Great time at NANPA and more!

I had a great weekend in Jacksonville, FL for the North America Nature Photography Association summit. It was great to see some old friends and to make some new ones. Both my presentations, “Light. Color, and Composition” and “Lightroom Essentials: Mastering the Library and Develop Modules”, went very well and I got great feedback! Thanks to all those who attended and to Canon for sponsoring me at the event!
Susan Milestone, Corey Hilz, me, Deb Sandidge, Tony Sweet
There were great presentations by Art Wolfe, Dan Cox and James Balog, as well as George Lepp, Greg Downing, Mike Moats and several others. A good time was had by all. If you didn’t make it, I hope you check out NANPA and join us next year!
I have been reworking some older HDR images using the new PhotomatixPro/Lightroom
technique for putting them together. If you missed the tutorial you can find it here.
We have just posted info for next year’s India trip! If you want to have a great photographic experience and visit an amazing country, join me! I am only taking eight lucky photographers on a photographic adventure of a lifetime!


Take care,


Using Photoshop and Camera Raw to produce HDR images

I have had a few requests asking me to show you how to use Photoshop and Camera Raw to create great HDR images, like I showed with using Lightroom. (click here if you missed that!)

So I have made a new video tutorial for you.

I suggest you follow these steps to get the best viewing experience for the tutorials:
1.Click on the movie and immediatley hit the pause on the lower left
2. Go to the "gear" icon and change the quality setting to 1080p
  3. Go to icon in lower right and click Fullscreen - the movie will now fill your screen in HD

 4. Click the Play arrow in lower left

 5. When done hit the Escape key

 6. Enjoy!



Upcoming winter presentations


Greetings Everyone,
 I hope your New Year is off to a good start! I am busy, giving my third Digital House Call lesson of the year today and getting ready for all my upcoming speaking engagements. I want to highlight some of the upcoming speaking engagements and classes in this newsletter.
Off to sunny Florida for Fotofusion , “The 18th Annual International Festival of Photography and Digital Imaging Where Creativity and Technology Fuse.” There will be over 50 presenters speaking on topics from Conservation photography, portraiture, Photoshop, Lightroom, making ebooks, sport photography, iPhone photography and much, much more! Some of the speakers in Joyce Tennison, Vincent Versace, Jack Davis, John Reuter, Craig Blacklock, Dan Burkholder, Jimmy Colton, Robert Farber, Carlton Ward, Jr, and Rob Sheppard, plus many, many more! There are lectures, field trips, portrait sessions and more.
I have spoken at 16 of the past 17 Fotofusion events and I am really looking forward to going this year! This year I am giving two computer labs, one on Raw processing and one an introduction to Lightroom 4. I am also giving a talk on “Taking Advantage of Digital” highlighting all the wonderful techniques we can do with digital such as High ISO, Custom White Balance, HDR, Pano Stitching, Focus Stacking, Black and White Conversions, Tone Mapping, Time Lapse and more. I am also doing portfolio reviews. For more info go to:
Starting off local on Feb 2nd with a day long workshop at Yolo Basin Wildlife Area - working on Light, Color and Composition, doing a field session in the wildlife area followed by a critique/review of the images. For more info go to:
Then I am off to Munster, Indiana on Feb 16th for the Calumet Region Photo Club 4th annual Photography Clinic. And then flying directly to sunny (and hopefully much warmer!) West Palm Beach, FL to teach my weeklong class, Digital Workflow for Nature Photographers: From capture to print, starting on the 18th. This is a great opportunity to spend a week with me taking pictures, editing images and creating prints from our endeavors. For more info go to:
From there I will be heading to northern Florida to Jacksonville for the North America Nature Photographer’s Summit and Trade Show. This is a must for any avid nature photographer! This year has a great line up of guest speakers including myself, George Lepp, Robert Glenn Ketchum, Mary Virginia Swanson, Tony Sweet, Clyde Butcher, Karine Aigner, James Balog, Daniel Cox, Greg Downing, Suzi Eszterhas, Art Wolfe, Guy Tal, Rob Sheppard Mike Moats, Piper McKay and more! The best line up ever! 
I will be giving a Break Out Session on Lightroom Essentials; Mastering the Library and Develop Modules and also giving a pre summit workshop, Advance Your Skills Boot Camp: Light, Color and Composition. I will also have a booth in the trade show selling my training DVDs “The Photographer’s Toolbox for Photoshop” and “The Photographer’s Toolbox for Lightroom” For more info:
Next I travel to West Chester, OH on the 16th for a Digital Day for more info:
And then back to Florida on the 18th for an Evening with Lewis Kemper at Boynton Beach, for more info:
I will save April for another time!
Take care,


Looking back at 2012

As 2012 comes to an end I just wanted to share good wishes to all and the hopes of a wonderful, healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!

I took the time to look back on my favorite images that I took in 2012 and narrowed it down to my top 10!  So here they are in no real order!






What an amazing time to be a photographer!


We are the luckiest photographers of all time! We have cameras that can make images that were impossible to photograph just a few short years ago. I can’t even imagine what it will be like in another 5 years!
I just recently got back from travels to India where I took two Canon cameras with me, the older Canon 1 D Mark IV and the brand new Canon 1 Dx. Both preformed admirably. In my “normal” landscape photography I use a tripod 95% of the time, but in India I knew that in most temples, monuments, etc I would not be able to use a tripod. This meant if I wanted good pictures I would be hand holding my cameras. In the past this would have limited what I could shoot, but not today! With both of these cameras I was able to comfortable shoot over 6400 ISO and with the 1Dx I could even push it to 25,600 ISO! That’s a long way from the Kodachrome 25 I used when I started out in photography!
This made so many photo opportunities that would not have been available to me otherwise. One strong example is the portrait I made of the woman rug weaver lit by a single flame lantern at ISO 12,800! In another example, the night scene of Varanasi (4th image), I was standing in a moving boat on the river and still able to photograph at night!
Click here to see all the images big!
Most of you know I am a big believer in HDR imagery to gather the full tonal range of a scene. I found it absolutely necessary to shoot HDR in many of the locations I traveled including monuments and other buildings. By using these high ISO capable camera I was able to hand hold 3 bracketed shots at 2 stop increments to get full tonal images in very difficult lighting situations without the need for a tripod! If you look at the first two images on the page you will see two prime examples of what I was able to do.
So next time you are thinking about a camera purchase no matter what brand camera you use, don’t be as concerned about the number of pixels the camera has but pay more attention to how well the camera can perform under low light and how fast the frame rates is, allowing you to shoot 3 exposures for HDR in under a half a second!
We are truly at a time of “if you can imagine it, you can shoot it” It kinds of makes me feel sorry for all the talented photographers that have passed before us. I wonder what it would have been like if some of them had these capabilities. ( I can’t help but wonder what one of my idols, Ernst Haas could have done!) But I am also jealous of all those who will come after me and be able to create images I can’t even imagine today!
Happy, Holidays,


1Dx vs. 5DM3


The 1Dx vs. the 5DM3
As I mentioned in my last newsletter/blog I had ordered a Canon 1Dx camera since Canon updated the firmware to allow it to autofocus with lenses of f/8 as the largest aperture, thus allowing me to use my 100-400mm with my 1.4 extender and my 500mm with my 2x extender. I have not had time to use it in the field but I did put it through a barrage of tests in my yard and house. So this text will not be a review of the autofocus system but more a review of the quality. I was in a quandary as to which camera to take with me on an upcoming trip to India. I already knew I was taking a trusty 1DM4 for the tiger portion of the trip since I will only have my 100-400mm lens with extender and I want the extra reach the 1.3 crop factor would give me. My dilemma was which other body should I carry for my primary camera the 1Dx or the 5DM3? (nice dilemma to have!)
Canon 1Dx ISO 5000 at 1/500 sec f/5.6 500mm L lens with some noise reduction in LR
It was virtually dark out and I was able to shoot at 1/500 of a second and get great images!
In the past I always carried the 1DsM3 as my primary with the 1DM4 as my longer lens camera. But on trips such as this I find I take 80-90% of the images with my 24-105mm on my primary camera. So I was used to a 21 megapixel camera and I wondered if the 1Dx would be enough or if I needed the 5DM3. So I began testing the 2 cameras side by side at different ISOs and I found the 1Dx is 1- 1.5 stops better at high ISO than the 5DM3. This will be important because at the Pushkar camel fair, I plan to go out early and catch the traders setting up and lighting their fires for morning tea, etc and it will be fairly dark. So the 1Dx won that test. 
I also tried focusing in low light to see which was better.  I found that neither of them can focus in low light if you are in Servo Mode, but if you switch to Single Shot they can.  In this test the 1Dx was noticeably better. Another win for the 1Dx.
Next was printing large files, because most any camera looks good on the web, the real test is making big prints. I have a Canon ipf6300 24 inch printer and I typically print 16 x 20 prints but my largest common size that I can print is a 24 x 36 which actually I print at 22 x 33 so I have a border. I found that with the 5DM3 I can print a 25.6 x 38.4 with no interpolation (I print at 150PPI on my Canon printer but that is a whole other article!), with the 1Dx I can create a 23 x 34.56 print with no interpolation. That means I am downsizing either file to make the largest print I make on my printer. I was surprised that in a real world printing situation there was not much size difference between the two. I printed a 22 x 33 inch print from each camera and they were identical. So in this case it was a tie!
Canon 5DM3  at 100 ISO - It too takes great images!
I also wanted to compare image quality at 100 ISO because to be honest  I take 95% of my landscape images at 100 ISO. Here again it was a tie. If printed a section from each camera at its native file size with no interpolation I could not see a difference in the print.
So I found out they are both great cameras making beautiful prints but the fact that the 1Dx is 1- 1.5 stops better at high ISO, has twice the frame rate as the 5DM3 and a slightly better autofocus system, better low light focus ability, and is better weather and dust sealed (India is a dusty place!), stronger overall build, and the 1Dx has an amazing set of options for programming the camera and its buttons, I decided there was no benefit of owning the 5DM3 for me since I have the 1Dx. 
This doesn’t mean the 5DM3 is not a fine camera, it is! It just means that these two cameras are so close in quality that there is no need to have both. It comes down to needs, uses and of course money, which one is best suited for you. I hope this may help any of you that were considering either one as a purchase. Either way you can’t go wrong!
Take care,


Firmware update and update on 2013 Bear Tour

Hi there,

I am gearing up for my trip to India next month. Hopefully there will be some good images to share soon!
I just want to share some news and some links in this newsletter.
In case you have not heard, Canon has updated the firmware for the 1Dx camera to allow it autofocus with lenses that have a maximum aperture of f/8. Originally the camera could only autofocus if the lens had a maximum aperture of f5.6, this was a departure for 1 series cameras and left many wildlife photographers disappointed, myself included, because it stopped me from using my 100-400 f4.5-5.6 lens with my 1.4 tele extender and my 500mm f/4 with my 2 x tele extender. I was hearing so many great things about this camera but I held off buying one because of this shortfall. Well now that they have solved that problem I have one on order and I can’t wait. Everything I hear about the camera tells me it will help raise the level of my wildlife images. For more info on the firmware update click here. Once I have time to evaluate my new camera I’ll let you know my thoughts!
Here is an image I did take with one (thanks to my friend Miki who lent me hers!). I was really impressed with the autofocus system.
And the second thing I want to share is that I now have dates and pricing for my Bears and Bears and Bears Oh My! tour for June 30- July 4 2013.
Once again this past summer's Bears, Bears and Bears Oh My! workshop was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I was photographing wild brown bears just yards from where I was standing with no fear of the animals! I have photographed a lot of brown bears before, in Denali, Glacier, Yellowstone and other Alaska locations but I have never been this close to these magnificent creatures without fear. All the other parks have restrictions on how close you be to the wildlife, no such restrictions take place here. People and bears have co-existed for years. The bears go about their business of survival hardly paying attention to the people. At this time of year you will see mating behavior, grazing, nursing, clamming and going about their day-to-day existence without any restrictions! There will be bears on the beaches, bears in the meadows and lots of interactions between mothers and young! It is a once in a lifetime experience that you will never forget!
Price: $ 3995 for double occupancy (Single occupancy may be available but we will not know until it gets closer to departure date. Single supplement is $ 400)
Price includes:
Round trip airfare from Anchorage to the lodge, 4 nights lodging and meals, guides and ground transportation (quads pulling a trailer) while at the lodge, boat charter to an island to photograph seabirds, photographic instruction, and all tips to guides and lodge staff.
For more info click here.
Take care,


Using Lightroom to Tone Map your HDR Images


In this video blog I am going to show you how you can use Lightroom to process your HDR images! As you may know I am a big fan of using PhotomatixPro to process my HDR images, and I have done tutorials and articles on how I do this using the “Black and White Method” (see the article “Using Photomatix Pro HDR software from NANPA Currents” found on, but the controls in Photomatix are hardly intuitive. And if you have tried using Photoshop's built in “Merge to HDR Pro”, you know those controls are not a lot better! A lot of us are familiar with the processing tools found in both Photoshop’s Camera Raw and Lightroom. Now with the update to Lightroom 4.1 (not 4.01 like I say in the movie!) and higher you can now process 32 bit TIFF images using Lightroom’s controls. This will change the way you process HDR images, but I must tell you, you can only use this method if you want to get realistic looking images. If you want the more illustrative look you will have to go elsewhere. So sit back, relax and watch this 13 min tutorial on how to use both PhotomatixPro or Photoshop to create HDR images that you can then tone map with Lightroom!
Please watch this short movie to see how to best view the tutorial – it will help!!!

Using Lightroom to Tone Map your HDR Images


Adobe Offers!

I want to inform you of two offers from Adobe that you may not be aware of, the first is Adobe Cloud ( and Adobe Painting Assistant.
The first offer, Adobe Cloud is a service where you purchase a membership as either a month to month plan or an annual subscription and have access to all the programs available in the Creative Suite along with Lightroom 4 and other programs. Adobe describes Creative Cloud as “Adobe Creative Cloud is a digital hub where you can explore, create, share, and deliver your work using any of the Adobe Creative Suite® desktop tools, Adobe Photoshop® Lightroom® 4*, and new applications like Adobe Muse™ and Adobe Edge preview. Creative Cloud also includes new Internet-based services† and enables the delivery of high-impact content experiences such as interactive websites and stunning digital magazines. By offering connectivity with Adobe Touch Apps‡, headlined by Adobe Photoshop Touch, Creative Cloud enables a mobile workflow, from ideation to publishing, to bring the power of Adobe innovation to iPads and Android™ tablets. Creative Cloud gives you freedom to create, offering immediate and ongoing access to industry-­defining tools and technologies, to serve a vibrant worldwide community of creative talent.”
Until Aug 31st you can join for just $29.99 a month with an annual subscription if you have a qualified registered CS3, CS4, CS5, CS5.5, or CS6 individual product or suite edition and sign up through Adobe directly. I think this may be a good option for some of you so check it out at the link above!
The second offering is even better because it is free!! Russell Brown, Senior Creative Director at Adobe has released the Painting Assistant Panel, which is a Panel that takes you through a series of steps and makes it easy for you to turn photos into painting! One note, you really need a graphics tablet to make this work and ideally a Wacom tablet.
One word of caution – Once you download this you will spend a lot of time playing! It is way too much fun.
Here are some examples I have worked on in the last few days. Needless to say, work has suffered! Enjoy!  To see more click here.


Back from Bears, Bears and Bears, Oh My!

 I just got back from 4 days photographing Coastal Brown Bears, in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska. It was a blast. We started out with 3 days of beautiful weather, a rarity for Alaska! Four tour participants accompanied me, and they all had a great time and got some amazing images! We got to see a variety of bear behavior including: gorging on grasses in the meadows, clamming at the beach, scratching backs on logs, playing in the ocean, play fighting among siblings, and a mother with 3 cubs! I took over 7,000 images in 4 days! Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky participants that go with me next year!

I photographed all the bear images with two Canon 1D Mark 4 cameras and two lenses, my 500mm f4 L lens using both the 1.4 and the 2x teleconvertors as well as my 100 – 400. I set the camera to 1/640 sec at f/11 and adjusted my ISO accordingly. If the light got really low I varied from this by opening up the f stop and/or slowing the shutter speed. ISO varied from 100 – 1250 depending on light. All the images with the 500mm were taken on my Feisol CT 3373 tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head and a Wimberley Sidekick. With the 100- 400, I either hand held or used my Cotton Carrier with the Steady Shot. I wore the camera with the 100-400 on the Cotton Carrier while I used the 500mm mounted on the tripod. I also got to try out my blazing fast new Lexar 1000x 32 GB CF card! It is fast!
Here are a few sample images, to see more go click here to go to my Mammals portfolio on my website. The bears are on pages 2-3 but while you are there check out the other images too!
Take care,

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