Sunflower Fields Forever

August 17th, 2011 by Denise Ippolito



Sunflowers ~ NJ
Image © 2011/Denise Ippolito Photography


I started off my morning at this beautiful Sunflower farm in New Jersey. I arrived just before sunrise. A hint of fog was in the air and I was excited to set up. The early morning was peaceful and I had the entire field to myself. I spent hours capturing a variety of images. I couldn’t get enough. I used my fisheye lens, my 24-105mm lens and my 100mm Macro lens. I brought a step stool and tripod. The farmer told me that he has another crop about two weeks behind this one so I may get a chance to go again.


Sunflowers with Nik Color Efex Midnight filter applied.
Image © 2011/Denise Ippolito Photography


Know Your Subject

August 15th, 2011 by Steve Gettle

Whenever I am teaching nature photography one of the things I really emphasize is that, in order to be a better photographer, it really helps to be a better naturalist. The more you know about your subject the more likely you are to be able to predict its whereabouts and actions.

The images you see here prove that statement as true. Earlier this spring I was out photographing when I heard a bird calling that was not immediately familiar to me.  Stopping to listen more, I decided that it might be a Prairie Warbler. Prairie Warblers are only occasionally seen in Michigan, usually during migration. I decided to spend some time searching for the bird, and ended up getting to spend the entire morning with this bird, a species that I had never had the opportunity to photograph before. All because I knew its song!

I was told by a couple of birders (who driven four hours just to see this bird) that this was the only Prairie Warbler that had been seen in Michigan this year!

Browse Steve’s images, read his blog, and learn about his workshops at his site

Review: Mike Moats Macro Light Control Kit

August 10th, 2011 by Varina Patel

The Mike Moats Macro Light Control Kit includes a 24-inch Wimberly™ Plamp and two 14-inch Westcott™ Illuminator Reflector Panels – one is silver and white, and the other is a translucent white diffuser. It also includes the Finding Character in Nature ebook by Mike. I went out for a leisurely “test drive” on a lovely – and hot and humid – July morning.

At first, I felt like I was carrying around too much equipment. Tripod and camera in one hand, plamp and filters in the other – useful or not, I had to find a way to carry everything more easily. So, I clamped the Plamp onto my tripod, and hung the reflector panels from it. Now, I could carry everything with one hand. Problem solved. I chose a small thistle, and got to work. Lucky for me, I had my trusty side-kick along to document the process – thanks for helping out, Jay!

First, I set up my tripod then put the Plamp to work positioning the chosen thistle just where I wanted it. I’ll go into more detail about that fabulous little tool later – for now, indulge me while I go into some detail about controlling the light.

West eBook by E.J. Peiker

August 9th, 2011 by Matt Dennison

West by our friend E.J. Peiker is an eBook collection of 70 Landscape and Wildlife photos taken in the Western United States.

The American West is one of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes on Earth. Millions of people from every corner of our planet visit the treasures of our western states including its National Parks, National Monuments, National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, and State Parks every year. E.J.’s eBook is a celebration of these lands.

The Geek and the Artist

August 8th, 2011 by Steve Gettle


One of the things I love about photography is it appeals to both the geek and the artist in all of us. On the geek side you have the technical considerations of making an image; the f-stops, shutter speeds, depth of field, histograms, dynamic range, and that hyperfocal distance stuff that we must all master in order to communicate our vision. Of course we can’t forget about all the ‘geeky’ gear, super telephotos, focusing rails, tele-converters, extension tubes, fill flash, and such.  On the artistry side things are a little tougher to define, shape, color, composition, mood, balance, and that fickle mistress light, to mention just a few.

To make a great photograph you have to find the balance between the geek and the artist. If you lean too much toward the geek your pictures, while technically perfect, can lack emotion. They may not reach out and touch the viewer; they can be missing a mood or feeling. Conversely, too much focus on the artistry at the expense of the technical may leave your work riddled with technical flaws distracting the viewer from your message. Most photographers tend to lean in one direction or the other, some are master technicians crossing every t and dotting every i in their images. While others have a flair for the artistic not having the time or desire to bother with all of that technical stuff. A truly great photographer finds a balance and mastery of these two opposing disciplines.

The best photography communicates with the viewer. It reaches out and touches them in some way.  Your message does not have to be some deep life changing affirmation. It can be something as simple as, “Wow look how pretty this is!” The most effective way to communicate your message is without technical flaws that distract the viewer from your message. The most powerful way to reach someone is by touching their soul with your artistry.

Browse Steve’s wonderful images, read his blog, and learn about his incredible variety of workshops at his site

Break Out the SHORT Lenses, It’s Time for Bird Photography!

August 5th, 2011 by Chris Klapheke


Break out the short lenses, it’s time for bird photography!

Wait, did I really write that?

I’m a bird photographer (when I grow up and get really good I’ll be an avian photographer) and I’m usually lugging around a 600mm with a big old tripod and gimbal head. Of course, I’ll get comments such as, “What magazine do you work for?” Or, “That sure is a big camera!”

The comment I get most from photographers is,“I’d love to be a bird photographer, but I just don’t have a long lens to use!” Don’t sell yourself short.


Not all bird photographs are close up portraits of our feathered friends on a perch. You can make stunning avian images with your short lenses, even your wide angle. I like to call them “birdscapes”.

Finding What Inspires Me…

August 4th, 2011 by Denise Ippolito

Cymbidium Orchid ~ The curved lower petal caught my eye.
Image © 2010/Denise Ippolito Photography

When I go to a place like Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania it is important to stay focused on which flowers I will be photographing. After I scope out the flowers that initially appeal to me I begin to carefully consider the lighting, color, texture, backgrounds and shape. I will then go in for a closer look. I am searching for an element that will catch my eye; a curled petal, interesting texture, a water drop, etc. Once I find my subject I try to capture it in a way that appeals to me. It is most important to me that I like it and I don’t try to conform to someone else’s idea of what a flower image should look like. I also never worry about whether or not it will sell. I concentrate on trying to make that one feature that initially drew me in, to stand out in a special way. Once I have zeroed in on something I work on my composition. I decide if I will go in tight, on an angle, back my lens out, etc. This will most likely depend on the back ground. I like to use the surrounding flowers as an artistic back drop to my composition. Sometimes adding a flower in juxtaposition can add to the overall image design. I may also think about just using only the color of the flower as the background which can work out nicely. I think about whether or not to completely blur it out or to leave a bit of a textured look. Hand holding my camera allows me the flexibility needed to create a pleasing composition. Even if I decide to use a tripod I will first hand hold my camera to find my composition.

Often that one small curled edge or interesting leaf will be enough to get my creative juices flowing. I need to be inspired by what I photograph. If I have no interest in it I can’t get creative. So create images that you like. Find what inspires you!

You can see Denise’s website at

Denise also has a new ebook in the store:  My First Impressions of Bosque del Apache.

Frogs Are Fun!

August 2nd, 2011 by Mike Moats

My best selling image at the art shows is a frog. Never in a million years would I thought a frog would sell so well. Frog are fun to shoot and easy shoot. They are like people with their own individual tolerances, so some frogs will let you get in real close and some will take off as soon as the see you coming.

Like shooting most small macro critters, you have to move in slowly, and the frogs will usually blend in well with their surroundings, so you have to really study the ground so you can spot them as far in advance as you can. Here is a Wood Frog on the side of a mossy tree trunk.

HDR Must-Know Info

August 1st, 2011 by Rick Sammon

Here is some “must know” HDR (High Dynamic Range) info. This is just a starting point for HDR photography – but hey, you gotta start somewhere.

New to HDR? Here’s what it’s all about. You take exposures at the recommended exposure setting, and then over and under that setting – usually at +2 EV and at –2EV, but sometimes at greater extremes.

Then, using an HDR program like Photomatix Pro.or HDR Efex pro, you combine your images into a single image that captures all the tones from your three (or more) images. How cool!

The secret to quickly emailing images from Lightroom

July 29th, 2011 by John Batdorff

Monte Smith on the Madison

Everyone knows I love Lightroom, but one of my biggest complaints about the software is its lack of a simple send via email button. I mean seriously, Adobe built an incredible program that has amazing noise reduction features, cool presets, and social networking integration via it’s Publishing Services, but can you find a simple “send to email” button? No. I’ve used the built in export preset for email, but frankly I still find it to be a hassle.

Lightroom to Gmail plugin by Tim Armes

Lightroom to Gmail plugin by Tim Armes

This week a good friend pointed me in the direction of the LR/Gmail plugin by Tim Armes. The plug-in allows you to export your images directly out of Lightroom and into Gmail with very little effort. You first need to download the plugin from Adobe’s Lightroom Exchange.