rays emanating from point light sources — from the sun, moon, streetlights, sunlit waterdrops or reflective surfaces. They are creative photographic elements that can enhance an image — adding drama to a dull sky, a focal point to a silhouette or waterdrop, a twinkle to street lights. Starbursts are created where light […]

Backpacking Photography Gear        2013/01

Sunrise near Sahale Glacier camp, Sahale Arm, North Cascades NP, Washington State.

I’ve written thrice about backpacking (Ultralight Backpacking and Photography, Backpacking and Photography Re-visit, Light-Weight Backpacking and Photography), all pointed at ultra-lightening the backpack gear. The goal is to safely reduce pack weight to ease the burden of carrying a dSLR, lenses and tripod. And it works. Ultralight backpacking is a photographer’s godsend. Ultralighting gets us […]

Photography Field Preparation: Columbia Gorge ____ 2012/11

Last week we photographed at Eagle Creek in Oregon’s Columbia Gorge, a shutterbug bucket-list location that shows phenomenally well in the fall. The Columbia Gorge is slot canyons Northwest, a mesmerizing, choreographed symphony in black, yellow and green. As with any photo shoot, photographing here requires preparation. Study the area, look at photos on-line, and […]

Photo Tip: Gearing Up! ____ 2012/04

We all make decisions about photography gear based on perceived need, cost or cost-effectiveness and—as pro photographer John Shaw pointed out—the “lust factor”. I’m guilty on all counts. Here’s what I did last month. Spring is always a transition. In our local (Kirkland, WA) watershed park, Indian Plum blossoms early. Next up are the dazzling […]

Photo Tip: Reverse Stacked Lens Macro ____ 2011/08

With the prolonged gray-sky (Seattle) weather stretching into July, I started looking for subjects and techniques to get some sort of advantage: subjects I could pursue regardless of the gloom; techniques that eliminate a gray sky. Shooting under a gray sky is like photography in a studio moved outdoors—you just don’t want to point your […]

Tilt and Telephoto: Tools for Summer Wildflowers ___ 2010/06

Mt. Rainier National Park. A conventional 24mm could capture this shot (maybe), but seeing it is far easier with the TS-E. With the conventional 24mm, the depth-of-field preview button darkens the viewfinder too much; an alternative, an in-camera (digital) test shot evaluation, is time consuming. Near-to-far focus that’s not attainable with a conventional short telephoto […]

Cheap Fifty ___ 2009/12

I looked at upgrading my Canon 50mm f/1.8 II this month, a lens I don’t recall seeing in the lens kit of professionals, or, in recent years, hobbyists. 50mm is a standard focal length for 35mm SLR’s, and f/1.8 a common aperture that goes with it. The 50mm f/1.8 was once the standard kit lens […]

Light-Weight Backpacking and Photography __ 10/2009

I was tempted to call this tip “Small is Beautiful”.I started pruning backpacking poundage after a 1995 trip to Washington State’s Enchantments, when my pack for five days in mid-September tallied 55 lbs. There’s no reason to re-hash the old gear, but the same trip today would weigh in at about 35 lbs, with better […]

Photo Tip: Handheld Super-telephoto Lens Hood __ 04/2008

Another once unthinkable shift for outdoor wildlife shooters is handholding the big lens. Tripods have always been the rule for telephoto work, but in good light—even in the film days—handholding a medium-telephoto 300mm  f/4 or 400mm f/5.6 for flight shooting was commonplace. Shoulder stocks or other aids helped smooth performance, as did electronic image stabilization. […]

Packing a Small Sea Kayak ____ 02/2008

Photographers carry a lot of photo gear, so a big-volume sea kayak logically meets the need. A long, large kayak can be fast as well, but can also be a heavy lift solo, and a bear wrestle in wind or in surf. Most photographers aren’t burly-burly men. They just want a kayak to get them […]