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Chapel Sunburst in Silhouette

April 21, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

I don't have a lot to say about this week's image. It's just a quick shot I took while in Sedona, AZ recently. The sun was setting, sunlight was shining through a nearby chapel tower, and a sunburst effect was happening. I focused, framed, adjusted exposure, and took the shot:

Sunburst SilhouetteSunburst SilhouetteA church steeple in Sedona, AZ as the sun sets.

I enjoy creating silhouettes, though I don't usually have a chance to incorporate a sunburst effect like this.

I call this image "Sunburst Silhouette", for obvious reasons.


Red Rock Country

April 15, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

The terrain around Sedona, AZ is something you have to see to believe. The geological forces at work in that area (over a gazilion years, right up through today) have exposed gorgeous layers of earth and rock, resulting in a diverse landscape that includes expanses of desert, beautiful red rock buttes, and majestic mountain ridges.

Standing in the midst of all that, it's essentially impossible not to get a decent photo.

Here's a decent photo I got while standing in the midst of all that.

Sedona LandscapeSedona LandscapeThe red rocks of Sedona, AZ, make for a beautiful landscape.

I'm not typically a landscape photographer. But I did my best here to guess the hyperfocal distance, focusing approximately a third of the way into the scene in an effort to get as much in focus as possible.

In framing this shot, I was able to get a multi-layered image in which we have an immediate foreground (the big honkin' red rock I was standing on), a near-middle ground (the taller trees at the base of the rock), a far-middle ground (the flatter area with the smaller trees), a near-background (the red rock mountains), and a far-background (the lighter-colored mountains in the distance). The red rocks are the star of this photo, but the multiple layers of the image gives it some real depth.

The haze that you see in the valley was caused by a "prescribed burn" that was in progress at the time. (It's a method that authorities use to keep any future wildfires under control and to improve the local habitat.) I actually think that haziness made for a nice effect in this shot. I removed some of it using Lightroom, but left much of it in the image.

By the way, I was able to stand where I stood for this shot only because I took a Jeep tour. If you're in the Sedona area, I highly recommend a Pink Jeep Tour - it's the only way to get to places where you can really appreciate the beauty of "red rock country".


Decisive Moment Photography

April 07, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

As we approach vacation season here in the U.S., I thought I'd look back at some of my travel shots from years past.

One shot that I was somewhat proud of, and which has a "street photography" kind of feel, is the following:

Market Fruit StandMarket Fruit StandA fruit stand at Seattle's Pike Place market.

This was taken at Pike Place Market in Seattle. I never do street photography when I'm home, but when on vacation I shoot anything and everything. In this case, I liked how I caught the moment in which a purchase was made. It's the "decisive moment" that famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson used to talk about - the point in time that photographers (especially street photographers) want to capture, and which helps tell a story.

I also like the shadows in this shot, and the way they contrast with the brightly lit and colorful fruit.

If you're doing any traveling this year, be sure to keep your camera ready. Decisive moments are happening all the time.



What Affects Your Depth of Field?

March 31, 2018  •  1 Comment

Years ago, on this very blog, I wrote an article about depth-of-field - what it is, and what things affect it.

Yeah, well, I'm going to do that again.

Why? A couple reasons.

Firstly, I think it's an important photography concept to understand, and one that I still have to stop and think about when composing a shot.  And secondly, it lends itself to being summarized in an infographic, which I love creating.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Depth of field is simply the distance between the nearest object in focus and the farthest object in focus in a photograph. Of course, the expression "in focus" is somewhat subjective, depending on your eye, the resolution of the image, etc.

Several things affect the depth of field in a photo: the aperture setting of the lens, the focal length of the lens, and the camera's distance from the photo's subject. All three of these things may vary for each photo, so the final depth of field is the result of all of these combined.

This is summarized in the following graphic:


Most photographers intuitively understand aperture's relationship with depth of field without really having to think about it. A wide open lens (for example, f/2.8) typically results in a photo with nice creamy "bokeh" (soft, out-of-focus background). A stopped-down lens (for example, f/22) will bring more of the background, and foreground, into focus.


Focal Length

A long focal length - for example, from a telephoto lens - will create the appearance of a shallow depth of field. Landscape photographers, who typically desire a deep depth of field, often shoot with wide angle lenses. (Note: That isn't always the case, however. But I won't get in to that here.)


Distance to Subject

Anyone who has done any close-up/macro photography will tell you that you're always dealing with a very shallow depth of field. With that type of photography, the camera is often very close to the subject (sometimes just centimeters away, or less).


Composing a Shot - What to Think About

When composing a shot, if the depth of field is important to you (and it typically should be), you should consider all three of these things.

Having said that, aperture and distance to subject are the primary factors. There are some who even doubt whether focal length plays any part in depth of field at all. This is an on-going debate. If you were to take two photos with the same aperture, with one image taken by a wide angle lens and one with a telephoto, and the images were framed exactly the same way (so that you can compare the same scene in both shots), you would have to walk further from the subject with the telephoto in order to keep the same framing. So, if you're doing that anyway, you're adjusting the distance to subject after all. So you could argue that your depth is primarily a factor of aperture and distance only.  And, if that's all you care to think about when composing your shot, you'll get the results you're looking for most of the time.

I hope this quick summary of the topic is helpful. As always, if you have any comments or questions, please enter a comment below, or contact me directly.


P.S.  It's been suggested that sensor size also affects depth of field. (Thanks for the comment on this, Kirk.) This is, however, a misconception I think. If two shots are taken of the same subject with the same aperture setting, with the same field of view for both images (that part is important), you would need to change your distance to subject and/or your focal length in order to maintain that same field of view with the larger sensor. It's those changes (distance and/or focal length) that affect the depth of field, not the sensor itself.

There's a good explanation of this (and related topics) here:

Having said that, I've read opinions that differ on this subject. So this is definitely one of those photography topics that's fun to debate!


Stained Glass

March 25, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

There's definitely something "heavenly" about light steaming through a stained glass window.

I thought it would be appropriate this week to post an image of exactly that. In this case, the light is projected on the walls of the window wells, creating a colorful spectacle.

Stained GlassStained GlassThere's definitely something heavenly about light streaming through a stained glass window. This scene is from St. Bernard's Church in Mt. Lebanon, PA.

These gorgeous windows are just a few of many at St. Bernard's Church in Mt. Lebanon, PA.



Bourbon Barrels

March 15, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

SOLD!!  I'm happy to announce that I sold another image - a 40"x26" canvas wrap of "Maker's Mark Barrels":

Maker's Mark Barrels (Sepia)Maker's Mark Barrels (Sepia)Maker's Mark bourbon barrels, at their distillery in Kentucky.  

To shop for this or any of my prints, look for "Order a Print" links on my web site, or just visit my store directly.

Thanks for your continued support.



Woodstock Inn

February 04, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

During the cold winter months, I often spend time looking through old photographs for hidden gems that I may have overlooked before. Usually they're travel shots from the previous year.

I found a few of those from a visit to Woodstock, Vermont last fall. If you haven't been to Woodstock, just picture a typical charming, quiet little New England town, and you've got it.

We weren't there long - we were passing through on the way to New Hampshire - but while there we strolled around town, taking in the atmosphere. Part of that atmosphere included the Woodstock Inn, a gorgeous historic and stately resort inn in the heart of town.

I only grabbed a few shots while there. But I thought these three images captured the relaxing atmosphere.

A sunny day lights up an interior staircase...

Woodstock StaircaseWoodstock StaircaseAn interior staircase at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, VT.


Bicycles waiting to be used...

Woodstock BicyclesWoodstock BicyclesBicycles at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, VT.


A relaxing front lawn...

Woodstock Inn LawnWoodstock Inn LawnThe front lawn at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, VT.


I generally stay away from posting travel "snapshots". But I thought these photos captured a warm, relaxing feeling that feels good to look at - now that it's cold, gray, and snowy outside.

Six more weeks 'till Spring.


P.S. Just to be clear, I'm posting these images because I'm a big fan of New England. But that feeling does NOT extend to a certain professional football team in that area. 'Nuff said.



Seasons of the Dogwood

January 11, 2018  •  1 Comment

I've mentioned before that our dogwood is a good-looking tree. And I've certainly featured it on this blog plenty of times.

Here I go again.

Sometime early last year (or so), I decided that it would be nice to get a shot of the tree at the heart of each of the four seasons. My goal was to stand in the exact same place, holding the camera in the exact same way, in order to capture the same composition of the tree each season.

I tried to create an image of the tree that represented each season -- bright white blossoms in the spring, green leaves in summer, vibrant red leaves in autumn, and snowy branches in the winter.

When I got all four shots, I cleaned them up and realized that they were really just ordinary shots of a tree. Not very exciting.

Then I decided to get artsy. I thought it would be a good idea to convert the images into something that looked like a painting. There are lots of ways to do that, but I discovered an iPhone app called Prisma. The app provides lots of different filters that transform ordinary photos into artistic images. (And yeah, I know I'm using the term "artistic" rather liberally.)

So, after doing some basic processing on the images in Lightroom (cropping, contrast, and saturation), I moved the images to my phone and carefully chose Prisma filters for each photo that highlighted the aspects of each season. I then brought them back into Lightroom for a few more adjustments (highlights, shadows, and vibrance).

The resulting four images are below.


Dogwood in SpringDogwood in SpringA dogwood tree in spring. (Photograph processed with an artistic filter, with additional post-processing in Lightroom.)



Dogwood in SummerDogwood in SummerA dogwood tree in summer. (Photograph processed with an artistic filter, with additional post-processing in Lightroom.)



Dogwood in AutumnDogwood in AutumnA dogwood tree in autumn. (Photograph processed with an artistic filter, with additional post-processing in Lightroom.)



Dogwood in WinterDogwood in WinterA dogwood tree in winter. (Photograph processed with an artistic filter, with additional post-processing in Lightroom.)



If you have a favorite, let me know.