Happy 100 Years, National Parks

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Author: Ivan Martinez

As a Volunteer Trip Leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops for the past 8 years, I have had the great opportunity to capture the great beauty of many of our national parks.  I feel incredible fortunate to be part of a dedicated group that share a very strong passion for helping others develop their creative skills through photography. Seeing the beauty that many of our national parks have to offer is one thing. Spending time with talented photographers that know the parks like the palm of their hand is another. Being able to be at the perfect location at the right time is a great value Arizona Highways Photo Workshops provides. Here are some of my favorites from the Grand Canyon, Tetons, Yellowstone, Acadia and Joshua Tree.  Let’s hope that these national parks will be able to celebrate 100 again.  Happy 100th birthday National Parks.

Life Happens … Even in Photography

Author:  Pam Henrichsen

Today when I started my day I noticed that I had 12,791 photos one my iPhone camera roll – that is totally crazy. But then I stopped to think about why I had so many photos. The answer is – Life.

Just like everyone else my life is very busy and I don’t carry my Nikon DSLR with me every where I go. So when I see something that catches my eye I take a picture. Why not?

Image-1

The same rules apply when I am shooting with my iPhone as it does when shooting with my Nikon: composition, rule of thirds, exposure and the all important back up of the photos.  Yes, I don’t have as many exposure options but I can touch the screen to lighten or darken the image. I can control the flash, so the basics are manageable however limited. Composition is always a matter of perspective with either devise. And the rule of thirds is just the rule of thirds. I have my iPhone set to run a backup every few days so my images are safe and most of them live on the cloud.

Image-2

In a perfect world, I will try to grab my Nikon when I have the opportunity to do so if I really want to capture the imagine properly. But a lot of times my subject moves, the sun has set or I just do not have access to my Nikon when that special moment presents itself.

Image-3

As photographers we are constantly observing everything around us. When we see a shot that excites us, we take that photo. Even if that moment is when you are driving down the street and in the middle of the pavement somethings catches your eye. Stop. Capture that moment because ….

Life happens.

Image-4

 Pam Henrichsen is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Want to get an Arizona photo published?

Author:  Jeff Insel

IMG_2979

I woke up this morning, started my morning tea and fetched the newspaper. Upon turning over the front page, to the weather page, I noticed that a sunset photo from my driveway I’d submitted recently was printed. I’m always surprised when this happens (and I’ve been lucky enough to have 7 in the past two years). My wife recently had one “re-printed”, the same photo printed in January this year and again this past week. I consider myself to be an average photographer and enjoy sharing my photos and like most everyone, it’s fun to see something with my name on it in print, even if it is a small (1.5”X 2”) photo on the inside of a newspaper – a diminishing audience unfortunately.

So, how does this work? It requires some perseverance, repetition and patience. The most difficult part can be the submission to the paper as their “mail box” is quite often full and you receive one of those bounce back messages asking you to try again later. Don’t’get frustrated, just keep trying. I have found that it’s sometimes easier to submit on weekdays, late afternoon or early evening. Start by sending you image to: weatherpix@arizonarepublic.com or to mike.meister@arizonarepublic.com, be sure to include “Reader Submitted Weather” in the subject line; attach your jpeg photo in a medium size with a very brief description, be sure to include your name and city of residence.  Be patient, it may be weeks before they use it (if at all) and don’t be afraid to continue submitting images, I’ve probably submitted 35-40 to get those seven.

Star trails inside GC
Also, just because it’s the weather page doesn’t mean you can’t submit other types of images. I’ve had a couple of “critter photos” displayed – see below. I figure that anytime one of my photos is selected, it must have been a slow submission week-but you never know and occasionally someone you know notices it and lets you know, reaffirmation of sorts and a fun way to start you day.
Coyote and Quail

Give it a go!

Jeff Insel is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

My Camera: bringing down the walls

Author: Rick Jacobi

This blog is not about the quality of your photos, composition of your image or the brand of a camera.  It’s about what a camera can do for you in the presence of a stranger.  So many times when I’m shooting so called “Street Photography”, I have found that my camera has brought down walls that separate me from that person. Once  you engage  a person by asking if it’s “okay” to take their photo and receive approval, you now have entered into their world and space. You have established a connection, a level of trust between the two of you. It may only last seconds or linger for a few minutes but it is a special time for both of you.  The person holding the camera has now been invited into that stranger’s “house”. I have this aspect of street photography to be exciting and very rewarding. It is a privilege and an invitation that would not happen without my camera. I try to take advantage of that invitation by taking the best photos I can. It doesn’t always come out the way I would like but sometimes it is not about the photo but sharing that moment for that short time.

L1007031

Recently, I was in a “take out” pizza place in Connecticut waiting to pick up my pizza. I asked the person making the pizza if I could take his picture. He said sure (very few times have I had someone say no).  After a couple of photos, he asked if I wanted to see how he cooked the pizza and invited me to come behind the counter.  In just an instance, I was learning how the coal oven worked and how he could tell if the pizza was done. Without my camera I would never had the opportunity to be invited into his “house”.   Right away the wall between the two of us came down and we shared that moment. The photos did not turn out the way I had hoped but again it is not always about the photos but the bonding a camera can bring between two people for a second or two.L1007037

Rick Jacobi is a Trip Leader and the Board President for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

A  Bold  New  World – Winter Photography in the Polar Circle

Author:  Nathaniel Smalley

Dance of the Green Dragon | Lofoten, Norway

Nordic-Dreams_Iceland_DSC2360

Nordic Dreams | Iceland – During my recent Iceland Winter Photography Tour we visited a few different locations looking for the elusive aurora borealis, including the mighty Skógafoss waterfall. The Northern Lights never danced for us here, but a moonbow put on a show all its own. Later over Vik we were rewarded with a beautiful aurora display. Iceland is a land full of wonders!

It is hard to believe that a few months have past since I returned from leading back to back photography tours in Iceland and Norway. I had a great groups of dedicated photographers for both destinations and we enjoyed shooting in some incredible conditions. People generally have one of two reactions when they consider the thought of participating in a photography tour to a colder climate. There are those that will jump at the chance relishing the challenge and new experiences, asking eagerly, ‘Where do I sign up?!’ The remaining personalities typically respond with ‘Over my dead body!’ or mutter something about how they’d turn into an icicle. Another objection I’ve heard is fear of the damage their camera will suffer from the snow. First of all, if your equipment is worth its salt then it should be able to manage a little dusting of snow. The main risk with

Labyrinth | Lofoten, Norway – A maze of fascinating sand patterns made the perfect foreground for the distant snow capped mountain peaks during my recent Norway photography tour. This quiet stream flows directly into the ocean and the large, broken ice patches were too inviting to pass up. Sometimes you wait for what seems like an eternity for clear skies when shooting in the polar circle, but when it clears the sunrises are nothing short of spectacular. This was one of those days.

camera gear in a colder climate is extreme temperature changes. If you you allow it to gradually adjust then you shouldn’t have any problems.

ScreamoftheSea_Norway_DSC3418-620x683

Scream of the Sea | Lofoten, Norway – This image was captured on the upper northwestern side of the Lofoten peninsula. The weather was extremely dramatic and while we were there it began to snow. The raging ocean crashed harder and harder into rocks with the rising tide. I sat and stared for a long time before going to work on this composition. I listened to the gusting wind as it drove tiny white snowflakes through the air like so many small darts. I watched the surf dash onto the coast churning white froth all over the shoreline. There were so many different emotions at work in the scene. When I finally began to shoot it all went silent, but the sea still let it’s voice be heard visually with this striking face in the foaming water below… Unforgettable.

Keeping batteries in a base layer pocket close to your body should extend their life in the cold when they aren’t in use. Secondly, at the end of the day the simple reality is that their really is no such thing as ‘bad conditions’, just a lack of creativity. We live in an age today when apparel manufactures make gear and clothing that will keep us comfortable in nearly any type of weather or at any temperature. I’m speaking from experience. Last year I led an winter expedition in the Himalayas to photograph Snow Leopards in the wilds of northeastern India. With the the right type of clothing and apparel you can endure some pretty extreme conditions. Finally, perhaps one of the best kept secrets about winter in Iceland (and particularly Norway) is how mild the winters are. The general assumption is that just because it’s in the polar circle it must be frigid. The reality is that almost all of Norway’s coast remains free of ice and snow throughout the year. Norway and Iceland are located along the same latitude as Siberia, Greenland and Alaska, so it is often expected to be a land of bitterly cold weather. However, due to warming influences of the northern Gulf Stream, the country actually enjoys a fairly mild climate. Average daily temperatures in the winter are typically above 32°F or 0°C. The good news is that this rampant misconception drastically reduces that number of photographers that visit these Nordic regions during the winter months, leaving it for groups like mine to enjoy. Once you’ve experienced and shot these locations in the summer, winter is a whole new experience. Like peeling back that layers of an onion, winter removes all the ‘fluff’ from the landscape and leaves one composing from a raw, rugged scene… and it is breathtakingly beautiful.

Below are just a few more examples from my winter tours, if you’d like to see more visit my Iceland Portfolio  or my Norway Portfolio.

Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.

– Nathaniel

Flow | Iceland - There are few things that I enjoy more than spending time alone with a camera surrounded by nature. However, there is certainly something to be said for sharing the magic of the outdoors with fellow photographers. For some it's the moment they see a new country or species the first time that they have longed to witness for years. For others that have been to a destination before, it's like taking them back to visit an old companion. Each time that I lead a tour to the Nordic countries I look forward to sharing the magic of that region with friends both old and new, and with you all. This is a large chunk of glacial ice getting caught in the rushing tide that was photographed on a black sand beach in eastern Iceland. I hope you enjoy it.

Flow | Iceland – There are few things that I enjoy more than spending time alone with a camera surrounded by nature. However, there is certainly something to be said for sharing the magic of the outdoors with fellow photographers. For some it’s the moment they see a new country or species the first time that they have longed to witness for years. For others that have been to a destination before, it’s like taking them back to visit an old companion. Each time that I lead a tour to the Nordic countries I look forward to sharing the magic of that region with friends both old and new, and with you all. This is a large chunk of glacial ice getting caught in the rushing tide that was photographed on a black sand beach in eastern Iceland. I hope you enjoy it.

Ribbon Candy | Lofoten, Norway - At times hunting for the northern lights can be a bit like an emotional roller coaster. Typically I will have been up early that morning shooting sunrise and then out in the mid afternoon for sunset. After a warm meal for dinner one usually just wants to curl up on a couch and fall asleep looking at the images from the day. But the chance of seeing the beautiful aurora coaxes me back out into the dark and the crisp, winter air. Trudging through the snow or along a dark roadside thoughts of doubt creep into your mind and whisper that you're wasting precious hours you could be sleeping searching for a phantom. And then suddenly from out of nowhere the sky explodes into into vibrant, changing patterns of color. In that moment all thoughts of sleep rush out of your your mind and adrenaline courses through your body. For a minute you forget to even shoot. All the tired muscles and sore joints in your body are forgotten as you bask in the glorious display of one of the natural worlds greatest phenomena. Nature's therapy at its best.

Ribbon Candy | Lofoten, Norway – At times hunting for the northern lights can be a bit like an emotional roller coaster. Typically I will have been up early that morning shooting sunrise and then out in the mid afternoon for sunset. After a warm meal for dinner one usually just wants to curl up on a couch and fall asleep looking at the images from the day. But the chance of seeing the beautiful aurora coaxes me back out into the dark and the crisp, winter air. Trudging through the snow or along a dark roadside thoughts of doubt creep into your mind and whisper that you’re wasting precious hours you could be sleeping searching for a phantom. And then suddenly from out of nowhere the sky explodes into into vibrant, changing patterns of color. In that moment all thoughts of sleep rush out of your your mind and adrenaline courses through your body. For a minute you forget to even shoot. All the tired muscles and sore joints in your body are forgotten as you bask in the glorious display of one of the natural worlds greatest phenomena. Nature’s therapy at its best.

Explosion | Iceland - There are certain locations that regardless of how many times you visit, it's like a new experience every time. Iceland is one of those. This image was made at dawn on the beach in Vik, and while most are drawn to photograph the ancient sea stacks there, the surf is a subject unto itself. This area tends to experience some of the island's more dramatic weather systems and the towering waves are astonishingly powerful. Exercising extreme caution here is of the utmost importance as sleeper waves often surprise tourists and can be deadly. The small black flecks that you see in the crashing wave here are actually fist-sized stones... just to give you an idea of how powerful the ocean is on this beach.

Explosion | Iceland – There are certain locations that regardless of how many times you visit, it’s like a new experience every time. Iceland is one of those. This image was made at dawn on the beach in Vik, and while most are drawn to photograph the ancient sea stacks there, the surf is a subject unto itself. This area tends to experience some of the island’s more dramatic weather systems and the towering waves are astonishingly powerful. Exercising extreme caution here is of the utmost importance as sleeper waves often surprise tourists and can be deadly. The small black flecks that you see in the crashing wave here are actually fist-sized stones… just to give you an idea of how powerful the ocean is on this beach.

Arctic Pastels | Lofoten, Norway - Hamnoy is the oldest fishing village in the Lofoten Archipelago, and though small, it is undeniably beautiful. Considered by many to be to be one of the most picturesque villages in the region, Hamnoy is also popular tourist destination due to its scenic, unspoiled nature. This village was only accessible by ferry until bridges were built connecting it to the rest of the peninsula about 35 years ago. During my Norway Photography Tour, participants are accommodated in remodeled fishermen cabins like the red ones pictured here. The oldest one of these was built in the 1890's. There are few things that compare with staying in a traditional seaside cabin overlooking the coastline and falling asleep to the sound of the ocean lapping against the rocks below. This image was captured during the first sunrise photo shoot of my tour, we were rewarded with a soft pink blush in the clouds just above these iconic peaks.

Arctic Pastels | Lofoten, Norway – Hamnoy is the oldest fishing village in the Lofoten Archipelago, and though small, it is undeniably beautiful. Considered by many to be to be one of the most picturesque villages in the region, Hamnoy is also popular tourist destination due to its scenic, unspoiled nature. This village was only accessible by ferry until bridges were built connecting it to the rest of the peninsula about 35 years ago. During my Norway Photography Tour, participants are accommodated in remodeled fishermen cabins like the red ones pictured here. The oldest one of these was built in the 1890’s. There are few things that compare with staying in a traditional seaside cabin overlooking the coastline and falling asleep to the sound of the ocean lapping against the rocks below. This image was captured during the first sunrise photo shoot of my tour, we were rewarded with a soft pink blush in the clouds just above these iconic peaks.

Winter Oasis | Lofoten, Norway - Ice is often one of the best elements to utilize in a winter scene, however this year many of the large lakes in Norway were covered due to increased snowfall late in the season. The snow cover compromised the stability of the ice which made working around the lakes difficult at times. Adapting to these conditions meant passing on some of the grand compositions with ice cracks in the foreground, and instead finding small hidden ponds like this one just off the beaten path. While shooting in a colder climate certainly has its challenges, with the proper clothing one can remain quite comfortable and and the rewards are great. Winter images are very unique and produce results unlike any other season. This is a favorite area of mine for sunrise in Norway for good reason. And yes, the ice is really that color.

Winter Oasis | Lofoten, Norway – Ice is often one of the best elements to utilize in a winter scene, however this year many of the large lakes in Norway were covered due to increased snowfall late in the season. The snow cover compromised the stability of the ice which made working around the lakes difficult at times. Adapting to these conditions meant passing on some of the grand compositions with ice cracks in the foreground, and instead finding small hidden ponds like this one just off the beaten path. While shooting in a colder climate certainly has its challenges, with the proper clothing one can remain quite comfortable and and the rewards are great. Winter images are very unique and produce results unlike any other season. This is a favorite area of mine for sunrise in Norway for good reason. And yes, the ice is really that color.

The Gatekeepers | Iceland - Off Iceland's eastern coastline fantastic rocks protrude from the ocean creating great subject matter for compositions. At this particular location they're precisely where the sun sets during the winter season. As the sun drops down to the horizon it splits the difference between these two gigantic formations. If the skies are clear, then you're treated to a beautiful display like this one.

The Gatekeepers | Iceland – Off Iceland’s eastern coastline fantastic rocks protrude from the ocean creating great subject matter for compositions. At this particular location they’re precisely where the sun sets during the winter season. As the sun drops down to the horizon it splits the difference between these two gigantic formations. If the skies are clear, then you’re treated to a beautiful display like this one.

Kaleidoscope | Norway Fascinating sand patterns along the shoreline of one of Norway's many beautiful beaches. Turquoise waters and white sand beaches, Norway is very much like the Caribbean of the North.

Kaleidoscope | Norway Fascinating sand patterns along the shoreline of one of Norway’s many beautiful beaches. Turquoise waters and white sand beaches, Norway is very much like the Caribbean of the North.

Someone recently asked me what we do on my Nature Odyssey Worldwide Photo Tours when the weather changes and the storms blow in. I was puzzled, but smiled and said, 'That's often when we do our best work.' This shot was taken on my sold out Winter Iceland Photography Tour in 2016 with a great group of dedicated photographers. We've found some great scenes both in the landscape and the ice caves.

Someone recently asked me what we do on my Nature Odyssey Worldwide Photo Tours when the weather changes and the storms blow in. I was puzzled, but smiled and said, ‘That’s often when we do our best work.’ This shot was taken on my sold out Winter Iceland Photography Tour in 2016 with a great group of dedicated photographers. We’ve found some great scenes both in the landscape and the ice caves.

What a beautiful country! This shot was taken on the final day of my Nature Odyssey Worldwide Tours in Norway. A fitting end to what was a week filled with the perfect variety of weather, allowing us to photograph the landscape in all conditions. One of my participants that travels a lot for photography said this was perhaps the best tour they'd ever been on, I couldn't ask for a better compliment. Thanks to this great group for joining me this Winter, 2016 Photo Tour in Norway!

What a beautiful country! This shot was taken on the final day of my Nature Odyssey Worldwide Tours in Norway. A fitting end to what was a week filled with the perfect variety of weather, allowing us to photograph the landscape in all conditions. One of my participants that travels a lot for photography said this was perhaps the best tour they’d ever been on, I couldn’t ask for a better compliment. Thanks to this great group for joining me this Winter, 2016 Photo Tour in Norway!

How to Shoot the Perseids Meteor Shower

Author:  Beth Ruggiero-York

It’s almost time for what can be an epic meteor shower every year – the Perseids Meteor Shower. This year it will peak on Friday, August 12, but if you’re truly determined to capture the most meteor shots as possible, plan to shoot the night before and the night after as well. To take full advantage, you need to plan to shoot through the night as the hours before twilight in the early morning are often the best. This year’s Perseids is predicted to yield up to 200 meteors per shower at its peak this year.

Photographing meteors is like shooting lightning – you never know when they will appear, so you need to have your shutter open as much as possible to capture these fleeting fireballs. While some of you may use a lightning trigger for your lightning shots, I prefer to set my camera on continuous 20-second shots by attaching my remote shutter release and locking it down for lightning, and I do the same for meteors. You can also set the specific number of shots you want using an intervalometer. In this way, your shutter is open for 20 seconds at a time, and during that time, there may be one meteor, no meteors, or two or three meteors in your image. After 20 seconds, the camera closes the shutter and immediately opens it again for another 20 seconds, and so on through the night. This allows you to sit in your reclining chair and enjoy the show! Back home on the computer, you can select the best individual images, or you can create a composite of several to show multiple meteors in one image. Alternatively, you can also create a short time-lapse video.

So, what do you need and how do you get it all set up? I will walk you through the steps below.

First, equipment:

  • A DSLR or mirrorless camera
  • A sturdy tripod
  • Your widest, fastest lens – 14mm-24mm is ideal because it will include the largest possible area of the sky, and more sky means more chances of capturing more meteors. Equally important is the aperture – f/1.4 is ideal, f/2.8 is okay. The wider the aperture (f/1.4), the more light that is reaching the camera sensor, so the more meteors that will be detectable in the images. Remember that f/1.4 is 2 stops faster (wider) than f/2.8, so it will pick up even the dimmest meteors that f/2.8 may not be able to. That’s a big difference.
  • Remote shutter release or intervalometer
  • Gaffer tape to secure the lens focus ring after you have focused
  • Extra charged batteries
  • Large enough memory card, or extra memory cards
  • Flashlight
  • Comfortable chair
  • Snacks

Okay, now that you have your gear ready to go:

  1. LOCATION AND TIME: Head out to the site where you will shoot. You will have already scouted this site during the day for compositions, accessibility, safety, and obstructions. Ideally, plan to arrive before it’s fully dark. You can shoot sunset and then the Blue Hour into darkness, when you will switch to meteor photography settings. Sunset on August 12 is at 7:15pm, so depending on your latitude, full darkness (end of astronomical twilight) will be around 10:00pm, plus or minus.
  2. COMPOSITION: Decide on your composition. Ideally, you will have an interesting foreground to complement the sky, but the sky needs to be the majority of your image because that’s where the action is.When deciding this, the most important consideration for this is the direction you face. Ideally, you want to point the lens either side of the meteor shower radiant. The radiant is the emanation point of the meteors. This is the Perseids shower, named after the constellation Perseus in the northeast sky. That means that the meteors will emanate from Perseus. But that doesn’t mean you should point directly at Perseus; rather, plan on pointing about 30-45 degrees to either side of Perseus. Keep this in mind as you plan your composition.
  1. SETUP AND FOCUS: Now that you have decided on your composition, set up your tripod and camera. Attach the remote shutter release or intervalometer. Now it’s time to focus. For those of you who have taken my night workshops or have read my book, Fun in the Dark, you know just what to do. If not, here is the routine for night photography focusing:
    1. The goal is to establish ‘infinity focus’. Infinity means that your subject of focus is beyond the hyperfocal distance, which depends on your focal length and aperture. Don’t worry too much about this if you’re not familiar, just make sure that your composition does not include anything closer than, say, 30 feet. That’s a good ballpark figure. If there is a tree or a bush closer than that, chances are it will be out of focus. Beyond that distance, however, is infinity, and that will all be sharp. Most important is that the stars are sharp!
    2. If you have arrived at your site and are setting up in daylight, you can use autofocus to establish infinity focus. Simply autofocus on a distant subject – a mountain, tree, etc. – and then – very important – switch to manual focus. If you don’t, when you half press the shutter release the next time, your lens will attempt to refocus.
    3. Take a short piece of gaffer tape (1-2 inches) and gently place it on the lens where the focus ring meets the fixed barrel of the lens. This will secure it from tiny movements due to temperature change, brushing up against the lens accidentally, etc. Remember this – you don’t need to refocus unless you change your focal length (e.g., 20mm to 24mm). Even if you recompose, if you stay at the same focal length, your focus is still good.
    4. If you are establishing focus after dark, you are in luck on August 12 because the moon will already be up. You can use autofocus to focus on the moon, then switch to manual focus, tape down, and you’re good to go! It doesn’t matter that the moon may not (preferably not) be in your composition, because infinity is infinity, no matter what direction you are facing.
  2. WHITE BALANCE: I recommend a Kelvin setting of about 3500 for this type of night photography. Most DSLRs allow you to set the temperature manually. Check your User Manual if you don’t know how. As a last resort, use the “Daylight” setting. If you are shooting RAW images (and you should be), this is easily adjusted in post-processing.
  3. SHOOT: Once full darkness has arrived, it’s time to start shooting. At your widest aperture (e.g., f/1.4, f/2.8), set your shutter speed at 20 seconds and your ISO at 100. Take a test shot. It will probably be way too dark (remember to check the histogram for the most accurate information). This is where the ISO plays its role – increase to 1200 and take another test shot. Too dark? Keep increasing the ISO until you get a good exposure. It may have to go as high as 3200 or 6400.

Now that you have figured out your settings and set them, take a couple of test shots. Make any necessary adjustments, and then lock down the remote shutter release (push the button forward where it will stay).

  1. HAVE A SEAT AND ENJOY THE SHOW!

Beth Ruggiero-York is author of Fun in the Dark: A Guide to Successful Night Photography, and a photo workshop instructor for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops. You can purchase her book here. You can see details of her upcoming workshops at http://www.ahpw.org/workshops/.