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.

Photo of the Day – Light Mind, Rockefeller Preserve

July 28th, 2011 by Robert Rodriguez Jr.


Light Mind, Rockefeller Preserve


Light Mind, Rockefeller Preserve

Canon 1DS Mk III, 1/3 @f11, ISO 200, 24mm (EF24-105 f/4 L)

I’m always drawn to textures and colors, especially when the light helps accentuate them in an image. Back lighting is probably my favorite light to work with, though it is also the most difficult in my opinion. But there is no better way to bring out dimension and depth that really helps a viewer “step into” the scene photographed, both visually and emotionally.

I used an 2 stop graduated filter in the field to darken the sky, and then used Lightroom to dodge some areas around the trees that became too dark. I haven’t printed this image yet, but for sure the rich detail deserves at least a 24 x 36 print. I’ll share the specifics of how I print it, what paper I use, and how it turns out – thanks for reading!

Check out Robert’s website for images, workshops, webinars and more!  LINK


July 27th, 2011 by Steve Gettle
Camouflage Grey Tree Frog


I’m always been on the lookout for photographs of different animals using camouflage to hide themselves in their environment. Because most living creatures on earth are food for other creatures, the use of camouflage has developed as a successful way of not being noticed, and therefore not becoming dinner. On the other side of that coin, many predators also employ camouflage as a means of avoiding detection by their prey. Probably the greatest example of the use of camouflage is the chameleon that can change not only its color but its patterns as well, to better blend into its environment. We have a creature here in Michigan that also has this amazing ability. The grey tree-frog can appear a mottled grey to match the bark of a tree like the one pictured below. It can also become a uniform medium green and blend in with the foliage as well.


Shall We Play a Game? Lens Chess Set

July 25th, 2011 by Roger Cicala

Editor’s note:  Our pals at are moving into larger offices, and posted this fun article on their blog.  It’s such a great read that we contacted Roger to get permission to repost it.  Quite creative!

Getting ready to move a business is just like any other move: you spend a lot of time waiting for workmen to show up: painters, electricians, plumbers, you name it. It seems Roger and Aaron got a little bored over at the new building. There wasn’t much to play with: lots of empty space, some lenses we’d started moving over, and some floor tiles they found. They had to entertain themselves somehow.


So a nice game of chess seemed like a good idea. I know: they were wrong for doing this. Very wrong. But since they did, does anybody want to rent a rather unique chess set? Shipping cost might be a deal breaker, though.


The Lensrentals Chess Set




The Classic Canon opening with Nikon defending aggressively

Yes, you can rent the Lensrentals Chess set for just $9,221.00 per week!

Creating Mood, Motion and Emotion with Water

July 22nd, 2011 by Jack Graham

Creating Mood, Motion and Emotion with Water | © Jack Graham / Jack Graham Photography

Oregon Coast

While driving down from a workshop at Olympic National Park last week, I was thinking about some of the locations we visited. Though there are hundreds of miles of rainforest in the park, much of the park contains some diverse locations that feature water. There are some of the most picturesque rivers, waterfalls, shorelines and small spring fed streams, within the park, all with different dynamics that make for some great photos ops. So I made some notes to include within this essay.

Water is very important to me and my photography. Whether taking an image of a grand landscape, or a macro image I love including water as either a subject or as an accompaniment to the subject itself. In other words, water is often included in many of my favorite images. An ocean scene as well as dew drops on a leaf, both containing a water feature can convey a special feeling, that is unique different from scenes without water.

Water adds mood, reflects light, and depending on the light can be many different hues. Water is an unpredictable feature and therefore can be used to create photographs that transmit varied feelings.

Unlike mountains, canyons, forests, etc, one must be prudent in observing how water interacts within a scene. We need to take the textures, colors, tones, and form into account when including water in our images. Depending on the time of day, the light and shape of the water can change drastically. Knowing an area and the potential can really help when considering an image including water.

Like other aspects of nature photography, we must take the overall visual design into effect when photographing all types of water. Is one area detracting from others? Is the light working for you or against you? Do you need to relocate your position?

Get the Most from Your Lenses!

July 20th, 2011 by Matt Dennison


LensAlign MkII Focus Calibration System

LensAlign MkII Focus Calibration System

Now that many modern DSLRs have calibration ability, we can see just how off-focus some of our lenses are!

There’s a new tool on the market to help you calibrate your lenses correctly: The LensAlignII from Michael Tapes design. You’d be surprised at the results you’ll get just buy spending a few minutes calibrating your gear.

Here’s how it works: