SmugMug Pro Account Giveaway!

March 24th, 2011 by Matt Dennison

thumb_smugmug-pro_280x170-1We’ve teamed up with leading photo hosting and sharing provider, SmugMug, to bring you another great giveaway! Win a SmugMug Pro Account for a year—a $150 value—in this new contest. We’re sold on SmugMug, especially their Pro Level. Their Pro level membership lets you proof, archive and sell your photos online. You get gorgeous galleries, full pricing control, unlimited photo and video uploads, full customization options and tools to protect your photos.

We have three easy ways to win, and each counts as an entry!

  1. Like SmugMug on Facebook.
  2. Like OPG on Facebook.
  3. Leave a comment below on this blog article that you’d like to win.

We’ll pick the winners by random drawing on Friday April 1 (no fooling!) and notify the winners by email.

Good luck and thanks to our pals at SmugMug!

Recover Your Creativity With a Self-Assignment

March 14th, 2011 by Bret Edge

Last week I read a great article on friend and photographer Gary Crabbe’s blog about the reality of working a photo assignment.  Gary’s article, and my own experience last year on assignment in Goblin Valley State Park, inspired me to write about a technique you might try next time your creative fire needs a little stoking.

If you’re lucky enough to land a photo assignment, it means that someone thought enough of your work to pay you to create photos of a specific subject for them.  The key word at work in that sentence is photos – as in more than one.  Perhaps there are exceptions but every assignment I’ve ever worked required that I provide a healthy collection of images to the client upon completion of the job.  Adding to the pressure to deliver is the fact that you are likely given a short time in which to make the images.  You’re probably charging a day rate.  Unless you’re a brilliant negotiator your client probably didn’t tell you to take as many days as needed and to send a bill when you’re done.  No, it is more likely that you’re told that there’s only enough money in the budget for a couple of days.  This means that during the “couple of days” you’d better be able to fill some memory cards with enough images to satisfy your client’s needs.

Photo Rescue: Using Lightroom Grad Filter to Fix a Dull Sky

March 11th, 2011 by John Batdorff

Final Edited Image–Varanasi, India


Have you ever had a photo that’s almost there, but just missing a little something? I know I do all the time. I’ve been mining old images lately for my up coming black and white book and I came across this shot from Varanasi, India. I like a lot of things about this shot, but the dull sky ruined it for me. I didn’t want to forsake the image entirely, so I thought this would be a good time to explain how you can enhance an image with a few quick strokes in Lightroom and bring it back to life.

Orginal Raw Image

First things first, let’s get this image into an acceptable state.

Photographer Spotlight: E.J. Peiker

March 11th, 2011 by Matt Dennison

Name a distant corner of the world associated with photography, chances are E.J. Peiker has been there, or is heading there soon.  Born in 1960 in Augsburg, Germany, and moving to Mansfield, Ohio, in 1969, E.J. became an American citizen in 1975.

E.J.’s photographic journey started when he received his first camera at age 7, while still in Germany – a square-format, Kodak 126 Instamatic.  He still has it. At age 12, he graduated to a Yashica 35mm rangefinder and began to take photography more seriously.  His favorite subject matter was landscape photography.


In 1990, E.J.’s photographic aspirations came to a sudden stop.  While skiing, E.J. suffered such a serious injury that he was diagnosed as unable to walk again, possibly even losing a leg.  As it appeared that E.J. would not be mobile without assistance, he sold all his camera gear.  However, determination, resolve, several surgeries and painful physical therapy resulted in E.J.’s full recovery 3 1/2 years later. 

Even though he did not photograph, E.J. put his recovery years to good use.  His interest in aviation took over and provided him motivation during that tough time. He earned his Private Pilot, Instrument Pilot, Multi-engine Pilot and Commercial Pilot certificates, and became heavily involved in advanced flight simulation.  He even logged time in American Airline's full motion flight simulators where he learned to fly a Boeing 727!

Flower and Zoom Blur

March 10th, 2011 by Mike Moats

Here is an image I shot while in San Diego early this month, and I had this process in mind for this flower when I shot it.

Here is the original image, I first did some clean up with the specs of debris, and filled in the gaps between the petals showing any background, and did a slight crop.

After doing the clean up in Photoshop Elements, I then clicked on Filters.  In the next box clicked on Blur, and then clicked on Radial Blur.  In the next box look for Zoom and click the circle next to it.  Use the Amount slider to add or subtract the amount of the Zoom you want, and this is what I came up with.

After I got the zoom the way I wanted it, I went into Nik Software Viveza 2, and did some tweaking with the structure slider to bring out the details in the petals, and darkened and added structure in the dark center.  Then popped the yellow a little more.

You can visit Mike's blog and learn about his workshops here:  Tiny Landscapes

Mike's eBooks are available in the OPG store here:  Mike Moats

Six Mistakes I Still Make and How You Can Avoid Them

March 7th, 2011 by Bret Edge


Earlier I wrote about the best advice I’ve received from other photographers during the last 12 years of my career.  I thought I’d go the opposite direction and share a few mistakes that, after all that time in the field and great advice, I still can’t seem to avoid.  Some are humorous and others are just downright annoying.  What mistakes do you find yourself making over and over again?

That Pesky Lens Cap - I can’t tell you how many times I’ll put the viewfinder to my eye only to see…nothing.  Yeah, I forget to take the lens cap off all the time.  Fortunately, I realize the error before pressing the shutter button.  I don’t feel too bad about this as years ago I read that Ansel Adams once forgot to put film in his camera during a workshop he was teaching.  Okay, so the great one only made such a silly mistake once. 

Invincible Tripod Syndrome (ITS) - We’ve all done this.  Some of us learned from our mistakes while others (me) still haven’t.  We set up our tripod, mount our camera and expensive lenses to it and then walk away.  Do this enough times and eventually gravity will rear it’s ugly head.  I’ve had cameras blown over in the wind, knocked over in the water and I’ve even tripped over my own tripod leg.  I saved that one from near death.  I know the consequences and yet I continue to roll the very expensive dice.  That qualifies for stupid, right?

Image Stabilization Times Two - What is a tripod?  It’s image stabilization.  There’s no such thing as too much image stabilization, right?  Wrong.  Many lenses that feature built-in image stabilization/vibration reduction are likely to produce blurry images if you leave the IS/VR turned on while your camera is locked tight on a tripod.  You see, when your camera is secure in a ballhead and IS/VR kicks on, the movement of the gyro inside the lens is enough to introduce vibrations that may result in blurry images.  I’ve blown more images than I care to remember because of this bonehead move.  Whether or not the IS/VR will cause blurry images is a function of luck, shutter speed and the lens you’re using.  Why chance it?  Make it a habit to turn off IS/VR before using a tripod. 

Blue Flame Agaves

March 3rd, 2011 by Mike Moats

Since I had a week in between the two weekend Macro Boot Camps, I let my workshop participants know that if they had some time available I would go out and shoot with them during the week days.  One great place where we shot was the San Diego Botanical Gardens.

Even though it was windy during my stay, and we couldn’t shoot the flowers, the botanical gardens has tons of cactus plants, agave plants, etc, to shoot that were not effected by the wind.

Here are two images of a Blue Flame Agave, and I really like the lines and how the tips work out.

Nikon D7000, Tamron 90, f/32


I used the Solarization filter in Nik Software Color Efex Pro 3.0 for this look.

The Best Photography Advice I’ve Ever Received

February 28th, 2011 by Bret Edge

Sunset on Sandstone Fins, Utah

Over the years I’ve received much great advice that has contributed significantly to my growth as a photographer.  While guiding a photographer last week who was only bitten by the photo bug a few months ago, I offered a simple piece of advice: “Sweep the edges of your viewfinder before making an exposure.”  It was something I learned ten years ago while reading a “how-to” book published by Arizona Highways.  At the end of the day I was happy to hear her say that she learned more during our few hours together than she had in several months on her own.  I always find it rewarding to help other photographers learn and grow as artists.

On the drive home I began to reminisce about all the little nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned in the past eleven years.  Some came from books, others from magazines and even more from other photographers.  Regardless of their origin, each one has benefitted me in some way.  Like many of you, I never want to stop learning.  No doubt, the advice below is only the beginning of what will surely be an even longer list in another eleven years.

Winners Announced In Our Big Gear Giveaway!

February 11th, 2011 by Chris Klapheke


We have winners!

These folks were drawn randomly today and will be receiving an email shortly.

We are truly thankful of our friends and supporters from around the world.

Thanks to all who entered and watch for future giveaways!



Now Available! “Finding Character In Nature” e-book

February 2nd, 2011 by Mike Moats

Finding Character In Nature is an e-book for the macro photographer that will help change the way you think the next time you go out to shoot.

The word character is often used to describe a person who is a little different from the general population. People who dress in a flamboyant manner or act differently have a unique style stand out in a crowd and are noticed by others. Photographic portraits often reveal a person’s individual character in the irregular features of their face and body. In the same way, photographic images can also highlight the distinctive qualities of subjects in nature. Finding the features that reveal the unique character of a flower, leaf, rock, or pattern in the earth will cause your images to stand out as distinctive artistic expressions of the natural world.

It’s easy to do, and you will learn how in this 43 page e-book.

Check it out in the OPG store here.