Love your camera

By Rick Jacobi

I think this is an important part of one’s photography. A camera that you love and inspires you to shoot. There are many cameras that a person can own today, and they are all good. That being said then you should own a camera that speaks to your heart.

I am a street photographer and usually carry two cameras with me. I have bought and sold cameras in the last few years trying to find the combination that I really love. I have had expensive and inexpensive cameras that for me were not fun to use. I would not shoot as often because it was not enjoyable using these cameras. I would make up excuses in my head and would lose interest in shooting.

You will gain more creativity, more passion and motivation if you “Love Your Camera”. Don’t worry about what some other photographer uses for a camera. Remember they are all good. Just use a camera that is fun for you.  You might be thinking that I have this brand of camera with all the lens that I don’t really enjoy shooting with. What should I do? “Sell” it and get the camera system you would love to use. If you are not sure which one, rent them to find the one you love. It will be worth the money for all the fun you will have, and your photos will be better.

Unless you are a professional photographer, your photography is a hobby. Enjoy it to the fullest.

Enjoy your camera.

Rick Jacobi is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Know your Equipment and Location

By David Halgrimson

Since moving back to Minnesota I have been researching places to go for photo opportunities and found a couple near where I live. One is Swan Park in Monticello Minnesota 15 miles west and Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge 25 miles north of my home. Both easily accessed.

We moved back to MN in November just when the Trumpeter Swans were starting to return to a section of the Mississippi River in Monticello. They stay from November thru February when they mate and leave for their nesting locations. The Swans along with geese and ducks like this area as the river is open due to a power plant on the river to the north and because for the past 30 plus years they get free breakfast and lunch. The Swans are the main draw at Swan Park, a very small park, maybe 40 feet wide, overlooking the river where the birds spend their days, eating, mating and fighting.

For more information on the park and the swans visit this site, http://www.monticellocci.com/pages/Swans.

About knowing the location, not just the Swan Park location, but any location. When visiting in August I went to check out Swan park only to find out there are no swans there in august, but now I knew right where to go when they returned… scouting day one. Once settled after our move, I went back and was pleasantly surprised by not only the swans, ducks and geese but the sheer numbers of them. As the story goes, over 30 years ago there were only a handful of swans and now there can be as many as 2,700 on any given day. I needed to know how to get the best view, what equipment and clothing would be best, it’s dang cold here November thru February. Because people are not allowed down at the river’s edge the area is somewhat secluded, so a good winter coat and stocking hat, warm boots and most of all special gloves. I went through three different sets of gloves to find those that would somewhat keep my hands from freezing. I found mittens with internal gloves that fold open to reveal gloved fingers and thumb to operate the camera. The glove portion of the index and middle finger have a special coating that allows for touch screen operation. Still, my fingers get very cold and I need to warm them occasionally. Next, what kind of lighting might be best for the subject. This day was bright sunlight and I found that the white swans had a good chance of blowing out the histogram, maybe a cloudy or partly cloudy day would work better or perhaps lens filters might help… scouting day 2. Oh, yes I did take pictures.

So now about knowing your equipment. On scouting day 2 I took my Lumix GX8 with a 40-150mm f/2.8 and a 300mm f/4 prime lenses and no tripod. The birds are very active, swimming, diving, taking off, landing, fighting and feeding. A slow shutter would not work but how fast should it be? I tried 400-500 with some good results for the swimming and feeding but needed much faster for the flying, landings and takeoffs.

The Lumix and lenses being new to me and not having used it for birds before, I was not quite sure what settings to use so experimented with a number with mixed results and not to my personal standards. I also found the 300mm a bit too close for many of the shots but great for the birds coming in or taking off…scouting day two.

40-150mm, f/4, ISO 100 1/640th hand held

40-150mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/2000th hand held

40-150mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/2000th hand held

Not quite as sharp as I wanted as can be seen here. Part of that is the aperture of f/4 giving less DOF.

I went home to review my images and decided to do some research on best settings for the camera and lens combinations. After some testing and experimenting and finding the settings I thought would work best for me, I decided to setup a custom setting for wildlife on both camera bodies. This included the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, high speed burst and more, this way when I am shooting birds and fast moving subjects I don’t have to remember settings I can just set the camera(s) to custom 1 and start shooting and making small adjustments as needed from there.

Now with all the scouting complete and camera settings configured it was time to return for a real shoot. I took both camera bodies, one with the 40-150mm and one with the 300mm and, yes, a tripod. I used the 300mm on the tripod for the birds in the air and the 40-150mm hand held for the action on the water.

All the scouting, researching, testing and camera setup paid off big time. I went on a bright but cloudy day, cameras all ready, my warmest gloves, set up the tripod with the 300mm, hung the other around my neck and started shooting. The results were to me more than I expected.

300mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 tripod mounted

300mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 tripod mounted

40-150mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 hand held

40-150mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 handheld

40-150mm, 1/2000th, ISO 400, f/8 handheld

As can be seen in these the DOF and sharpness are much better. This is due to the faster shutter and and smaller aperture settings.

Know you equipment and do your scouting, it pays off in the long run.

Check out Arizona Highways PhotoScapes at https://photography-workshops.directory/photographer/arizona-highways-photo-workshops/

David Halgrimson is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Boots

By Vicki Uthe

As a kid I was a collector. You name it, I collected it. In hindsight I’m not positive how much the collections were because of things I was interested in or because I inherited them from family members. I also think I collected a couple of things that my mom got me into like dolls from foreign lands and glass blown figurines. These things cost money and required dusting. I look at my minimalist lifestyle now and think YUCK! I also collected postcards, matchbook covers, coins, stamps, and of course rocks. All required management of STUFF.
As I was going through images the other day hoping to be inspired for my next blog post it occurred to me that I still collect. But now I collect images. My taste is eclectic, I’ll shoot anything in front of me. I love people and details but am not lost on grand landscapes.
In my archive diving I discovered I apparently have an affinity for cowboy/girl boots. They are a work of art and as it turns out I’ve acquired quite a collection. The other thing I love about boots is the stories they could tell. They have such character. And the beauty of it all? I don’t have to store them or manage the care of the leather! Ha!

This is a great image of boots with chaps and spurs. I was a trip leader on an Arizona Highways Photo Workshop a couple of years ago in Sedona and we went on a jeep tour into the backcountry. The guides were fully dressed in old western wear.

This pair of boots was line dancing on the floor of a school gymnasium. Boots come in all sizes and these little ones were adorable. I love the scuff marks on the toes.

I captured these boots on a high school senior photo shoot. I love that even the bottoms of the boot are red, white and blue.

On a trip to Santa Fe we found a boot shop where there were walls of boots on shelves much like you’d find books on shelves in a book store. Even brand new they have amazing character.

This example, for me, highlights the fact that the artistry goes beyond the color of the material. That even in black and white the details of the boots shine through.

Maybe some day I’ll narrow my scope down to what I’m truly passionate about shooting but right now…it’s EVERYTHING!

Last summer, just north of Flagstaff, I went to the Babbitt Ranches colt sale. This was a GREAT place to capture real” cowboy/girl boots that have seen some real action.

Another pair of flag boots and the ones on the right, I love the teal color.

Black and white or color, the boots on the corral fence are a classic.

I never realized how popular the flag pattern is for boots. Who knew?

Checkout the bottom of that right boot, there’s a HOLE in it! I’d love to hear the stories…

On another trip to White Sands National Monument with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops I spent an afternoon in El Paso. These boots were for sale on the street.
So there you go, still collecting. I encourage you to go through your photo archives and see if any themes” emerge of things you are collecting but maybe never even realized. It’s kinda fun!
Happy Shooting!
Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Unique and Memorable Gifts that you can make from your photos

By Lisa Hanard

In today’s day and age so much is available to purchases with a couple clicks of the mouse. With Amazon.com and other online retailers, most items can be had within 48 hours, delivered right to your door.

That convenience makes gift-giving quick and easy but it also takes a little bit of the personal touch and thought away from giving presents.

Here are some fun and creative gifts that you can design using your photographic talents and a little imagination. Your friends and family will love how you went the extra mile to create something special for them.

What better gift to commemorate a special family trip or vacation than a personalized jigsaw puzzle.

You can relive the memories of the trip while your family assembles the photo puzzle together.

 

 

 

 

http://www.zazzle.com

Another fun idea is a personalized cellphone cover.

These can be purchased for most major phone brands and protect your phone with a gorgeous personalized image.

It’s a wonderful gift that combines fashion and function

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.shutterfly.com

For the world traveler, customized photo luggage tags  are a wonderful concept and highly practical.

 

 

 

 

Another fun idea is a personalized shower curtain. It’s certain to be a big hit with small children that normally avoid bath time.

http://www.snapfish.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.shutterfly.com

I hope this has given you some great ideas and resources to create some memorable photo gifts for your loved ones.

You will be amazed how touched and honored your family and friends will be, to have personalized gifts created with your own stunning photography.

Happy Designing!

Lisa Hanard is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.

Adobe Lightroom – Using the New Range Mask Feature

By Megan P Galope

Have you ever tried using a graduated filter to make the sky darker, but in the process it also darkens the mountains? Trying to then remove the mountains from the filter was a tedious task. No more! Adobe Lightroom has recently added a new feature to the filters and adjustment brush called “Range Mask”, which makes these tools more precise and easy to use. Here is a typical image where the foreground is the correct exposure but the sky is too bright.

After adding a graduated filter, the sky looks good, but unfortunately, the foreground is darkened as well:

At the bottom of the graduated filter toolbox, you’ll now see an option for “Range Mask” (this assumes you have the latest version of Lightroom). Click where it says “Off”, and you’ll get a drop-down with a couple options. Choose the “Color” option.

Next, click on the eye dropper tool to the left of the Range Mask option, and then click and drag in the sky to draw a box around the different colors in the sky (in this case, I drew a box that includes both the blue sky and the clouds). You want to choose the colors that you want to be affected by the graduated filter.

Notice the small square in the upper right

Once you draw the box and let go, voila! The sky is darker but the foreground hasn’t been affected by the filter:

Truth be told, sometimes this works better than others. If it doesn’t work the first time, you can try drawing the Range Mask box again in a different spot, or make it larger or smaller. You can also draw multiple boxes to sample different colors by holding down the shift key while drawing another box. If you want to delete a box, hold down the Alt (Windows)/Opt (Mac) key (the mouse will turn into a scissors icon) and click on the Range Mask dropper marker that you would like to delete.

The Range Mask feature is available for both the graduated filter and radial filter as well as the adjustment brush.

Megan P Galope is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Twitter = @megangalope                                                                                                                    mapphotography.smugmug.com

Bugs are Beautiful

Author:  Bruce Taubert

For whatever reason I have become obsessed with taking macro and micro photographs of bugs.  Beetles, files, wasps, bees, stink bugs, moths, butterflies, and whatever other bugs in Arizona and around the world.  Bugs are cool!  They have compound eyes, colorful exteriors, antennae, exoskeletons with sharp spines or hairs, scales like a fish, and many endearing body forms.

To take extreme macro/micro images of bugs I have purchased some types of photographic equipment that one would not normally find in a photographer’s bag.  All the cameras I own are adequate to take wonderful macro images, but it is the lenses that lack the magnification power to get the job done.  My first super macro lens purchase was the Canon MP-65 f/2.8 1X-5X zoom lens.  This unique lens does not zoom from wide to telephoto but zooms to different magnifications.  By moving the “non-focusing ring” the lens zooms from 1X to 5X without the need for extension tubes, teleconverters, diopter lenses, or the like.  Very easy to use when it comes to changing the level of magnification.

Cognisys “StackShot” attached to the automatic focusing rail. The camera is the Canon 7D Mark II with a Canon MP-E-65mm f/2.8 1-5X. The diffuser is a tapioca cut. In the set-up there would either be a LED light or two flashes.

When I want to go past the 5X world I must resort to purchasing equipment normally found in the research laboratory and, not in the camera bag.  For 10X magnification I have purchased a Mitutoyo microscope objective.  To allow me to use my digital camera and not a microscope I place a 70-200mm lens on the camera and use an adapter to place the microscope objective on the end of the camera lens. Not difficult to do and the cost of objective is less than the cost of a quality macro lens, and there are more inexpensive options than the Mitutoyo lens I have.

Mitutoyo 10X microscope objective mounted on a Canon 70-200 mm f/2.8 lens attched to a Canon 7D Mark II camera. This set-up gives a 16X magnification.

From here the only other relatively costly item is a focusing rail.  When taking images at large magnifications, it is necessary to use focus stacking.  Focus stacking is a mechanism by which the computer puts several images taken at different focal distances together resulting in a final, single image that has more depth-of-field than possible by any other process.  For smaller magnifications I may only take 10 images for stacking but at higher magnifications I take 200 or more images.  The focusing rail allows me to move the camera in very small increments and makes it easy to take the multiple images necessary for stacking.  To make life easier I purchased an automated focusing rail.

The rest of the equipment is easy and cheap.  I use either an empty tapioca container, plastic cutting board, printing paper, or even a ping pong ball for diffusion.  Camera flashes or LED lights provide the illumination and the bugs are free.

This sinister looking portrait of a wasp face was focused stacked from 44 images taken with the Canon MP-65 lens.

Not only are the images, in my mind, beautiful they represent forms that are unimaginable without having a photograph to view.  With this level of magnification, we can better appreciate the natural patterns of even the most obscure creatures.  Small bugs that are completely unappreciated become things of beauty, hopefully allowing the viewer to better appreciate them.  Even with all the biological experience I have and my love for all things alive (yes Roberta, even Creepy, Crawly Critters) I am forever amazed to see the intricate details these images uncover.

With a little practice and some unique equipment, it is relatively easy to see the smaller things in life.  The learning curve is not steep and the equipment not as expensive or exotic as one might imagine.

used a Canon MP-65 to capture this image of the beautiful scales on a moths wing.

If this type of photography interests, you I teach macro photography workshops through Arizona Highways PhotoScape’s and I have just written a book with Amy Brooks Horn on The Art of Macro Photography.

Bruce Taubert is an Instructor with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

 

LEE’S FERRY WITHOUT A BOAT

By Vicki Uthe

In November 2016 we loaded our mountain bikes and tent and headed to Lee’s Ferry for a three-day campout over Veteran’s Day. The weather was spectacular. The ferry is generally the fist thing you think of when launching a Colorado River trip through Grand Canyon but this time we didn’t bring boats, we brought bikes and hiking boots.

Paria Canyon meets the river here and created this riffle. There were other buildings near the put-in that housed the ferry company back in the day. I did not include them here but they are fun to explore and photograph as well.

We parked the cars for the weekend and took the bikes all over. We road out to Highway 89 and down the road to this dirt road that seemed to go on forever.

That’s Navajo Bridge in the background, the only way over the canyon for hundreds of miles. We also had a great view of the river below.

We ran across this hogan, a traditional Dine’ dwelling, out on a dirt road with the beautiful Vermillion Cliffs in the background.

This is just a fun low angle shot I took while out on the bike ride. I had with me my Canon S120 point and shoot because it was easy to slip in and out of my pocket. It is also an easy camera to shoot one handed.

I like shadows.

Shooting while riding…NOT recommended.

This is the gate to the local cemetery that tells a very sad story. There are several children buried here that all seemed to pass in the span of a year. Not sure what the illness was but it ravaged this family.

We parked our bikes at the opening to the Lonely Dell Ranch like they were horses. This property had several buildings and an orchard. It was a great place to shoot.

Heading down Cathedral Wash, this was the trickiest part. The hike was beautiful but nothing compared to what we got to see at the bottom, our beloved Colorado River!

Mud patterns and reflections

This rock looks like a turtle head!

We found a great beach to hang out on and enjoy the roar of the river. Beach time in Northern Arizona!

Go explore, bring your camera and document your adventures. It’s fun to go back and relive them through photographs.

Happy Shooting!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes