Super Moon and a Streaking Airplane

Author: Jeff Insel

I’ve had several people inquire as to the settings and lens I used for my “Moon Shot”, so I thought I’d try answering in blog form.  I had planned to photograph this event for a while, as many others.  I know from previous experience that a long lens is very handy, and I happen to have a Sigma 50-500mm that does a good job, mated with my Sony A65 – giving me a total of 750mm available.  Next, I made sure to bring my tripod and camp chair, plenty of water and snacks, and made sure my batteries were charged up.

Once on site, I set up my chair, tripod, remote shutter release and camera.  I also set my camera for manual focus and in aperture priority.  At this point I also plugged in my earphones for my iPhone and set my music to shuffle, I was all set and waiting for the event to start – about 40 minutes away.  I had decided to set up at the Fountain Park in Fountain Hills and there were a lot of folks walking their dogs and enjoying the quiet evening; a few photographers were also set up scattered all along the walkway around the lake. We also enjoyed the fountain going off on the hour for it’s 15 minutes of duration.

When the moon began to make its presence known (it was already in its early eclipse mode) I began to test out different exposures and focus points. The Moon was still fairly bright though. Once the eclipse got to about a third of the way through we began to see the “blood” color effect. Of course the Moon is moving, so every couple of minutes I had to adjust the focus point and angle of the lens. I varied from about 300mm to 500mm and tried ISO’s from 100 – 1600.  I settled on an ISO 0f 800 and f6.3 for most of my shots. This resulted in a shutter speed of about 3.2 sec. once the Moon was in full eclipse. While making another angle and focus point adjustment I noticed the lights of an airplane that looked like it might transit in front of the Moon so I moved quickly with my adjustments and clicked my remote shutter when the plane appeared (by my eye) about 6” away from the Moon.  The result is the photo above, and I consider it my most unique and best Blood Moon photo.

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

Pleasure and Privilege

Author:  LeRoy DeJolie

This month marks a significant milestone in my photographic career. It was 20 years ago, this very day when I conducted my very first photographic workshop as an Instructor with the Friends of Arizona Highways Photo Workshop, (AHPW). Our objectives back then as I recall was and still remains true to this day. It was designed to take our participants to special places, off the beaten path, somewhere in Arizona and provide each and every participant with unrivaled experiences in photography. Over the years,  AHPW  immersed participating photographers, whether they be novices or professionals, to new and exciting places to experience and photograph true nature, wildlife and various cultures at its finest.

Being a second generation of photographers in my family, I have always been fascinated with the History of Photography as much as by the technical process of this new digital age. However, I am still more inclined to wander down this odd photographic journey with my large cumbersome equipment, because this is where my passion lies. I don’t expect things to change anytime soon.  After pondering long and hard, I would love to be remembered as a photographer who examined the compelling and intimate art of landscape portraiture.  Sometimes the best portraits are often as much a reflection of the maker as they are of the subject.  I love to focus on the elements that make a landscape portrait compelling, such as types of film, lenses, composition, the various types of lighting, metering and the environment.  As an instructor, I also love how I can also address strategies for working with participants and suggesting methods for making emotionally resonant photographs to keep for a lifetime.


If this simple message were to be totally comprehensive, it would take many pages and countless hours to write but no message is ever complete without first recognizing the support that I’ve had the special pleasure and privilege to know and work with over the years.  Here’s to the unsung heroes, my colleagues who assisted me sometimes under adverse conditions. I have no hesitation in conveying to you that each one of you is intimately attached to teaching and fostering the photographic growth of each of our participants, as I am. Your contribution to our programs over the years are a great part who the Friends are today.  Thank you John Frelich and Meng Tay, my Trip Leaders on our recent trip to Hunts Mesa.  You both connected immediately with our participants as well as helped each reach their full potential and expectations. My hat is off to you!

In closing, alongside each Volunteer Trip Leader are the ‘Behind the Scenes’ personnel who operate a small office, but have one of the biggest missions. To the office staff of AHPW including Executive Director –  Roberta Lites,  Logistics Manager – Holly MacNaughton and Administrative Support,  Madeana “Mindy” Towne, I truly value your contribution and the many hours you provide to ensure each participant’s exceptional experience. You are no doubt committed to serve. You make an enormous impact to this Organization and I am humbled to know I have your full support. Once again, Thanks-A-Million.

LeRoy DeJolie  –  Photographer


Keys to Photographing Wildlife

Author:  Megan Galope

There are many keys to photographing wildlife, including being in the right place at the right time, configuring your settings (higher ISO and open aperture to make sure you have a fast enough shutter speed), and a long telephoto lens. But possibly the most important key is patience.

I recently attended the Arizona Highways Photo Workshop in the Grand Tetons to photograph wildlife. We spent quite a bit of time driving around to find the animals, and at times were very lucky. One evening, we saw many cars parked on the side of the road, which usually means a large animal is nearby. It turned out to be a grizzly and her cub. When we first arrived, they were quite a ways in the distance. We tried getting some photos, but nothing to write home about.


They didn’t appear to be moving in our direction, but with a little patience, we waited to see what they would do. And it’s a good thing we did! Before we knew it, they were crossing the road right in front of us.


Later we went looking for the elusive fox. We finally found one hiding out in the sage brush. She had some kits with her and kept fairly well hidden for a while. Again, my photos of the fox were not all that great.


But after a little time and patience, the fox came into an opening so that we could get a much better view of her.


Having patience while photographing wildlife can make a world of difference.

Megan Galope is a Trip Leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.



Red on the Rim

Author: Greg McKelvey

The Mogollon Rim, stretching from near Flagstaff to New Mexico, is more than a unique topographic and geologic feature.  It’s forests are home to numerous, albeit hidden Mountain Maple and small groves of Aspen trees.   Not the grand vistas surrounding the San Francisco Peaks and nothing like the New England hardwood forests, the Rim Country does have fall displays to fill the portfolio of any professional photographer, publication amateur enthusiast.  The question is where are they?

Take a Sunday fall drive on the USFS 300 road, and you will likely pass yellow flames of aspen, some even with ponds to capture the reflections.  The occasional sighting of small red maple trees is evidence that there is more. Some experienced folks know of a few isolated red and orange maple groves, many just below the Rim.  A few experienced photographers hike Horton and See Canyons for wonderful fall displays.  The more one explores, the more one finds.  Makes sense, yet not all that easy for the visitors.

Google Earth offers a shortcut that may well enhance the probability of finding exceptional fall shots!

Google Earth is a free program that uses the most up to date satellite imagery available.  Open the program and find your house and likely you will see your car in the driveway.  As they add new imagery, they do not discard the old!    With satellite data back as far 1992, their historical record of images may well capture a place at that unique time.  Such is the case in the hunt for fall colors in parts of the Mogollon Rim.

Note the difference in the image taken in June 2014 over the intersection of the Rim Road 300 and USFS 84 and the images captured in October, 2012.  See the red?

Perhaps not evident until zooming closer (see below).  The Mable and Aspen show on USFS 84 are known to many, often photographed and worth a revisit each year.   What was not evident is the extent of these colorful trees.  I have visited this location for more than 10 years , yet until I saw the  October 2012 Google Earth capture, I did not know how far I could find special color.  Mind you these are not the grand vista, yet are wonderful walks in the forest where my camera never stops clicking.

Red on the Rim 4

Note individual red trees.

To find the stack of images that Google Earth stores:

  • Open Google Earth
  • Navigate to a National Forest near your
  • Zoom in a bit to see roads and familiar places
  • Click on the date in the lower left hand side of the display next to Tour Guide a clock and find the 1992 button (this would be the oldest image on file).
  • Click and it opens a time slider at the upper left.
  • Slide to the right looking at the dates. Earlier images are in Black and White while many are taken in summer.
  • Surf and slide until you find the time of year you plan to do your work.

In the case of USFS 84 maple / aspen grove, the image from September 2010 and October 2010 shows nothing, but October 2012, wow the forest lights up.   From that base, we have found and visited locations,  some with splendid foregrounds and colorful skies were we would not have known to look.  I want to explore a new place each year, and I have a robust list of fall color locations worth checking.

Hey this might work in other places for other subjects.   Who knows?  I think I see carpets of wild flowers on one May image so far from a road that it not well photographed??

Greg McKelvey is a participant at Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Should You Use Infrared or Laser When Shooting Motion?

Author: Jeff Cox

I have used the Nero trigger’s laser function for photographing birds, especially humming birds. With the Nero you can set the threshold, a delay in milliseconds and how many frames to take each time the beam is disrupted.  A laser pen is required but not provided. The laser beam must be lined up exactly to the little senor on the module. Lining up the pen’s laser beam with the Nero module I place the pen first, making sure it won’t move. Then put the Nero module on a light stand so it can be adjusted easily. With the pen turned on I put my hand in front and follow the path to the module on the light stand. Now I can adjust the stand as needed. Make sure  the laser beam is pointing to the side of the bird or animal that will not show in the photo. Anything breaking the beam will trigger the camera. It should also be noted that any movement of either the laser or module will also trigger the camera and you will have to reline both again. Its best to do when there is little or no wind or where birds or animals can’t sit on either part.

It should also be noted the Nero also has these features: lightning, sound and time-lapse and HDR.

My newest toy is the CAPTUR module pro by Hahnel. The main reason for getting this was the infrared feature. There are two parts; the control module and the infrared module. Both can be screwed in a tripod or a light stand. Setting up is easy. Turn the control and select IR setting you will get a small red light. Next arrange the IR module some distance from the control and turn it on.  With IR module pointing in the general direction of the Control its red light should turn to green. The green light indicates the control is receiving the IR signal. . In the IR model you can setup a delay before shooting starts, set a shot count, and duration of burst/exposure with continuous/bulb.

You will need to purchase a 2.5 mm cable for your type of camera you have.  (these are sold separately). I also have an extension cable and adaptors (2.5mm to 3.5mm). I use the extension cable so that the camera doesn’t have to be close to the control module. So far I’ve only tried the IR setting without making any other changes. Since the modules are not aligned perfectly when either sensor is blocked the camera will fire. This is much easier that aligning the laser. My first trials with this was setting each module on either side of a bird feeder or bird bath. The photos below were the results. I cropped them to emphasis what I liked most and to show scenes I couldn’t taken any other way.  Oh, be sure to set the number of exposures you would like. I forgot and left the setting on infinite and filled my card without realizing it. We have active bird feeders.

Some birds will enjoy the bath while others do the splashing.

The CAPTUR module will also do sound, time lapse, light/lightning, and laser modes. Each mode can be controlled  similar to the IR mode. It is comparable to the Nero trigger both are alike with some of the functions but the setting are different on each device. For the price difference the CAPTUR module pro is a much better deal.

I should probably mention a Vello device also uses IR.  But, it doesn’t work as well because it appears almost anything triggers the camera.  The IR covers a huge area and any little movement with set it off.  I found that I couldn’t count on the Vello to be reliable.

In conclusion the infrared is a better way to capture motion than using a laser. This is just a brief explanation of how I used infrared to remotely capture birds.

Jeff Cox is a trip leader for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Capture Your Moment: Light Painting for Landscapes and Architecture

Beth Ruggiero-York will be presenting two learning sessions at Arizona Highways Photo Workshops’ 30th Anniversary Symposium.  Here’s more about her “Light Painting for Landscapes and Architecture” session.

Light Painting for Landscapes and Architecture

Many of us know what light painting is, but do you know how to use it effectively? In the “Light Painting for Landscapes and Architecture” session, you will learn the subtleties of painting with light that will make your images pop without looking garnished. You will come away from the session understanding the differences between lights, and when to use each one.  Also, so you are equipped to get out in the field right away, you will know the “starting settings.”

For answers to all your questions about night photography, check out my new book, Fun in the Dark: A Guide to Successful Night Photography, at

Beth Ruggiero-York is a photographer for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

For more information and to register for sessions like these, please the AHPW’s 30th Anniversary Symposium website.

Capture Your Moment: Macro-Photography

Bruce Taubert will be presenting two learning sessions at Arizona Highways Photo Workshops’ 30th Anniversary Symposium.  Here’s more about his “Macro- Photography” Session.

Macro Photography - Glass Frog

Bruce takes photographs of small things because they are beautiful, and he can only really appreciate how beautiful and unique they are by having an image to look at. It is almost impossible for him to see the scales that make up butterfly wings or the pollen on a bee’s legs without viewing a photograph.  He never really appreciated the intricacy of a dragonfly’s eyes or the interweaves of a bird’s feather, again until he saw a close-up photograph of them.  There is an incredible WOW factor when he looks at images that show the pieces of the natural world that he has never seen before. Even though many of his images of small things may never be published, it is through these images that he better appreciates the beauty of the small pieces of our world.

Macro Photography - Moth

Macro-photography is normally defined as “taking photographs of small items and making them larger than life size”.  This definition, for most photographers, is too limiting.  It can be defined more simply as “close-up” photography, allowing photos of less than life-size subjects to be included.

Macro-photography is unique from other forms of photography in that it requires the use of different types of equipment than landscape, portrait, and most wildlife photography.  It also requires some different skills than other forms of photography. The cameras are the same, but only through the use of specialized lenses and other equipment can the photographer take photographs at 0.5X and it is even more complicated as we attempt to photograph at magnifications greater than 1X.

Macro Photography - Gecko

In the “Macro-photography” learning session, you will learn all about the specialized equipment, techniques, and art of macro-photography.  Bruce’s hope is that after you digest all of that information, you will better understand how to use the cameras, lenses, and associated equipment to open up the special world of macro-photography.

To read the post on Bruce’s other learning session, “Hummingbird Photography,” visit our Capture Your Moment page.

Bruce Taubert is a photographer for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

For more information and to register for sessions like this, please visit the AHPW’s 30th Symposium website.